Monday, March 4, 2013

30 Day Market Challenge Wrap Up

This is meant to be a moderate guide for anyone looking to try and make some money station trading in Eve.  I will not go into arbitrage, which is buying in one region and hauling to another, nor is this about industry.  The main focus is making money in stations.  Station trading is the act of placing buy orders above the competition, then selling the goods from those buy orders as sell orders.  The profit is the margin between your (high) buy price and your subsequent (low) sell price.

Time Required

I am a graduate student.  This means I have the luxury of being able to carry a laptop with me all day and periodically (every few hours) log in and check my orders on the market.  At minimum you want to check your orders in the morning, once or twice during the day, and in the evening.  I personally like to check my orders one last time before bed, as that lets you get below or above other US TZ players that may have already turned in for the day.  This obviously changes based on your TZ.  The more you can update, the more successful you will be.  Updating orders takes about 5 to 10 minutes.


How much do you know about Eve?  If you know what most of the modules do, you will be in a good position to understand which modules to buy.  If you do not understand modules, I suggest you enter the Eve blog community or talk to your corp mates.  Understanding how many units to sell and how many an individual buyer might buy is good.  Weapons usually go in sets, for example 7 missile launchers fit on a Drake.  Propulsion mods are only needed once per ship.  Learn this stuff.

Once you understand the mods, there is a wonderful feature in game called Market History.  There are two views, a table and a graph.  The graph is not very useful in my opinion, outside of looking at the historical trend of an item.   What Large Shield Boosters sold for last January is not useful for a day trader.  The direction it is trending is.  The table shows how many items sold each day, and the low and high values that item sold at.  The quantity traded should be over 50, and the margin should somewhat reflect the spread you see in the buy and sell orders in normal view.  Also pay attention to the high and low values.  If they are near each other, and near either the current buy or sell price, odds are the action on the item is slanted towards either buying or selling.  You don;t want to go in on an item that is only selling or only buying.  You cannot flip that item.

WTF?  Useless...

That's useful.

This brings us to margin.  Simply put, margin is the difference between the highest sell order and the lowest buy order.  The spread is probably the most you profit on the item.  In reality profit will be less, as you will raise the buy order price and lower the sell order price over time, and eat away at that initial margin.  Taxes and transaction fees will also reduce the margin.  In my estimation, margin of less than about 10% is probably not going to make you much unless you have amazing skills.


You will need, at minimum, the following:
  • Trade 4
  • Retail 4
  • Accounting 4
  • Broker Relations 4

Trade and Retail get you more orders, up to about 54 or so at level 4 in each.  You need enough order slots to have buy and sell orders up to cover each item, give or take.  The reason for this is once you starting flipping orders it helps to be able to list your inventory as you get it.  Accounting and Broker Relations lower the overall cost of making orders, which is not huge, but you can cut it down so that relisting and canceling orders will cost you less.  Handy when you see someone dump 10 modules for a sell order 500k less than everyone else and you want to buy them and relist all your inventory as one order.


Here is the meat of this beast.  How do you actually make money?  First, start small.  Buy 5-10 of items with good margins.  Even if you have billions of isk lying around and think “Hey, I can do this market thing!”, don’t invest it all.  Start with low value, decent margin items and learn the speed of competition, watch a few piles of inventory get reduced to nothing as a big fish crashes the sell value, and learn to watch the market.  By watch the market, I mean stick with a few items for a few days.  You’ll start to get a feel for how the market can ebb and flow.  Flip buy orders of 10k to sell orders of 50k.  Get your feet wet.

After a few days, you should have a fair bit more money off your starting investment.  Keep cool.  Expand slowly.  Buy in small amounts that can be flipped easily and quickly.  Remember the 50+ volume number I talked about earlier?  Don’t get suckered into investing in something with a huge margin and low turnover.  You’ll fail to make money.  Get familiar with the idea of “velocity of money”.  More small orders moving faster makes you more money.

At this point you may have a few tens of millions to work with.  Start increasing the value of the items you buy.  Upgrade from 10k modules to 100k modules.  The margins might get a bit better.  I shoot for a margin of 10% or more.  This can vary, but a decent margin leaves you less vulnerable to dramatic changes in the order values.  After a few more days you may be getting close to 100m or two in total capital.  Again, be careful!

Keep limiting your inventory.  A hangar full of modules is a pile of isk that is doing nothing!  You are better off keeping that isk liquid than holding stock.  I rarely buy more than 10 to 20 items at a time, unless they are low value and very high turnover (in the hundreds of orders per day range).  Pretty soon you should have a handle on what to buy, what times of day are good for flipping items, and you should be getting a feel for the market.  Only increase your investments in small increments and keep your eyes on whatever your goal is.


What to buy?  I focus on meta items.  These are items that cannot be manufactured, and have the “weird” names.  Industrialists produce tons of tech I and tech II items, and the volumes look great, but the margins are low and the competition is fierce.  You will likely never get to buy or sell the “vanilla” items unless you can sit in front of your computer screen for hours every day, and that rather defeats the purpose of this whole endeavor.  If you do not believe me, go look at the market screen for Large Shield Extender II.  I am willing to bet your screen shows a huge list in the buy and sell orders, they are all .01 isking each other, and the margin is so low your taxes and fees will eat any potential profits.

Once you start buying your meta items, you’ll notice margins change.  A lot.  Don’t worry.  If you bought at 300k, intending to sell at 1m, and the sell price drops to 500k while you got your stock, you have two options.  Sell at 500k, and make 200k profit, or hold your stock for a day or a few hours and wait to see what is happening.  Once you get enough isk, you can start looking for sell orders that are driving the price down and buy them, relisting at a higher price.  These are orders where someone lists a small quantity, say 5 units, at a large markdown.  So low that you can buy and relist and make a marginal profit.  As your isk pool grows, you’ll learn how you can manipulate the market prices by doing this.  Sometimes you’ll find a big pile of items selling for way below the next highest order.  This is a profitable opportunity!

Non-Module Items

There are ways to make money off items that are not ship modules.  I have not dabbled in this all that much.  But know this:  You can set remote orders specific to mission hubs to buy cheap mission loot and haul it to a trade hub.  You can buy skillbooks and bring them to a market hub and try to resell them higher in order to take advantage of impatient players.  You can dabble in PI goods, materials, and pirate tags.  All you need to consider is how much time various strategies will take, and if it is worth it to you to branch out from your trade hub and add hauling goods to your trading business.


Where should you set up shop?  At the time of writing, the obvious choices are Jita, Amarr, Rens and Dodixie.  These are the informal trade hubs of Eve. Jita is the biggest, and also has the most orders and players to compete with.  Also keep in mind that many times the weapons that are traded in these hubs relate to the rats nearby.  Dodixie has a lot of Hybrid turrets.  Rens has more Projectiles.  Amarr has a lot of Energy weapons.  Outside Jita margins can be better, but volume is lower.  This may help or hurt you.  I recommend you try out each hub and see which you like, which is more to your pace of play.


They exist.  Market bots that simply update every damn time you try to place an order.  You can’t do too much about them, other than cancel your buy orders and try to move your sell orders.  Alternatively, you could ladder up the price of the buy order buy setting a few small buy orders and cranking the price slowly up.  This works by slowly, over a few hours, incrementally raising the buy price until the bot stops matching you.  If you can get it high enough, sell your inventory to the bot and find solace in the fact that you gamed the bot for a bit of isk, and hurt the bot’s bottom line.  You won’t make as much, but it can be satisfying.

Is this the game you want to play?


This is not the end-all, be-all guide to market trading.  It is not a guide to market PvP, as such.  It is simply a basic guide to get you started in the market with a few guiding principles.  I like to trade in modules.  You might want to look at something else.  Here are the core ideas in this guide, restated for your edification:
  • Learn about what you are trading so you recognize the reasons behind trends and useful quantities.
  • Learn the various in game market tools, the price history graphs and tables.
  • Watch your margins, and cut your losses if needed.
  • Train your skills appropriately to take advantage of the markets.
  • Start small and organically, and take time to learn the market, there is a lot going on besides the numbers.
  • Stock not trading is isk not growing. 

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