Unless you are a damn good spammer, as DaveN says, there is no such thing as overnight affiliate driven success. As grasshopper says, "having spent my fair share of time recruiting, developing and managing affiliates, i have never seen any "formula" that guarantees success with affiliate marketing."
Marcia composes a very nice list of "criteria for choosing good [affiliate] programs."
1.Products that are in demand by consumers so there's a good chance of picking up plenty of targeted traffic.
2.Merchants and their AMs need to be fair, honest and trustworty - those who are develop a following.
3. A decent commission rate needs to be offered.
4. A decent number of return days need to be offered, so that commissions will be paid if visitors continue to shop around and then come back to buy.
5. Reliable tracking of impressions, clicks and sales.
6. Merchant site needs good usability and should be one that can convert well for the traffic sent, and have a record of good conversions
7. Commissions need to be paid regularly, and on time.
8. NO PARASITES! Some defend them if the BHO's and applications can be opted out of or uninstalled at will. Not so, chances are those are merchants or AMs who are parasite friendly rather than affiliate friendly. Parasites over-write affiliate cookies and steal commissions rightly earned by affiliates - they are NEVER ok.
9. NO LEAKS! Leaks can be 800 numbers displayed without phone tracking for affiliate sales, LivePerson or LiveHelper chat windows that grab visitors at the point of sale, even when visitors arrive when being sent by clicking on affiliate links. They take the orders - no commission for the affiliate who sent the customer. Another leak is Adsense running on the merchant site. No one needs to send traffic to another site to click on Adsense when visitors can click on *their* Adsense and they get paid for the clicks.
10. Cooperative attitude is important - when affiliates need tools or special links, providing them increases income for both the affiliate and the merchant.
There's a lot more, but that's what comes to mind right off the top of my head, just for starters. Most important: HONESTY and TRUST factors.
And you wonder why Marcia is one of the most respected forum contributors out there? :)
Forum discussion at Search Engine Watch Forums.