One of the big secrets of trading in EVE's player-run economy is that some items have a regular, cyclic price pattern. This is caused by both the supply and demand for items varying predictably over the course of a week, a month or even a year. Demand universally increases on Sunday at peak play time, for example, and average play time decreases each year during the summer months. Look for items that vary in price depending on the day of the week or that vary on a bi-weekly or monthly cycle. Buy as many of the product as you can on buy orders at the lowest price point in the cycle and then sell on sell orders at the highest point. If the price difference is great enough, you could even make a good profit by dumping your stock on buy orders at the peak price point for instant ISK. I used to do this with tech 2 advanced materials and moon minerals for a substantial profit as most people tended to only sell their moon products on the weekend every 2-4 weeks and buyers made purchases every week.
Most activities in EVE come with an associated opportunity cost. That's the potential ISK the activity causes you to lose out on. For example, if you're about to build a battleship and sell it, the opportunity cost is the amount of ISK you could make from just selling the raw minerals. You lose that opportunity when you use the minerals, then you gain a battleship for sale. Before doing anything, make sure the amount of ISK to be made is greater than the opportunity cost. It doesn't matter if you mined the minerals or bought them on the market, using them comes with an opportunity cost equal to the amount you could have sold them for. Similarly, consider the opportunity cost of your invested time. If it takes you 30 minutes to haul items from A to B for sale, think about what other ISK-making activities you could do in those 30 minutes instead. When estimating opportunity cost, remember to value items based on the amount you could feasibly sell them for and not how much you paid for them.
Cut and run:
In part 2 of this series, I talked about market manipulation and how to turn a profit on it. To maintain the manipulated prices, you may find yourself buying huge amounts of the item in question that you'll have no hope of selling at the inflated price. If you don't care about getting a bad name for yourself, find a patsy who will buy your entire stock at once. Charge them a price significantly above the price you paid but below the manipulated price. Convince the player that he's getting a discount and he'll be able to resell it for a profit. When the price crashes, they'll be left holding the bag and you'll have made a sharp profit in no time at all. I fell victim to someone doing this years ago and have since been on-guard whenever anyone offers a similar deal. If someone offers you a deal that seems too good to be true, be extremely wary.
Read on to page 2 for three more of my top tips for trading and money-making in EVE.