It used to be that ticket scalping was seen as sleazy and illegal. Shady characters hung around outside concerts or sporting events offering tickets for a premium to anyone who didn’t get theirs before they sold out.
Add to that, scalping is illegal in Canada and in several US states as a safety or crowd-control measure. But you no longer have to hang out by the stadium gates….
Now you can make money buying and selling tickets at home, using online brokers. Oh, and you’re no longer a disreputable “scalper.” Now you’re a respectable “ticket reseller.”
Since some states and cities do regulate ticket resale in various ways, it is best make all your sales using online brokers that make sure sales are in compliance with any local laws. It’s one less thing for you to worry about. Perhaps the biggest and best-known of the online platforms is StubHub.com, which also guarantees the tickets for the buyer, alleviating their concerns about fakes. That makes it easier for you to sell.
I learned about StubHub a few years back, when a friend said he was going to see A Perfect Circle play at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver. He paid $100 for two tickets, and although I hadn’t heard of the band, they apparently have a devoted following. My friend later ran into a problem with his schedule and couldn’t go to the concert, so he sold the tickets. It took two days to get them sold on StubHub… for $200!
He paid a $30 commission (15%) to StubHub, but there were no other costs. StubHub even provided a printable prepaid shipping label for him to use to send the tickets to the buyer. My friend accidentally made a $70 profit because of a scheduling conflict!
Crazy, I know! But, here’s how to replicate his success…
How to Sell Your Tickets
It’s free to list tickets for sale on StubHub, and the website has become even more useful over the years. For example, much of the time now you can simply enter barcodes from your tickets so they can be delivered electronically and instantly to buyers, who then print them out. This means you get your money faster, since you’re paid once the buyer has the tickets.
Of course, if you have physical tickets that can’t be uploaded you can still use the printed labels to send them. The process isn’t difficult, and StubHub explains in detail how to sell your tickets. You can choose to receive payment by check or PayPal deposit.
You might be surprised by the variety of events for which tickets are resold. Golf tournaments, plays, music festivals, magic shows, car shows — if there is an event near you there are probably tickets for it on reseller sites. Using the stubhub.com search feature I checked the next thirty days without specifying any type of event, and I got more than 14,000 results. Those results were for particular events, with some having hundreds of tickets offered.
Making Money as a Ticket Reseller
Sure, it’s nice to get something for tickets you can’t use, and maybe even make a profit, but what about regularly doing this? To make it into a business or profitable hobby you basically bet on which events will sell out so you can buy early and resell the tickets at a higher price as the event date nears. Research for this is done easily enough online.
Look up events in and around your community and start checking for tickets daily to see if they sell out. If a regular event sells out one time it’s likely to do so again. If there are bands coming to town, search their schedules online and check to see if they sell all seats in other places. Then take a chance, make a purchase, and wait until the event is near to list the tickets for sale.
You can also get an idea of prices right on the various resale websites. If close-to-the-stage seats for a band repeatedly sell for $150 to $250 as they go from one venue to the next, you can be pretty sure you’ll make a profit buying them early for under $100. In addition to hubstub.com you can use the Ticketmaster resale site for research or to sell. Check prices on eBay too, but if you sell your tickets through them their policy is that you are responsible for knowing the laws and regulations for the event location.
You don’t always need an event to sell out to make a profit. If you have really good seats they can sell at a premium even if there are many seats still available far from the stage or field.
You can also buy resale tickets in person to resell them. Let friends and coworkers know you pay for tickets which they can’t use, and make an offer that leaves room for a profit. For example, suppose a coworker has two tickets to a Santana concert. You check stubhub.com and see Santana tickets listed for $178 each (actual price for a Tampa concert as I write this). There are only four tickets left so it seems likely they’ll sell for that price. You pay $120 for the two tickets, list them online, and get $170 each. After a 15% commission is deducted you get a check (or PayPal deposit) for $289, leaving you with a profit of $169. Now repeat the process a couple times weekly if you can.
It may not be as easy as it sounds, and this isn’t a risk-free business, but you won’t go broke trying. Start by buying a couple $40 tickets for an event you would enjoy. Wait until closer to the event date and list them for sale. If they don’t sell for a profit you’re out $80 and you get to go to a show. If you do make a profit you can parlay that into more purchases and try again. Keep in mind that you’ll pay a 15% commission (on stubhub.com; ticketmaster.com gets all of their money from buyers), so you need to sell for substantially more than what you pay.
The bottom line is that if you guess wrong you lose money, but the potential to make a lot is there. In an ABC News report on scalping, StubHub CMO Ray Elias admits that tickets to “incredible events” sometimes go as cheap as $5, but boxing match tickets have sold for as much as $100,000 on the site.
Your Turn: Have you ever sold tickets for a profit? Tell us about it below…