How to Start Selling on eBay and Amazon with Zero Money

Start making passive income with just one dime.
Seth Kniep
Jun 4, 2021
Start on Amazon
You have to spend money to make money...but you need to have money to spend money. If you’re starting out with only spare change as your seed money, don’t give in to hopelessness!

Today I’m going to show you exactly how to start selling products on eBay and Amazon without saying goodbye to a single dime.

That’s what I did. I started out $24,000 in debt. It was challenging, but today, I have multiple passive income machines that make me money while I sleep.

These are the exact three steps that brought me to where I am today.

First, I sold everything I didn’t need.

A lot of what I accumulated over the years were ‘wants’, not ‘needs’. I thought, “Do I really need this metal chair on my porch?” It was nice to have, but did I need it? No. So I sold it.

I found stuff in my home I didn’t need.

For example, I had a suit for “just in case.” But how often would I really need a suit? I didn’t have the money to go to formal restaurants, snap my fingers, and go, “Excuse me, Garçon. I would like another plate of caviar.” So, instead of something useful, the suit was like a hundred dollar bill just sitting in the closet.

Then it clicked in my brain. My stuff wasn’t just stuff. They were assets. I had these assets all over the house that weren’t doing anything for me. So, I made them work for me. I could turn that stuff into money that could help me make more money in the future.

If you don’t have cash and need it, do what I did. Instead of thinking of your assets as static things, make them work for you.

Go into your living room, your bedroom, or your front porch. Pick a random object. Check to see how much it’s selling for on Amazon or eBay. If you don’t have any money and don’t know how to get started, start selling things you have. You need cash to generate cash.

I knew one guy who had over 100 DVDs sitting around his house. He just started to sell on Amazon. I said, “Do you realize how much money you could turn those into if you sell them? You can use that money to purchase other things to create passive income.” So we went on eBay and searched for one of the movies, A Walk to Remember. Twelve units had sold the previous week for $5 each. That doesn’t sound like much, but if you had over 100 DVDs, and you could make $5 each minus a couple bucks for shipping, that’s $300. They’re not being watched. Why not turn that into cash?

I cleaned, dusted, and repaired everything I wanted to sell so they could command more value.

Nobody wants to buy a creaky bike with spider eggs under the seat. But with a dust rag and a little WD40, you can sell a dream!

If you have items that aren’t ready to go without buying something else (like a lamp that needs a replacement cord), price them accordingly. Don’t forget to make buyers aware of their flaws before they buy. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it builds trust and prepares you to over-deliver for your online customers in the future.

Don’t be scared to display items that might be stained or cracked. Local theatres and artists hunt for deals like these specifically because their work needs to be made on a budget. Maybe your spaghetti sauced tie isn’t going to see another boardroom, but it just might make a comeback in a high school play. 🍝

I advertised my stuff online.

The online marketspace is like—no kidding—hundreds of times larger than it was back when I did this in 2014.

You had eBay, Amazon, and Craigslist. But today, you also have Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, OfferUp, LetGo, and a ton more.

My Actual eBay Sales

Make sure your listings include daylight pictures, multiple angles, and size comparison shots. Photos are the number one part of an online listing that sells the product. Also include model numbers, dimensions, and weights in your listings.

You have so much more reach today than the old-school yard sale.

I hosted a yard sale with everything that didn’t sell online.

If you hold a yard sale, putting a sign on your yard the day of the sale isn’t going to cut it. 

Make sure you’re putting clear, easy-to-read signs at intersections, community hubs, and bulletin boards with your dates, times, and address front and center. Make sure signs go up at least three days in advance, but no more than one week. That way people have time to prepare, but not so much time that your sign fades into the background of their everyday lives before the big day. 

Make the yard sale as nice an experience as possible. Set up an extension cord so customers can test electronics, pull down a shower curtain and a full-length-mirror for clothes. If it’s a hot day, put out a pitcher of lemonade.

Me & My Wife Hosting a Yard Sale

You don’t need to invest in a card reader, but with the rise of Venmo, PayPal, and Facebook pay, you don’t have to be limited by customers who aren’t carrying cash. Let people know ahead of time that they have different options. Just make sure you have this set up before your sale so everything goes smoothly.

I went door-to-door to sell what didn’t sell at my yard sale.

Yep. I knocked, said, “Hey, you don’t know me, but would you like to buy this?”

It was uncomfortable, but it needed to be done. The experience actually helped me become a better salesperson.

This is the kind of hustle you need to have if you’re going to build a business on Amazon that makes you passive income.

My daughter would come with me fundraising for her school, and we would do a double deal.

Second, I took the cash earned from selling my stuff to sell products arbitrage.

Arbitrage is where you buy products on the cheap and sell them somewhere else, like Amazon, at a higher price.

If you notice a product is selling for $5 on but $20 on eBay, you can pocket the difference after paying eBay fees.

Buying Products for Arbitrage

Find a product you know is selling. Post it on eBay or Amazon.

Use that money to buy more products arbitrage. Use the money you get from one product to sell two. Use that money to buy four. And your cash keeps growing and growing. You reinvest and reinvest.

Once you have that cash, you can start making private label purchases. Then you no longer have to hustle, hustle, hustle to make money. 

Third, I took that cash earned from selling arbitrage to sell my own branded products online that had higher perceived value than competitors.

Shoppers do not look for products to buy. They want to buy a solution to a problem.

There are two kinds of problems you can solve:

• Real problem—which is about the function of a product

• Perceived problems—which is about the look of a product

Let’s take a baseball hat, for instance. It solves the problem of the sun torching my skin. It keeps me cool and shades my sensitive eyes to sunlight. It solves a real, material problem.

But there’s also an aesthetic reason to buy this hat. It looks cool. It solves a perceived problem. The design doesn’t make it any more functional. 

Baseball hats are pretty much all the same when it comes to solving a real problem. This one does the same job of keeping me cool as any other baseball hat. So, why did I buy this one instead of a completely different hat?

Because I appreciate the style. The design. It solves a perceived problem by looking awesome. Why did I buy it? I made an emotional decision. It’s not based on practicality. I already had another baseball hat at home that does the exact same thing of protecting my eyes and face from the sun’s harsh rays.

“Why solve a perceived problem instead of a real problem, Seth?”

Because it’s a cheaper kind of problem to solve. Suppliers already make baseball hats by the tens of thousands. They’ve perfected the art of it. If I ask, “Hey, could you stitch this cool design on the front,” they’d say, “Sure, pay us $3 dollars a hat.” And then I go and sell them for $30+ each.

But if I’m going to solve a real problem and make an improved hat or a novel product that solves the same problem the hat solves, then it gets into designing, sourcing materials, and asking the supplier to produce a completely new product. It gets more expensive.

Yes, you can do that. In fact, if you have the capital and the knowledge, I say absolutely solve a real problem. It’ll make it harder for other sellers to copy your product.

But when you’re low on cash, first solve a perceived problem. 

Find the right market niche using product research tools like Niche Hunter, go to DHGate or Alibaba and find products with at least 40% profit margin.

And then reinvest your profits to buy more inventory and eventually use those profits to launch another product.

You keep doubling and doubling—like it doubled my dime—and before you know it, you built a business that makes you passive income that allows you to do the things you love with the people you love.


Tell me in the comments what you have lying around your home that you can sell.

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Seth Kniep

Married a pearl. Fathered 4 miracles. Fired his boss. Turned a single dime into $104,857. Today, a self-made millionaire, Seth and his team of 8 badass coaches teach entrepreneurs how to build passive income on Amazon.

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