Ticket scalping has always gotten a bad rap (mainly because it’s illegal in many states). Lots of people see scalpers as sleazy, and possibly con artists. But now there’s a way to take your scalping business online and do so in a perfectly legal way.
Instead of people seeing you as a sketchy ticket scalper, you can go through an online ticket broker and become an upstanding “ticket reseller.” And you can make a pretty penny too.
Ticket Scalping vs. Ticket Reselling
But how is this any different or any more legal than standing on a street corner casually asking passersby if they bought tickets yet?
Well, if you go through a broker, they’ll make sure all local laws are followed and everyone involved is in compliance. Plus, ticket buyers are more likely to trust an established third-party company than some random guy on the street.
The most well-known ticket broker is StubHub, but you can also go through places like Eventbrite or Shopify. In this article, we’ll cover exactly how to go about buying and reselling tickets, what ticket brokers are the best, and the potential this business offers.
Alright, let’s get started…
How To Buy And Sell Concert Tickets For A Profit
Literally, anyone can become a successful ticket reseller. If you have the determination, tenacity, and knowledge, you can do this.
There’s one question we need to answer first: why can ticket reselling be a lucrative pursuit?
It’s because the money-makers behind a big event hate empty seats.
Imagine if U2 played to a half-empty arena. What if the New England Patriots played their games in a stadium with a ton of empty chairs?
It would look terrible and all parties involved would either lost interest and/or lose money. That’s why artists, event managers, and arena owners very often sell tickets below market value, to ensure every ticket in the place is sold. They’d rather sell underpriced tickets than have an empty venue.
Enter ticket resellers.
Ticket resellers buy tickets at this intentionally underpriced value and can then sell them for just a little bit more. This means profit for the reseller.
How To Get Started Reselling Tickets
First, you need a laptop, which I’m sure you already have. If you don’t, stop reading this right now, go to Amazon.com and find an affordable laptop.
Okay, got your computer? Good.
Now go somewhere with internet connection (your place or your local coffee shop or even McDonald’s). Open up a word processor of some sort and create an excel spreadsheet. This is where you’ll keep track of the tickets you’ve bought and sold and how much profit you’ve made from each.
It doesn’t matter what format, just as long as it makes sense to you and keeps you organized.
There, you’ve got all the items needed to start reselling tickets. Easy as that.
But before we get to where to buy your first ticket, here are a couple things to keep in mind that will help you succeed.
As you probably guessed from the previous sentences, it’s uber important to keep good records of everything. Track every ticket you buy and sell, what profit you had from each, and keep every receipt in your email or some storage system.
If you don’t do a good job of recording these things now, they may come back to haunt you in the future.
Slow And Steady
It’s okay to take this whole process slowly. In fact, it’s best to go slowly. It’ll take time to learn the ins and outs and ups and downs of being a ticket reseller, so don’t get frustrated if it’s not taking off right away.
Some of the learning will come from experience. It’s an unfortunate but true fact.
Just Have Fun
Really, have fun. If you’re not having fun doing this, maybe you shouldn’t be doing this.
If you dread this pursuit, whether it’s a side hustle or you want it to be your full-time job, it will eat you alive. You might as well go work in a cubicle.
So enjoy it!
How To Start Buying Tickets
So first we’ll cover three general methods for buying tickets for resale, then we’ll discuss which events to buy tickets to, and finally where to buy tickets.
3 Methods For Buying Tickets For Resale
Credit Card Presale Tickets
Many big events offer presale tickets but only if you use a credit card. The most common credit cards that are eligible for these deals are Citi or American Express cards.
There is a caveat — there’s usually a limit to the number of tickets one person can buy. One way around this is to use multiple credit cards linked to multiple accounts with the ticket-selling website, although doing that can get out of hand quickly, so you’ll want to proceed with caution.
This is a great way to buy tickets before the general public and become one of the pined after ticket providers.
Fan Club Tickets
With many artist fan clubs, you can get special deals and early bird tickets.
After you’ve read the terms and conditions of the tickets fan clubs offer and you make sure you’re legally allowed to resell them, you can make a nice profit this way. You can get multiple tickets at special prices and then sell them to people at market value.
One important thing to note — do your homework on the fan club. Some clubs require you pay a membership fee or make you be a member for a certain amount of time before getting access to the presale tickets. And even others can’t guarantee that you’ll get presale tickets at all.
If you do your research and find a fan club off of which you could make a profit, join it.
Buy The General Public Tickets
This option is a bit riskier but still has potential.
First, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to snag tickets (thanks a lot, ticket-buying computer bots). Second, there is no guarantee people will go for your “overpriced” tickets.
But if you do go this route, go all in. Have multiple ticket website open on your computer at one time as well as a clock that shows the seconds so you can hit “Buy” the second they go on sale.
What Events To Buy Tickets For
You shouldn’t just buy tickets willy-nilly. Don’t just get tickets for every event out there, but rather be strategic.
Here are some questions to ask yourself before buying tickets for resale.
Does The Intended Audience Have A Disposable Income?
This is so important. How can you sell a poor person something?
To figure out whether or not the audience you’ll be selling to has a disposable income, imagine who they are. Typically middle-aged people have more money than college students, so what events will attract middle-aged men and women?
A classic rock band who may be on their last tour? An opera? Rod Stewart?
Buying tickets based on the artist’s “cool” factor won’t make you money. Figure out who has the older, wealthier fans and buy those tickets.
Did This Audience Plan Ahead?
Audiences who don’t plan ahead are perfect for ticket resellers.
Did people forget to buy tickets? Were they not aware of when the tickets went on sale? Did they not plan to buy tickets because they didn’t know who would be at the event (like with sports tournaments or playoffs)?
Fortunately for them, you’ll have the tickets for sale.
Is The Artist Popular?
Think about this — the cost of a ticket depends on how popular (or stable) the entertainer is. Tickets to a Justin Timberlake concert will be more than the tickets to see a local up-and-coming alt-rock band. That’s just a fact.
Now, if someone is popular for something bad, that is a red flag. Maybe you should move on to another artist who’s popular and generally liked.
When And Where Is This Event Happening?
Regardless of these other reasons, when and where an event is happening can trump all of them.
If a concert is happening at a legendary venue, the tickets will be in higher demand. People in cities with a higher cost of living are usually more willing to pay more for tickets. Weekend events do better than weekday events. A smaller venue will charge more for tickets because it’s more exclusive than a large arena.
Taking this logic into account will greatly help your success.
How good are these tickets?
It’s simple — are these tickets closer to the stage? Do they come with special amenities? Are they VIP tickets?
These types of tickets are very difficult to get ahold of, but people are willing to pay more for them. If you can obtain them, you can make some nice money.
On the other hand, there are so many super cheap tickets available that the market may be too crowded.
So the tickets in between are probably your best bet. They’ve got a nice balance of demand and availability.
Where You Can Buy Tickets
The most popular place to buy tickets is Ticketmaster and the most popular place to sell tickets is StubHub. But you can also use places like SeatGeek and VividSeats.
If you want to go local, you can directly to the venue, whether in-person, by phone, or through the website they provide.
Whatever route you go, just make sure you check the rules on whether the tickets can be resold.
How To Start Reselling Tickets
When it comes to reselling the tickets you’ve scored, you have plenty of options, like eBay or Craigslist. It may just take time and testing to find the one that works best for you.
But here are several of the top places where you can resell your tickets and the basic steps on how to do so.
StubHub is probably the most used website for ticket resale.
Even though it’s free to list your tickets for sale, StubHub has some pretty high fees compared to come of the other options. So what do they offer that’s special?
The biggest thing they have is eyeballs. Because they’re one of the biggest ticket websites, that’s where most people will go to grab a ticket, meaning there’s more chance people will buy your tickets.
How To Sell Your Tickets On StubHub
- First, search for the event on StubHub.
- Once you find the event that you have tickets for, hit the “Sell” button to the right of the venue name.
- Then sign in to your StubHub account (or register for one for free if you haven’t already).
- Then you’ll be prompted to answer a few questions:
- Do you have the tickets currently in your possession?
- Will you deliver your tickets via email or by shipping them?
- Fill in the quantity, section and row, if you’re willing to split up your tickets between different buyers, and some other basic info.
- Set your price for the tickets
- You’ll notice you have two options: “Fixed price” and “Declining price,” which is when StubHub will gradually reduce the price of the tickets in order to keep the sale competitive
- Keep in mind, 9’s are good. So $99 instead of $100, $49 instead of $50, you get the point. Research shows people are more willing to buy in these situations (that’s a little mind trick)
- Then choose how you want to get paid, either via PayPal or via paper check (you can also donate the proceeds to charity, which is nice, but not the point of this guide).
How To Sell Your Tickets On Ticketmaster
Ticketmaster is the most well-known ticket website on the planet, so you’ll definitely want to use them to resell your tickets.
Not every event allows resellable tickets, so you can only sell on Ticketmaster if there’s a “Sell” button in your “Order details.” For example, if you buy tickets over the phone or through a third party, Ticketmaster won’t let you resell them.
But in the case of those that can be resold, here’s how you’ll do it:
- Choose the tickets you want to sell
- Enter your custom price amount
- Put in your account information (how you want to be paid)
- Confirm your account info and hit “Next”
- Review the info you entered and click “List Ticket”
You’ll see a confirmation page and you’ll get a confirmation email.
Boom. Couldn’t be easier to make money.
How To Sell Your Tickets On VividSeats
VividSeats is another established and reliable ticket broker you can use. The amount of traffic (eyeballs) it gets is a distant second to StubHub. The big downside of VividSeats is their higher fees.
However, you can still make money through this broker, and here’s how:
- From the home page, click the “Sell” link in the top-right corner
- On the next page, you’ll see a “Sell Your Tickets” button … click it
- Search the event you want, check the box next to the event title, then scroll down and hit “Continue.”
- You’ll then need to login or create an account
- Then you will need to complete the basic info form about the tickets
- Set your price, when and how you can deliver the tickets, and your PayPal address
And you’re done!
How To Sell Your Tickets On SeatGeek
SeatGeek is yet another reliable ticket broker website you should consider.
Here’s how to get started with them:
- Create an account through the “Sign up” button on the top right of their homepage
- Visit the “My Tickets” tab within your account
- Using the link at the top of the page, upload e-ticket PDF files to your account
- Go to the event for which you’re selling tickets
- On the event details page, click the “Sell Tickets” button
And yet again, you can see it’s super easy to start selling tickets.
Ethical, Legal, And General Concerns
First, we need to talk about the legal and ethical ramifications of reselling tickets as well as the risks involved.
Ethically, many people see it the same way they see the sleazy looking guy on the street corner outside the stadium — sleazy. But that’s not the case.
People say ticket resellers keep the real fans of the artist/entertainer from getting tickets. But there’s more to it than that.
First, resellers have the same chance of getting tickets as the people who will actually be going to the event. If the true fans really want tickets, they’ll be as determined as successful ticket resellers.
And second, people say resellers are making a profit off of real fans without any risk. But reselling is by no means risk-free. As a reseller, you’re putting your money on the line. You making an investment that you hope will show a return.
On the other hand, many people wonder about the legality of ticket reselling. Basically, many states have not updated their anti-scalping laws, which still include restrictions on how far a reseller can stand from the venue.
Obviously, you need to be familiar with your state’s laws before getting into reselling.
Fortunately, SeatGeek put together a nice little chart showing each state’s laws on this matter.
Other Concerns And Risks
As for the potential risks involved in this business, there are two big ones to keep in mind: buyer fraud and having a lack of liquid funds.
I think we can all agree that some people are terrible. Some people are con artists and fraudsters, and those people may try to rip you off.
These buyers may claim you never sent them the tickets or that they were different than what you advertised. Some broker websites offer mediation, but not all of them, so read the fine print. StubHub is probably the safest one to use if you’re worried about buyer fraud.
Lack Of Liquid Funds
Sometimes, you can’t sell tickets as fast as you expected and you have to hold onto them. This could be because of market changes, bad PR for the artist, or even weather conditions.
When this happens, your money stays tied up in those tickets.
So if you absolutely need to sell the tickets for a profit so you can afford to eat, do not buy the tickets in the first place. This should be extra money that you don’t need for regular living expenses. Remember, this is an investment.
Create a special fund just for buying and selling tickets and only pull the profit out of there if you need to get groceries.
Some Success Stories
Just to prove to you that it can be done, here are some stories from others who have made ticket brokering their living. Take for example, Michael Violi and Bryce Conway.
Michael Violi is a full-time ticket reseller, and he got into the business after going to a TOOL concert.
Before he was reselling, while he was still in college, he bought tickets last-minute from someone at a price higher than market value. He said that really got him thinking.
“For years I always wondered how this person obtained these tickets and how easily he/she just profited from this transaction, for he probably made about $100 in ten minutes of work,” Violi wrote on SeatGeek’s website.
His first resell were four tickets to an Eagles concert. So did he make a huge profit and get hooked from that point on?
He lost $25 on the first pair of tickets, then made only $50 on the next two. He had to learn from experience, just like you will. But he kept at it and one day became a self-employed ticket reseller.
Bryce Conway is an author with multiple books and he writes about travel, personal finance, and lifestyle design for more than 30,000 monthly readers.
He, like Violi, was in college when the ticket reselling bug bit him.
While he was looking on the Facebook Marketplace to buy a school book, he saw two posts, one right after the other: “Selling football ticket, $50” and “Looking to buy football ticket, willing to pay $150.”
So he jump on the opportunity. He bought the ticket from the the first person and sold it to the second person. Then he set up a meeting with each person a block away from each other.
“I grabbed $50 cash, bought the ticket from the first person, then walked one block away and sold it for $150,” he wrote on his website.
From that point on, he was buying and selling ticket left and right.
Now that you’ve read this whole article, you know the basic things you should know before getting into ticket brokerage.
You know that it’s not scalping, and it’s much classier and lucrative than the street-dwelling resellers. This is your business, after all, and you should treat it like one.
You know how to get started buying tickets for resale and from whom to buy them. We covered how to be smart about your ticket buying decisions. And you also know where to sell your tickets and which ticket broker websites are the best.
We went over some concerns and risks, and we looked at others’ success stories in order to see the potential this business offers.
But even with all of this info, you will still have to learn a lot just by doing it. Just get out there and start reselling and learn your own lessons.
Remember, getting into this business is an investment with both risks and rewards. If you work smart, stay persistent, and always obey ticket reselling laws, you should be on your way to becoming a successful ticket broker.