Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Trade Secrets

There's an entertaining discussion about Market Blogs (or the lack of them) in the Eve Blogosphere that's been going on across several blogs lately.

It all started over at Jester's Trek with Jester's comment

"To my knowledge, there isn't a blog out there written by a market guy".

Ardent Defender followed up with a long rambling response on his blog. He brings up some good points and includes a large number of interesting quotes.

Then Stabs came up with his own humorous take on the subject. Well worth reading for a good laugh.

Well, I'm a market guy and this is my blog.

I'm paraphrasing here but one thing in particular Ardent Defender pointed out was how traders don't like to talk about the details of what they do and especially not about specifics of what they're doing right now.

There's a lot of truth to that, most of us traders tend to be rather close mouthed when it comes to specific details of what we do. There are a number of reasons for that but the primary one is competition. If you tell people exactly what you're doing, you create your own competition and your profits go down. Hence we tend to talk in general and tend to avoid mentioning specifics like what items we trade in or what stations we buy and sell on.

I make it a point in my own posts to give out some specifics because specific examples are good for helping others learn how to trade. I can say do this and that will happen all I want and you might be skeptical but saying I did this and this is what happened lends more credibility to my words. They also help prove my methods aren't just crazy theories but actually work in practice.

But I don't give everything away either. Trading is very competitive, especially when profit margins are high. From my experience (not just in Eve, but also as a very rich and fairly well known market blogger in WoW), I know that as soon as any reasonably well read blog posts specifics about working a particular market segment for big profits, competition increases substantially and profits plummet.

Another good reason for not going too much into the specifics is just copying exactly what I do may not work for someone else. There are many reasons it might not work, location, local competition, post timing, post frequency, pricing, availability, volume, how much capital you have to play with, etc. What works for me on Hek doesn't work quite the same on Jita. What works for me on Jita probably won't work for someone else working a mission hub deep in null. What works for me selling high value items probably won't work for someone trying to corner the local ore and minerals market.

New traders need to find their own markets and discover what methods work best for them. There is no surefire guaranteed secret that will make you rich. All we bloggers can do is give you ideas and examples. We can help you get started but in the end it all comes down to you taking our methods and ideas, then using your own experience and knowledge to make adjustments so they work for you. Read  blogs and guides for new ideas, learn from what experienced traders have to say. Get methods, ideas and strategies from others but make them your own by changing the details to suit you better.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Art of Lowballing


Lowballing is the art of placing buy orders far lower than the usual going prices and counting on some of them eventually getting filled. Lowball buy orders are typically 1/10, 1/100, 1/1000 or even less of the usual going price. While simply putting up buy orders at 0.01 isk each on random items certainly does work (to an extent anyhow), there is an art to lowballing and increasing the chances your orders get filled.

Lowball orders can be thought of as similar to lottery tickets only with much better odds of hitting. They don't all hit and the ones that do hit don't always hit but they do hit and when one does hit it sure is nice. Several of my trade alts didn't really get going good until a lowball buy order got filled.

Lowball orders work best when there either isn't much competition or there's enough volume reasonably priced orders get filled and then some of your lowball orders get filled too. They work well in regions that don't have a major hub and/or a lot of regional buyers.

Tips and Tricks

When placing lowball orders don't worry about station buyers or even a few normally priced, low volume regional buy orders. You're after the lazy and the stupid, sellers who either don't know what an item is worth, don't notice how little you're paying, don't want to travel even 1 jump for a better price, or just don't care. The type of player who just sells to the highest buy order in range and couldn't be bothered checking prices.

The exact price you buy at can make a big difference. You don't want prospective sellers to think about the price or double check prices at all. Choose your numbers carefully to make it look like what they're expecting to see. If the usual sell price is say 500,000,000.00 and the highest buy order is a *station order for 490,000,000.00 it's a good idea to put your *regional buy order up for 490,000.00. Sometimes an intelligent seller (not the usual lazy or stupid player lowballers depend upon) will notice that 490 *million buy order, decide to sell for that price, but make a mistake and wind up selling to you for 490 *thousand instead. That's 3 less zeros, the seller expected to see 490 mil, when he hit sell 490k came up, he didn't look closely enough thought it was the expected 490 mil and sold to you for 1/1000th of what he thought he was getting. If you'd priced it at 500,000.00, 499,999.99 or just about anything else chances are he would have noticed and not sold it to you. The trick is to make your price look just like the other guy's price (or in the absence of competition, the usual going price) only missing a few significant digits.

Always make lowball buy orders full regional, buying at these prices you really don't care where it is, you'll make a big profit even if you can't dock to pick it up and have to resell it on station. In addition if the seller can't sell the first item he wants to sell due to no buy orders being in range, he may travel a ways to sell it. That travel could bring him within range of higher priced orders for other items he's selling thus causing you to lose out on even more deals.

Patience is key to lowballiing successfully. Don't expect your lowballs to get filled quickly. Place them and leave them alone (other than maybe occasionally modifying them if someone keeps 0.01 cutting them). Sometimes a few lowballs will get filled quickly but most of the time lowballs just sit there waiting until someone lazy enough or dumb enough comes along and fills a few.


Just a few examples of lowball buy orders that worked out very well for me in the past.

Shield Extenders

I was going to be moving into a new ship soon (I forget what ship) and decided to buy 3 small shield extender II modules for it ahead of time in order to save some isk. At the time they were over 500k in sell orders and buy orders were just over 400k. I wanted to place my buy order for 3 extenders at 412,000 ISK each but I mistakenly entered it as 412,000 extenders at 3 ISK each. I noticed my mistake right away but decided to leave it up for a while and see what happened. There were no other regional orders for them so what the hell. Within a day someone had already sold me a couple, by the end of the week I had 20 or 30. Eventually others noticed and started cutting me, after a month or so I wound up with about 100 all bought at 6 ISK or less each. Then the cutters started placing large full regional buys in the 300-400k range.

Not bad at all, especially for what started out as a silly mistake.

Tycoon Books

I started several alts on shoestring budgets of 5-10 million ISK. For these alts I mostly just put up a bunch of lowball buy orders and waited for something to hit. Tycoon books were one of the best. I bought at least 5 or 6 Tycoon books for under 1 mil ISK each, one alt even got 2 books at the same time. That's an easy ~90 mil profit on each book, increasing the capital the alts had to work with by 10-20 times. Some of those orders got filled within a few days, others took a month or so before they got filled.

Titan Books

My single most profitable lowball order ever was a Caldari Titan Book I paid 4.9 *million for and resold for 4.4 *billion. I only had about 8 billion in total at the time so that one item made a huge difference. I'd put the order up just for the heck of it and left it alone. Then a couple months later someone filled it. I couldn't believe it at first. I double checked the item name and price several times, I even wondered if I was dreaming before I finally did believe it.

There was a buy order up on Jita for 4.4 billion. Not a bad price, I thought about selling to the buy order but figured I'd see if I could get more for it first. So I posted it for 4.9 billion and waited a few days. No joy. I changed the price to 4.8 billion and waited a couple more days. Still no joy. By then I'd decided if it took a week or more to sell i'd be better off taking 4.4 billion and reinvesting it immediately rather than sitting on it hoping for a bit more for any longer. So I sold it to that 4.4 billion buy order. I put up a buy order of my own for 4.9 million on Jita but that was a waste of time since within minutes the perpetual titan book camper had another 4.4 billion buy order up again. You'd think CCP could manage to catch blatantly obvious market bots like that.

Since then I've had similar buy orders up for all 4 titan books in 6 different regions and haven't gotten another since. :(

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Trading for New Players

New players start out nearly broke and often have trouble making ISK at first. One million ISK is next to nothing once you've been playing for a while but it can seem like an awful lot to new players. Trading is the best way for new players to turn a little ISK into a lot of ISK.

Experienced players usually tell new players to mine, rat, salvage or grind missions to make ISK. The problem with those methods is they all scale mostly with time. You need time for skills training and rep grinding before you start making decent ISK. You need better ships, weapons, fittings, etc., which not only take time but cost more ISK.

If they do mention Trading, about all they say is "Buy low, sell high" or "undercut by 0.01 ISK to maximize profits".

Most players seem to think buy low sell high means insanely low buy prices and ridiculously high buy prices. It even works if you don't mind babysitting your orders for hours at a time and updating them every 5 minutes like a machine... The perfect strat for no-lifers and bots.

For the rest of us who don't want to spend all our game time camping the market about all 0.01 undercuts do is ensure our stuff doesn't sell. Using 0.01 cuts just plays into the hands of the no-lifers and bots. If you only undercut them by 0.01 they'll gladly undercut you right back by 0.01 ISK  (usually within seconds) and keep doing it forever. What works best for me is updating orders once or twice a day with cuts around 10% of the difference between the highest buy order and the lowest sell order.

The no-lifers and bots will sometimes leave large cuts be especially if your orders are only for singles or doubles and not large stacks. Even if they keep undercutting for a while yet, after a few days of big cuts profit margins will usually be slim enough most of the bots drop out and go looking for bigger profits elsewhere.

Trade mostly scales with how much ISK you invest in the market. The more you invest, the more you make. If you make 10% a day, your money doubles every 7-8 days. You'll make more ISK (a LOT more) selling several per day at 5-10% profit than selling 1 a month at 100% profit.

My own personal experience was it took me less than a week to make my first 500 million from scratch. After that my money doubled every 10 days (very consistently) until I hit about 25 billion. Then it slowed down, mostly because it was starting to take too much time updating all orders on all characters every day.

For a little while I just updated about half my orders every day but that was taking too much time too so I switched from regional trading to straight station trading on most characters. Not long after that most of my traders got Wholesale V and Tycoon IV, more than doubling the number of orders. Between all my traders I had over 2000 orders and updating all of them was taking too much time too so I changed my routine again.

Now I run 2 regional (10 jump buy order) traders and 6 station traders with 2 inactive traders (my main and the least trained trade alt). On average I'll update sell orders on about half the characters most days. Buy orders get updated more sporadically, anything I have in stock gets updated at the same time as sell orders, the rest only gets updated once or twice a week.

My next time saving step will probably be to go back to lowball lower priced regional (only 10 or 20 jump though) buy orders on most characters. A lot less work on a daily basis and less total profit but far larger profit margins per item.

Contracting (other than using contracts to move items between characters) is beyond the scope of this article.

Skill Mapping

Your basic attributes (Charisma, Intelligence, Memory, Willpower, Perception) can be remapped taking points out of some areas and putting them into other areas to optimize training time for specific skill sets. Attribute remaps shouldn't be done lightly, you only get one per year, plus two bonus remaps.

IMO you should only remap if either:

1) It's the main character on the account, you have a long term plan and will be staying in the remap for at least 6 months (preferably even longer), or

2) It's an alt (not the main character on the account), you'll be in the remap for a few months to get a specific set of skills trained (Trade skills for example) and won't be doing any further training that'll require another remap for a long time (ideally not until after the yearly remap cooldown resets).

For accounts with 3 alts that all share training queue time roughly equally there is no real main character. In that case I spend 4 months on each alt training skills. By the time they all finish training a year has passed and they all have another yearly remap.

For brand new players on their very first eve online characters I recommend you DO NOT REMAP until you've been playing for at least 3 months. You'll probably wind up training a lot of different things in the first few months so a remap really won't help very much anyhow. It's more likely blowing remaps early will actually slow down your training over the long run because later you won't have a remap available when you could really use one. Also, while you might think you want to train one way at first, by the time you're 3 months in and know more about the game, you'll probably have completely different plans than you had in the beginning.

Save those remaps until you're certain you'll make good use of them!

It's always a good idea to train Cybernetics before anything else so you can use attribute implants to speed up the rest of your training a bit more. If the remap has fewer combined points in Intelligence and Memory than your current attributes then train Cybernetics before remapping, otherwise remap first and then train Cybernetics to save a little more time. Cybernetics I allows you to use +3 attribute implants, IV is necessary for +4 implants and V for +5 implants. For most characters I or IV is all you want, V takes a long time to train and probably isn't worth it for most alts.

Since we're talking about trade skills here we'll be remapping Charisma/Memory. That's marginally better for training Cybernetics than the default attributes new characters start out with so you'll want to remap first and then train Cybernetics.

For trade skills the attributes used are Charisma, Memory and Willpower. The best remap is Charisma/Memory so that's what we'll use here.

You could cut another 5 days off this plan by using 2 remaps (more on this later) but IMO it's not worth blowing a bonus remap just to save 5 more days on a relatively short skill plan. If you do so you'll probably regret it later when you need to train something else and could really use another remap. Saving that remap for later can easily save you 40 or 50 days per year on long skill plans.

Skill Training Plan

Based on my own experience training trade skills on 10 characters this is what I feel is the best training plan for trade skills.

You could shave another 5 days off the plan by using 2 remaps, Willpower/Charisma  to train all the skills with willpower as the primary attribute to V first and then Charisma/Memory for all the rest, but there are a couple problems with that. First, I don't think it's worth blowing a remap just to save 5 days and second, the character becomes a useful trader with a well rounded basic skill set quite a bit sooner following this plan.

Remap Charisma 27, Memory 21 and start training:

Cybernetics I

plug in +3 Charisma, Memory and Willpower implants. On a brand new character you might want to consider a Cerebral Accelerator too (+3 to all 5 attributes for 35 days) if you can afford it.

Train in the following order:

Social I
Contracting I (requires Social I)
Trade I - IV
Retail I - IV (requires Trade II)
Accounting I - IV (requires Trade IV)
Margin Trading I - IV (requires Accounting IV)
Broker Relations I - IV (requires Trade II)

Retail V
Marketing I - II (requires Trade II)
Wholesale I - IV (requires Marketing II and Retail V)

Margin Trading V

Marketing III - IV
Wholesale V
Tycoon I - IV (requires Wholesale V and Marketing IV)

Acounting V
Broker Relations V

That'll give you 269 active orders with all money skills maxed. If you don't need or want the entire plan  I've put breaks in the list at the most sensible points to stop training at. If you want the maximum possible number of active orders (305) then train:

Tycoon V
Trade V

If you want/need remote order skills too then train the following (anytime after Margin Trading IV):

Daytrading I - IV (requires Trade IV)
Marketing I - IV (requires Trade II)
Procurement I - IV (requires Marketing II)
Visibility I - IV (requires Procurement IV)

That'll give you 20 jump range on all remote order skills. If you want/need full regional range on remote skills then train your remote skills to V (preferably after Tycoon IV):

Daytrading V
Marketing V
Procurement V
Visibility V

TLDR version: Trading is one of the most profitable professions in Eve with low entry requirements making it ideal for new players. 0.01 ISK cuts are for no-lifers and bots. If you're not a no-lifer or bot don't play their game, all that'll do is ensure your stuff sells very poorly if at all.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Progress Report - January 2013

Report on the status and progress of all my characters for Jan 2013. Mostly Trade oriented since making ISK is my main focus and trading is how I make ISK.

I sell skill-books (roughly half my items are skill-books), faction/deadspace mods and implants (mostly 5% skill implants). I cover all 5 main trade hubs (Jita, Amarr, Dodixie,  Hek and Rens) plus a couple regions that don't have a major trade hub. I play fairly casually and update orders infrequently, on average taking 2-3 days to update all orders on all characters. Some characters get updated more often than others and I update sell orders much more consistently than buy orders.

I started out doing all regional trading but as I got bigger all the travel involved was taking too much time. Now I mostly station trade, with a little regional trading and very occasionally a courier contract to haul stock between regions.

I don't play the 0.01 ISK camper game, my undercuts (and overcuts for buy orders) tend to be big, usually around 10% of the difference between the highest buy order and the lowest sell order. I don't hesitate to undercut sell orders by half or more when something is extremely overpriced either.

Current net worth is 80 billion with more than 3/4 of it in cash and escrow. Most of the rest is in sell orders and recently acquired stock I haven't gotten around to posting for sale yet. Very little is in assets I don't intend to sell soon, a few ships and some mods I use often, maybe a billion in total.

That's my actual current total net worth, I don't pad the numbers by counting ISK I've earned but have since spent and no longer have. Put in real life terms, that'd be like calling myself a millionaire because I've earned over a million dollars during my life when the reality is I don't have anywhere near a million right now.

Account 1

My first account. It used to be the account my main was on, the main got the vast majority of training queue time so the two characters remaining on the account are way behind in training. Now the main is on his own account so these two can train harder.

Couster Regional Trader, 125 buy orders, Wholesale IV, Accounting IV, Broker Relations IV, Margin Trading V. Buys a bunch of different things, transports to Dodixie and contracts to the main trader there for resale.

Inactive trader. 53 buy orders, Retail IV, Accounting IV, Broker Relations IV, Margin Trading IV and all remote order skills at IV. Currently inactive, sitting in Jita and not doing any trading but just picked up Covert Ops III and will start ninja trading soon. Currently training Retail V which will be followed by Wholesale IV.

Account 2

Amarr Station Trader. 269 orders, Tycoon IV, Accounting V, Broker Relations V, Margin Trading V, does nothing but station trade. Currently training Tycoon V.

Dodixie Station Trader 269 orders, Tycoon IV, Accounting V, Broker Relations V, Margin Trading V, does nothing but station trade.  Finished training trade skills for now.

Rens Station Trader 273 orders, Tycoon IV, Accounting V, Broker Relations V, Margin Trading V, does nothing but station trade. Finished training trade skills for now.

Account 3

Lonetrek Regional Trader. 273 orders, Tycoon IV, Accounting IV, Broker Relations IV, Margin Trading V, all remote order skills at IV. Mainly a buyer, does sell a few things but mostly just buys, flies to Jita and contracts goods to my two traders there for resale.

Hek Station Trader 269 orders, Tycoon IV, Accounting V, Broker Relations IV, Margin Trading V, does nothing but station trade. Currently training Broker Relations V.

Jita Station Trader 269 orders, Tycoon IV, Accounting V, Broker Relations V, Margin Trading V, does nothing but station trade implants and mods. Finished training trade skills for now.

Account 4

Jita Station Trader, 269 orders, Tycoon IV, Accounting V, Broker Relations V, Margin Trading V, does nothing but station trade and only handles skillbooks. This was the last trader I made but the first one finished training trade skills. Finished training trade skills for now.

Exploration / Scout / Scanning pilot, newest character, flies Covert Ops (Buzzards) and is training Int/Mem support/scanning/exploration skills. Already has Covert Ops IV and all Astrometric skills at IV. I don't plan on doing any serious trading on this character. He has 21 order slots, more than enough to buy things he needs and that's about it. Currently training a whole lot of int/mem skills to IV or V with particular emphasis on skills for the Core Competency Standard certificate.

Account 5

My Main, all by himself on his own account now. 125 orders, Wholesale IV, Accounting IV, Broker Relations IV, Margin Trading IV and all of the "remote order" trade skills at IV. Recently got Torpedoes V and can use T2 Torps now. He's no longer involved in the Jita trade but does a little ninja trading in low and null. Flies Stealth Bombers (Manticores) most of the time, sometimes Drakes and very rarely anything else. Currently training Heavy Missiles V.

Future plans

Get the second character on account 1 Retail V, Wholesale IV, Broker Relations IV, Margin Trading V, then work on flying support skills (mainly Navigation, Engineering and Electronics skills) for both characters. Will probably train both characters into Covert Ops after that. Might eventually train one into Blockade Runners too. Once they have Covert Ops at least one of these characters will probably wind up a null sec ninja trader, buying their stuff cheap and selling it back to them for a big profit. One of them just learned cloaking III. He'll head to null soon and try ninja trading without Covert Ops while training other trade skills higher.

On the main I'll be doing bombing runs as well as some exploration, ninja trading and even a little mission running. Get a few key support skills (Energy Management V and Shield Management V in particular), T2 Heavy launchers and work on getting all missile skills to V (except specialization skills). I could fly battleships right now but I probably won't fly them until I have both Energy Management V and Shield Management V. I might wait till I can fit T2 Cruise Launchers too. Besides I don't like flying big slow ships so battleships are low priority for me. Eventually I'll get Battlecruisers V (or the Caldari racial equivalent), Caldari Battleships IV, Gallante Battleships IV, Caldari Cruisers V and Strategic Cruisers (Tengu).

Get Tycoon V and Trade V on the Amarr trader. Then either start training Tycoon V and Trade V on Dodixie and Rens too or remap one of the characters to train something besides Trade. I'll probably eventually (in a month or two) transfer one of the "finished" characters to account 1 or 5 and start training up a brand new character on this account.

Continue training Int/Mem support skills on the exploration/scout/scanning character. Long term this character will probably continue following the Covert Ops line to get Recon cruisers next and eventually Black Ops battleships.

Get Broker Relations V on the Hek trader. Then get Accounting V and Broker Relations V on the Lonetrek buyer. Then train the Lonetrek buyer into Cov Ops.