As readers of my blog might remember, I spent a lot of time months back training up a tech 2 manufacturing character. I had read at the time that while trading was a good way of making ISK, manufacturing will scale better.
Now, to be fair, I wasn't putting enough time into trading to make scalability a deciding factor. However, regional trading was growing boring and there was too much competition in station trading to make it worthwhile for me.
I decided to move my manufacturing character out to a system away from the major trade hubs. For some time now I've wanted to seed a non-major market and explore the benefits and disadvantages of doing so. Obviously, less supply means prices can be higher, however less demand can drive prices down or not drive sales at all.
I fired up the trusty IPH tool and ran a few calculations. Not surprisingly, the sales to volume ratios were less than complete for this non-major region in the game. I generally take the SVR to give me some indication of demand in a given region and confirm it from the market window in game. I picked a couple of items that I thought would sell well and seemed to have demand and sent my freighter to a hub to purchase everything I needed.
An important note here is that I only chose items that could be built from components. I thought about doing the raw materials approach but there is a limited supply of minerals on the local market and I didn't want to spend a bunch of time manufacturing the components necessary to build whatever it was that I was building. Plus I didn't want to get into hauling and refining ores.
While my freighter was on the long journey back from the trade hub, I went and gathered the blueprints that I needed and started copying them. One important thing to know about T2 production is that you need lots of blueprint copies (BPCs). I quickly found that I was able to fill up all of my slots running copying jobs, and soon after that I was filling my slots with invention jobs. The number of slots you have is one of the biggest limiting factors to a single character doing tech 2 production. It is not surprising to me that people train up alts that have the sole purpose of being "copy monkeys" - copying blueprints so that the highly trained manufacturing alt can focus on invention and production.
Eventually, I had all my T2 BPCs and all of the components from my trade hub run. I started building the T2 items and listed them on the market. The first thing I noticed is that there were a couple others building what seemed to be the same items as me. I believe that these individuals probably also used IPH and the SVR to select items, as it seemed that we were competing in similar zones. One person in particular had a habit of undercutting in 0.03-0.05 ISK increments, which meant that I could tell that I was likely competing with the same person in different areas.
The second thing that I noticed was that it was easy to miss out on a day of the low price but high volume items like drones, for example, if you were undercut and didn't notice or weren't online to update your sell orders. Things like drones sold pretty well, usually in batches of 5 to 10 at a time, however the profits are low in absolute terms. I was starting to get flashbacks of when I was doing trading where certain items were profitable (i.e.: 20% or more) but the absolute amount of profit was too low to account for the effort it took to maintain. However, the things that have higher profit are also the things that sell slower (if at all).
After a couple of weeks of selling everything I had originally planned on selling, I ended up with about half a billion in profit. Not too bad considering I was only updating my orders maybe twice a day, before and after work, with a little more effort on weekends. I also came away with some valuable lessons, like keep track of what you planned to manufacture, because it's easy to forget what you want to make when you're faced with an hangar full of tons of manufacturing components.
With all of these lessons in mind, I sent my freighter alt back to a trade hub to pick up more supplies with some different items in mind. I'm going to see how these items sell compared to my previous ones to see if I can edge out more profit. I have also been considering renting an office in the station that I base out of so that I could limit the amount of trading between characters I do, and also would make having a copy whore much easier to manage in the future if I want to do that.
All in all, my first serious attempt at T2 manufacturing has been a success and I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks as I try to determine what items to make to maximize my profits.