Want to make money fast and easy? This is actually kind of complicated to answer…
How to Make Money
You do not need a beacon in the starter system, but you need to drop a beacon in at least one other system. Also, it has to be a system that has a station. With that beacon in place, the start system station and the new system station have “trade.” The Trade-Net is accessed at the console just inside the station.
That said, unless trading is “your thing” … I never found it a very good money maker early game.
My Preferred Options
- Factions missions. Especially the Halamis research outpost in the starter system. Medium/Long mission pay better and score better loot you can sell. If you do the “high ranking enemy” or “wanted criminal” missions you don’t even have to clear every room – just bag the bad guy – to get paid.
- Boarding. Taking down and boarding enemy ships you can sell will get you around $100k easy (up to $400k if you repair them … more on that in a minute). Tip: You need a “beacon” to place on each ship to sell it.
- Mining drones. Expensive, but they pay for themselves eventually and now you’re making “passive income.” Just wait for them to mine out a planet and then move them to the next.
- Mining derelicts. With a mining laser you can mine asteroids which is ok. You can sell the ore and rare earth minerals. But if you locate derelict ships (you’ll see a green ping when you scan) … they give a lot of rare earth minerals you can sell. You also get “ship repair parts” you can use to repair boarded ships.
Typically I grind mission after mission at the Halamis outpost to get gear and level my team, then move on to derelicts and boarding to “make money” for ship upgrades.
Some people get rich crafting and selling the stuff they craft … but not my thing.
Other Ways and Tips
You can arrange Trade-Net trades from anywhere, just hit L for the galactic map and then click Trade-Net. As mentioned above though, the only trades on offer there will be from systems in which you have placed a beacon. To that end, you should be placing beacons in systems with high population and at least one orbital outpost.
However, as mentioned above, you won’t make a lot of money through trade in early game. You can’t really start making lots of money through Trade-Net until you have a) a bigger cargo hold, and b) some money saved in order to purchase large amounts of goods to be traded.
I’ll second above tips about ‘preferred options’. Mining drones are good passive income, and the other activities listed are good sources of income.
That being said, faction missions accomplish numerous long-term goals while also providing income. They…
- Raise your reputation.
- Award you tokens to be spent at the faction vendor (cilivon and arilon vendors offer ship equipment in exchange for tokens).
- Award a cash bonus.
- Level up your characters and their skills.
- Provide lots of loot that will allow you to slowly develop well-equipped characters.
- Non-valuable loot should be salvaged, which raises your salvage skill and provides the components necessary for repairing your gear (you should salvage everything that you don’t actually equip).
Before I had much money at all, I ran lots of Cilivon and Arilon faction missions in order to have enough tokens for nice ship equipment. Then, when I had saved enough money for a better ship, I was able to fly straight back to those vendors and cash in those tokens for legendary ship equipment for the new ship.