Index IntroductionResources neededCurrencyItem QualityStartingCourtesy and ConductIdentifying and Reporting ScammersJudging Reputation and Building Your OwnMiddlemenFAQGlossary Introduction Hello and welcome to my tutorial. Whoever you are, I'm assuming you're either here because you're judging my entry, or because you want to make quick, clean money. You might think that this is impossible, but it really isn't. Although largely unheard of by the masses, Team Fortress 2 (and consequently, Steam trading) has a huge niche economy, with literally hundreds of trades happening on popular trading websites every minute. However - this doesn't come without its own caveats. If you're not careful, you may get scammed and I shall take no responsibility if that happens. Before we start with the guide, make sure you're fully aware of the risks and consequences of trading. I really can't stress on this enough, but just have a look at the number of scammers here. 12,821 reported scammers as of when this guide was written. A lot of incidents go largely unreported, so we're looking at a HUGE number here. Resources needed With that out of the way, let's start with the tutorial. I'm going to make this short and sweet, so make sure you pay attention to even the smallest detail. You're going to need all of the following to start with trading: Time: A lot of time. You'll have to dedicate hours to trading if you're planning to make any progress at all. Money: Quite obviously, you'll need some amount of money if you're going to start a business (unless you're me, get gifted a $10 game and work your way up to $1000). This isn't magic and money isn't going to show up out of nowhere. You'll have to make an investment and deal with losses. Patience: Once you put up your trade, you're going to have to wait for hours, or even days at times for a buyer to contact you, if it's an expensive good. A verified PayPal account: PayPal is the preferred medium of transaction in the trading business. Notice how it says "verified". People might refuse to trade with you if yours isn't verified, so that's as important as having an account. That's pretty much it. Oh also, you'll need to be able to talk to random people on the internet. and know Russian. Currency In this tutorial, I'm only going to cover only TF2 currency. Currencies from other games like Dota 2 are quickly becoming popular, so it may or may not be edited with that at a later date. In Team Fortress 2, most items are measured in value by comparing them to Refined Metal. This may not make much sense to you right now, but read on and I hope my explanation fixes it. The currencies (in increasing order of their value) are: Scrap Metal Scrap Metal (Scrap): The cheapest currency. These, along with reclaimed metal (covered next), are used as spare change when an item valued less than that of a refined metal is traded. The price for these has been 0.11 refined metal for quite sometime and it probably will stay that way. Reclaimed Metal Reclaimed Metal (Rec): These cost 0.33 refined metal and are also used as spare change. Like scrap metal, the price of these has also largely remained fixed and is probably not subject to change, unless the community suddenly decides to do so. Refined Metal Refined Metal (Ref): These are the proverbial pillars of TF2 trading. As stated above, Scrap and Rec are measured in Refined Metal. Keys also do have a refined metal value, however, they (keys) do fluctuate in value quite a bit. Refined Metal trading has also seen a downfall, with people increasingly buying their keys using PayPal instead of the metal. This has led to a price increase in the key vs refined metal trading business. Mann Co. Supply Crate Key Mann Co. Supply Crate Key: Keys are undoubtedly the most important currency. When you start trading, these are what you'll mostly use. Keys typically sell for $1.75 or 5.33 ref (as of when this guide was written), but they fluctuate in price a lot. Earbuds Earbuds: Like the recently introduced Tux promotion for running TF2 on Linux, Earbuds were also a promotional item when Steam for Mac was released. Due to them being low in number, Earbuds are typically equal to 23-25 keys. Item Quality Item quality refers to the rarity of the items in tf2, for example: hats, weapons and other miscellaneous items. The rarer an item, the more expensive it is. A thorough list of all item qualities can be found here, so I'm not going to cover them in this guide. Starting From this point onward, I'm going to assume that you've understood a fair bit of the above, so if you haven't, feel free to go back and give it another read. You probably have a PayPal account now, and you're wanting to start. How do you go about it? This is where things start getting a little complicated. However, pay attention and it'll be a cakewalk. To start off, you're going to have to buy keys. There are quite a few sites which sell keys themselves, however, most of them are as expensive as the Steam market, so it's pointless. We're going to go straight to regular people who sell these goods. It's hard to explain but see this as buying used goods via Craiglist, vs buying the same thing from a mall. I'm going to explain it in a very noob friendly manner, so read on and get started. TF2OP TF2OP "TF2OP" stands for Team Fortress 2 Outpost. It's one of the more popular trading websites (refresh the homepage and you'll see what I mean). Traders here can typically be trusted however you'll have to exercise caution anyway, and not let your guard down. Here's how to go about looking for keys: Identify what you want. For this guide, we're going to search for and contact traders selling keys. First of all, click on the "Sign in through STEAM" button at the top right, and do the necessary. If this is your first time logging into a Steam service, or Steam through a browser, Steam Guard will annoy you. However, make sure that you don't turn this off, or the Steam trading feature will be disabled. Now, click on the "Search" button at the top. Select "Team Fortress 2" in the little drop down menu. Click on one of the boxes to the left of the arrow, and search for "Mann Co. Supply Crate Key". Select it and it should show up in the intended box. Now, click on one of the boxes to the right of the arrow, and search for "Real World Money". Select it and it should show up in the intended box. Finally, click on search. It should be pretty easy to figure out from here on, however, here's a small tip. Instead of going to individual threads, you can click on the little "Show Notes" button next to the trader's name. That's it, have fun trading! There are a lot more similar sites, but I'm going to cover only TF2OP for the sake of this guide. Once you have keys, you can easily make a profit. You could either sell them on the Steam Market, or search for people selling cheap games for keys on TF2OP or other sites. You may feel that you should contact Russian traders in order to exploit regional pricing, but I wouldn't recommend it. Start with that only after you've traded for a month, and don't forget that it's illegal. So if you get banned, deal with it. Courtesy and Conduct If you've been following the guide closely, by now you should know how to get keys or pretty much any other item you want, for an affordable price. Even if you think this section isn't necessary or a must read, you should know the DOs and DON'Ts of contacting random traders. Good manners make for cheaper deals, don't forget that. Start with a "Hi" and an emoticon, preferably a "". This doesn't make you look retarded and the first impression goes a long way when you negotiate. DON'T constantly PM them if they're not responding. It's outright rude and you should avoid it at all costs. This goes double if they're in a game. Don't ask for an unreal price. Bargaining is fine, but you should know your limits. If the trader explicitly states that they won't undercut the current price, don't bother, because they won't. If you've been asked to wait. Do just that. Don't get worked up, just wait. Carefully study their profile description before you add them. Have they written that you should leave a comment before you add them? Or have they said you should post in the trade thread and not add them at all? Adding them in this case would make for an unhealthy conversation and perhaps, you won't be able to get the item you so desire. That's pretty much it. I couldn't think of anything else, but I will add to it as and when I do. Identifying and Reporting Scammers Identifying This is arguably one of the more important sections of this tutorial. You do not want to get scammed. You lose money, motivation and confidence. I'm going to teach you how to figure out if the trader you've been contacted by/added is a scammer. There are several ways to go about this, but I'm going to cover only the most effective methods. Method 1: SteamRep DB SteamRep is the most exhaustive scammer database out there. Nothing comes close to it, so if your guy is an identified scammer, he'll be on this. SteamRep pulls information from a variety of sites and their own forums, so it's safe to say that you don't need to look any further. Using SteamRep is fairly simple. Just enter the "Custom URL" into the search box and press enter. For example, my custom url is zoruaa. To get to my profile from the browser, I'll have to go to http://steamcommunity.com/id/insertcustomurl. Once you search for their custom url, their SteamRep page will come up. If they're a scammer, it'll clearly mention their offence, so you'll know that you have to steer clear of them for eternity. Method 2: SteamRep Forums If they haven't been "marked" on the SteamRep database, they may have a scam report pending against them on the SteamRep Forums. If you think there's something wrong when you're talking to a trader, check it. Other honorable mentions include: Skial Last but not the least, trust your intuition. Google their nick. If you think there's something missing, or out of place, don't trade with them. If they're hiding information, don't trade with them. Your intuition is as important as these sites. Worry not, as you'll eventually develop it. Reporting Now that you know how to identify scammers, you should also know how to report them. If you've been scammed (tough luck), or if you have solid proof that someone's a scammer, you should, most definitely, report them. You can do this on a large number of sites, however, I would recommend using the SteamRep Forums as they're pretty fast in dealing with scam reports. Make sure you structure your report according to this guide, because if your report is not properly formatted, it may be ignored. You should also post it in the correct section. Judging Reputation and Building Your Own Reputation comes into play when either one or both side is trading an untradable item, or making a PayPal trade. For example: Steam game serials, or selling tradable games via PayPal. Since you can't use Steam's trade window to do this, one of you would have to go first. When this happens, you should either use a middleman (highly recommended, covered in the next section) or go first solely on the basis of their reputation. If you have more reputation, you shouldn't go first. To gain reputation, you should make a thread on one of the sites recommended below, and in the event of a successful trade, you should ask your partner to post in it. Note that profile comments are effectively useless, and no one trusts them, so you're better off not asking people to post in yours. If they decide to do so on their own, that's a bonus. Use any one of the following sites to build your reputation: Steam Trades: This site is what you should use if you're a beginner. It has a very user friendly rep system, and all you need to do is ask people to leave rep on your Steam Trades profile. For example, here's mine. SourceOP: You can build a reputation thread on SourceOP, only if you've traded through SourceOP. However, traders on this site won't trade with you unless you have a good reputation, so it's a vicious cycle. If you're a beginner, you obviously can't use this. Other honorable mentions: Skial, Mann Co. Trading. Middlemen Middlemen help when you're trading untradable items (or doing a PayPal trade) and don't want to go first. They're a human replacement for the Steam trade window and hence, they should be someone mutually trusted by both sides. Finding such people is easier than you may think. SteamRep have a list of middlemen which are approved by them, and they're widely trusted. If you're ever feeling uncomfortable going first, suggest that you use a middleman. If the other party declines to do so or is hesitant, forget about it because they're probably trying to scam you. FAQ Q: What's the deal with all these hats? A: Hats are very popular in TF2. So much so that it's sometimes even jokingly called Hat Simulator 2. Hats are mostly used for aesthetics, but there's a large community centered around "Unusual" hats. These are often quite expensive and hard to acquire. Q: What does 'uncrating' refer to? A: Uncrating is when you use Mann Co. Supply Crate Keys to unbox crates. People uncrate to get expensive items like unusual hats, and the large amount of keys used before getting an unusual often pays off. It's pretty much gambling. Q: What are these trading cards I keep hearing about? A: Trading cards were very recently introduced, with a Steam level. You can get these by idling in certain games. As your Steam level increases, you unlock a variety of features, for example achievement showcases. By crafting game cards, you also unlock profile background and emoticons. If you choose to not buy/acquire these cards, you're not really missing out on much, unless profile aesthetics matter to you. Q: What exactly is backpack.tf? A: Backpack.tf is used to check prices. If you're ever in doubt about how much an item costs, or if you think you're overpaying, use it to confirm. This is only for TF2 items. Q: In the event that I get scammed, should I turn to Steam Support for help? A: In addition to reporting the incident on SteamRep, you should most definitely also forward the same report to Steam Support. They can prove to be very helpful on a case to case basis, and sometimes may even retrieve the item for you. Q: Steam Guard's extremely annoying. Can I turn it off without facing undesirable consequences? A: NO! You shouldn't turn off Steam Guard because it works as an additional layer of security, so even if someone has your password, they can't log into Steam with just that. When you publicly advertise your inventory, people may get tempted to hack into your account (if you have an expensive one, that is). In addition to what I've said, you can't trade with Steam Guard turned off, and you have to wait for a few weeks after you enable it to start trading again. If you have any query other than these, feel free to contact me on Steam. I'll gladly answer! Glossary I'm going to try and cover most terms and abbreviations which you'll see when you trade, so this is a must read. For now, it's pretty small but I'll expand on it as and when I get ideas. B/O: B/O refers to "buyout" . You'll see this a lot when you trade. As the term suggests, it refers to the price at which the seller will readily let it go. This price is however, often negotiable. C/O: C/O refers to "current offer". Trades are updated with these when people make an acceptable offer, and if the seller isn't in a hurry to sell it. This is like an auction of sorts, you'll have to make an offer higher than the "C/O" to get the item. C/Os can obviously be faked so proof is required when updating the original trade with one. Carding: Carding (or credit-bombing) is an illegal practice which is frowned upon by the entire trading community. Certain undesirables often sell items bought with illicit credit cards to unsuspecting traders. When the credit card is revoked, everyone involved in the trade is banned, and is answerable directly to the courts at times.