New investors taking their first steps towards learning the basics of stock trading should have access to multiple sources of quality education. Just like riding a bike, trial and error coupled with the ability to keep pressing forth will eventually lead to success.
One great advantage of stock trading lies in the fact that the game itself lasts a lifetime. Investors have years to develop and hone their skills. Strategies used twenty years ago are still utilized today. The game is always in full force.
So for new investors wanting to take their first steps, I offer 10 great answers to the simple question, “How do I get started?”
1. Open a stock broker account
Find a good online stock broker and open an account. Become familiarized with the layout and to take advantage of the free trading tools and research offered to clients only. Some brokers offer virtual trading which is beneficial because you can trade with play money (see #9 below). A great tool for comparing online brokers can be found at StockBrokers.com.
2. Read books
Books provide a wealth of information and are inexpensive compared to the costs of classes, seminars, and educational DVDs sold across the web. Here on the site we have a full list of 20 great stock trading books for investors to consider. My personal all-time favorite is How to Make Money in Stocks by William O’Neil, founder of CANSLIM Trading which is pictured below.
3. Read articles
Articles are a fantastic resource for education. Our free Stock Education page here on StockTrader.com lists over 100 unique investment articles broken down into categories. Recommended websites for investment education are investopedia.com and of course Google search.
4. Find a mentor
A mentor could be a family member, a friend, a past or current professor, co-worker, or any individual that has a fundamental understanding of the stock market. A good mentor is willing to answer questions, provide help, recommend useful resources, and keep spirits up when the market gets tough. All successful investors of the past and present have had mentors during their early days.
Forums can be another source for question and answer. Two recommendations include Elite Trader and Trade2Win. Just be careful of who you listen to. The vast majority of participants are not professional traders, let alone profitable traders. Heed advice from forums with a heavy dose of salt and do not, under any circumstance, follow trade recommendations.
5. Study the greats
Learning about the greatest investors of years past will provide perspective, inspiration, and appreciation for the game which is the stock market. Greats include Warren Buffett, Jesse Livermore, George Soros, Benjamin Graham, Peter Lynch, John Templeton and Paul Tudor Jones, among others. One of my favorite book series is the Market Wizards by Jack Schwager.
6. Read and follow the market
News sites such as Yahoo Finance and Google Finance serve as a great resource for new investors. For in depth coverage, look no further than the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg. By monitoring the markets each day and reading headline stories investors can expose themselves to trends, 3rd party analysis, not to mention economic concepts and general business. Pulling quotes and observing fundamental data can also serve as another good source of exposure.
TV is another way to monitor the market each day with CNBC being the most popular channel. Even turning on CNBC for 15 minutes a day will broaden an investor’s knowledge base. Don’t let the lingo or the style of news be a nuisance, just simply watch and allow the commentators, interviews, and discussions to soak in. Beware though, over time you may find that a lot of the investing shows on TV are more of a distraction and are overall full of junk recommendations. This is a natural evolution; you are not alone!
7. Consider paid subscriptions
Paying for research and analysis can be both educational and useful. Some investors may find watching or observing market professionals to be more beneficial than trying to apply newly learned lessons themselves. There are a slew of paid subscription sites available across the web, the key is in finding the right ones for you. View a list of the services I use myself. Two well-respected services include Investors.com and Morningstar.
IMPORTANT – Be careful. Many paid subscriptions come from independent traders and services that claim to have fantastic returns and can “teach” you how to be successful. 99% of them are a scam and come with higher prices of $99 – $149 per month, or more. See, 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Trading Before I Got Started.
8. Go to seminars, take classes
Seminars can provide valuable insight into the overall market and specific investment types. Most seminars will focus on one specific aspect of the market and how the speaker has found success utilizing their own strategies over the years. Examples include Dan Zanger and Mark Minervini. Not all seminars have be paid for either. Some seminars are provided free which can be a beneficial experience, just be conscious of the sales pitch that will almost always come at the end.
When it comes to classes, these are typically pricey, but like seminars, can also be very beneficial. Will O’Neil workshops, Investools, Warrior Trading, Bulls On Wall Street, and Online Trading Academy provide a variety of courses on investing and trading.
IMPORTANT – Like paid subscriptions, be careful with classes and courses. Most are easily over $1,000 and are sold with false promises to acquiring valuable knowledge. Their fantastic sales funnels will suck you in, take your money, excite you during the course, then leave you with a strategy that wasn’t even profitable to begin with. See, 10 Things I Wish I Knew About Trading Before I Got Started.
9. Buy your first stock or practice trading through a simulator
With your online broker account setup, the best way to get started it to simply take the plunge and make your first trade. Don’t be afraid to start small, even 1, 10, or 20 shares will serve its purpose of getting you in the game.
If trading with real capital is not possible initially, consider using a stock simulator for virtual trading. A variety of online brokers offer virtual trading for practicing.
One of the most common mistakes traders make is to go all-in and try to score big with a full portfolio position out of the gate. This is an often painful mistake and why many new investors suffer big losses early on. Proper portfolio allocation is extremely important. For more tips of wisdom, see my article, 60 Stock Tips for Investment Success.
10. Passive Index and follow Warren Buffett
For the majority, trading will be losing proposition. Warren Buffett, the greatest investor of all-time, recommends individual investors simply passive index instead of trying to beat the market trading on their own.
Interested to see what stocks Warren Buffett recommends for your portfolio? Check out our guide, How to Build a Warren Buffett Portfolio.
11. Sign up for our free market recaps
Join over 22,000 other investors and receive our weekly posts via email using the subscribe box below or on the sidebar. I invite all new investors to make StockTrader.com a part of their investment routine. 😎
LEARN STOCK CHARTS: Read my 156 page interactive course, The Interactive Guide to Technical Analysis, and learn how to read stock charts.