As regular readers will be familiar with from my monthly character reviews I do small time station trading on alts to supplement Kirith's piracy income. One thing I get loads of questions about is station trading, how you do it, what to trade and where to trade....
Station trading can be done effectively on the same account as your main character using one or both of your other character slots, you don't need a second account. It takes less than a day of skill training to get a fair number of market orders available but for those who won't sacrifice any skill training time you have 5 usable market orders per character from the outset.
Even with just 5 orders you can make millions per day for less than 5 minutes effort. Not that you can expect this from day 1 mind you unless put up some decent starting capital. And whether you want to of course is another matter entirely as to some a few million per day is pocket change, however to a new pirate starting out it's quite useful.
I've netted over 4bn isk doing this since I started so I personally feel that it's worthwhile.
If you're still reading then perhaps you want to have a go.
First you'll need some capital, about 25 million should be plenty to get you going depending on what you're planning on trading (more on that later). Your starting capital also needs to vary according to the frequency you'll be monitoring the alt.
It is actually possible to start station trading with the 5,000 isk a new character starts with. I've done it as a trial before and during the span two weeks spending 10 minutes per day generated a healthy profit, anyways that's an aside.
Using the assumption of 5 orders you need to decide where you are going to trade. Lots of factors apply here, but really you want to choose a trade hub. Jita, Rens, Dodixie & Amarr are the main ones. Choosing a trade hub is important in my opinion for a few reasons:
1 - High footfall so lots of customers, thus more sales.
2 - Many people transport their mission loot to a trade hub to sell it.
3 - I think 3 of the four hubs listed have agents so mission runners will be back and forth doing point 2 above very frequently.
So you've chosen the station to trade from. Your station trader now needs to live in this station, they can leave but can only operate this service if they are physically there (though there are skills which affect this). Now you need to think about what to trade. This is one of the harder parts and your range of products will vary as trends change. Some points to consider:
1 - Do you want high turnover, potentially low profit margin? You rely on selling the cheapest and sell lots but don't make much on each sale.
2 - Do you want to trade in high cost items. You tie up many millions of isk (ignoring skills here) but make millions in each sale, typically making fewer sales.
3 - How about trading in low cost but high margin goods?
There are many more factors to consider, the 3 above just offer a flavour. Fear not though, as we are only doing this as a tertiary income source so let's not get cold sweats about it. It's also worth mentioning that items can swap category at any moment based on what other players do with their own trading, so don't get too hung up on it. Also you mustn't forget to take into account that you get charged to setup a buy order and charged a tax on everything you sell by the station.
Right. Now I should probably mention that in real life I'm an accountant so I like my spreadsheets. Trading just screams to me to want a spreadsheet so that you know how well you are doing with your Trading. You do not need to be this anal about it though! To save you, time effort and a headache I'll share the layout of mine with you:
So you've selected the 5 items you are going to trade. Great, now let's set-up buy orders for them. Here'a a step by step how to guide, I apologise for teaching grandma to suck eggs in most cases:
1 - Open the market screen.
2 - Select the search tab.
3 - Type in the name of the item you want to buy, or just part of the name. Eg, Langour Drive Disruptor can be found using Lang
4 - Click search or press enter.
5 - Left click the item you want to buy from the search results.
6 - In the right hand fields you will now have the existing buy (at the bottom) and sell (at the top) orders displayed.
7 - Before actually placing your order it's worth ensuring that your market screen is displaying the cheapest sell order first and the most expensive buy order first. You can change this order by left clicking the title of the price column.
8 - At the bottom centre right of the market window there's a Place Buy Order button. Left click it.
9 - A new smaller windows pops up, you can drag this around the screen and should position it so that you can still see the market window.
10 - Enter the amount of isk you want to pay for each item. I'd recommend that you set a buy price 0.01 isk more than the current most expensive buy price which is highlighted in green always making sure that you can still expect to make a profit when you come to sell the item.
11 - Next, you need to decide how many you want to buy. There is an element of trial and error here as although you can find out how many of your item are traded daily you cannot rely, especially as we are only spending a few minutes per day on having the best buy order all of the time. If you are buying modules then I advise to start at 1,2,5 or 10 and tweak future buy orders when you get a feel for their performance.
12 - Click ok/buy to setup the order.
13 - If you have used a spreadsheet, enter the details of your buy order.
14 - Repeat the process for your remaining buy orders.
The first time you do this you are probably best logging back to your main character and visiting your station trader again the next day.
So fast forward one day.
You come back, see that you have items in your hangar but you haven't had all of your buy orders fulfilled. This is the norm.
Open your wallet. Click the orders tab and you will see your remaining outstanding buy orders in the bottom half of the window. You now need to amend those orders to be back on the top of the pile as most expensive buy order (assuming you can still profit by doing so). To do this:
1 - Going through your buy orders one by one. Right click the first buy order shown on the orders page and select View Market Details.
2 - If your order is still the most expensive....
A - And you haven't fulfilled even part of it, you should consider cancelling it and buying I different item.
B - It has been part fulfilled, consider reducing your buy quantity next time.
3 - If your order is no longer the most expensive then again right click your buy order shown on your buy orders page and select Modify.
4 - A new window pops up and you should amend your price to be the most expensive buy order in green by 0.01 isk.
5 - Record your alterations on your spreadsheet, including the quantity you have managed to buy.
6 - Repeat for your remaining buy orders.
So, you're back on top of the buy pile. Now we need to deal with those nice stacks of items which have had their buy orders fulfilled by selling them and earning a tidy profit. We are only going to sell the items where the entire buy order was fulfilled as we only have a maximum of 5 combined buy/sell orders available to us. Again, here's how to do it:
1 - Right click the first stack of items. Select Sell Item.
2 - A new window appears. The first time this happens you need to click the Advanced button in the bottom right.
3 - Click the magnifying glass icon which will show you the market screen for that item.
4 - Enter your sell price 0.01 isk lower than the current cheapest sell price you can see in station.
5 - The first time you do this you need to set how long to sell for, choose 3 months then tick remember settings. It'll then remember so you don't need to do it again.
6 - Click Sell
7 - Update your spreadsheet.
8 - Repeat for the rest of your fulfilled orders.
Fast forward another day and you need to repeat the processes. Only now you're updating both your buy and sell orders. Your wallet balance will grow and you can refine and tweak your products and orders to suit.
So why station trade rather than use orders across a system or number of jumps? Well for me it's simple, I don't have to leave station. Leaving station and ferrying goods is going to take more time and trading isn't my main objective, it's a supplement. More time on Kirith means more time to explode ships.
There are a bunch of extra factors which i haven't scratched the surface of which affect station traders. These are things like standings with the Corporation who own the station, taxes on buying goods and selling goods. Escrow vs hard isk and I'm sure others too.
There are also advanced techniques to trading such as market manipulation and many others, this is only meant to be a basic guide.
Wow I've waffled on a long time...
While writing this I figured, why not just run this as a worked example in game for a short period of time....
I'm going to use Dodixie as my base and will report back.