Lessons Learned By A Budding Trader
I'll start by admitting that I'm an EVE newbie. Adding up all my trial accounts plus current characters, I've earned maybe 4M SP in my life. I am trading in lots of items that I've never used, and that would take me weeks of training to be able to use. Some of my goods I don't even know what they're useful for; I only know that they make me sweet, sweet isk. Despite my relative naivete with EVE, after about two months of trading on my market alt, I'm well on my way to being a billionaire. I have no sugar-daddies, and I've never bought a PLEX. It's a nice feeling to know that your main character will have an ample supply of isk for whatever escapades he/she desires. What's more, this stuff is easy and not terribly time-consuming. I am simply baffled when I see people complaining about not being able to earn funds. So, this posting is a "thank-you" for all the free advice I've received in E-UNI channels. It is mostly geared towards newer traders.
Browse the other posts on this forum and the various guides that are available on the web. There is a wealth of knowledge out there. My assumptions about you, the beloved reader:
- You have (or can create) an alt that you're willing to park in a market area, to which you are willing to devote ~1M SP of Trade skill training. (Either by pausing training on your main character, or spending a PLEX on one month of Multiple Character Training.)
- You have basic familiarity with the trade skills and what they do.
- You can name 4 or more trade hub systems (and preferably can rank them in order of decreasing market activity).
- You know how to place buy orders.
- You know how to place sell orders.
Go train until you have at least 20 market order slots (and at least ~10M isk to invest), then come back and we can get started.
The next step is to pick a region to focus your activities in. You want a region that has a healthy, active market, with a nice defined market hub. You don't want a ghost-town region, but you also probably don't want the shark-infested waters of Jita. Find something in-between. Profit margins will be higher in quieter regions, but volume will be lower. Experiment to find the sweet spot. Once you pick your region, research it extensively to find out its intricacies. You need to learn where goods enter the market, and where goods are liquidated. This is highly correlated with the location of the large mission hubs in the region. Use the statistics feature of your star map to research this (look at # of pilots currently docked, #of pilots in space, #of pirates killed, etc). You will get a better feel for the inflows and outflows of your region as you begin to trade. Learn the borders of high-sec/low-sec in your region. Learn where the worthless newbie zones are. Learn where the pirates hang out. Print out a map (http://evemaps.dotlan.net/) if that helps. Does the layout of jumps lend itself to any natural circuits that visit important systems? Know your region!
How To Pick Items To Trade
When choosing which items to trade in, learn to read the price history graph. I generally endorse the Bullworth Burger approach: (http://www.eve-ivy.com/wiki/index.php?title=How_to_identify_items_to_trade). However, you can't just judge the "thickness" of the burger by eyeballing the number of brown pixels from top to bottom of the patty. This can be distorted by those annoying price outliers (which are usually people slipping up and adding or subtracting a zero by accident). You have to actually read the values on the y-axis. I know, life is tough. Also glance at the number of of buy and sell orders for the candidate item -- this can indicate how much competition you can expect on the item. Another way of finding desirable items is to watch fittings. Save every fitting that is posted in eve chat by a knowledgeable person. Browse random highly-rated battleclinic fittings (eg. http://eve.battleclinic.com/loadout/25797-Hurricane-Dark-Fusion-Terror-L3-Mission-Runner.html) to get clues as to what might be in demand. Common sense about what is desirable can go a long way as well. People like blowing up other people. People like preventing themselves from being blown up. People like going fast, etc. Items which help do these things will always be popular. Be willing to reevaluate your list of items periodically, both as your pool of capital grows, and as the market fluctuates. Reapply the Bullworth method with great vengeance. If a particular item has ceased being profitable, give it a rest for a while, and swap it for something else. This is natural, and expected.
How To Buy
You make your money on your buy orders, not on your sell orders. Yes, I realize that sounds odd, but it's true. I find there is more room for cleverness in how you acquire your goods than in how you liquidate them. Most people engaging in market activity are far more likely to sell something at a stupidly low price than they are to buy something at a stupidly high price, so with your buy orders you can really capitalize on this. What type of trader do you want to be? Are you willing to move around a few jumps here and there to get some really excellent deals? Some prefer to engage only in station-trading, never leaving the confines of their comfy market hub. I find this approach too limiting, and recommend (especially early in your career) you be willing to travel a bit. Decide where you want to cast your net, and how wide you want it to be. You want your net to encompass as many mission hubs as possible and as few "junk/filler" systems as possible. Do not include pirate systems within your net unless you really know what you are doing (you can get some great prices, but the risk is quite high). Personally, I fly two jumps out from the trade hub to place my buy orders and center my net in a good location. Most of my buy orders span 5 jumps. Occasionally I will place a low-ball region-wide order, but only if it would really be worth traveling to the far reaches to pick up. Occasionally I do station-only buys at the hub (typically for certain types of ammo). To determine price and range, find the gaps in the market. DO NOT just mindlessly stack on top of the highest buy order at the trade hub. Example scenario:
Items A, B, and C all sell for 2M per. Item A has lots of station-only hub buys up for 1.8M, some 5-jump buys for 1.4M, and some region buys for 1.3M. Item B has station-only buys for 1.5M, 5-jump buys for 1.4M, region buys for 1.3M. Item C has station-only buys for 1.8M, 5-jump buys for 1.5M, and region buys for 0.7M. With my current style of trading, I would place: 5-jump buy of A @ 1.4001M per, 5-jump buy of B @ 1.5001M per, and region-buy of C @ 0.7001M per.
Sometimes I look at the price history graph first, use the Donchian channel to eyeball "at what price would I be happy to buy?" Then I flip back to the market data. If a buy order at that price would be unlikely to be filled, I may skip to the next item. Divide your available capital fairly evenly among your goods. If you have 30 slots that you want to fill with buy orders and 25% of your liquid isk goes into escrow for your first buy order, yer doin' it wrong. Don't place a buy order for more than half the daily trade volume (the green bars at the bottom of the graph) of an item unless you know what you're doing. Buy buy buy. Any time you have free money, reinvest it as a low-priced buy order. Don't let money sit idle in your wallet. The exception to this is once you train Margin Trading, you will need to leave a buffer in your wallet to absorb any surprise buys.
How To Collect Your Goods
Don't bother collecting until you really need to sell. The longer you can delay your collects, the fewer total collects you do and the more efficient your travels are. Initially use a frig with ~400m^3 of cargo, upgrade to an industrial with 5000+m^3 when stuff really starts flowing in. Decide what your threshold on isk / jump is, and don't jump to pick something up if it's below that threshold. For the love of Cthulhu, don't travel three jumps to pick up 100 units of Antimatter S ammo -- you'll go blind. (The corollary is that when buying, don't cast a wide net for low-valued items. Thankfully you'll learn quick after making this mistake.) I typically collect from my mission hubs once a week (typically fri/sat). Other systems I visit much less frequently. If collecting from a pirate system, proceed at caution and with an empty cargohold. Always warp to 0, never use autopilot.
How To Sell (And When)
Compared with buying, my sell philosophy is pretty simple. I have the skills to sell things remotely, but mostly I just collect and sell everything at the main regional hub. I try to sell on Saturday, after the midweek low-priced goods sell off a bit. Volume is definitely up Fri-Sat-Sun, so ride that wave if you can. If you are fortunate enough to be holding a good that the hub sells out of, don't get too greedy, you'll just be undercut and left looking foolish.
Updating Your Buy And Sell Orders
This is the activity that occupies most of your trading time. Perhaps once or twice a day, if you can stomach it, log on and check that your orders are where you want them to be in the heap. Competitors tend to update their sell orders more frequently than their buy orders, so expect more shuffling on the sell side. My sequence looks like this:
- Log on in the market hub station.
- Update all my existing sell orders.
- Place new sell orders if there are items handy in local inventory.
- Fly to my buying station (the center of my "net").
- Update all my existing buy orders.
- Place new buy orders if any have been completely filled or if I want to dabble in new stuff.
- Log off, play outside, etc.
The next time I log in, I will do things in the reverse order, (update buys first, then fly back to market hub and update sells).
Your time is valuable. Always keep an eye out for ways to streamline your operations. I'm particularly fond of using a set 2-digit cent extension for easy visual identification, and of using the split wallet-market display updating technique. Don't bother double checking each order update -- if you made a mistake you'll catch it during your next update session. Turn off automatic updating of the market window to reduce lag. Watch for market over-corrections, and capitalize on them. Example: I was eye-balling Item X for a week or two. Even though I knew X was still actively used by players, X had been steadily declining in value for months (another example of a long term, probably patch-related EVE trend I don't fully understand) from ~1.7M down to ~1.24M. There were lots of old buy orders up for ~1.2M. As the sell price steadily plummeted towards these old buy prices (vanishing margin), more and more panicked traders flooded the market with sell orders as they tried to dump a depreciating asset. The next day when I checked, the highest buy order had lurched down to ~0.7M. This struck me as an over-correction, so I finally struck, placing a buy order and making some nice money. The point is, even a depreciating asset can be profitable. Keep an eye out.
Skills And Future Direction
Here are the current skills of my trading alt:
- Broker Relations
- Margin Trading
Total Skillpoints in Group: 1,119,060
Please note that you can start trading long before you reach these numbers. Also, this isn't the "ideal" stopping point, it's just a snapshot of where I've landed. This feels like an ok pausing point for my trader, so I've switched my training queue back to my main. I have 60-some market slots, and that is sufficient for now. There's no doubt that I could increase my rate of isk earning further by pushing a bit harder (first priority would be a rank or two of Wholesale, and perhaps one more rank of Margin Trading), but hey, the missus needs attention too. Initially I was excited by the potential strategy of Marketing, Procurement, and Visibility. But to be honest, with my style of trading they haven't been terribly useful to me. By contrast, I couldn't live without Margin Trading, Daytrading (great for updating orders on-the-go), my fee-reducers (Accounting/Broker Relations), and my number of market slots. I have not tried using courier contracts to have my goods gathered for me, but this is definitely something I plan on experimenting with.
Hope this helps any up-and-coming traders. Good luck and fly safe. o7