This article originally appeared in Business Insider.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Shiraz Mawani, an accounting manager, ticket reseller, and YouTuber in Toronto. Insider has verified his earnings with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.
I fell into ticket reselling in 2014. My friends and I used to go to an NHL playoff game every year. That year, the ticket prices were too high, so we decided to buy extra tickets, sell them for a higher price than we paid, and use the profits from the tickets to attend the game for a lower price.
I sold a couple of the tickets through Craigslist and Kijiji, a Canadian selling platform, and then decided to try to sell two tickets through StubHub — my first time using the platform. I didn’t know much about it, and at the time, I didn’t imagine that anyone would buy tickets online without any idea who the seller was.
After posting the tickets, I was sitting at a restaurant with some friends, and I got an email saying that someone had bought them. We used the profits from reselling tickets to pay half the cost of the normal-price tickets, and my friends and I got to go to the game.
Nine years later, I still resell tickets in addition to my full-time job as an accounting manager. I make up to $32,000 a month in profit. Here’s how I do it.
First, I expanded into concerts
A few months after the NHL playoff game, one of my friends told me that Bruno Mars and Katy Perry were coming to Toronto. They wanted to try to sell tickets the same way that we had for the NHL game — except this time, we weren’t interested in attending the event ourselves.
We continued reselling tickets to local events. After a while, my friend lost interest, but I continued to run with it. I was constantly looking for tickets going on sale in Toronto, and eventually the US.
Now 65% of the tickets that I resell are to sporting events, while 35% are events including concerts, Broadway shows, and comedy events. That’s just a personal preference because I’m not a big music person. Sports are what I know and where my focus is.
There are 2 sides to ticket reselling
There are people looking to sell a few tickets, and then there are ticket brokers looking to make a profit.
Depending on which type of seller you are, there are different tools you have access to on each platform. The average seller sees only one side of the platform. Ticket brokers, though, have access to tools that identify which tickets are going on sale, a different rate structure, and a different suite of software.
As a ticket broker, I use a point-of-sale system that uses an application programming interface to allow me to list tickets on multiple platforms at once. I’ll list my inventory on my POS system, which I access for free, and it’ll put the tickets on selling platforms such as StubHub using the API.
My favorite selling platform is TickPick because I find that it has the best pricing for purchasing, and its customer service is excellent.
If there are tickets that expire or go unsold before events, I’ll drop the prices, but there’s always a limit to how low I’ll go before I simply let the tickets sit.
Pricing depends on each seller
I know many sellers who try to price their tickets for as cheap as possible. I wouldn’t say that that’s the wrong strategy, but it’s not how I do ticket pricing.
If there’s a high search volume for an event or an artist with a strong social following, or they’re going to a major city or specific venue, I may price the tickets more aggressively.
While every ticket is priced differently, my general goal is to earn between a 30% and 40% profit margin. With my type of inventory, I’m normally closer to 30% after my sell-through fees are taken into account.
For sales that take place on online marketplaces, there’s no price negotiation
When I have individual buyers approach me, I’ll try to offer them a fair price below the market value and may allow for small negotiations, but I generally keep firm on pricing.
In May, I sold 850 tickets for just under $121,000 in sales, which equaled about $32,000 in profit, but this number ranges from month to month depending on the season. This year has been very positive for me, and I’m running about a $30,000-a-month profit on average.
I started a YouTube channel in 2018
My first YouTube videos were vlogs of me delivering tickets to will call locations in different cities so buyers could pick them up.
Once I returned from these trips, I felt like I had a bit of knowledge that I could share with other people looking to resell tickets, so I started creating content about helping the average fan sell their tickets.
Mostly, people ask me what to do with their tickets if an event has been canceled, about timing for reselling tickets, and whether they can trust specific platforms.
I spend between 20 and 40 hours a week working on my resale business, so it could be a full-time gig if I wanted it to be, but at this point, I consider ticket resale and my YouTube channel to be side hustles.
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