Making Money with No Money

But I don’t have enough money to get started in Affiliate Marketing:

Hi, I have been asked to guest post here on Uber Affiliate while Sup3rnova is off getting drunk at Ad:tech. You can find a lot of my posts linked from Paul’s Uber Affiliate Marketing Guide and you can read more about me at

Today I am not going to talk about PPC, which is my bread and butter. I am going to talk about the answer to an email I get at least once a week. “I am just getting started in affiliate marketing, I am broke but I need to make $1 million dollars to sustain my habit of laziness, can you offer me any suggestions as to how to get started without taking any risk?” I actually get asked for a loan by a total stranger via email at least once a month…

Anyway, the tactics I have outlined here are not anything I do or don’t do, so don’t sue anyone if they don’t work. They are just things I might do if I suddenly found myself needing to make a few hundred bucks a day.

The place I would start is Ebay. Ebay is probably the best marketplace for idiots and suckers in the world. There are idiots both buying and selling stuff. It is possible to arbitrage Ebay to Ebay with minimal risk.

That’s right you can buy off of EBay and then sell it right back. Plenty of people are too lazy to set-up a listing properly (this happens in PPC all the time…) and put things in the wrong category or with misspelled keywords so that the majority of buyers for that product never see it so you can bid on things and get them far cheaper than they are worth when listed correctly.

Second, people list things on EBay with ridiculous Buy It Now prices. I recently stumbled across a cool little tool that appears to still be in Beta or otherwise has not yet been found by the EBay masses. It is called (unlike a lot of bloggers, I have no interest in what I am hyping so whoever owns this, you are welcome), BinAlert uses a custom set-up that allows you to get alerted if a Buy It Now (BIN) is posted for a product you are watching.

One of the things, I showed my wife how to do is buy gift certificates off of EBay for about 60-70% of face value. She mostly buys ones that she is going to use– our local Wal-Mart has a great grocery store (except for fruit) and she gets $300 worth of groceries for $200 just about every single week! She recently bought a high dollar home depot gift card and resold it for $100 more than she paid. It was her first online profit, I was very proud.

With BinAlert, It takes no time at all to set these alerts up following whatever you might have an interest in selling. If you guys start stealing her grocery money I am gonna be pissed… I am sure you can find great deals on knitting supplies or something. Bottom line, this tool can help you buy things off of EBay very cheaply and then you resell them on EBay for a lot more. I can only assume that the guy is using an affiliate ID within the email links, I sure hope he is.

Third, some stuff sells on Ebay for ridiculous prices. I recently saw a brand new watch I was thinking of buying sell on EBay for $400 more than you could have bought it off of Amazon. I then started to look at prices between Amazon and Ebay and found quite a few products that have Free Amazon shipping selling on EBay for a lot more than they cost on Amazon.

How I would exploit this is to list the item on EBay with relatively cheap shipping (just enough to cover ebay listing and sales, plus PayPal costs) plus a Buy It Now with Make an Offer – I would know the cost of what I am willing to sell, so I just turn down unprofitable deals. When a listing sells, immediately go to Amazon and buy it and ship it as a gift to the person. I would of course buy it with my Amazon affiliate code to get the 3% affiliate fee. So you make the difference in prices, the shipping fee pays all your expenses, plus you get an additional 3% or so affiliate fee, and on top you get the Rewards points on your credit card so you can take a nice trip every few months for free off this stuff.

If I found any volume this way, I would cut Amazon out entirely and talk directly to the merchant working through Amazon. Know that Amazon takes about 12% of sales prices, plus the merchant has credit card fees. You can cut a much better deal by going direct.

The last Ebay related idea I have is to go to storage center auctions. The way these work is people don’t pay the storage unit bill and the owners auction the items in the units. They just open the unit up and you can look inside but not touch or actually enter the unit. I once found a unit with 10 comic book storage cartons and bought the whole lot for $45 because I knew what was in those boxes when others did not. Sold the whole thing for $1200 that day to a comic store without really seeing what was in there. I have also purchased wine and found decent amounts of money inside boxes etc. Have not been to one in years, but if I was broke and needed some money fast I would hit one up with a truck and buy a few units to sell on EBay.

I know this is not traditional affiliate type stuff, but it seems that a lot of people out there are still just trying to figure out how to get some positive cash flow. Like I said earlier, all of this stuff might not work, I have never actually tried any of it (except the Wal-Mart gift cards).

The takeaway from this for the uberaffiliate should not be to go exploit Ebay (although a few of you probably will), but rather to start learning to think outside the box and develop your marketing skills. The primary product I market is the most expensive item in my industry yet I sell a ton of them because I market it properly. The Generic box at the grocery store is the same as in the colorful one at half the price yet you probably buy the colorful one. The difference is effective marketing. Without that you will not win. The difference between you and the seller of any of the ideas above is you know what your product is worth and the sellers you buy from and the buyers you sell to don’t.


  1. Charles Ngo
    November 6, 2007

    Some Powerseller Advice from me

    I’ve been doing it about a year now. I’m getting about 100-200% and averaging about 5k profit a week spending only 2 hrs.

    3 advice I can give.

    -Try to get items from China for highest return on investment. . Ask for small, sample orders. I’ve never been scammed doing that. Just be careful if you’re selling counterfeit items.
    - I go this forum and keep an eye out for super deals. If a LCD is on clearance for $125 and it can sell for $250 on eBay, I’m going to every Staples in my city and selling them. Easy $2,000 profit for 2-3 hours of work
    -Write your own ebooks and sell them on ebay. You don’t have to deal with inventory issues and whatnot.

    I outsource as much work of eBay as possible such as packing and shipping the stuff. I only pay someone like $40 a week and they take care of everything.

    Anyways I’m moving away from eBay into affiliate marketing. Even though I’m making a lot of money, the fact is all my profits are dependent on ebay pretty much.

  2. November 6, 2007

    Good post. I think there is some great money to be made on ebay. I’m going to look into that a bit more.

  3. November 6, 2007

    Another idea is to buy items from person A, who has a sloppy description and weak selling skills and put up an auction for the item yourself and let person A ship the product to person B, the buyer of your action.

    ebay flipping at its best. takes a bit of guts and practice but can work out really well.

  4. November 6, 2007

    hahaha. This is so true on eBay. I once bought a tv stand from a store and sold it the next year for more than I paid for it… and I clearly told them it was SECOND HAND!

  5. November 6, 2007

    Damnit, you just saturated my main source of income.

  6. November 6, 2007

    hey diorex could I get a loan to buy some coupons. I gotta eat.

  7. November 6, 2007

    I never thought of buying gift cards on ebay. That is a smart wife you have. :)

  8. November 6, 2007

    quick amazon question:

    do you get the commission when you purchase the item yourself? I was looking at my commission statement and it had a deduction of my commissions for “self purchase” or something like that.

    I buy a lot of amazon and was dissapointed to find that i wasn’t getting the 8%commissions back… just curious if this normal practice.

  9. November 7, 2007

    Absolutely fantastic post !!! Wonderful stuff. I’ve been using Ebay to turn profits for years. My particular game is collectible guitars. I know my niche well because when I’m not programming for cash, or blogging, I’m recording in my home studio and adding to my collection of guitars. Initially my fascination with eBay was to build my personal collection of guitars to include *only* instruments over $1000 each, but after I acquired 50+ and needed two homes to stash them all, I started selling on eBay. I found that in my particular niche, “supply and demand” is the name of the game. Certain models, colors and vintages sell much faster than others. I buy low and sell high. If an item doesn’t sell the first time, re-list it.

    Now, I don’t consider others “suckers”, rather “impulsive”. Impulse buying is the name of the game if you want to maximize profits (and who among us hasn’t bought on impluse). Also, time of year is essential, in my case, I’m pre-prepping all the html for my December and January auctions right now because most musicians buy instruments at two times a year, birthdays and Christmas. One can’t predict a birthday, but Christmas, that’s my money season !!!

    Hell, I even took old (1970’s and 1980’s) Guitar Player magazines I bought for 10 cents each at the local library and carefully cut out the coolest ads, framed them and sold them for $15-$25 each on eBay. I got about 6-10 ads per 10 cent magazine and out of the 600+ framed ads I assembled, I only have two left today !!!

    Hope this give some of you more ideas. This blog is right on target about how to make money from scratch.

  10. November 7, 2007

    Nice idea, bloody great concept, now thats thinking outside the box, love the article!

  11. November 7, 2007

    nice post.
    too bad you did not try anything. would have added to your credibility.
    but i can say for myself, the ebay arbitrage stuff works… to a certain degree at least.
    i made serious money when i tried it back in 2006 with computer memory. i had profit margins of around 100-200% !
    guess, you could make a living with arbitrage in the U.S. – you just have a lot more people browsing ebay.
    with Germany its a totally different story. especially because Germans are a lot more bargain minded and do great deal of research before visiting ebay for good prices… and then whe just don’t have the gigantic consumer masses

    and about binalert: why not use ebays new RSS function for searches? thats what i did…

  12. November 7, 2007

    I had done this years ago when hifi .com started out. They sold a speaker set that was very popular (below retail), with a free dvd player. You could make two hundred dollars on each purchase (and get affiliate from them).

    Also if you want to start making money online or need startup loot, just sell your old stuff or new stuff on ebay to build up a little bit of money. Having some money in paypal is generally good.

    I wrote a bit more on it over at my site if you want to check it out. I am not sure if it will auto pingback.

  13. November 8, 2007


    Yeah, computer memory has always been a “hot” niche on eBay. I think the important thing to remember about this post is…

    #1 – People think they’re getting a “deal” by buying on eBay.
    #2 – There will always be eBay noobs who love to “win” an auction (like eBay’s recent television commercials spotlight).
    #3 – If you find the right “niche” and learn how to pump it, it’s as good as gold.

    As I stated in my last comment, it’s all supply and demand. Hell, look at oil prices rising and we all pay at the pump. If somebody in rural Montana or Rhode Island wants/needs/impulse buys an item they can’t find locally, it’s not like they’re stupid, they’re just being a consumer.

    Again, I’ll admit, I spent waaaay too much money buying obscure 1980’s punk rock vinyl but I wanted the items for my collection and I had the money to get what I want. If you go on eBay trying to sell something readily availabe in retail stores or other places on the internet, you’re not going to profit. You need to find hardcore niches to turn the big bucks.

    oh, btw, anybody interested in buying some high grade Silver Age Marvel comic keys (1960’s-1970’s biggest runs of Amazing SpiderMan and Daredevil everything from #1-#300+ )? I have a collection of 9K books I’ve collected over the years (pre-ebay, btw I’m 39yo). They are bagged boarded and boxed sitting in a climate control, smoke free home. I’d like to move them to somebody who would appreciate them and will give the best deal.

    @Uber-Paul, lo ciento, I had to toss that blatant promo out. Somebody could make a nice profit if they are willing to use eBay to auction the collection off.

  14. November 26, 2007

    i have a question..if you sell items you bought from amazon to a buyer from ebay,as a gift, then wont he get an Invoice from the seller stating the true price on amazon rather than what he paid you for it..wont he suspect that he got fooled by you?

  15. April 2, 2008

    This would be for someone who doesn’t want to start their own web site. There are lots of deals and steals on ebay. I know people sit on ebay all day long, selling and buying. One thing is to cut a deal with some popular department stores. Buy in bulk all their out of season clothes. Usually clothes go on clearance, then anything that is left gets sent back. A lot of places will sell all the stuff instead of paying the shipping to send them back. Say you do this and have like 100 T-shirts. You paid like 5 bucks a shirt, most name brand shirts can go for 15-25 bucks each. Most people aren’t up to date on fashion. They don’t know the shirt was on clearance and out of season. Re-selling each shirt at $15 when you paid 5, for 100 shirts = $1,000. Then you can make a couple bucks off shipping. Then minus ebay costs. So it would be a little over $1,000. You just made $500,

  16. September 25, 2008

    Thanks for this article. I am one of the idiot using ebay to buy anything :P:p

  17. Dan
    September 28, 2008

    You’re making $5000 profit/week for two hours work. Now you’re giving it up because somthing better has come along. Clearly you are full of crap. Idiot.

  18. September 22, 2009

    This is a great post.

    I need to send this to my cousin so he’ll quit asking for money.
    He’s usually the one that pays too much for stuff on eBay.

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