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Sometimes when I look at the items in my Pick Up tab on the Trading Post I wonder... "What the hell was I thinking?!" This is because the items look like a completely random assortment of crafting materials, armor, weapons, and dyes. I can see why such a setup would be incredibly discomforting to most traders; I mean just look at the screenshot below:
You have three slivers, two cooking materials, and a bag of provisional materials... Ha when I wrote that I was humming the 12 days of Christmas. Such an assortment of random loot seems complicated, but it's not. The profit from just these six markets alone will be in the vicinity of 3 gold, and it took me seconds to create the buy orders.
What's my secret? I'll tell you!
1. Crawl through the different item categories on the trading post. I call it crawling, you may call it exploring, but basically you click on an item category, a sub category, and finally select an item quality. Next you go through all other combinations for that sub category before moving on to the next and the next and the next. It's painful at first, but as you find more markets that are easy to play, you'll feel the time was worth the effort.
2. While crawling, you need to record on a piece of paper, spread sheet, google document, etc each market you find that is profitable. What's profitable? Multiply the listed price by .85 and see if the buy orders are beneath that number. Jot down BOTH numbers, and if you know how, create an excel formula to calculate it for you. An example would be "=B3 * .85".
3. Assuming you took a good hour or two crawling, take a break from the trading post for at least a few hours to clear your head. No reason to overwhelm yourself early on!
4. Log into the trading post and start searching, one by one, for each of your markets. If you see that they are currently profitable, jot down the prices once more and place a few buy orders. To be safe, use the following guide lines:
Crafting Materials and other Commodities: 25
Dyes, Sigils, Runes: 1
You can change those numbers once you know each item flips in a reasonable amount of time.
5. Come back to the trading post at a later time (5 minutes or 5 hours, doesn't matter) and then take a look at your successful buy orders. For each one, attempt to sell them on the trading post but please be careful! You will want to open you bags ('I' Key) and right click each item to "buy more at trading post." No, you're not going to buy any more, but this automatically opens up the buy and sell orders for this item. If you were to instead try selling from the "Sell on Trading Post" tab within the trading post, then you wouldn't have access to the buy and sell orders!
That #5 step is crucial, and I could teach an entire course on it. There are so many variables, like fluctuating "walls" (a large collection of items at the same price point), people posting items for too cheap (way below the next listed price or very close to the buy order price), so do yourself a favor and check each price. In many cases, you will have an opportunity to buy a miss priced item! If, instead, you didn't check, you might end up selling the item for way too low!