To set expectations, I assume that you have a functional understanding of Eve's market and trade mechanics, equivalent to or having completed E-UNI's Intro to Trade class. I would also recommend Cpt Bunny's Trading Guide as I've based much of my own trading strategy on this guidance. Fair warning, Cpt Bunny's guide is clearly out of date with regard to certain item names, but the core principles are functional and easily modified.
Also a tip of the cap to Etienne Darmond for their E-UNI forum thread Notes on Trading part 1 which provides excellent advice on UI adjustments, useful insights on the market in Stacmon, hauling advice, and various sanity checks to ensure you don't lose ISK on bad orders, missed zeroes, and/or undershooting the buy market. Part 2 can be found in the same thread.
As a benchmark for my performance over the past month, I started my trading fund on Dec. 13, 2022 with an investment of 500M ISK.
A week in, as of Dec. 21, 2022, my two trade alts have 100,617,278 ISK in wallets, 479,816,650 ISK in inventory, and -35,890,285 ISK in future sales tax on said inventory, for a total trade fund value of 544,543,643 ISK and a projected monthly return of 37.7%. (I don't know the exact formula the tooling uses to calculate this)
Jan. 13 puts this little project at the one month mark. At the time of this posting the trade alts have 487,199,463 ISK in wallets, 249,525,148 ISK in inventory (and due for a restock), -12,725,783 ISK in future sales tax on said inventory, for a total trade fund value of 723,998,828 ISK for an actual monthly return of 44.8%.
## Seed Funding
For the sake of transparency: although Lan Man the character entered New Eden in October 2022, I had played Eve previously ~10 years ago on another character for a period of 6-8 months. I flew at first with BRAVE, and then with some IRL friends in a lowsec pirate corp, then drifted away from the game due to loss of interest. That previous character did not have a significant enough skill point total to be worth picking back up, and there are people who have my old toon on their contact lists who I would rather not interact with for personal reasons if they are still around. What that toon did have at hand is a pile of ISK, ships, and some PLEX that I handed over to this character, which has been the source of the initial 500M ISK investment in my trade fund.
I acknowledge that 500M could be a significant investment for someone new to the game, especially if they have not yet become comfortable in higher-earning Nullsec or Wormhole space. However, I do think that this approach can be replicated with a smaller initial seed fund. ~100M ISK would be a good target, and entirely within reach for a Highsec-oriented player if you prioritize setting funds aside for this purpose. In an E-UNI context, I suggest that Slays moon mining fleets and Guristas FOB bashes are both excellent for earning large chunks of ISK you can set aside in full towards this purpose.
This approach is inspired by Cpt. Bunny's guide and utilizes a single account with two characters. A third character (my main) also has some trade and hauling skills and can supplement this activity where and when needed. This approach does require significant investment of skill queue time in two characters other than your main delaying your progressing, or the purchase of Multiple Pilot Training Certificates (MCT). That said, if multiple characters is a no-go for you, this approach can be made to work with a single character, albeit it will require more legwork in hauling and order management, and more spreadsheet upkeep in filtering out personal transactions from your trading business. I strongly advise that you modify, borrow from, or outright ignore this approach in favor of what fits your needs. In my case, I had IRL disposable income I was comfortable throwing at skill training packs, and this was an effective means to make use of the MCT certificates.
The Buyer: This character lives in Jita and trains T2 Transport Ships and their relevant fitting and evasion skills. As a lower priority they also have scheduled trade skills focused on Accounting to minimize sales tax on opportunistic sells in Jita, and some buy order management. I prefer not to deadhead my hauler (run with an empty cargo hold) back to Jita, so I often look to pick up items for or during a return run that I can flip quickly. More on that later.
The Seller: This character has Trade skills and little else. They sit in station in my primary market (Stacmon at the time of this writing) and manage market orders. Their Trade skills focus on Accounting 5 and Broker Relations 5 in order to drive sales tax and relist fees down as far as possible, with Trade and Retail to increase their market orders cap. They have also scheduled skill training for a T1 hauler and T1 destroyer for short range hops shunting cargo around the target market if/when the Buyer and Main aren't in system.
The Main: This is Lan Man, my main character. Lan Man does have Accounting 4 and Transport Ships 4 trained and can act as a backup buyer, seller, or hauler when needed. Generally speaking I don't do business via my Main as I don't want personal transactions intermingled with my trading business; that requires more time managing spreadsheets and takes time from undocking and exploding ships.
# Supporting Tools
Among the prerequisites in Cpt. Bunny's guide is finding or creating a spreadsheet to at least manage what items you acquire and what price you sell them for. I figured that given Eve's moniker of spreadsheets online, surely a suitable sheet already existed for public use which I could copy without having to create from scratch. Some quick Google-fu yielded Oz's Eve Online trading spreadsheet which I am using as my book of record for my trading activity. It is optimized for use with jEveAssets, a Java app. The creator of Oz's sheet explains the interaction between these tools in this YouTube video.
In a nutshell, jEveAssets can fetch your transactions history (and a lot of other useful info) via Eve's APIs. You copy the new rows of your transaction history over to the transactions log in Oz's spreadsheet and run the Populate Transactions script to populate the Dashboard and Master tabs. These in turn show your current positions, what's selling well vs what's not, average price you purchased/invested in an item at, gross and projected profits, etc. You will want to update your Transactions and your wallet balance in the Configuration sheet on a regular basis to have an up-to-date understanding of your positions. These are viewable in jEveAssets via Tools --> Business --> Transactions, and Tools --> Worth --> ISK respectively.
I also added a working/scratch tab that is kept independent of the other tabs in Oz's sheet as I use it for pre-activity planning and don't want these values contaminating the actual book of record. This planning sheet is a simple table where I drop in the name of the target item, what price I would buy it at e.g. in Jita, what price I anticipate selling for in the target market, and mass and quantity for hauling planning. Calculations based on these give me a cargo m3 figure, anticipated profit per unit, anticipated restock cost, anticipated profit, and no-restock cashout values. As I have characters in both the target market and Jita, this makes price checks easy. Eve Marketer does exist if you need to check prices in other regions and hubs, albeit I've been told that this tool is no longer shipping updates and may be missing some newer items.
I've also been made aware that Eve Tycoon a. exists, and b. provides most of the same functionality of Oz's spreadsheet as a web app without the need to run another application such as jEveAssets. However, some Eve Tycoon advanced features are behind a paywall, whereas this Oz's sheet & jEveAssets approach is free.
## Compatibility and Security
There are a couple stipulations with how this tooling works.
First: jEveAssets requires Java. For better or worse, in a security context Java is a frequent target of attackers and draws a corresponding amount of scrutiny from security researchers. Having it installed does increase the attack surface of your device. Additionally, I know that Eve has a significant number of players on MacOS, and the Java Runtime Environment may have compatibility issues with Apple silicon / M* chips. To mitigate both issues, consider installing and running jEveAssets in a Virtual Machine. E.g. I have an M1 Macbook Pro I use when traveling or on the couch, which does not play nice with Java. To work around this, I run jEveAssets in a Windows 11 image in Parallels instead. On my main device, a Windows 11 desktop, I run jEveAssets from a Windows 10 VM in Virtualbox. In both cases the VM also has my Eve-specific Google Account (more on that below) signed in so I can update my copy of Oz's sheet within the VM without having to allow clipboard access from the guest VM out to the host.
Second: Oz's spreadsheet relies on custom scripting via Google Drive to parse the Transactions log and create the Dashboard and Master views. If your Google account has Advanced Protection turned on, these scripts will not be allowed to run, period. This same issue is true of E-UNI's Mining Buyback spreadsheet. I highly recommend that you create an alternate Google account for use with 3rd Party Eve-related services, and in this case to act as the owner of your copy of Oz's sheet in Google Drive. You can then invite your primary Google account as a collaborator with edit permissions if you don't wish to switch between accounts regularly. Oh and turn two factor authentication on for that alternate account while you're at it.
# The Goods
In case there were not already enough disclaimers, here's another. I am no expert on Eve markets, nor am I providing you with financial advice about your imaginary internet money. Some of my product selection may be based on luck, Eve's markets are volatile, and I want this thread to be serviceable as a reference piece. Instead of recommending you specific goods to sell, I will try instead to convey the criteria I've used to select products so that you have a starting point for your own trading.
To select products, you must become familiar with the market window's price history view. If you're unfamiliar with this chart, I recommend reading up on the the burger method on the E-UNI Wiki. The burger method does assume that you are buying and selling in the same region, and as I am buying in one region and selling in another I cannot rely on the burger method's "patty" to reliably project profit. The market window is specific to only the region you are presently in. Instead I must rely on manual price checks, and perform any estimations and projections within my spreadsheet.
I try to stick to the following criteria:
- In my target market I look for a consistent quantity in goods sold over a 90 or 120 day window. Mouseover the vertical bars along the bottom of the price history view to see the raw numbers. Thus far I tend to check items in Cpt. Bunny's "144 list" first, favoring T2 and other items I know to be necessary for ships I see in the area.
- I make a note of items that don't have a deep inventory in extant sell orders within 5 jumps. I take this as indicating room for me to muscle into the local market as the locals within ~3 jumps will likely be willing to pay a premium for convenience. If I see an item has multiple sell orders in system with hundreds of that item on orders, I cross it off the list as managing a price war and that near-daily undercutting isn't worth my time and relist fees.
- I estimate the price the local market is willing to accept based on price of immediate competitors; that is other sell orders within 5 jumps, their inventory and sell price, and my confidence in whether I can compete with them for local buyers and still turn a profit. For me this more of a gut feeling than anything else.
- I check the Jita sell price for these items via Eve Marketer or by logging in to my Buyer alt. I pencil this into my spreadsheet as an anticipated buy price, and confirm the mass to feed my cargo calculations.
- I typically proceed with purchase of items that would yield me >= 15% profit, wallet and comfort level permitting. For anything less I will usually mark the item to check back on in a couple weeks.
I've not played with buy orders extensively yet, but I anticipate these are at their most useful for those items which I find priced below my ~15-20% profit target. Instead of making a note to check back later, you might consider setting a buy order in Jita that would yield you ~30-40% profit, just to see if it fills. The 120 day price history graph should also be a good indicator whether there is enough volatility in that item's price to make this viable. Within the last week I have started using buy orders for items that can be sourced in/around Stacmon which I can obtain at a discount due to a lack of other competing buy orders nearby. My Hauler fills their hold with these on the return run to Jita, which I can then immediately flip for the Jita buy price, netting a nice profit.
Lastly, in starting out I have avoided selling ammunition and minerals or industry inputs. I simply don't understand these markets well enough for them to be profitable, and the ammunition market (at least in highsec) appears to have exceptionally low margins. Also be wary of entering the market in a location and product where you know that dedicated industrialists are already putting out their goods as sell orders. In most circumstances, dedicated miners and industrialists can obtain or create that product with a far greater profit margin than you can. Trading in minerals is a great example: you the dedicated trader must spend ISK to make ISK, but the miner only has to spend time to make ISK, the miner's profit margin is squishier and more abstract than yours is as a trader.
Understand that T1 haulers generally lack the tank and agility to mitigate a serious highsec gank attempt. Although the Uprising patch and the recent inability of Alpha clones to set safety to red has made life more difficult for gankers, you should consider using hulls that have lower cargo capacity but are much more slippery/evasive for your business as usual hauling. From there, step up into Transport Ships, Freighters, and Jump Freighters with appropriate fitting and mitigations if/when/as they become necessary.
Starting out, I highly recommend making the investment in a hauling Sunesis along the lines of AshyIn.Space's fit. That the Sunesis is a SoCT hull allows you to start with minimal skills, has enough cargo capacity to get you started hauling low m3 per unit items in bulk, and the sub-3 second align time should be slippery enough to evade most low-effort ganks. However, you need to understand that a sub-3 second, and even sub-2 second, aligning ships are catchable so this won't wholly mitigate the real professionals. Your best option is to accept additional jumps in order to avoid gatecamps and gankers, more on that in a bit.
Also note that this Sunesis fit does include guns and drones that require skill investments that you can make do without. Once you've skilled into Cloaking, the Sunesis is a very forgiving hull on which to practice the Cloak + MWD trick, which you will absolutely need to know in order to escape gatecamps. You will want to get good at this for hauling in heavier vessels and in lowsec, nullsec, and wormhole space.
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[Sunesis, Highsec hauler] Expanded Cargohold II Expanded Cargohold II Expanded Cargohold II Inertial Stabilizers II Multispectrum Shield Hardener II Medium Shield Extender II Medium Shield Extender II 5MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive Improved Cloaking Device II Core Probe Launcher I 125mm Gatling AutoCannon II 125mm Gatling AutoCannon II Small Cargohold Optimization II Small Cargohold Optimization II Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints II Hornet EC-300 x4 Warrior II x4
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[Hecate, Fast Align Hauler] Shadow Serpentis Inertial Stabilizers Shadow Serpentis Inertial Stabilizers Shadow Serpentis Inertial Stabilizers Inertial Stabilizers II Caldari Navy Medium Shield Extender Caldari Navy Medium Shield Extender Pithum B-Type EM Shield Amplifier 5MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive Improved Cloaking Device II [Empty High slot] [Empty High slot] [Empty High slot] [Empty High slot] [Empty High slot] Small Low Friction Nozzle Joints II Small Cargohold Optimization II Small Cargohold Optimization II Eifyr and Co. 'Rogue' Evasive Maneuvering EM-703
Spend the time to set up instadock and undock bookmarks. Yes it's boring, but just do it. You might get away with not having them if your selling market is in relatively quiet or friendly space, but this is not optional in trade hubs. For added safety, do your utmost to ensure that your undocks are not-on-grid with the trade hub station, although this may take significant time to get right and require you to borrow safes from other Unistas or depend on RNG for an aligned cosmic anomaly or site spawn.
I highly recommend that you use EVE-Gatecheck before making any multiple jump trip, especially when hauling. Make a folder of browser tabs you always open when playing EVE, and make sure this is in there. Also make sure to check it during haul runs; long warps across large highsec systems are the perfect time to tab over, hit refresh, and see if anything on your route has changed. The Jita to Stacmon run, both the secure and short variations, do experience gatecamps. Especially in the Caldari Border Zone. Especially in Sivala. Fortunately you can often avoid this bottleneck with some creative routing. E.g. If the Hatakani gate in Sivala is camped, go via the Iivinen gate instead.
Remember, Eve is a game of consequences. You might follow all of this advice to the letter and still lose ships and inventory because you got unlucky on the day. C'est la vie.
# Fringe Benefits
This two character approach opens some doors for content I would not otherwise be in a position for. This frees up my main, Lan Man, to live with the Wormhole community and wander around the E-UNI communities at will as I don't have to stay near Jita or Stacmon to babysit market orders. That said, I'm often reluctant to undock my main in a risky environment like wormholes if I'm sitting on the couch watching TV and talking with the wife, I don't have the requisite attention to give to the game and my Main's safety. Instead, I can undock the Buyer and find productive things to do in highsec.
Low stress arbitrage hauling: EveTrade.Space is an excellent tool that checks for arbitrage opportunities in the same station, across several stations, or across regions. I primarily use this with the Buyer to find goods with unusually low buy orders on my way back to Jita which I can then sell immediately for a (usually minor) profit. I also use it in the aforementioned couch-gaming scenario where I want to do something in Eve, so I check for arbitrage opportunities I can buy and haul easily between The Forge, The Citadel, and Lonetrek. Because EveTrade appends your search parameters in the results URL (example for Dodixie to Stacmon), you can set up multiple searches and bookmark the results URL for quick reference. It is worth noting though that EveTrade does not include player-owned structures in its searches, so you will want to check the in-game Market window to see if better buy orders exist at e.g. the Botane or Perimeter secondary markets than at the NPC trade hub.
In one such instance, I found someone selling a big pile of Rage HAMs for ~20% below Jita buy only five jumps away. Turned this into ~3M ISK profit with nearly no time/effort invested. In another, I was looking for goods to haul from Stacmon back to Jita, and EveTrade called to my attention two skins for sale in Dodixie that had corresponding buy orders in Jita and Perimeter for an 8M ISK profit.
Purchases of opportunity: If the Jita market for an item is crashing or a really good deal comes up, I've got the Buyer there 90% of the time to take advantage. If I know I need some ammo or modules for an upcoming fleet, I can get them at a "fair" price rather than relying on what's available and marked-up in Stacmon or Dodixie, and contract the goods over to my main. I can then use my buyer to haul the goods myself, or I can contract the E-UNI Hauling service, or a commercial hauling corporation like Red Frog Freight or PushX in a non-uni context.
However, understand that your Buyer's purchases on behalf of your Main will be imported by jEveAssets, which you will have to skip copying or otherwise remove from your book of record so as to not contaminate your sales book with "non-business" purchases.
Space trucker as a way of life: while I have not looked into hauling as a full-time-Eve gig, it is a potentially viable and lucrative playstyle. Not having to train most PvP skills means your Buyer may make relatively rapid process on hauling, fitting, and survivability skills, potentially to the point that working with the E-UNI hauling department or commercial hauling corps like Red Frog or PushX are viable ways to contribute to the Uni or make additional ISK.
# Longer Term Planning
I have started giving some thought as to what's next for the alts' skills if I extend their MCT licenses.
The Buyer has a significantly longer skill queue than the Seller due to the need to fly and fit T2 Haulers and trade skills to make bidirectional haul of goods to/from Jita more viable. Presently the Buyer has been hauling in the Sunesis, but my scheduled skill queue opens up Gallente T2 Haulers specifically to allow fit and flight of a Deep Space Transport. Anticipation is that a properly fit and tanked DST can both haul higher volume items and take lowsec shortcuts I would not otherwise be comfortable with. Addition of Scanning skills would also open up use of DSTs for hauling with the E-Uni hauling service in/out of the Wormhole community. I do not presently have Freighters in my skill queue, but this can be incorporated if/when need appears on the horizon. Interestingly, the Buyer's skills open up Blockade Runners and fitting skills that would facilitate BLOPS fleet fuel and ammo hauling. As I don't anticipate them willingly appearing on any killmails, they should show up as 100% cuddly in zkillboard; perfectly within the spirit of that content.
The Seller's skills I've waffled on a fair bit, and I consider an extension of the Seller's skills outside of trading to be a lower priority than those of the Buyer. Planetary Interaction is a potential option as the Seller stays in a single system for long stretches of time, and the skills investment for PI isn't terrible while also yielding P2 and P3 that the Buyer can backhaul to Jita. But, if I understand correctly, further skill investment is needed into Customs Code Expertise to drive highsec POCO tax rates down. (This is not a concern in nullsec and j-space) Alternatively, I could skill the Seller along a typical mining path, though this would be an even more significant skill investment path.
# Bonus Content
I've converted "the 144 list" from Cpt. Bunny's guide into a market quickbar-importable format. Some items in the original text have been renamed or no longer exist, so I acknowledge this version of the list to be incomplete and likely out of date with current market forces. But, it's a very serviceable starting point.
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+ The 144 List - 10MN Afterburner II - 1400mm Howitzer Artillery II - 1600mm Rolled Tungsten Compact Plates - 200mm Rolled Tungsten Compact Plates - 220mm Vulcan AutoCannon II - 50MN Microwarpdrive II - 50MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive - 5MN Microwarpdrive II - 5MN Y-T8 Compact Microwarpdrive - 650mm Artillery Cannon II - 720mm Howitzer Artillery II - 800mm Repeating Cannon II - 800mm Rolled Tungsten Compact Plates - Ballistic Control System II - Bomb Launcher I - Caldari Navy Mjolnir Heavy Missile - Caldari Navy Scourge Heavy Missile - Cap Recharger II - Capacitor Power Relay II - Co-Processor II - Covert Ops Cloaking Device II - Cruise Missile Launcher II - Curator I - Curator II - Cybernetic Subprocessor - Basic - Cybernetic Subprocessor - Standard - Damage Control II - Dual 425mm AutoCannon II - EM Armor Hardener II - EMP L - EMP M - Expanded Cargohold II - Explosive Armor Hardener II - Focused Warp Disruption Script - Focused Warp Scrambling Script - Garde I - Garde II - Giant Secure Container - Gyrostabilizer II - Hammerhead II - Heat Sink II - Heavy Assault Missile Launcher II - Heavy Capacitor Booster II - Heavy Missile Launcher I - Heavy Missile Launcher II - Heavy Pulse Laser II - Hobgoblin II - Hornet EC-300 - Hornet II - Imperial Navy Multifrequency L - Imperial Navy Multifrequency M - Imperial Navy Multifrequency S - Imperial Navy Radio L - Imperial Navy Standard L - Improved Cloaking Device II - Inertial Stabilizers II - Interdiction Sphere Launcher I - Kinetic Armor Hardener II - Large Armor Repairer II - Large Capacitor Control Circuit I - Large Capacitor Control Circuit II - Large Core Defense Field Extender I - Large F-S9 Regolith Compact Shield Extender - Large Shield Booster II - Large Shield Extender II - Large Trimark Armor Pump I - Layered Coating II - Layered Energized Membrane II - Magnetic Field Stabilizer II - Medium Ancillary Current Router I - Medium Armor Repairer II - Medium Capacitor Booster II - Medium Capacitor Control Circuit I - Medium Cargohold Optimization I - Medium Core Defense Field Extender I - Medium EM Shield Reinforcer I - Medium F-S9 Regolith Compact Shield Extender - Medium Salvage Tackle I - Medium Shield Extender II - Medium Trimark Armor Pump I - Mega Modulated Energy Beam I - Mega Modulated Pulse Energy Beam I - Mega Pulse Laser II - Memory Augmentation - Basic - Memory Augmentation - Standard - Micro Auxiliary Power Core I - Micro Auxiliary Power Core II - Mjolnir Heavy Missile - Multifrequency L - Multispectrum Coating II - Multispectrum Energized Membrane II - Nanite Repair Paste - Nanofiber Internal Structure II - Neural Boost - Basic - Neural Boost - Standard - Ocular Filter - Basic - Ocular Filter - Standard - Ogre I - Ogre II - Optimal Range Script - Overdrive Injector System II - Power Diagnostic System II - Prototype Cloaking Device I - Radio L - Reactive Armor Hardener - Reactor Control Unit II - Republic Fleet EMP L - Republic Fleet EMP M - Republic Fleet EMP S - Scan Resolution Script - Scorch L - Scorch M - Scorch S - Sensor Booster II - Shield Boost Amplifier II - Shield Power Relay II - Shield Recharger II - Signal Amplifier II - Sisters Combat Scanner Probe - Sisters Core Scanner Probe - Small Armor Repairer II - Small Core Defense Field Extender I - Small F-S9 Regolith Compact Shield Extender - Small Tractor Beam I - Small Trimark Armor Pump I - Social Adaptation Chip - Basic - Social Adaptation Chip - Standard - Standard L - Stasis Webifier II - Tachyon Beam Laser II - Target Painter II - Targeting Range Script - Thermal Armor Hardener II - Tracking Computer II - Tracking Disruptor II - Tracking Enhancer II - Tracking Speed Script - Warp Disrupt Probe - Warp Disruptor II - Warp Scrambler II - Warrior II
If you've waded through all of this, thanks for your time. And do let me know if you've found any errors, areas for improvement, or if you've found any of the content useful!