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Of all the moneymaking endeavours you can take in EVE Online, trading is perhaps the one with the highest potential for profit. While missin running profit tops out at a few tens of millions per hour and the profit margin from production isn't that big, trading is limited only by the amount of effort you're willing to put in and is much improved by inherent business talent. At the low end of the trading spectrum, beginners can make a healthy income ferrying items from A to B. At the other extreme, a market-savvy individual can pull billions per week out of the players in EVE great conglomerated marketplaces.
In this first guide in a short series on trading, I look at the different types of trading options available to newer EVE players.
One of the first trading jobs a new EVE player is likely to try out is running freight. The most basic option is to buy NPC-sold trade goods where they're cheap. This can be good but typically doesn't make a huge amount of ISK for new players who don't have access to a massive freighter.
Player-made courier contracts are another viable option. Players often set up public courier contracts requesting that their package be taken from one place to another and if you have enough ISK to front the collateral they've set, you can take the job. I've been known to run courier missions now and then just to feel useful but it can be good ISK for newer players. Before accepting a courier contract, be sure to go over the following checklist:
Examine the route. Avoid taking contracts that force you to go through low security space or you might end up on the business end of a pirate's warp scrambler.
Check that you have enough cargo space to hold the contract. Remember that courier contracts can't be split up into smaller packages so you'll need a ship big enough to hold the whole thing in one go. Industrial ships are perfect for large packages.
Check the collateral amount Avoid contracts with high collateral and low rewards. If the item's really worth that much, they should be willing to pay a little more to offset the risk of carrying it.
Check the destination station. If the contract is in 0.0, it could be a player-run outpost to which you have no docking rights. If this is the case, you'll be unable to complete the contract and you'll lose your collateral deposit.
Look for additional contracts going to the same system or any system along your route. Grabbing two or three contracts before making the journey could add up to a lot of extra profit.
It's surprising what people will throw away. A few missiles here, an old railgun there. Most people just sell their old bits and bobs to the first sell order that pops up, regardless of its price. The loot from PvP kills also tends to be treated the same way and is just sold to buy orders for some quick profit. Not everyone has the time to watch market orders for a few things to sell and it's these people you can make a lot of ISK out of. By setting up the highest buy order for some items, anyone trying to sell them quickly will be selling on a few items, you'll soon find a few with buy orders far below their true value.
For maximum effectiveness, you should set the range of your buy order to cover as wide an area as possible. You can then periodically fly around collecting up all your items. The ideal buy order range covers the entire region but be aware that this also includes low security systems so you may need to sneak into them periodically. Instead of collecting the items yourself, another option is to set up courier contracts to have other people move the items for you. If they fail the contract, you'll collect the collateral payment so you won't be out of pocket.