He was new to this region, having just graduated from the Academy. Walking quickly along the corridors of this mammoth station, he gazed out through the various portals at the myrrid of ships currently docked. The hanger bay workers, technicians, and robotic cargo loaders were busy in all manner of tasks, prepareing ships for flight, modifying some for warfare, others under repair, replacing damaged modules and equipment. The temptation to linger and watch this dance of activity was great, but he had more on his mind this day. He was seeking someone, a trader of no small renown. Having paid a Emporers ransom for the bit of information he carried he had finally arrived at the destination. He made his way to the observation deck she was reported to be frequenting and looked around the pilots lounge. Pilots from all of the Empires were here, waiting for clearance to undock and head out to places unknown, for fame & fortune. Such was the way of Eve space.
Making his way towards the outer hull area with the huge silicate glass observation windows his heart skipped a beat as he saw her, sitting at a small table, alone near the far corner of the O-deck. Pausing momentaily to catch his breath, he continued towards her table. She was Caldarian, and, by the looks of the nanopatch links and cyber interfaces bristleing from her slight, yet not un-attractive frame, very enhanced. At no small cost he found himself thinking. Approaching her table slowly he opened his mouth about to speak a greeting he'd long praticed, when she spoke first, catching him by surprise... "Are you going to say something my little cadet, or just stand there and gawk..?", she said without looking up from her portable neocom. "Is the loading finished?" "M-m-m-lady, pardon the intruision, but I was wondering if I might have a moment or two of your time", he stammered weakly. At this, she blanked the screen on the screen she had been viewing, and looked up, examining the speaker that had interrupted her work.
"Time is money, young one...what is it you want?" "Information, m'lady, and I can pay for your time, I wish for you to school me in the art of tradeing. I have spoken at great length to many who know your name, and your reputation as a successful trader, and humbly request that you share with me your secrets,..." "Ten million ISK's, lady Kaaii, yours for the taking, just key in your account code and the transfer is complete. I do not seek your routes, your tradewares, only the information to create wealth, not infringe on yours. If you will school me on what it takes to be a successful trader, I will consider the money well spent." The long silence while she studied him was broken as he nerviously placed the debit chit down on her table and slid it towards her.
At this she sat back, streched, and eyed him more carefully. The thought that he was one of her competitors lackys sent to garner her route information occoured to her, or prehaps a pirate spy, with more devious intention crossed her mind. But there was something about this one, he sought information, the how & why of tradeing, not the where. No, he was different, she decided. "Very well, I accept your offer." Now sit, and I will tell you all that I have learned of tradeing in EVE, albiet not complete in all facets, but a start, the basic knowledge for you to begin a career in tradeing" She keyed her account code into the chit he had placed in front of her, and waited for his thumbprint to complete the transaction.
"Do you agree to my terms?" "Yes, M'lady"
"Very well, now pay close attention young one, for we begin...."
Tradeing in EVE is probably one of the most lucrative, and dangerous, occupations one could take up. You can make millions and millions of ISK's, and loose them just as quickly. While there are things to you can do to mitigate your risks, there are some fundemental building blocks you must understand before persueing this carrer or you are destined to fail. Below are the most basic of tenents you must understand to be sucessful tradeing in EVE.
While most have a grasp of making ISK's few really understand the concept at its core. The idea is to buy something at a low price and sell it at a higher price. This part is simple. Anyone can load up and Indy and fly a few jumps, sell it and call themselves a trader. While most traders of these types see this is the all inclusive path to sucess, there are "points" that seperate a basic trader from a "successful trader". They are..
Time is money
Tradeing takes time. Real time. How you spend your minutes in EVE tradeing directly relates to how much you will have at the end of your session playing. A trade run that takes 20 jumps and makes and 1 hour to complete and makes you 6 million ISK, is not as good one 3 jump route that only makes you 2 million ISK each but takes 45 mins. Obvious? You'd be suprised. Many people want that long haul, the instant infusion of large sums of cash to make thier wallets fat, and completely ignore the "short haul", smaller payout runs. You can make more then these short-sighted people if you do the math.
The point? DO THE MATH.
Im talking about volumn. The physical size of the commidity/item, you are tradeing. On the surface some items look extremely lucrative to trade, but a closer examination reveals this is not always the case. Items in EVE have varying volumn and knowing how "big" something is can go along way to deciding if its profitable to carry. The bottom line, is you are selling your ships cargo bay, for as much as you can. Take for example construction blocks. This "type" of commodity is newbe bait if there ever was one. At first glance you might see a buy order for 700 ISK somewhere nearby and quickly dash off to buy those blocks in your station for 600 ISK. Good deal? Nope.. Because each block has a vol of 4, which translates to 1/4 of the amount you can carry(capacity) per run. Remember you are selling your cargo cap, so those oh-so-lucrative looking CB's now have a "cargo point per ISK ratio of 25", not 100. Conversely, take for example the antibotics.These only have .5 vol, and usually only make 18-36 ISK per unit. BUT, you can carry two, per "cargo point" which equates to 36-72 ISK per cargo point. Much better then those old Construction blocks, would'nt you agree?
The Point? "KNOW" YOUR CARGO.
Know your region
Knowledge is power. Knowing what trades, what doesn't, and the supply and demand of your chosen area will either make you or break you. Take the time to research your local solar system, (and surrounding areas) and see what is sold, consistently, in your operating area. Learn the prices, both buying and selling. Take notes of both the prices AND the volumn supplied and bought. There is a big "gotcha" here. Alot of times you may find a tradegood that buys low and sells high, resonabley close, seemingly a great run. But, if the supplier(or demander) only needs 176 of that item, while the supplier has 157k for sale,(or vice-versa) does not make this a worthwhile trip. Theres IS an exception to this, and will be covered in the advanced tradeing section, but for now, leave this type of trade alone.
The point? DO YOUR HOMEWORK.
The Skill sets required for tradeing are both many and diverse. While not as involved as a combat or mineing profession, the time investment is substancial none the less. You begin with very limited access to the higher tiered skills (as opposed to the other professions), but they can be quickly gained with just a bit of effort. With a bit of research, you can create a character that has a "leg up" on these basic skills, which gives you room to grow quickly. They are:
Frigate- Needed as a pre-req for flying most all starships, but specifically, industrials. Navagation- A must have, for the large base of higer tier skills, promoting speed, handling, and economy of flight.
Mechanic- Another must have, allowing modification of ship modules, and adding increased cargo capability.
Trade - The obvious. Again to allow you to access greater skill sets, and place many orders for buying and selling.
Industrial- Based on the ship of choice, most often on the race you started with.
Note: These are just the most basic of skills to have, with most needed to allow further progression. They are not the end, but the means..
Now, some will argue that the learning skills (learning, and the 5 basic "brain power" skills should be in here as well. And I do agree, however, to begin tradeing, and thats what we are covering here, they are not "nessessary". They should be gained though, as quickly as time(and money) allows. Saving you tons of time later when you train the higher tier'd skills you will be wanting.
In the beginning, you will undoubtly be limited both in skill and cash, to the most basic of equipment. A fast frig, some cargo expanders and maybe an afterburner or microwarp drive. But fear not, this will change quickly. As cash flows in, you can upgrade to more skills, and better ships (more cargo) and higher worth tradegoods. Alot can be said here on the "best" gear to have, but its an area I choose to leave to you to sort out. The most important items id say were, speed and cargo cap. Pick an industrial you wish to fly and train the skill, and buy one. A beastower makes a good choice, as to the lower Mark series Iterions. I started his way, using a beastower for short hauls, making enough until i could buy the Gallente indy skill, and started traing it. The mark V is the ultimate cargo hauler. It can't be beat for maximun cargo, BUT, its a long skill time to train, somewhere around 29 days, learning skills depending. Ask around. Most indy pilots love talking about there ships, as do most other pilots. Some times an Indy or Frig does not fit the bill either. Alot of sucessful traders fly various types of crusiers, destroyers or even interceptors. Each has thier usefulness, but most beginning traders have little spare time to train these skills or the cash to buy them, much less the ships themselves. Point is, be aware that later in your career you may (or should) be looking at other ship options for some runs. More on this later.
Ahh now heres the rub. It takes money to make money, but how can you make money with no money? Well you can't. You must either do some mining, agent missions or if you are particuarliy brave, pirating. Id recommend Agent running. In a fast ship, you can make several million in just a few days, even at the most basic of agents. If mineing is more your style, then strap on some miners and have at it, but the point is you are going to need at least a few million before you are "viable" as a trader. It can be done with less, but it takes more time. If you have made friends, you might be able to persuade them to part with a bit, to back your venture, however if you choose this route, make sure you pay them back, ontime and without problems. Not doing so may incur the wrath of some up and coming fighter pilots, people you don't need to meet later in your career, flying that fully loaded indy into low security systems, with your life savings aboard.
The Eve market is where you buy and sell most goods. Some items cannot be listed on the market and are sold on escrow. Im not going to cover Escrow, other then to say its out there, and different. The market screen alows you to sort by the number of jumps from you an item is, the volumn, cost, location and also if its a region, solar system or station buy/sell order. Pay attention to that. Make sure when you buy (or sell something) you have not bought "region/system wide" if you didn't want to. I once bought 40 million in data sheets over the entire Lonetrek region. There are 2/3 options available to you for your search "scope", ie how far away you want to look from where you are. There is also an oftne over looked but very useful history tab, that will tell you the price and vol of an item over varying amounts of time. Use it. It can tell you if the price you are paying (or selling for) is on target, and just as importantly, how much of the item (volumn, in sales) the item is moving. This is very useful in determineing if you are in a busy area, with lots of compeditors, or have the area to your self.
The First few Trades
So, you have a few skills, have missioned or mined your way to your first couple of million, and you have a fast frigite or industrial ship. You have decided to set up "somewhere" and found, useing your noodle and a bit of common sense, a few low cost trade runs. Now you're thinking Ill just buy X ammount of items and load them up and head over, yes? Well, yes and no. There are some things you must ask yourself first. They are.. Is your cargo full? If not, you should look again and see if theres a close (in destination) system that requires something you can bring as well. This must be balanced with the time it takes you both to deliver (and pickup) this "filler" load. Is there a return trip load? In the late 20th century, Fossil fueled delivery vehicles, called 18 wheelers, would often carry cargo to one destination only to find nothing to carry on the return trip, costing them both money, and time. These were called "Deadheads". Avoid this at all cost. Sometimes you can't, but you should try. Are you using the right equipment? If you have found a run that has somewhat high priced items, takeing just a few hundred cargo it may be better to run that fast frig twice, rather then the big slow indy once. Remeber the return trip though. Time is money. Are you running into low security systems? In the beginning Id avoid this. While some juciey runs are in < 0.5, you are not the only person thats going to be there, plenty of pirates know how to use the trade system to find riches too. Be aware of this, and if you must run there, set up insta-jumps first. And use the map.; check the ships/pods destroyed in the last hour setting. If theres been any activity, don't go, its that simple. You have been warned. Of note, the market supply and demand now changes with every buy and sell order processed. When you sell something to an npc the demand price "usually" goes down, as the orders are filled. And the buy price goes up as more is purchased. The temptation is to deliver and sell, deliver and sell, completeing the demand at a station, but doing this will leave some profit behind, as the price changes with every transaction, "most of the time". So get it all there first, and sell it together, buy the same way, all at once.
So now you have gotten the hang of it. And are actually making a bit of money. Not alot, but its coming in. So what to do now to increase your profits? Well there are some.
By now you should have an idea of which skills are becoming important. The Navigation sets, with the afterburner, MWD and handling are critical. So is hull modifications, namely hull upgrades (better cargo expanders). The Starship skills you have chosen should meet the goals you have set for the types of delivery ships you wish to use, and you should be on your way to a "bigger" Industrial. So what of the rest? Well, now we are going to concentrate on the ability to use trade skills to or upmost advantage. You have probably noticed by now that you are getting socked with a hefty sales tax and broker fees. These can put a dampener on your bottom line, every day, every trade. You should have trade V by now, if not get on it. At least to lvl 3. Now go get marketing, broker relations, and Accounting. Broker relations and accounting will decrease the fees you pay when you place a buy order for items not yet listed to sell, and the tax (10% per lvl ) for each and every sale you make (Acct) Why marketing you might ask? Ok ill tell you, but under the market section.
Upgrades, Upgrades, Upgrades! Price better cargo expanders and buy them if you can afford them. Buy them one at a time, if you must, but get more cargo capeability. Remeber you are selling your cargo space, and if by expanding your cargo, you can shorten the number of trips you make per run, then do it. Also, buy some GSC's (giant secure containers), as many as you can fit in your hold. They can be a "poor mans expander" if you get them cheaply enough. All cargo containers have the special ability that allows you to put more volumn in them then they take to carry themselves. It isn't a whole lot but every little bit helps. Another bonus is, should you meet an unfortuneate demise, a secure can (password protected) can be anchored wherever you died, prohibiting the offending party from scooping the cans and opening them, getting your cargo. Corp management and anchoring skill is required for this though. It doesn't always work (high security regions, cans too close to each other) but it can save you some if you are lucky.
Ok the "new" Shiva market. And new stragities. Pre-shiva, you were limited (forced) to buy your goods, deliver them, and sell them while you were there, or put in a sell order and hope someone else docked and wanted that very item. Not any more. Now theres a whole new world of buying and selling, and some VERY creative ways to do it. The marketing skill allows you the ability to buy (and sell) remotely! ie: you don't have to be in the station, or even the same system. Now with a high enough skill you can manage your profits without ever having to leave the station.
Advanced Trade goods
Lets say you find a good deal on those antibotics we talked about earlier. But, they are wanting over 100k of them, and you find yourself looking at 17 differnt stations selling just 8k vol each. Do you spend a day flying around and gathering them all to one station? You could, but chances are someone will beat you to it, or at least part of them, dropping the buy price by the time you get them all there. What to do? Stockpile. Don't sell them for less just gather them. The market rises and falls with every order filled, remeber, so they will go back up and you can still make the money you intended. With the marketing skill you can login in a day or so, check the market, and if your number is met, just open assests and click sell. Assuming you are in range (level dependent) you never have to undock.
Building on the above you can take it a step further. Pay people to haul those scattered assets for you! Set up courrier missions (you must be in target station unfortuatley) and pay those young indy haulers just a bit of your profits to move your stuff for you. Now you are saving tons of time to do other things, make the "commisions" back that you pay for this service, or whatever. Point is you have others doing you hauling for you, and you just sell it when it arrives. You must be in a good position cash wise, and be prepared to wait for your orders to arrive, but for those with alot of cash and better things to do with thier time, this is a viable option.
Minerals, the life blood of all production corps. Volumns could be written on tradeing minerals. Some regions don't have access to noxcium, others have probelms finding Isogen. Learn what is in demand and the current prices. And stay current. Mineral prices rise and fall like a nun in a cucumber patch, so just because you sold iso one day at 100 doesn't mean you can do it a week from now, or tomorrow. Mineral tradeing takes alot of effort and time (research) but the rewards are huge. Module tradeing. This I liken to speciality tradeing, a nich market, takeing even more research and time to effectively manage. Some modules can cost millions and millions for just one item. For those brave enough, with enough cash, this is probably the highest tier of tradeing in EVE. Its not for the faint of heart. As of this writing I have yet to dabble in this and I have a sizable bankroll. While the rewards are great, the risk is even greater.
Black market tradeing
Contraband. Ileagal stuff. I don't do this. I value my corperate standings too much to risk getting caught (and my wallet size) and its still so new I can't speak with authority on any of the methods and risks associated with it. There are others out there that do, and some have written up tidbits to this end, but you won't find this info from me. Seek out others if you wish to travel this route.
A few lessions to learn, and reinforce. They are:
Don't fly empty, ever, if you can help it.
Do you research, your homework, and especially the math, do not forget these three points if you want to make it worth while.
Train skills towards the future. Lean towards bettering your ship, setup, and profits. Check your route for security concerns, never fly into ships/pods destroyed unless you KNOW you will be safe doing it, ever.
Never "Gang" with anyone that you do not trust. Many an Indy have been ganked by pirates spamming gang invites and killing you, gang memebrs don't take sec hits. Use cargo cans to increase your hold space
Upgrade your gear.
One more thing
He sat back in his chair, completley drained, trying to digest, to remeber all she had put before him. So much to know, so much to learn he thought. This was going to take some time. She watched him as he stood, thanked her for her time, and exited the observation deck. Draining the last sip of her Quafe-Ultra she stood herself, and headed towads the hanger deck. The loading was surely completed by now, she had spent far too much time already. Still, 10 million ISK was nothing to sneeze at, she had worked harder for less. And as she climed into her pod on the deck of the hulking Iteron Mark V, she couldn't help but give him another thought.
"I will have to keep an eye on this one.." she mumbled under her breath as she eased the massive ship away from the docking clamps, out of the hanger and towards the warpgate beacon.