Making ISK


Please note: This was originally extracted from Akita T's [Beginner's Guide to Making ISK] on the forums.


ISK - it's the lifeblood of EVE's economy. Some of us have it, many of us want it, here are some ideas on how to get it.

Contents

PLEX & GTC

One way to make ISK without expending much ingame effort is to buy a Game Time Code (GTC or ETC) or 30 days CONCORD Pilots Licence Extension (PLEX) with real-world money and hawk it ingame for ISK. Why bust your back making ISK in the game when you could pay someone else to make your ISK for you?

Note that GTC work differently to PLEX.

GTC are bought/sold entirely outside the game. GTC sales are mediated through the Timecode Bazaar. The Timecode Bazaar Resource Thread provides the necessary links to buy and sell GTC through the methods approved by CCP. Scamming with GTC is not allowed, since it is a real world transaction.

PLEX are bought through CCP with in-game delivery, and sold as an in-game item. Scamming with PLEX is allowed, since the PLEX is treated just like any other ingame item. So you could try your luck at putting up contracts for "2 PLEX at 20% off" which contain just one PLEX. You should also be careful of people offering to buy your PLEX at a higher price, when they're actually asking for 2 PLEX on the contract.

PvP Combat

PvP is often considered to be expensive, especially if you spend too much time listening to the more established players in NPC corps. Amusingly enough the income from PvP can exceed mission-running by orders of magnitude.

Faction Warfare

Would you like to get paid to PvP? Welcome to Factional Warfare! You will get paid LP for capturing sites and destroying enemies.

Mercenary work & Wars

While not the best avenue for a solo beginner pilot, it could be a nice endeavour for a group of younger pilots, especially if they can find a tutor of sorts in the "art of war" but like they say, experience is the best teacher.

Basically, you find somebody in need of protection — or in need of a good shakedown — and you start a corporation war against your chosen targets. It could be good, it could be bad, but as long as your goal is to have fun, every bit of ISK you get from it is an added bonus. If you pick your targets carefully, you might actually make some decent money, even if your group is not that good.

Of course, the opposite could happen, and you end up all losing everything you have.

Science and Industry

Science and industry covers a range of activities from small-scale T1 manufacture through to the complexities of T3 manufacture or capital ship construction. Many of the activities in this realm are best attempted with large ISK starting funds, as small-scale efforts are bound to fail miserably.

Mining

Mining is one of the simplest activities in the game. You go out in an asteroid belt, you start your mining lasers, you launch your mining drones (if you have any), and you haul the ore you mine in a station to be used later. It's a low-attention activity which appeals to some people since it leaves you with time to do something else such as chat with corpmates, make strategic plans, or anything else which requires a modicum of concentration.

The optimal progression in ships is to graduate from the Venture to the Retriever mining barge, then to a Hulk directly. You will be able to mine copious quantities of ore to fund your training into combat ships or whatever path you have chosen for yourself. Note that the Hulk is a very squishy target and using it in hisec is an invitation to suicide gankers. The Skiff and Mackinaw are slightly lesser than the Hulk in terms of yield, but they have much better buffer tank than the Hulk.

Whenever you mine, look at what ore is available in the region and check the existing mineral buy and sell orders. If you have the choice of what to mine, always pick the ore that gives you the most ISK per cubic metre. If you are able to refine with no losses, you may find that refining the ore and selling the minerals will earn you more ISK. Note that Kernite and Omber are especially valuable as raw ore in stations housing storyline agents: this is due to the "Materials for War preparations" storyline mission (L3 version asks for basic Omber, L4 version asks for basic Kernite).

There's not much more to be said about mining as a concept, everything else is details. The details are most clearly explained in Halada's Advanced Mining guide (noting that quoted yields for mining barges and exhumers are obsolete).

Manufacture

The entry point for a manufacturer is T1 manufacture, and preferably in either ammo, modules, rigs or small ships (because of the relatively affordable blueprint costs). Do not even bother with manufacture before you have Production Efficiency trained up to level 4, and try to get it to level 5 as soon as possible. To be at all competitive with established players (even to the point of being able to produce your own ammunition at market prices), you really need to be able to make your production line as efficient as possible.

For more details on what to manufacture, how and where, visit the Science and Industry subforum. A good idea would be, for instance, to manufacture ammo in mission hubs, or frigates, cruisers and assorted modules (for the frigates/cruisers you also manufacture) somewhere near a lowsec (or even 0.0) system on a major transit "pipe" across EVE.

The most common mistake made by people new to manufacturing is failing to understand opportunity cost. If you are building things in order to sell them for an income, you should sell it for more ISK than you could have made by simply selling the things you used to manufacture it with. That's the most critical mistake a rookie manufacturer makes : selling below cost. The reason such rookies do not go bankrupt is that they usually mine the ore themselves, reprocesses it, and use those minerals to manufacture. The ore you mine yourself has intrinsic value based on the market in the area where you mined it.

Datacores

CCP Soundwave has indicated that research points are to be removed from the game (last question, end of the interview). At Fanfest 2012 it was suggested that the "passive" income from R&D agents would be substantially reduced, with data cores sold through the Faction Warfare LP store. Take this into consideration before proceeding too far down the path of generating data cores for ISK. It will take a significant period of time to get a return on investment (60M ISK for Research Project Management, 10M ISK for each science skill, time spent grinding standings instead of making ISK other ways), and there is no indication of the time period in which CCP will be removing research points.

Collecting data cores is a relatively passive income stream: if done properly each character you create can produce around 60M ISK a month. The Research Agent Guide is a good place to start. Basically, you grind some standings (via missions usually), train some skills, and then once in a while you exchange the RPs accumulated for datacores, which you could then sell or use yourself. The entry cost is around two to three months of training & standings grind.

Planetary Interaction

In Tyrannis, Capsuleers gained the ability to set up bases on planets. The best place to get started with Planetary Interaction is Louis de Guerre's Epic PI Guide. To maximise profitability, capsuleers use tools such as Wyke Mossari's PI profitability spreadsheet.

Of note for capsuleers planning on starting careers in PI is the upcoming interaction between DUST 514 and PI. Also, it should be noted that while PI appears to be a fairly passive income stream, the more time/effort put into it, the more yield it produces. i.e. someone who only updates/restarts their planets extractors on a two-week time frame can expect less output (and therefore ISK generation) than someone who restarts those planets on a daily basis.

Starting with the Rubicon expansion, large PvP-oriented organisations have replaced all Interbus-owned hisec customs offices with their own, and in many cases they have set the tax rates impossibly high. If you are intending to use PI as an income stream and are not part of a large sov-holding alliance in nullsec, you should consider doing PI in lowsec or w-space.

POS-Based Science

Once you have established yourself as a T1 manufacturer, you might want to explore the world of boosters, invention and BPO research. This is, of course, well outside the realm of a "beginner" since you'll need to spend a significant amount of time and ISK in preparing for this pursuit. You should be prepared to find like-minded individuals and form a corporation in order to pursue these activities, since you will need to set up a POS and thus be prepared to defend it.

Hauling

There are two main types of hauling: the contract hauler and the speculative hauler. The differences between them are minor enough not to justify treating them separately.

Contract hauling is almost the same as NPC courier and/or trade missions - you pick up courier contracts and fulfil them. Courier contracts are almost the same as NPC courier missions, the difference being that you have to move it all in one go. Obvious traps include courier missions that take you through low sec systems such as Rancer, and courier missions that have you hauling to null sec where the station you are supposed to deliver to is a player controlled outpost where you will not have permission to dock.

Speculative hauling is basically the same as a trade mission, but you set your own destination and cargo type: you just scour the market for cheap things in one station that sell high in another one, and move them around. Sites such as Jitonomic, Eve Tools or EVE Central will help with the selection of goods to trade. There is a EVE University guide on how to use EVE Central to haul profitably.

Arbitrage Trading

Arbitrage trading is a simple activity which can be undertaken without leaving a given station, in which the arbitrageur (person doing the trading) simply buys things at low prices and sells those things at higher prices to make a profit. The arbitrageur can set up courier contracts so others do any required hauling (for a price, or course). An arbitrageur will typically post buy orders in certain key locations (mission hubs, mining hot spots), sell orders in a trade hub, and issue courier contracts to haul materials from the out-of-station locations to the trade hub.

The basic rule to follow when trading is "buy low, sell high." In general, you can buy lower if you post buy orders, and you can sell higher if you post sell orders. Things to watch out for: prices you sell/buy at, and all broker fees or sales taxes. It's a bad idea to disable the market-related warnings: people have accidentally put up an order with an extra zero (or two, or three), and not only did the taxes amount to more than they would have wanted to buy/sell the items for originally, but they also lost the ISK or the goods in question more often than not.

For more reading on trading:

PvE Combat

Mission Running

Right now, there are four main types of missions you can be offered : courier, trade, kill and mining. Mining missions are a relatively recent addition (or return, some might argue).

Missions are more fully covered in the Missions guide.

When running missions, you must make yourself aware of derived standings, otherwise you may find yourself Kill-On-Sight in half the Empire space of EVE. You can rectify the situation using the Faction Standing Repair Plan.

For more information about mission-running as a profession, read the Missions & Complexes forum and maybe ask your own questions too.

Salvaging

If you're a mission-runner, it's worth reading Kerfira's thread about Mission Income to understand where all the money is coming from. Make sure you take the time to salvage wrecks if you can salvage them faster than you create them! Once you can create wrecks faster than you can salvage them, consider contracting out the salvaging work to Pro Synergy (a dedicated salvaging corporation) or if you're feeling more philanthropic, join the in-game channel "Free Wrecks" to advertise your wreck-ridden mission space.

If you're a newer player looking to build an income stream, those resources work for you too! You can start salvaging as a career path by following the "Business" career development path. From there, a typical starting setup will be a destroyer with MWD, 5 tractors, 3 salvagers. Make arrangements with the mission runner (or explorer) for them to abandon all their wrecks and cans, bookmark the wreck field, then contract or trade you the bookmarks. You can contact mission runners and explorers through the Free Wrecks or Pro Synergy channels (amongst others).

COSMOS

This is a lot like mission-running, after a fashion. The big difference however is that you can only do it in the "COSMOS" constellations, and NPCs respawn continually in there. A list of empire-based COSMOS areas can be found by a simple site google search, but here's one of the possible results : Eveinfo - Caldari COSMOS page. EVEinfo is also a decent resource for regular missions too, in case you want to have an idea of what to expect in them.

Ratting

Ratting is simply a matter of patrolling asteroid belts for hostile NPCs. The problem is that the "good NPC rats" only appear in lower-security systems, and the very good ones only in deep 0.0 space.

The advantage of ratting (especially for the beginner) is that highsec belt rats are VERY EASY to kill, and you find usually a lot less of them compared to what you could find in a mission. This means you can take your time to kill them, which is especially useful for low-skilled characters. Then again, by the time you can fly a destroyer you're capable of finishing most level 1 missions.

Another advantage of ratting is that there's always a (very small) chance of encountering a "faction spawn", even in empire highsec. While they usually only drop some tags, faction ammo and such, you might also find occasionally some valuable faction modules, or even more valuable implants. Hisec ratting is not a particularly high income stream.

The drawback of ratting compared to mission-running is that you don't get any agent/corp/faction standings.

Incursions

An Incursion is a form of PvE combat which is a mixture of mission-running and ratting. You are presented with various encounters which you complete for bounties and CONCORD LP. The bounties are paid out to the fleet which did the most work in completing an encounter. The CONCORD LP are paid out to those people who earned bounties, but only when the Incursion's mothership is defeated.

Exploration

The shipboard scanner will find "anomalies" and "cosmic signtures". Anomalies are usually encounters, almost the same as a mission, where have a slightly higher chance to encounter faction or even commander NPC spawns dropping valuable loot. Encounters can lead to "escalations" which are like missions that send you to new locations. Most escalations will eventually take you to lower security space than you started in (e.g.: hisec to lowsec).

Using probes you can pinpoint the cosmic signatures. The main signatures of interest to the ISK-maker are data sites, relic sites for the risk-averse and wormholes for the thrill-seekers. The Exploration guide is a good place to start your exploration career. Income from exploration is highly variable, with apocryphal stories of explorers finding nothing for days, then uncovering a "mother lode" of decryptors and valuable blueprints.

Exploration in hisec is low-risk and low-income, you can expect to make a few million ISK per hour over the long run. Exploration rapidly ramps up in profitability when you leave hisec due to better loot and less competition. Sites in hisec, lowsec and nullsec have no NPCs. Sites in wormhole space will have NPC guards and spawns.


Various Acts of Dubious Morality

What's the fun of a player versus player game if you can't hijack, bail-up, steal or do someone over? Among the "dubious morality" acts are activities like baiting, can-flipping, ganking, suicide ganking, pirating, ransoming, scamming, and ninja-salvaging.

Scamming in itself could fill whole threads, for instance... from contract scams, to chat spams, the "lofty scam" and so on and so forth, the possibilities are almost only limited by your imagination (and your victim's stupidity, greed, lack of knowledge or a combination thereof).

While not the most lucrative things you can do on a regular basis, SOME of them can offer the enterprising (and unscrupulous) beginner untold riches compared to any other endeavour he could embark on, at his "young age".

To get an idea of the activities mentioned here, you can head over to the Crime and Punishment forum and read about other people's stories regarding this "edge" lifestyle.

Ninja Salvaging

Ninja-salvaging is worth noting here: has its own Ninja Salvaging Guide, written by Kahega Amielden. Ninja-salvaging is an exploration-based activity which can provide a decent income of ISK. Most people partake in ninja-salvaging for the copious carebear tears that you can harvest.

Player Exploitation

Having fun is the primary reason to play video games. One of the most enjoyable activities you can engage in within EVE is stealing. If you can think of a way to make somebody else's wealth your own, you can profit from the efforts of other people. Eve can be very enjoyable when you think of every other player as investing in your future wealth. Almost none of the rules of common decency and civility in the real world are enforced within the game world.

Many players deceive or manipulate other players to make their ISK. Since Eve has a free market economy with little to no government regulations there are a multitude of ways to develop monopolies or cheat others to become rich. Some players have made ponzi schemes in game that paid off nicely. Even the simplest of scams exploiting the greed of other players will work: posting items for 10 to 100 times the average cost sometimes pays off for example, as do ISK doubling scams and hidden-cost contracts.

Many people are working hard (even though this is a game) to earn their ISK so keep your identity as anonymous as possible. The less you talk the better. It is generally a great idea to immediately block anyone you designate as a target.

Capturing videos of dumb players can be very profitable and fun. For example, can flipping on unarmed vessels in high security is among the dumbest thing players can possibly do. Unarmed vessels generally don't attack back. Typically, after heckling can flippers, they will then ram you. Sometimes you can get them to follow your ship in orbit. A few players have made billions so far by blackmailing people for ISK. They generally have to post the video first, and then after the victims are brutally insulted enough they pay for the removal of the videos. Typically, if you make a few great videos and show people how bad they can look it is the most effective.

Report death threats. Some people don't know this is a game. The fact that this is a game can not be stressed enough.

Have Fun

Alyx Farstrider pointed out something that all ISK-gatherers should pay attention to:

"The goal is not "maximise ISK/h". The goal is typically "maximise both ISK/h and fun/h with an acceptable exchange rate between ISK and fun". Some people find mission running fun. Some people find ratting fun. Some people find manufacturing fun. Some people find micromanaging buy/sell orders fun."