Over the weekend, I decided to try my hand at some trading. I used both my DST and my BR on two empires-wide trading roam circuits that constituted a total of about 15 hours or so of total gameplay. I won’t post details of profits made because numbers-wise it’s not particularly impressive (primarily because my starting capital was low, which limited how much isk I could put in play to profit off the margins). But I did learn some things making newbie mistakes that might help guide other fledgling traders.
As you may have gathered from previous posts, I recently skilled into Gallente transport ships, and I bought an Occator deep space transport (fitting post–see comments for additional fits) and a Viator blockade runner (fitting post soon). And though I had previously taken each on test flights and short trips within my region, I thought it was time to really put these ships through their paces.
I started out flying my MWD/Cloak Occator and ran through Oulley (often dangerous pirate system) to Orvolle, which is the largest trade hub in the region. This would be the start point of my trading roam. Orvolle has regional exits to Syndicate (not that I had any plans to enter PF-346) and Essence.
“Basically, the plan was to
keep on trucking and go
where the deals took me.”
I used the trade tool on EVE-Central to get me started identifying any profitable outbound trades from Orvolle>Essence. As I recall, there weren’t any current deals to be had, so I departed Placid and entered Essence with an empty hold.
With my DST’s 55,000 m3 fleet hangar, I decided to take advantage of that available space by doing a little trade good commodity trading. With a combination of EVE-Central trade tool use and in-game market analysis, I looked for trade goods (such as Hydrochloric Acid or Electronic Parts) with low sell order price and high buy order price, leveraging my large hold to make my profit off the high number of units times the per unit profit margin.
This is trading at its most basic. It’s not insanely profitable, but it has the advantage of having a low isk entry point to get started. I had a rough idea for what I wanted to do on this trading roam. Basically, the plan was to keep on trucking and go where the deals took me. Depending on what was available along my general path of travel, I hauled a combination of courier contracts, player-used item trades, and/or trade goods.
“Once you’ve found an item with a decent profit margin, then you have to look at the logistics of it. Do the quantities match up? Does your profit margin outweigh the taxes on the transaction? Is your final profit worth how many jumps it will take?”
When I first entered Essence, I warped to a random location and cloaked up as I buried my head in the market, looking at what was available. My method for trolling the market is to sort the sell orders to put the lowest price first. Then I sort the buy orders to put the highest price first. Then it’s just a matter of going through items until you find ones with a higher available buy order than the lowest available sell order.
Once you’ve found an item with a decent profit margin, then you have to look at the logistics of it. Do the quantities match up? Does your profit margin outweigh the taxes on the transaction? Is your final profit worth how many jumps it will take? It’s not enough to find a good margin, you have to find a good margin that also meets these other criteria, or you’re not going to see a worthwhile return.
Sometimes when you find a good deal, the pickup station for it is clear across the region, and it’s wasteful going that far with an empty hold. So, you’ve identified the main trade you want to accomplish. To maximize your hauling efficiency, it’s then time to identify what you’re going to haul to that pickup station so you’re making some kind of profit on your way to where you need to go. Go ahead and set your route for that main trade to help with the next step.
Re-sort the market window to show sell orders by their distance in jump, with closest orders first. Then, the way I do it, is sort the buy orders by name, and scroll down to your first destination, the pickup station for your main trade. Then it’s the same process to check for available trades. But this time you’re looking for a pickup sell order that’s within just a few jumps of you, going to a buy order that’s either at your main trade pickup station, or along your existing route (if you have a route planned, those systems will be highlighted in yellow text in the market interface).
Your ideal situation for trade good routes is to identify interlocking routes. A profitable trade route from system X to system Y. A second profitable route from system Y to system Z. And a return route from system Z to system X. It can take a lot of research over time to figure out an interlocking series of routes like that, especially considering that one or more of the routes may be played out when the others are active. But if you can identify such a circuit, or a more direct X to Y, Y to X route, it can be profitable just running that until your trades play out the current orders.
It’s usually best to find that kind of route in your home region. On my trading roam I wasn’t trying to get too intricate with my routes. My process was essentially to check EVE-Central for a heads up on any available inter-regional trades, then for intraregional trade good routes, and check for courier contracts. I got into a system of running whatever profitable trade good routes existed within the region, then I’d do a final run like that to the pickup station of a good inter-regional trade I got from EVE-Central. I’d run whatever courier contracts happened to fall along my route of travel if I had free space. And then I’d end up in a new region and do the same.
“Don’t discount the long game.
Patience and planning will serve you
better than making snap decisions
to be the first on a deal.”
I followed that trading process from Essence to Sinq Laison, The Citadel, Lonetrek, and then to The Forge. Once I got to the Forge, I made my way to Jita and changed things up a bit. I shifted away from trade good trading, and started looking for Jita to trade hub runs. I made a couple of Jita to Dodixie round trips before deciding that it was time to switch ships. I filled up my hold with Nocxium from Dodixie and ran it back into Placid to fill a buy order.
Then I climbed into my blockade runner. In doing the Jita to Dodixie trips, I realized that the most profitable trades usually were on smaller items (implants/blueprints/etc.) as opposed to needing the bulk capacity of my DST. In my Viator, I set course for Amarr. With my BR, I settled into running between Jita and the other major hubs, hauling whatever had a good profit margin. EVE-Central is more up-to-date at the hubs, so it proved a little more useful in finding opportunities. The flip side of that is, those opportunities do not last long at all.
So I spent a few hours crisscrossing between Amarr, Jita, Rens, Hek, and Dodixie. This is where I made the most mistakes. In my rush to capitalize on fleeting deals, my enthusiasm sometimes got ahead of my due diligence. Occasionally, I bought things I didn’t have the capacity for in my BR (just not paying attention to cargo volume constraints after switching from DST to BR), and other times I didn’t calculate the margins correctly. I’d find a nice margin off a high-price item, and run the trade, and end up breaking even because of taxes. Hint: train up Accounting once you start making trades involving about 2/3 of a billion isk.
I was still trading to buy orders for the immediate return. A longer game plan, or an alternative if your intended buy order gets fulfilled before you get there, is to go ahead and place your trade as a sell order. You’ll need to be able to afford having however much capital your trade represents tied up in an order. You’ll need to have patience while you’re waiting for it to sell, and you’ll need to be relatively on the ball with checking and updating that order, especially if you’re in a hub. Even more especially if you’re selling in Jita. For Jita sell orders, I’d almost recommend handing it off to an alt who sits in Jita all the time, keep that alt open in the background as you continue hauling and just periodically check it and play the .01 isk game until it sells.
It’s more of a hassle, but buying a low sell order to place your own higher sell order in another location opens up your margins and selection of potentially profitable trades significantly. Don’t discount the long game. Patience and planning will serve you better than making snap decisions to be the first on a deal.
I enjoyed my trade roam. I have a lot to learn still, but I’m satisfied with the experience I gained, and I find the process stimulating (even if it can be tedious at times). I’ll definitely be making more trade roams in the future.