Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Station Trading

OK, you’ve decided on a life of crime.  Piracy!  YARR!  The first thing you’ll probably realize is that crime doesn’t pay (at least not very well).  Your cherished ships too often get blown up.  Your opponents’ ships get blown up leaving you nothing but wreckage.  Your opponents’ equipment sometimes survives, but often gets blown up too.  There isn’t a big profit margin. 

What to do?

I’ve turned to station trading for my ISK.  It’s relatively simple and not really time consuming (for me about 20-30 minutes twice a day).  And the profits should be enough to fund my Rifter Addiction.  You don’t need to fly anywhere or haul anything anywhere – just have a character just sit in Jita (or some other trade hub) and buy and sell items. 

Here’s how I’ve done it…

First I created an alt character – a Caldari (it’s not really important to be Caldari other than he is near Jita to start the game) – and immediately flew him to the biggest trade hub in the game – Jita (which is in Caldari space).  I then trained him to level 3 in three skills - Trade, Retail, and Broker Relations.  That takes about 18 hours of training and the skill books are cheap (buy them at your original school – not in Jita where they are expensive!).  With these skills I can have more than 40 active orders and Broker Relations cuts down my broker expenses by 15%.  Of the two, for my purposes, the Trade and Retail skills (to get more active orders) are the most important.  I then went back to training Jack Dancer to fly a rifter better…

Then I gave the character in Jita 5 million ISK to get started (a loan from another of my characters that was paid back in less than a week).

Now comes the tricky part…  What to buy and what to sell?  My advice is to first look at things that you regularly buy and sell when playing.  Guns, ammo, shields, armor reppers, shield extenders, missiles, etc.  Things that get purchased and used up so that more need to be purchased.  You want to find items with a relatively high volume of trading.  Then open the market window and see what price they are selling for and what price they are being purchased at. 

My first thought was the bigger the difference the better!  More profit!  But then I had second thoughts.  If the highest buy price is 2,000 ISK and the lowest selling price is 150,000 ISK – who’s going to sell one to me?  If I had one and saw that market, I would definitely have second thoughts of getting rid of the item for 2k.  It seems like it might be worth 150k to someone! 

So instead of looking for huge differences, I look for reasonable differences – 30% to 50% between the highest buy order and the lowest sell order.  That seems to be the place where people sell items and buy items.  If the item has a 2k buy price and a 3k sell price, people are going to be much more likely to sell it to me for the 2k so that I can then turn around and sell it to someone else for 3k.  Same with a 200k buy price and a 300k sell price.

When looking for items to trade I use a modified “burger method”.  I open up the market graph tab and look for a large hamburger patty and mustard in the middle! 

Look at this chart – it has a thick brown area in the middle (the “hamburger patty”) – meaning there is a good separation between the buy and sell prices.  You need to check this out though, because sometimes the graph appears to have a large brown area, but when you look at the legend on the left the scale of prices might be very close – go back to the “Market Data” page to get a look at the current gap in buy and sell orders, you are looking for something in the 30% to 50% profit range.

And on this example chart there is a string of yellow dots (“mustard”) that generally run through the middle of the brown area (meaning there are sales both above and below the yellow dot price).  This is a Very Good Thing™.  You want the yellow dots of “mustard” to be as close to the middle of the brown “patty” as possible.  If they are right in the middle that means there are as many items trading at the buy price as there are at the sell price.  So you should be able to buy items relatively easily and also sell them relatively easily.

If the “mustard” is at the top of the “patty” and never anywhere else, that means all the transactions are sales of the items.  You would have an easy time selling the item (if you had any), but probably no one will accept your buy order to get some in the first place.  Conversely, if the “mustard” is attached to the bottom of the “patty” that means that it’s easy to buy the item, but no one wants to buy it back from you at the sell price.  So always look for “mustard” through the middle of the “patty” and never stuck to the top or bottom.

Also check out the volume of sales (the bars sticking up on the bottom of the graph – or click on the “Show Table” button on the lower left side of the graph page) to be sure there are enough sales for the quantity that you intend to purchase (attempting to buy 1000 when only 5 are bought and sold a day will make for some very slow trading...).

So once you have found something to trade in – let’s say you find that Hobgoblin I drones have a reasonably sized patty, mustard through the middle, and (of course!) trade in a good volume – it’s time to buy and sell! 

When you look at the market screen you see that people are offering to buy Hobgoblins at various prices.  Click on the price column to sort so that the highest offer to buy is at the top of the list (be sure to only be looking at the Jita prices!).  You might see that the highest buy offer is 1801.58 ISK and the lowest sell order is 2431.35 ISK – a 35% profit on each Hobgoblin (minus broker’s fee and tax – probably about 2% - but I ignore this and don’t lose sleep over it).  You also might notice that there are offers of 1801.57 and 1801.56 and 1801.55 ISK below that top one.  What you want to do is click on the “Buy” button at the bottom of the market screen and select “Advanced” on the bottom right of the pop up screen.  Then put in your order for, let’s say 1000 Hobgoblin I drones and offer to pay .01 ISK more than the current high buy offer – so you offer 1801.59 ISK.  Then hit the “buy” button and you’ll see your offer to buy 1000 Hobgoblins now at the top of the list!  You’ll also have 1,801,590 ISK (1801.59 x 1000) taken out of your account (plus those “don’t lose sleep over them” fees) and put into escrow to pay for your upcoming purchases.

When people at Jita sell Hobgoblin I drones, they’ll sell the first 1000 to you.  Unfortunately, as you might have imagined by seeing that list of prices (1801.55, 1801.56, 1801.57, 1801.58) other people can change their orders to be .01 ISK higher than yours.  Sometimes this happens immediately, sometimes it never happens until you have purchased your items – it depends on the item, the demand, and the market activity.  The more often you check your orders and modify them to be at the top of the list the more chance you have of purchasing the items.  You also should take into account that you have a 5 minute “cooling down” period between setting a price and when you can next adjust it.

So let’s say someone comes along and sells you 130 Hobgoblin I’s.  They are now in your inventory.  Don’t get attached to them – sell them immediately!  Right click on them and select “check market price” to see the current sell price in Jita and then right click on them again and select “sell this item”.  You want to now sell the item for .01 ISK less than the lowest selling price on the market screen (be sure to sort it so that you have the lowest Jita selling price at the top of this list!).  If the lowest selling price is 2431.35 then you want to put your price at 2431.34 and hit the sell button.

With luck (and this is Jita, so it probably won’t take long) someone will come along and buy those 130 Hobgoblins and give you a nice 35% profit (about 80k ISK in this case – enough to buy about 40 more Hobgoblins with that quick profit!). 

Your original offer to buy 1000 Hobgoblins at 1801.59 will now show an offer to buy 870 (1000 – 130 = 870) and is still active.  It’ll stay unchanged until someone sells them to you, or you modify the price, or you cancel the order (in which case you get your escrow back but not the fees).  If someone has come along and offered to buy Hobgoblins at 1801.60 you should feel free to modify your offer to 1801.61 (it costs 100 ISK to modify your order and an additional escrow payment to match the new total offering price – again nothing to lose sleep over!).

One of the great things about station trading is that it’s a pretty passive activity and continues all day and all night long.  You don’t need to do anything more than occasionally check your orders and modify them to be the top buy offers and the bottom sell offers. 

I update my orders in the morning before work and again when I get home.  Plus sometimes again before I head to bed.  With about 20 buy and 20 sell orders it takes about 20-30 minutes to go through all the orders.  You don’t need to update your orders this often – daily will generate plenty of ISK.  Even weekly updates will generate ISK.  But the more often you move your orders to the top of the list the more often they’ll be accepted. 

In the three weeks that this character has been active I’ve made more than 50 million ISK in profit (the 50 million is currently all invested in buy and sell orders) plus (in addition!) I’ve piled up a nice stock of Rifters and ship equipment for Jack Dancer to destroy in PvP. 

Hope this helps!  Remember - YMMV.  Let me know if you have any questions.

-- For additional information you might want to look over this Eve University page and listen to some of their classes related to trading. --


  1. Very, very interesting. My hauler alt sits at Jita any way, ready to buy me ships. It looks like the training investment is low enough that this may be worth a try

  2. That was sorta my thought. I didn't really have a use for that alt, so thought I'd try this. It seems to work just fine for me.

    But be careful - don't turn to the dark side and give up pirating for accountancy!