Trading is a popular way to make money as a starship Commander in the Elite Dangerous galaxy, and the starting point for most rookie Commanders.
There are thousands of star systems with one or more commodities markets, each with their own type of economy – for example: Agricultural, Industrial, Hi-tech, Extraction, Refining or Service – and some have a mix of these basics.
All but the service economy produce items for consumption, creating an active trade network.
The trading rules are simple and universal: buy goods cheaply where they are most common then sell them where prices are high. As in today's world, supply and demand drive prices, and every trade you make in the game affects the markets for every player.
The smaller the market the more you are able to influence it through trading. The more valuable a commodity the more rare it will be, and therefore the more susceptible to your influence. All your individual trades are added to the whole, and even mid-sized economies can be influenced by concerted efforts between groups of like-minded individuals.
The majority of trade goods are legal, but some Commanders may choose to trade in lucrative narcotics or even in slaves. Trading in jurisdictions where such cargo is illegal presents a challenge for smugglers, and will test your stealth skills as you enter starports while avoiding scans.
Trading offers a direct progression to the rank of Elite.