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Middle Tier Trading: Not low or high enough...


Genuline
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Hey babes,

 

I've come here in pursuit of knowledge on trading not only in this year, but in this tier. I'm referring to what will be known as middle tier trading, a stage which isn't low enough where you have less than a key in pure and make a scrap or reclaimed worth of profits per trade, but not high enough where you have above 10 keys and make 30 refined to a key profits. I've done my homework about trading, going through several dead threads and other forum posts from 2011-2018 which have information that is barely applicable to this year's trading environment. I've also created a topic on the TF2 Discussions board on Steam but there was still minimal information I could gather from people's responses.

 

Some things to keep in mind before the questions:

- I've started taking trading seriously as of 4/12/2020 and have managed to work my way up from 30~ish refined to 4.5 keys worth of refined, entirely through a method which isn't traditional trading either and will be discussed further (Card Banking)

- I know how this economy works, I'm not a knuckle dragger and I'm already familiar with stuff like currencies, how to price stuff, what websites to use etc. So try and keep default responses like "Buy low, sell high" out of this thread

- I have no interest in investing any cash, feel free to hold me up on this point
- Remember, this is MIDDLE tier, there's plenty of resources on low and high tiers, but never the middle point which is the purpose of this thread

 

With those points disclosed, here are my problems, potentially misconceptions or terrible truths about trading which I wish to receive advice on for this tier. I've placed my queries in numerical order since its easier to answer, SO:


1 How did you break out to 10 keys? How can I do the same? Currently my refined is a total of 4 potential keys and 30+ refined (For future, as of today a key can be bought for roughly 52 refined), but I have no idea what to do with it. Most other forum posts discussing this topic don't clarify what exactly you do with keys in order to make profits (IE "Once you have 3-4 keys just trade up with it" Like what the fuck am I supposed to infer from that?), with advice from the lower or higher margins of trading not applying. Usually you receive answers to buy into things like Killstreak Kits, Spells, desirable Stranges, desirable Painted Cosmetics etc. But every time I've tried this there's never been a market or a reliable way to meet a buyer without facing an immediate loss and consequent hardship. People also say to  just buy a few keys and go on from there, but that also doesn't mean much, since I hear it a lot anyone care to explain?

 

2 Where did you find success? Trawling through trading servers are full of the same kinds of people who are either low enough where they're advertising weapons for scrap or people trying to trade with Unusuals. Except when you join a trade server that isn't an Unusual trade, its full of people who aren't trading at all, people who are nonetheless playing around with RTD and other plugins or jerking each other off in-game. Normally I would say when you find the right person to trade they usually lowball the shit out of you where its impossible to sell something at a higher price than what you bought it at, but I've gotten barely any trades at all as of lately. I feel like if I actually had a consistent consumer base to sell stuff to I would've been well of much faster, but 3 Does barely anyone trade to begin with? Do they fear trading because nobody else does it (To their level at least)? There's always stigma about buying stuff and if it isn't absolutely positively 100% a good deal on your end, don't bother. Which has seemed to make people approach trading in a much more petty way, people won't budge for deals if it isn't a cosmetic that you can immediately pawn off to a bot for even a smidge of profit. As a result people don't risk buying Killstreak Kits, Spells, desirable Stranges, desirable Painted Cosmetics etc. Just because they've heard that you shouldn't deal with them. Is this stigma born from more and more people not attempting to make deals with them at all? I've tried to be optimistic and dip my toes into most of the above and:
- A war paint I eventually sold back for the buy price
+ A painted shotgun I sold on the market and waited a week to make my refined back with a bit extra
- A single painted item I've sold through overpay, - but otherwise people aren't interested if it isn't Black, White, Pink, Lime etc. and isn't being sold to them for peanuts. Even if its a bit off like Indubitably Green, A Colour Similar to Slate, team colours etc. People just turn a blind eye and refuse to even negotiate, the only exceptions I can agree with are the ones like Muskelmannbraun, Peculiarly Drab Tincture, Radigan Conagher Brown etc.

+ Sold a Strange Killstreak Scattergun with Exorcism for 2 keys after buying it for 1 key and 45 refined, which is only a 7 refined profit or so, nothing substantial. Most people buying spelled items even clarify that they don't want Exorcism and Voices from Below so that's even more bullshit stigma to deal with

 

The only other platforms you can find to trade are websites, but most of them have even filthier prices than what people sell for or try to pull out the rug from underneath you and take your Steam account off you. Three of the most common platforms I've formed the opinions of (And feel free to recommend some more trust worthy places)

Steam Community Market - Trade holds aren't for me

scrap.tf - Only good for low tier trading

backpack.tf - As of recently those controversial bots that everyone has an opinion about are continually putting buy orders lower and sell orders higher for 50% of the original price respectively, so they retain a large amount of middle tier traders attention spans and if you don't buy for their price its no go. People are starting to treat backpack.tf like its the bible now and it's become harder to find things at reasonable prices, even though its a man versus man world and at the end of the day we both want to make profit, have some compassion and try not to sell shit for a key over their price

 

4. Especially here, what other ventures should I take up? How I've amassed my total of 4.5 keys worth of refined is almost entirely through card banking, I buy cards for 0.22 each and sell them to people buying cards for 0.33 usually on trade servers, where they then run off to the Steam Community Market and sell them there, the complete and ideal cycle. It's worked well but it's becoming harder to do since there's less people who are willing to sell their cards. Are there any places which are ideal for buying cards off people or is it as dumbed down as to just go knocking on people's doors to see if they wish to carry it out. In relations to points 1 and 2 I'm not sure what to do with my keys currently, I wish to be more proactive about trading but people around me aren't willing either nor can I find the right places to be proactive. I imagine there are some strategies out there somewhere that should be ideal enough to get at least 10 keys but right now I'm stuck and stumped on what to do.

 

Wherever applicable, try and use real examples you've gone through, whether its to tell me that I can still realistically achieve outs of middle tier or that I should just buy more keys and be done with. Thank you for reading.

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Steam Community Market is just fantastic, because I resell on there immediately, but you said don't use that. (Also, insane bargains pop up on there, maybe more than anywhere else. I gladly would wait the week to trade those.)

 

War paints are a good market, just need to know which ones are getting popular, and which are not. Lots of snobs out there who will pay almost anything for the factory new they want. I have been having moderate success by slowly selling off strange minimal wear of good popular designs, almost always commando grade or higher.

 

Spelled items, and especially double spelled items, are another profit center. But these peak during Halloween, so I am basically at the phase of slowly loading up on these for next Halloween.

 

Another trick is to basically understand the impact of the calendar on item prices. Halloween items peak during the Halloween event, but also a bit each month around the full moon. Festive and Christmas related items are at their peak around December. Big steam sales have a huge effect on prices. Basically you want to be loaded up with pure before the sale, so you can buy all kinds of quicksells from people who want cheap games. And sometimes, although not in a long while, weapons are buffed or nerfed and this massively impacts their value.

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19 minutes ago, Flamadin said:

Steam Community Market is just fantastic, because I resell on there immediately, but you said don't use that. (Also, insane bargains pop up on there, maybe more than anywhere else. I gladly would wait the week to trade those.)

 

War paints are a good market, just need to know which ones are getting popular, and which are not. Lots of snobs out there who will pay almost anything for the factory new they want. I have been having moderate success by slowly selling off strange minimal wear of good popular designs, almost always commando grade or higher.

 

Spelled items, and especially double spelled items, are another profit center. But these peak during Halloween, so I am basically at the phase of slowly loading up on these for next Halloween.

 

Another trick is to basically understand the impact of the calendar on item prices. Halloween items peak during the Halloween event, but also a bit each month around the full moon. Festive and Christmas related items are at their peak around December. Big steam sales have a huge effect on prices. Basically you want to be loaded up with pure before the sale, so you can buy all kinds of quicksells from people who want cheap games. And sometimes, although not in a long while, weapons are buffed or nerfed and this massively impacts their value.

I used to do this a lot. Used to buy old mercenary and freelance grade weapons and make them into counters to sell. I'd say get into low tier skin trading. You can buy them from anyone for super cheap and resell on the scm or on trade servers for a good bit more. Spells are nice if you quickbuy, but I never got into them. That said, once you get enough money, SCM is probably the best bet. I used to rotate tradable and untradable keys in every week. Easily make a key or two just reselling low tier stuff there.

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On 1/13/2021 at 10:02 AM, Flamadin said:

Steam Community Market is just fantastic, because I resell on there immediately, but you said don't use that. (Also, insane bargains pop up on there, maybe more than anywhere else. I gladly would wait the week to trade those.)

 

War paints are a good market, just need to know which ones are getting popular, and which are not. Lots of snobs out there who will pay almost anything for the factory new they want. I have been having moderate success by slowly selling off strange minimal wear of good popular designs, almost always commando grade or higher.

 

On 1/13/2021 at 10:24 AM, Crazyy Cow said:

I used to do this a lot. Used to buy old mercenary and freelance grade weapons and make them into counters to sell. I'd say get into low tier skin trading. You can buy them from anyone for super cheap and resell on the scm or on trade servers for a good bit more. Spells are nice if you quickbuy, but I never got into them. That said, once you get enough money, SCM is probably the best bet. I used to rotate tradable and untradable keys in every week. Easily make a key or two just reselling low tier stuff there.

 

If it's reselling immediately and gradually building up profit that I can get behind, I'm not bothered to wait a week to sell a cosmetic is a better statement, I can work my way up with buying keys absolutely. I've only found a couple of buy orders that seem like profits, but I want to know first:
- Is it worth selling a key and using that as an investment?
- How much success have you had?
- What's the formula used to calculate the buy price and sell price?

- Any popular skins you recommend looking into or is it always changing?

- Any sources other than the Steam Community Market for skins?

One good deal I've found as of today is a Damascus & Mahogany Tomislav which has buy orders at $0.71 (AUD)
https://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/440/Damascus %26 Mahogany Tomislav (Field-Tested)

 

The War Paint is being sold for $0.61 (AUD) as of today
https://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/440/Damascus %26 Mahogany War Paint (Field-Tested)

 

Another one as of today, Geometrical Teams Iron Bomber which has buy orders at $0.42 (AUD)

https://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/440/Geometrical Teams Iron Bomber (Field-Tested)

 

The War Paint is being sold for $0.35 (AUD)

https://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/440/Geometrical Teams War Paint (Field-Tested)

 

Feel free to steal these deals if they're deals at all, but I figured that the formula used to take some revenue off sellers would only make this transaction a cent profit or not break even at all.

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On 1/14/2021 at 8:31 PM, Genuline said:

 

 

If it's reselling immediately and gradually building up profit that I can get behind, I'm not bothered to wait a week to sell a cosmetic is a better statement, I can work my way up with buying keys absolutely. I've only found a couple of buy orders that seem like profits, but I want to know first:
- Is it worth selling a key and using that as an investment?
- How much success have you had?
- What's the formula used to calculate the buy price and sell price?

- Any popular skins you recommend looking into or is it always changing?

- Any sources other than the Steam Community Market for skins?

One good deal I've found as of today is a Damascus & Mahogany Tomislav which has buy orders at $0.71 (AUD)
https://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/440/Damascus %26 Mahogany Tomislav (Field-Tested)

 

The War Paint is being sold for $0.61 (AUD) as of today
https://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/440/Damascus %26 Mahogany War Paint (Field-Tested)

 

Another one as of today, Geometrical Teams Iron Bomber which has buy orders at $0.42 (AUD)

https://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/440/Geometrical Teams Iron Bomber (Field-Tested)

 

The War Paint is being sold for $0.35 (AUD)

https://steamcommunity.com/market/listings/440/Geometrical Teams War Paint (Field-Tested)

 

Feel free to steal these deals if they're deals at all, but I figured that the formula used to take some revenue off sellers would only make this transaction a cent profit or not break even at all.

Eh i mean thats not what i mean mate. I meant i used to buy skins from other traders on servers for scrap/refined and sell em on scm. For example, I use to buy low tier skins and shit for a reclaimed and resold for like 10-20 cents. Altogether, was good profit and I could slam out 20 trades a day easy for a few keys in a few hours.

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I'm in the same boat that you are. I first seriously did tf2 trading back in 2016, and I remember the stigma around attachments to weapons. People just straight up wouldn't pay for it. If it had a strange part, paint, Halloween spell, etc. The reason was it didn't show up on bp.tf and buyers couldn't price it. Especially in low-mid tier trading where traders solely relied on bp.tf to price their items. So it became a viscous cycle where bp.tf became more and more relied upon until people just outright wouldn't consider them as part of the item.

 

Maybe it is just bazaar.tf, but I came back to the trading scene 5 years later and so much has changed. People are actually paying for attachments, and value isn't determined by rarity? War paints is also a huge changer for me. I've watched youtube guides, checked forums, and even asked traders after a deal what is going on and frankly I'm clueless. I've been trying to get into the killstreak, war paint, and even cancer tier unusual market but the learning curve is way different from what it originally was.

 

I'm going to follow this topic, maybe I'll learn something useful, but for now I'm keeping to my old methods just to be on the safe side.

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16 hours ago, Crazyy Cow said:

Eh i mean thats not what i mean mate. I meant i used to buy skins from other traders on servers for scrap/refined and sell em on scm. For example, I use to buy low tier skins and shit for a reclaimed and resold for like 10-20 cents. Altogether, was good profit and I could slam out 20 trades a day easy for a few keys in a few hours.

If you meant it or not, that's the kind of answer I want to hear. I've been looking at scrap.tf auctions and have found some seemingly good deals to take up, sometimes there's skins or kits that sell well so I may begin taking those. I've had an idea where I buy something for a key and sell it on the market, buy a key back and have the remainder build up for a completely new key.

 

Something I'm wondering though now, how did you manage to find deals for as little as 0.33 and in such frequency? I've tried going through some trade servers and haven't managed to find anything even near that much for so little. If anything please elaborate on this.

 

I'm skeptical though, that the prices that some items sell for on the market are the "equivalent" refined price. Sure refined metal is priced at $0.03-$0.04 as of today, but if someone is putting an item up that's being sold for 30 ref it will usually sell for about 30 refined worth of the price of a key. With this in mind I'll be paying just over the amount of a key, for a key which doesn't sound very good. Going off auctions atleast, perhaps I can snatch some deals like you've said on trade servers, just gotta hope there's people trading at all.

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4 minutes ago, Terit said:

I'm in the same boat that you are. I first seriously did tf2 trading back in 2016, and I remember the stigma around attachments to weapons. People just straight up wouldn't pay for it. If it had a strange part, paint, Halloween spell, etc. The reason was it didn't show up on bp.tf and buyers couldn't price it. Especially in low-mid tier trading where traders solely relied on bp.tf to price their items. So it became a viscous cycle where bp.tf became more and more relied upon until people just outright wouldn't consider them as part of the item.

 

Maybe it is just bazaar.tf, but I came back to the trading scene 5 years later and so much has changed. People are actually paying for attachments, and value isn't determined by rarity? War paints is also a huge changer for me. I've watched youtube guides, checked forums, and even asked traders after a deal what is going on and frankly I'm clueless. I've been trying to get into the killstreak, war paint, and even cancer tier unusual market but the learning curve is way different from what it originally was.

 

I'm going to follow this topic, maybe I'll learn something useful, but for now I'm keeping to my old methods just to be on the safe side.

A vicious cycle is a good way to describe, more and more stigma is built up around something to the point where people have standards for every part of the economy, usually when someone refuses an offer and puts up the excuse of "It will be too hard for me to sell" you can tell they're only concern is regurgitating items back to the buy orders. I haven't looked at bazaar.tf at all really, if its as you've described I may look into it more, a place where people consider attachments and grades have no influence on price sounds like the Garden of Eden.

 

To even achieve cancer tier effects is leagues better than the profits you make in this tier (Atleast it seems like it, feel free to prove me wrong) once you break into 10-12 keys I imagine its much easier to build up capital from there. It's like an exponential graph, you go from making 0.11 to 1 refined profits from trades to making 30 refined or a key profit. The amount of trades you've made to build up to a key in low to middle tier could've netted you various keys, there are more people buying unusuals, trading them etc. It's where the larger amount of accomplished traders go to keep up their ventures and its good to have that divide between low and high tier, once you get into it.

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On 1/12/2021 at 4:00 AM, Genuline said:

tell me that I can still realistically achieve outs of middle tier

You definitely can, others have outlined some specific strategies. I spent about a year in the complete-waste-of-time zone, going from half a key to 50 keys or so over 2017, but not much has changed since then, as far as I can tell, so it should still be possible.

You have to be on the lookout for new opportunities / markets / 'types of trading'. The general principle is, the simpler the potential avenue for profit, the more any potential for profit has been killed by bots.

 

Example, probably the simplest: taunts, extremely popular, all identical, to make profit just make a buy order and a sell order for different prices...except bots have done this to such an extent that buy and sell orders are often the exact same price.

 

On the other hand, the more unique items are, and the more convoluted the process to make profit from them, the less anyone knows what they're worth, so if you can figure out what they're worth to a better extent than the average owner of the item, you can make a lot of profit. It also helps if it's something difficult for bots / bot owners to figure out. The traditional example of these is unusuals, as they usually have little or no competition for that exact item in the market (i.e. harder to figure out what it's worth by looking at sellers / buyers). Potential avenue for profit is fairly obvious with unusuals, though. I wouldn't recommend getting into low-tier unusual trading. There are far too many hats of which 50 exist and 20 of them are owned by people who watched one Virtual Economist video and are trying to resell it for one key profit or less, but there's very little real demand for the hat (because it's ugly), so they end up just trading back and forth with each other.

 

Skins, killstreaks, painted items, spells all fall into the 'difficult to figure out what they're worth' category, so that's one part of the equation, and the reason why people keep suggesting them to you.

 

As an example of what I mean by 'convoluted methods of making profit', at some point in 2017 there was a roughly 25% guaranteed profit margin available if you bought battle-worn robot parts for refined and resold them on the community market. They did take a couple of weeks to sell because of the sell order queue, but I did this several times over, ending up with about 3,000 community market transactions done this way. This may not have been the fastest thing to do, but once I found it, it was easy to keep doing it with little effort, as opposed to sitting in a trade server all day to potentially make profit slightly faster. This particular opportunity doesn't exist anymore, last I checked, but the key is that it was not very obvious. You've got to look for things like this.

 

With some markets, there do exist, on occasion, some pretty massive arbitrage opportunities, but they are often temporary, and you're unlikely to get someone who's actively abusing one of them to tell you exactly how to become a competitor.

 

Oh also having an auto-accept script helps a lot.

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13 hours ago, MeFigaYoma said:

You definitely can, others have outlined some specific strategies. I spent about a year in the complete-waste-of-time zone, going from half a key to 50 keys or so over 2017, but not much has changed since then, as far as I can tell, so it should still be possible.

You have to be on the lookout for new opportunities / markets / 'types of trading'. The general principle is, the simpler the potential avenue for profit, the more any potential for profit has been killed by bots.

 

Example, probably the simplest: taunts, extremely popular, all identical, to make profit just make a buy order and a sell order for different prices...except bots have done this to such an extent that buy and sell orders are often the exact same price.

 

On the other hand, the more unique items are, and the more convoluted the process to make profit from them, the less anyone knows what they're worth, so if you can figure out what they're worth to a better extent than the average owner of the item, you can make a lot of profit. It also helps if it's something difficult for bots / bot owners to figure out. The traditional example of these is unusuals, as they usually have little or no competition for that exact item in the market (i.e. harder to figure out what it's worth by looking at sellers / buyers). Potential avenue for profit is fairly obvious with unusuals, though. I wouldn't recommend getting into low-tier unusual trading. There are far too many hats of which 50 exist and 20 of them are owned by people who watched one Virtual Economist video and are trying to resell it for one key profit or less, but there's very little real demand for the hat (because it's ugly), so they end up just trading back and forth with each other.

 

Skins, killstreaks, painted items, spells all fall into the 'difficult to figure out what they're worth' category, so that's one part of the equation, and the reason why people keep suggesting them to you.

 

As an example of what I mean by 'convoluted methods of making profit', at some point in 2017 there was a roughly 25% guaranteed profit margin available if you bought battle-worn robot parts for refined and resold them on the community market. They did take a couple of weeks to sell because of the sell order queue, but I did this several times over, ending up with about 3,000 community market transactions done this way. This may not have been the fastest thing to do, but once I found it, it was easy to keep doing it with little effort, as opposed to sitting in a trade server all day to potentially make profit slightly faster. This particular opportunity doesn't exist anymore, last I checked, but the key is that it was not very obvious. You've got to look for things like this.

 

With some markets, there do exist, on occasion, some pretty massive arbitrage opportunities, but they are often temporary, and you're unlikely to get someone who's actively abusing one of them to tell you exactly how to become a competitor.

 

Oh also having an auto-accept script helps a lot.

Currently I'm in that zone, I like to think that I'm not wasting my time by doing more homework on the topic at hand. As you've said bots have their roots firmly planted into the economy to the point where people begin depending on them to get by, this is the problem when you dive into niche markets since there's no definitive prices or places to run for shelter most people are scared off. I'll gladly give these items a go as long as I can find a stable community who are willing to trade, apart from sitting in a trade server all day where should I go? Or is it a matter of just taking all declines as failed business opportunities in whichever server.

 

As for low-tier unusual trading, I'm not sure what else I could do once I reach 10-15 keys, seems natural at that point. What I won't be doing is getting the "standard" low tier effects IE Dead Presidents, Smoking, Aces High, Steaming etc. I'll be looking out for ones that are similarly priced but seem more appealing IE Brain Drain, Blizzardy Storm, Open Mind, Stormy Storm etc. As I go higher in capital same principle will apply, I hope to specialise in Robotic Boogaloo effects in particular. Also, you got me to chuckle with the following, sure I may do the same but it won't be for any Massed Flies hats god forbid:

 

15 hours ago, MeFigaYoma said:

There are far too many hats of which 50 exist and 20 of them are owned by people who watched one Virtual Economist video and are trying to resell it for one key profit or less, but there's very little real demand for the hat (because it's ugly), so they end up just trading back and forth with each other.

Regardless sinking back to my level, I still won't be making much large profits even with 3-4 keys, most I think I'll be doing is weapon skins, buying no lower than maybe 5 refined and selling back for however high, depending on if it looks like it will sell for that much and if it the seller wants more or less depending on its attributes. Trying to sell anything that isn't Assassin or Elite grade above 20 refined just doesn't work, so, now it's just a matter of finding people who will give them a chance, and once again wondering where I should find the best amount of traffic.

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"Sitting" on the trade servers is where you will learn everything you need to know.  While you learn you will be exposed to ideas and avenues for profit.  At some point, you either accumulate enough to get into unusuals, or you invest a small amount to buy your first low tier unusual at a quicksale price. Then get 2 low tier hats and offer those on a higher tier...keep trading up while adding "sweets" (old skool term for smaller items that people want) Do this over and over.  Its how everyone gets established.  Follow this and slowly become "wealthy*. 

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On 1/18/2021 at 11:06 PM, mr. o.g. said:

"Sitting" on the trade servers is where you will learn everything you need to know.  While you learn you will be exposed to ideas and avenues for profit.  At some point, you either accumulate enough to get into unusuals, or you invest a small amount to buy your first low tier unusual at a quicksale price. Then get 2 low tier hats and offer those on a higher tier...keep trading up while adding "sweets" (old skool term for smaller items that people want) Do this over and over.  Its how everyone gets established.  Follow this and slowly become "wealthy*. 

Being proactive beats doing nothing, but with how most trade servers operate if you're still in middle or low tier you're essentially doing nothing. Skipping ahead to the accumulated wealth and capability to gets intos Unusual trading, I'll have to either find a quicksell with an enticing effect or get an enticing effect at full price off of classifieds and try to pawn that off. That beats other low tier effects at least and it injects more hats into the active economy (Assuming they don't get sold back to classifieds) I've sold all my "sweets" to get where I am right now, when they don't make too much of a dent in my capital I may begin dishing them out.

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