72: Craigslist Arbitrage: How to Make Money Flipping Items on Craigslist

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Ryan Finlay from ReCraigslist.com makes a full-time living (and supports his family of 7) buying and selling items on Craigslist.

In fact, he used this business to pull himself out from $25,000 in debt and now teaches others to do the same.

This is really one of the most fascinating side hustle stories I’ve come across because there’s a Craigslist for your city that is probably teeming with “inventory” for you to run a similar business.

I’ve been wanting to get Ryan on the show since last year so I’m excited we were finally able to connect. The Craigslist arbitrage game seems very attainable; no technical skills required and not a lot of startup capital necessary (Ryan started with just $200 in the bank).

His operation follows the basic adage of “buy low, sell high,” but does so in a systematic and repeatable way.

Think you could earn an extra $50-100 per deal, or per day? Ryan gives the inside scoop on how to get it done.

There’s an inspiring story arc here, that goes from experimenting in a bunch of different product categories, to finding a niche, to helping others in their business.

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  • How a couple early wins hooked him on the business.
  • How he broke down his goals into a daily earnings target.
  • How his friends provided a daily accountability system to make sure he was working.
  • Ryan’s process for finding undervalued items, and his favorite items to flip for a profit.
  • His process to cut through the clutter on Craigslist and contact sellers.
  • Why he doesn’t negotiate hard on every deal.
  • What other product categories people have done well with.
  • Ryan’s best practices for finding free products to flip.
  • Ryan’s #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation.


What do you think? Could you start this weekend and find one or two undervalued items? I might have to give this a shot!

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

14 thoughts on “72: Craigslist Arbitrage: How to Make Money Flipping Items on Craigslist”

  1. Another great side hustle idea. Really like it! Thanks Nick and Ryan!
    Now planning on building a garage and tearing out the seats in my car!

  2. Hmmmm…. this one is a miss and not good at all. I was interested in hearing this podcast because I myself have been buying and selling stuff on CL for about 6 or 7 years. Totally on the side with maybe 1-5 hours a month (yes, a month). Most months I don’t buy anything… I probably spend 1/2 the year on CL buying/selling (when my other business slows down). In the last 5 years I’ve made almost 100k profit buying and selling anything from tools, to concert tickets, to bike parts, to lamps, to RVs/motorcycles/boats. At any given time I can switch from one category to the next based on what is “hot” or my storage and inventory constraints.

    This is all pretty simple stuff…. find something (or an area) you know about, search for items on CL, see the trends, and buy it under the market prices, and list/sell in the right season (if applicable to the item). ANYONE can figure that out. So my comment and negativity is this: Although I do like Ryan’s story and don’t want to beat him down, his tips and advice were very basic and common knowledge. There’s nothing he said or advised that is of use to someone wanting to get into this side hustle. For example, there are many “tools” I use – websites, apps, etc. to help me with my purchases or sales… and either Ryan is withholding them, or he is not savvy enough to have found them (the latter is my guess) . They are not hard to find… and CL is so popular that there are lots of these tools out there.

    Lastly…. appliances and furniture… really? Could you pick an item that is harder to pick-up, transport, stock, and deliver (if needed to close the deal). WOW! That is the worst… and it also completely limits himself to only sell his items for “local pick-up only.” 95% of the items I buy can be resold online… to the WORLDWIDE market… why limit yourself to your city and surrounding neighborhoods. No bueno!

    I could go on and on about how misguided his advice is, but I will leave it at that.

    The one good thing I took away from this podcast is that I’m WAAAAY ahead of this “expert,” so that was nice…

    Nick, you have a great podcast and I enjoy nearly all of your interviews… terrific guests, insightful questions, and great rhetoric. This one missed the mark due to your guests lack of expertise… I look forward to the next one!

    • Hey Edwin, sorry this one didn’t do it for you, but appreciate the honest feedback. Sounds like you’re already a Craigslist pro! I definitely like the idea of picking up items locally that could be re-sold online. Any tools/apps you can share that help with that tactic?

    • Hi Edwin, I’m part of a team of three developing a software product that can help frequent Craigslist sellers like yourself avoid spam, scams, and save time. We’re interested in learning from you about your experience and your pain points and potentially having you try the product in its early stages. Please shoot me an email wongisllc@gmail.com if interested, we’d love to hear from you.

  3. Great post and topic. I just launched a website that will scan the products on craigslist and compare the prices of the items with amazon and ebay and display the potential profit. I was wondering if you might consider doing a product review on it. The website is https://www.arbitrage.pro

  4. I buy computers / components / peripherals on craigslist and resell them. I also build quite a few custom computers for people on there as well. You need a big enough city that offers some selection, but a small enough city so that you aren’t wasting your time going back and forth too much. And basically – if you know what things are and how much things are worth, you buy them when there are good deals, then turn around and sell them for more. I often will buy a new fancy case, add a video card, or do other things like that to make an item more attractive.

    • Hi Louis, I’m part of a team of three working on a software product that is aiming to help Craigslist sellers like yourself avoid spam, scams, and save time. We’re looking for feedback about the product and would love your insight. Shoot me an email at wongisllc@gmail.com if interested!

  5. enjoyed the article. I did find one tool that is a cool craigslist tool. It is called Arbitrage.pro. The software scans craigslist and compares the products with amazon and ebay pricing and shows you the products you can flip for a profit. Pretty cool system and cheap…https://www.Arbitrage.Pro

  6. Hi, I am from Bangladesh. Can anyone help me with the information whether this site is helpful for trading from Bangladesh? If so does any one have any interest to source products from here? I am searching to do something of my own beside my job. So looking for …. Appreciate your suggestions.


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