My One Piece of Advice for New Traders

So I’ve re-written a gold-making guide about six times now. It’s gone from being super in-depth, to being basically cliff notes on my personal gold-making strategies, to honestly just a rambling rant. Every time I go over it, I trash it because even after being active in the trade world for almost 5 years, I still don’t necessarily feel qualified enough to give unsolicited advice. So after much thought and deliberation, I’ve narrowed my not-guide down to one piece of advice I wish I had been given when I started flipping items on the market. And here it is:

If you’re starting out, don’t focus on buying and selling mats.

Now I know that sounds counter-intuitive, considering a lot of the big wigs generate huge amounts of gold from mat sales. But hear me out. Mats sales are on a spectrum, and there are foot holes that will trip up and bog down a newer trader across the entire thing. Buy when the deal is too good not to, but focus your efforts on learning other markets: motifs, set pieces, furniture plans, etc.

Let me elaborate a little, and please note that this only has to do strictly with buying/reselling and not farming.

There is something that my husband and I jokingly refer to as “the Hemming trap.” You see, if you’re vigilant in your shopping habits, you can pick up stacks of Hemming for as little as 2-6k. All. The. Time. Now we’re knowledgeable, market savvy folks, right? So we know that we can split that full stack of Hemming up into smaller stacks of 10 and sell them for 800-1000g pretty easily. Simple math: buy a stack for 5k and we’ve got 20k sales potential, 15k profit – fantastic margins! Now this is all fine and dandy until you wind up with 50 stacks of Hemming and sales are moving super slowly because each stack requires 20 listing slots. Oops, why on earth did I spend 200k on Hemming? In short, because IT’S A TRAP. And it applies to a lot of mats.

Mats that you can buy easily in bulk with a HIGH profit margin on resale usually have lower overall demand, require smaller stacks to push profit, can easily choke your trader with too much inventory, and tend to sell at a trickle. When you focus on these kinds of mats, you run the risk of overstock and not being able to move inventory quickly enough to outpace your buying.

There are two ways to keep this from happening: diversify and sell on multiple traders. Remember, I said this theory applies to A LOT of mats, to include: green and blue upgrade mats, elegant lining, less popular style mats, non-CP160 solvents, non-CP160 refined mats, white provisioning ingredients, non-Kuta runestones, the list goes on. So instead of dropping 20 small stacks of Hemming on the same trader, consider limiting that number to 4 or less and diversifying with small stacks of other mats. This prevents you from throttling sales and from needing to pull mass inventory if a price shift knocks you out of the market. Lastly, folks who do the best with these markets sell across several accounts and over dozens of traders. There is a lot of money to be made here, but it requires a hell of a hustle that the average trader isn’t ready to fully engage.

Now on the flip side, mats that are more difficult or costly to buy in bulk (such your gold upgrade mats) generally have a much higher demand but way lower profit margins (note that your profit margins are basically the % of money you take as profit after sale). I like to think of these mats as a “wholesale market.” Wholesalers generally are looking for a minimum 15-25% margins and move massive quantities of inventory daily.

So let’s take a look at Dreugh Wax. Currently it’s around 7k trade value. Remember that 8% of that is going to listing fees or store tax, so take home value is closer to 6.5k. In order to start being profitable, you want to buy your dreugh wax in bulk at absolutely no more than 5.5k each, but ideally closer to 4.5-5k. Even then, you are only making 1-2k on each sale of Dreugh Wax. In order to really start generating profit, you need to be both buying and selling in huge quantities – moving several stacks a day. This is one of those classic situations where you need to have money to make money. It is totally doable, but you really need to make contacts with some (Chinese) farmers and have at least a few million gold already to get your feet wet. Otherwise it’s a huge hustle with a relatively low payoff.

The mats market is really either an entry-level market (easy to learn and start slowly making gold) or an experienced, dedicated trader market (sellers who push millions a week, have supplier contacts, and sell across more than one account). Folks in the middle like myself, who have limited time and are maybe a bit lazy in terms of the hustle, don’t get the full benefit of flipping on the mats market.

It was about 2 years ago that I finally let go of my need to sell mats and switched focus to motifs and set pieces. When I did that, my average daily sales jumped from 75-150k to 400-700k (which is still chump change compared to a lot of the major sellers). If you are still growing as a trader, my advice is to focus first on shopping around for severely mispriced non-mats. I know that it’s intimidating to step out into other markets, but once you do, you’ll realize that mispriced set pieces, motifs, furniture mats, furnishings, etc are surprisingly common. I take into account what sets are currently in high demand (Necropotence, Mother’s Sorrow, Plague Doctor, Crafty Alfiq, Briarheart, Deadly, Spell Strategist, etc), and then look for the desired traits (divines, impen, sharpened, infused) and pick up anything that falls into both of those categories for cheap (I usually look for under 3k on armor and under 20k on weapons, depending on the weapon). Get to know your motif values – they are so easy to flip. And if you’re struggling to fill your trader up with these items, that’s when I would use mats as my filler. With this strategy, you can generate 2-3M in sales a week without the mat hustle – which is enough to quickly open the door to the mat hustle if that’s a market you’re really interested in.

What is the Small Stacks Market?

If you are newer to the ESO economy or generally a text chat/facebook/band seller, then there’s one aspect of the price list that’s likely to trip you up. In fact, it’s been a common cause of cynism since ESO Price Check was created back in 2016. I get it every single time:

How is the median price of cotton higher than that of Ancestor Silk? This guide is inaccurate, cotton is not worth more than silk. 

Challenge.

There is a lucrative market that I like to refer to as the “Small Stacks Market.” The idea is that value goes up as stack size goes down. Picture this, you are a new player. You are excited to craft your first new set of gear, but you need cotton. Low-level gear requires very little material to craft. It’s not like CP160 that will require several stacks for a full set. So 25 cotton is going to go pretty far. On top of that, you don’t have a whole heck of a lot of gold in your pocket, so we’re on the hunt for something “affordable.” You stop into a guild trader, it’s automatically sorted from cheapest to most expensive, and the first bit of cotton you stumble upon is 25 for 3000 gold. That’s not a huge amount of gold out of your pocket and it’s just the right amount of material – SOLD.

This same concept applies to the vast majority of non-CP160 mats and even extends to blue and green upgrade mats, provisioning ingredients, furnishing mats, and alchemy solvents (you might be shocked to discover you can get around 40k out of some of your lower level solvents). The catch? This market is almost exclusively a trading guild market. You wont find yourself especially successful trying to sell stacks of Hemming for 20k on the street. But break them down into stacks of 10 for 1k on trader, you’ll sell at a trickle all week long.

Now before you get excited and start buying up all the cheap stacks of mats to resell, I must leave you with a word of caution. Small Stack sellers have huge profit margin potential, but sales are slower and at much lower revenue amounts than other markets. You also run the risk of choking your market if you don’t maintain variety (filling 30 slots on a trader with only embroidery will actually slow your sales). And lastly, you can fall into the trap of overstock. Suddenly you’re sitting on 20 stacks of hemming and only moving one every 3 weeks or so. That’s where you stop being cost-effective. (Don’t keep more than 1-2 stacks of hemming, it’s literally the worst.)

The Small Stacks market is really most effective when you’ve got a good variety and are selling across multiple accounts to bring in maximum revenue. However, if you’re looking for a slow but consistent and stable market to get into, this is one of the lowest risk markets in the game.