Hey man logged in just to say thanks your blog has helped me immensely with my own trading ventures.
One thing I was still curious about and hopefully you can do a blog on, is HOW you choose what regions to trade in, apart from the big trading hubs I've never been able to figure out what would be a good region to place buy orders in and whatnot.
Thanks once again
This is a great question. One of the problems I have writing articles for the blog is there's so much I could write about with so many complex permutations, qualifiers, circumstantial / situational subtleties, and related subjects to get sidetracked on that it's often difficult to cover a topic well without straying into too many other things and practically writing a book in the end.
The trick is finding topics that are focused on something specific without being too simple and Jerex' question is a good one for that. Today's topic is about how to find good places to trade from.
Though Jerex asked specifically about how to find good regions, pretty much any high sec region is good to trade in. I'm in 19 high sec regions now and they're all good. IMO picking a station to trade from is more important than choosing a region to trade in.
Once you have a good station picked out you need to figure out what to buy and how much to pay for it as well as what to sell and how much to ask for it, at that location.
Like they say in real estate it's all about 3 things. Location, Location and Location.
The 5 main trade hubs (Jita, Amarr, Dodixie, Rens and Hek) are obvious choices. However, the main trade hubs are infested with bots and no-lifers which can make it difficult for anyone else to do business on them. Depending on your business model and how much time and effort you want to spend working at it, you might be better off avoiding the main hubs and sticking to smaller hubs.
There are many things that can help you identify good locations to trade from, including in game information, websites and offline utilities/tools.
For websites and offline tools I really like:
EVE Marketdata for their Station Rank Lists
Ombey's 2D EVE Maps (or Dotlan if you prefer)
Some of things I look for are:
Level 3 and 4 mission agents (the more the better)
Sisters of Eve
Facilities, especially Clone, Repair and Manufacturing
Number of asteroid belts
Proximity to ice fields
Travel choke points
High to low/null gates
Generally speaking the more of the above a particular station has the better it is for trading. Unless it's infested by bots (Oursulaert for example), then you're often better off on another station. In that case I particularly like stations only a jump or two away and straddling the main traffic route(s) to either the rest of the region or to other (preferably more populous) regions.
Knowing as much as you can about the above factors should tell you a fair bit about the players in the area, giving you an idea of what they're likely to sell cheaply and what they might pay dearly for.
I've used a few different methods to find stations to trade on in the past but right now I pretty much just use information from EveMarketData and Ombey's maps leavened with my own personal experience in the area.
I check EveMarketData ranked lists of trade hubs within a region to find out the size of the market on all the different stations. I look at Ombey's maps to get an idea of likely traffic routes, chokepoints, proximity to ice / asteroids / facilities and the like. Finally I consider my own experience in the area, things like "I pass through this system a lot on the way to other places" or "There always seems to be a lot of players in this system".
Then I choose a system after considering all of the above. I don't always choose the largest market, in fact a few of my best (favorite) locations are far from being the largest hub in the region.
Map "docked and active" used to be my primary method of finding new stations to trade at. But that isn't nearly as useful now as it was before Dust was released. The problem is now Dust players show in the "docked and active" list too. Pre-Dust, you could count on it any system that normally had 30-50 players docked and active was a good sized secondary hub and any system with more than 50 was a big secondary hub. But now players on the docked and active list could just as easily be a bunch of dust bunnies and a ghost town as far as Eve players are concerned.
Stations with mission agents, especially level 3 and 4 agents, make good trading stations too. Generally speaking, the more agents and the higher level those agents are the better.
Sisters of Eve agents are particularly good. They have the best missions for repairing faction standings and they have some very desirable items in the faction LP store too. Any sisters station is good for trading and if they have level 3 or better yet level 4 sisters agents (Osmon for example) they're very good. Having a sisters station nearby (within 5 jumps or so) is pretty good for business on other trading stations too.
Facilities attract players to particular stations too. I find clone, repair and manufacturing facilities are more important than labs. Most of the better trading systems have at least 2 of those 3 facilities though there are exceptions. Some of the best have only 1 or even none. Manufacturing often means competition from manufacturers, depending on what you sell and just how much competition there is, that competition could be a good thing or a bad thing.
Starter systems are pretty much guaranteed to have good numbers of players around and not all of them are newbies either. The regions around them are generally fairly well populated too. One big advantage of starter systems is the no-lifers and bots don't seem to be very active on most of them (or at least not in my markets).
Travel choke points both between regions and within a single region. If you notice you seem to be passing through a particular system more often than most it's a travel choke point. As long as there's a station in the system, travel choke points often make great trading locations even if they don't have any of the other indicators of a good trading station. Just watch out for gankers they like travel choke points too! Be particularly wary of gankers in 0.5 security choke points, especially if it's a choke point on the route to low/null. Ombey's or Dotlan maps are great for finding travel choke points. Dotlan is more up to date but I prefer Ombey's because I find it easier to read and it shows trade hubs too (I double check trade hub status on EveMarketData).