Nine ways to make a fortune: 1 – Station Trading
I was having a chat with some friends about all the different ways you can make money in EVE Online that don’t involve running missions or killing NPC ships or being a pirate or scammer. I came up with nine, which, as far as I can tell, puts EVE Online head and shoulders above any other MMO. What’s more, these nine don’t include money making methods involving piracy, skulduggery or general jacknappery!
Since there are so many approaches to making cash (often great “side” businesses suitable for alts) I’m going to write each one up over a series of posts providing as much detail as I am able. Note, it’s nigh-impossible to know everything there is to know about the systems in EVE Online, so this will be my best effort and comments/thoughts are welcome.
Technique 1: Market Trading
This is what I do with Sister Calistas. I sit in a station and set buy orders and when they are filled I list the item for sale and make money on the difference between the buy and sell price. The skill requirements to do this sort of task profitably are relatively low but you ideally need to get Trade to 5, Retail to 5, Accounting and Broker Relations to at least 4 and Margin Trading to 4 (very handy skill), if not 5. Wholesale to level 4 can’t really be avoided either. All up it’s at most about 1.5m Skill Points – a great option for an alt.
To make money at this technique you look for gaps in the buy and sell prices. First, pull up your market screen, sort the screen so that the lowest price items are at the top of the “sell” window and the highest priced buy orders are at the top of the “buy” window. Now you need to check prices. If you’re working out of a hub like Amarr, Rens or Jita have a look at the price of, say, a Raven. See that the lowest priced ship for sale is usually a few million higher than the highest buy price in the system you’re working from. If the highest buy price is 70m and the lowest sell price is 75m you’ve got a window to work with!
From here the player can place a buy order (set to last three months, say) for a Raven at 70,000,001.00 and hope that it gets filled. When it does by some player who can’t be bothered messing about with sell orders, you can then re-list that item for just under the lowest sell price, say 74,999,999.00. When your Raven sells, you have now made 5m (minus taxes)! Super!
But it’s not so easy. First of all, anyone can right-click on their orders in their wallet window, select “modify” and adjust their order for a measly 100 isk. They can do this every four minutes. So you will usually find that your order will not be at the top of the buy list (or bottom of the sell list) for terribly long. That might be ok if there are a lot of items being sold, or it might drive you crazy. Either way it is likely you will find yourself adjusting at least a few of your buy and sell orders a couple of times a day.
Clearly, the trick is to find items with good volume (data available from the “market history” tab on the market screen for that item), good spread (the difference between buy and sell prices) and few people bidding on them (look at the buy list and see when the order was last updated, a series of orders which have expire times of x-days/weeks/months and 23 hours-and-some-minutes indicate a number of recently updated orders and potentially a lot of price change headaches for you. Products that expire in something-and-ten-hours indicate few people competing to buy that item).
Finding the perfect product is not easy. You will have to compromise and chose a market segment which you feel you understand a bit and is still going to produce a bit of profit for you. But don’t worry, there’s money to be made in everything from minerals at a few isk a unit up to T3 ships at hundreds of millions a unit. Chose a niche and work it!
At this point it is worth bringing up “region” vs. “station” buy orders. Most people are only interested in placing orders for the hub station they are in, that is, they are setting the “range” of the buy order to “station” and nothing more. They don’t want to be setting a region-wide range and end up buying a Raven in Bumfuck Nowhereville as it will be hard to sell it to anyone out there. But, if you scroll down through a buy list you will usually see someone has placed a “10 jumps” or “20 jumps” or “region wide” buy order for just about any item you care to name. The price for wide-ranging buy orders is often lower than the buy price for “station” buy orders – reflecting the potential challenge of shipping the item to a hub. This can be a profitable price gap to chase if you are either convinced your item will sell out in X remote place, or if you can be arsed to ship the item back to the hub. The reason why it can be profitable is that the chance you’ll be quickly outbid on a 10/20/region buy order is usually less than on a “station” order and because of the aforementioned price gap. Note, though, that volume on buying and selling out in the wop-wops is usually a lot less than in a hub. Six to one, half dozen to the other as my Mum would say.
You will see region-wide buy orders most commonly on minerals and modules (which can be hauled easily) and less commonly on massive ships (as they would pretty much need to be piloted or moved by freighter to get back to a hub).
So, there are some basic tips and tricks for Station Trading. I’ve included some more useful links and tools at the bottom of this post. Before you ask, I”m sorry, I’m not going to tell you which items are most profitable for me. You’ll have to experiment yourself. But for what it’s worth I make around 100m a day on about 45 minutes work. Mind you, I’m working with several billion in capital and you need money to make money. Anyway, on with some tips!
- There’s always a market for stuff that gets consumed by most-everyone, eg, Ships, ammo, drones or minerals.
- Stuff that mission runners pick up they usually want to get rid of quickly and missioners usually don’t care much about the price. People will sell decent named items they loot for 1,000 isk out at their mission hub when if they had bother to haul it 3 jumps to a trade hub they could sell it for 100-times that.
- Region buy orders can get you into trouble as some regions have low-sec space. If you just bought 100m worth of goods in a 0.4 system you’re going to groan when you discover you will need to haul your goods past a pirate camp. Be careful. Know your region.
- Some regions are a hell of a lot bigger than others, Domain (where Amarr is) is huge, The Forge (where Jita is) is small. You’re more likely to fill region orders in Domain as it’s big and full of mission runners, The Forge, not so mcuh (even though it has Jita, the most popular system in EVE).
- Margin Trading is damn handy. You can place a lot more buy orders using it and even though if all the orders were filled you’d go broke it is highly unlikely all of your buy orders will get filled before someone out bids you or stuff you have listed for sale sells and tops up your wallet a bit.
- A lack of capital is usually going to limit what you can bid for. Consider borrowing off friends and offering them a 10% per month non-compounding interest payment on their investment. You need money to make money, after all!
- Red Frog Freight are a cheap and very effective service that will haul your goods around high-sec quickly and efficiently. Do consider using them if you deal in volume goods and don’t own a freighter of your own!
Some Useful Links and Tools:
- Kai Honsu’s guide to Station Trading
- Eve Central (great information on current prices across many regions in EVE)
- Eve Trader (a great tool that will give you daily profit and loss as well as other more detailed stats)
- Out of Eve (a site I visit several times a day to see what I’ve bought and sold)
- Eve Wiki Market Guide