A profitable trader showing how I use Trade-Ideas to make money

My Trade Ideas Review (as a Profitable Trader)

My trading profits soared once I started using Trade-Ideas. This review of Trade-Ideas will show you exactly how I use it to generate more than $100K of net profit per year. Here’s the proof: this is my actual results and that point is exactly when I started using Trade-Ideas. Read on to see exactly how I use Trade-Ideas along with the actual scans I use every day…

My trading results before and after using Trade-Ideas
See the point where I started using Trade-Ideas

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Trade-Ideas Review Table of Contents

My Life Before Trade-Ideas

I spent years playing in the stock market. I’d have good months and bad months but I mostly lost money.  It was frustrating. I knew I had what it takes to be a good trader and I would have streaks with good results but the consistency just wasn’t there.  To be honest I almost gave up more than once.

It was around that time that a friend of mine who trades suggested I try the Trade-Ideas stock screener.  I had heard of Trade-Ideas before and I knew a lot of traders used it but I always thought that it was too expensive and I could just use the scanner that came with my brokerage platform (Interactive Brokers).  My friend insisted that he thought I could get more consistent using Trade-Ideas so I looked further into it. Trade-Ideas was having a “test drive” at the time so I decided to give it a try for basically no cost to me – why not?

When I first started using Trade-Ideas I was a little overwhelmed – there are a lot of scans, screens, and channels in it and it took me a while to get my bearings.  It’s easy to get overloaded with too much information and when that happens as a trader you can easily miss the real trading opportunities – “too much noise, not enough signal” as traders say.  On those first couple days I definitely overtraded – there are a lot of trading signals coming at you and it’s easy to fall into the overtrading trap. After day two I realized two things:

  1. Trade-Ideas is a really powerful tool – way more capabilities than my broker’s scanner.
  2. It was going to take a little work customizing Trade-Ideas for me to distill it down to the right signals for me.

Over the next two months is when I finally transitioned from frustrating losing trader to consistent profitability.  Of course I don’t make money every day or even every week (no trader does) but I have the confidence now and my results bear out that I’m consistently profitable over the long term.  Here’s how I did it…

(I credit Trade-Ideas with giving me the tools to work smarter as a trader to figure out what works for me.  Why write this article? I want to pay it forward and give back to a community that has helped me make money doing a hobby I love. And to be fully transparent, I may receive a small payment if you end up subscribing to Trade-Ideas through this page.)

What I Was Doing Wrong

net profit before using Trade-Ideas

I’ve thought a lot about my transition to being a consistently profitable trader.  I’ll show you the exact alerts I use each day to make money, but I want to step back and look at the big picture – what was I doing wrong before and how did Trade-Ideas help me fix it?  It boiled down to two main issues.

  1. Missed trades, order entry mistakes, and no predefined trading plan
  2. Not a strong enough trading edge in my strategies

These issues are somewhat related – if you have a very strong trading edge you can tolerate a few order entry mistakes here and there.  But if your trading edge is not strong enough to begin with, then even perfect execution of a mediocre plan will yield mediocre results.

Using Trade-Ideas helped me tackle both of these problems.  To understand how I fixed the first problem of entry order mistakes, read the section on Trade-Ideas Brokerage+.

The best thing Trade-Ideas does is it gives me a path to improve the profitability of the trading ideas but more importantly I now know I have the tools to adapt to changing markets.  Not only does it give me alerts for new profitable trade ideas to take every day, but it also gives me the tools to come up with additional profitable strategies on an ongoing basis.

How I Create Profitable Strategies with Trade-Ideas

To make the transition from mediocre results to consistent profitability you have to find strong trading edges.  I thought that my trading strategy was okay but Trade-Ideas showed me that it could be significantly more profitable.  See the section on Backtesting with the Trade-Ideas OddsMaker to see how I took my strategy from modest results to making more money using less buying power and fewer trades.  That means there’s more room in my trading account to trade additional strategies.

But what if you don’t already have a trading strategy?  What if you’re a beginning trader and don’t know where to start?  The most valuable thing that Trade-Ideas provides is a path for new traders to turn their ideas into profitable trading strategies that make money. This is exactly the situation I was in just a short time ago.

Now I use Trade-Ideas to generate profitable trading strategies that I wouldn’t have thought about without it.  There are a lot of different trading styles out there – many of them don’t actually make money. Others can be profitable, but they have to match my personality to be able to trade them.  The best way to think about it is Trade-Ideas gives me the ability to find strategies in the upper right quadrant of this chart.

Use Trade-Ideas to find strategies that are profitable AND fit your personality and style.

It takes a little effort but here’s how I use Trade-Ideas to generate profitable trading strategies that are in that upper right quadrant above.

The Test Drive – Have a Game Plan

The Trade-Ideas Test Drive is a great and inexpensive way to try out Trade-Ideas. While I didn’t quite make the transition to trading consistency during my trial, it became clear to me that Trade-Ideas was going to be my path to get there. If I were taking the test drive again, I would do things a little differently to try to get the most out of my time.

Start using Trade-Ideas as soon as you have access

I started using Trade-Ideas on a Monday when the market opened but I didn’t realize until later that I could have used the prior weekend to explore it. Thinking back I could have gotten even more out of my test drive by doing some backtesting earlier and creating my trading plan rather than try to trade and learn how to use Trade-Ideas at the same time.

Learn How to Use Simulated Trading First

This wasn’t available during my test drive but it will be for yours. The temptation for me was to take trades I wasn’t really prepared to take and I ended up losing some money in those first couple days. If Simulated Trading was available I would have committed to using that during at least the first part of my trial.

Plan on Attending the Webinars

It took me two days of using Trade-Ideas to start to realize what I didn’t know. I assumed the webinars would be for completely new traders and boring to me but I’m glad I ended up attending. I had a couple questions that I got answered but I ended up learning way more about using Trade-Ideas more efficiently. Looking back I would have attended an earlier webinar and I would have gotten more out of my test drive.

The webinar I ended up attending was very valuable. I wanted to be able to customize the tool to only show me signals that I wanted to see – basically reduce all distractions.  I’m pretty sure it was a guy named Steve hosting the webinar. I got all my questions I had at that time answered during that webinar but I also learned a lot about what the software could do that I wasn’t aware of.  I knew you could manage layouts using “cloud links” but what I didn’t realize at the time was that the best way to manage those cloud links was to put them in the customized section of the channel bar. I use one layout for trading gaps at the beginning of the trading day and then I switch to another layout once I’m done trading the gaps.  A quick mouse click brings up all my saved customizations from my “mid morning” layout. It seems simple but streamlining your trading routine is super important and not hard to do – it just takes a little effort. It’s the little efforts like this that compound over time and make you better.

Holly – Trade-Ideas Artificial Intelligence

Holly (a play on the “Holy Grail”) is the name for Trade-Ideas Artificial Intelligence (AI).  Here’s how it works: each night Holly backtests thousands of data points and comes up with the best strategies to trade for the following day.  Think of it as a powerful engine that is constantly taking the pulse of the market and optimizing strategies for the nuances of each market day.

So what does it look like?  Each day you see the new list of what Holly has optimized for that trading day.  Throughout the day, you see trades that Holly makes from those strategies. Each trade that comes across Holly has a complete trading plan associated with it – you can see what stop order she’s using as well as how long she’ll be in the trade.  All of these exit conditions are available at the initial time you see the trade. You can take the trades exactly as Holly suggests and I suspect a lot of people do just that. In fact, these trades are probably the best source for new trading strategies in Trade-Ideas.

While I occasionally take trades exactly as Holly suggests, the best traders in the trading room have found a more subtle and more profitable way to use the data from Holly by using it as an input into their own trades.  Let me explain…

Holly optimizes both long and short strategies each day.  Even before the market opens you can see what strategies Holly suggests for the day.  Some days you’ll notice that Holly suggests mostly long strategies. On other days she suggests mostly short strategies.  This is your first indication of what the market might have in store for that day. If the market has been going up and then Holly finds mostly short strategies for the day, then that might be an indication to focus less on the long side and more on the short side than you normally would.

After the market opens there’s another valuable way to use Holly in your own trading.  Let’s say Holly had suggested 6 long strategies and 2 short strategies for the current trading day – a pretty typical scenario.  Sometimes you’ll find that although the long strategies outnumber the short strategies, most of the trades might come from the short strategies.  I’ve seen plenty of days where Holly seems to be doing the opposite of what the overall market is doing and has provided the earliest indication of a change in market direction.

The temptation is to try to take every trade Holly suggests but I’ve found that incorporating Holly as a type of barometer described above is the most profitable way to use the data she provides.

Backtesting with the OddsMaker

If I had to choose one part of Trade-Ideas that has contributed to my success the most it would have to be the OddsMaker backtester.  It feels like I have a trading superpower when I use it! There’s a lot of charlatans and snake-oil salesmen in the trading industry as I’m sure you’ve come to realize.  Imagine a tool that could quickly tell you if someone’s lying or not. That’s what the OddsMaker does for me!

I think of the OddsMaker backtester as my own truth detector – my kryptonite to all the BS out there.

It’s hard for me to overstate how important the OddsMaker has been for my trading consistency.  I can very quickly test a trading idea to see if it is going to make money. It also tells me how the strategy can be modified so it can make even more money.

Here’s a good example of how I used it to improve my trading consistency.  The Crossed Above Resistance strategy is one I learned about from one of the Channels.  I made a couple small tweaks to make it fit my style, so this was my first version of the strategy in the OddsMaker.

Backtest results before I used the Trade-Ideas OddsMaker to optimize.

This is actually a pretty good strategy as is, but I wanted to see if I could make it better.  I’ve heard other traders mention the “Short Float %” which I wasn’t familiar with at the time. I checked Trade-Ideas list of filter options and sure enough it was on the list with a detailed definition of what it is: “The short float is the percentage of shares short in relation to the total number of number of shares that make up a stock’s float.”

Ah, ok, that helps but what numbers make sense to use for Short Float?  What’s a value that’s really high or really low? Trade-Ideas has a great “Show Me” feature that shows you the range of values for each filter so it’s really quick and easy to find the answer.

Using the Show Me feature to figure out the best value for Short Float.
The “Show Me” feature in Trade-Ideas

Using the slider I was able to determine that a value of 10 is a good filter to use for my test – the dark blue bars indicate how many stocks have Short Float % greater than 10 and the grey bars show how many have less than 10.

It would have taken me days to figure out the right number to use for this filter but with the Show Me feature I instantly figured out a decent value to use!  A huge time saver.

I used 10 for the minimum value for Short Float % and ran the OddsMaker again on my modified strategy.  Sure enough, this strategy improves quite a bit by using this filter!

Backtest results after using the Trade-Ideas OddsMaker to optimize my strategy.

With that one simple change I realized I could make as much money with just half the trades as before.  This gives me the confidence of knowing that the trades in this strategy are more profitable than before and I’m using less buying power!  This is a recipe for more consistent profits and I could not do this without the OddsMaker. See – I told you it was a trading superpower!

Price Alerts

The Price Alerts feature in Trade-Ideas is probably the most underrated aspect of the program.  Rather than being alerted that a stock has exhibited behavior described by a strategy, Price Alerts allows you to set a specific price to be alerted on when a specific stock reaches that threshold.  Sounds simple, right? The real power is the control it gives you over the price alert. The features provided with the Price Alerts are far superior to any other price alerts available out there. Here’s how I use Price Alerts specifically to make more money trading.

I have some alert strategies that think of as “urgent” – when an alert comes through those windows I know that there’s an immediately actionable trade to take.  Easy money. There are other alert windows I have that I consider “of interest” – that is, the alerts that come through the “of interest” windows are not fully formed trades, but the stocks are in interesting situations that are likely to turn into actionable trades if a certain price level is reached.  It’s from these “of interest” alert windows that I’ll use a Price Alert to be notified exactly when the money making opportunity presents itself.

Here’s an example from 12/11/2019.  My gapping stocks scan alerted me that CHH was gapping up on high relative volume. TODO

Trade-Ideas Brokerage+

Of all the features that Trade-Ideas Pro offers, Brokerage+ has contributed the most to my consistent profitability – no question about it.  Once I started using Brokerage+ I went from a mistake prone trader without a real trading edge to making consistent profits almost every month.  Here’s how.

Looking back at my trades before Trade-Ideas, I realize now that my trading losses were coming from two things.

  1. Missed trades, order entry mistakes, and no predefined trading plan
  2. Not a strong enough trading edge in my strategies

I solved #2 by using Holly and doing my own research using the OddsMaker.  Even the strongest trading edge in the world will still lose money if you can’t implement it consistently.  I was making every mistake you could possibly imagine:

  • Accidentally using share size that was too large
  • Accidentally using share size that was too small
  • Entering a trade for the wrong symbol
  • Accidentally going long when I should have gone short (or the opposite)
  • Entering an incorrect value for my stop price and either losing a lot more than planned or getting stopped out and making a lot less than I planned
  • Taking too long to enter an order and missing out on another trade

If you’ve ever traded then you realize that these are pretty common mistakes and they’re very, very costly.  And it’s not always because you lose money – most of the time the mistakes cause you to miss out on the biggest winning trades.  These large winning trades are what make or break your trading profits.

I’ve gone back through my recent trading results since I’ve become consistently profitable.  If I skipped just my two biggest trades each month I would be right back at breakeven.

Brokerage+ gives me the tools to find and trade those big winners with ease and confidence.  It is quick and simple to make profitable trades, always entering the right symbol, number of shares, the best stop price, and the right direction all with just a single mouse click using Brokerage+.  My trading mistakes have been reduced to practically zero and most importantly I don’t miss out on those big winning trades which are so critical to your trading success.

Here’s exactly how I set up my Brokerage+ strategies.  This shows my Brokerage+ configuration for my Gap and Go Long strategy.

It’s important to name the strategy something easily recognizable and unique because when you trade this strategy you’ll be choosing it from a list of all the trading strategies you have defined.  I’ve given this one the name Gap Up Go Long $100 Risk. This allows me to see at a glance the direction of the trade and the amount this strategy will risk with the trade.

Creating a unique name for this Trade-Ideas Brokerage+ trading strategy.
Be sure to create a unique name for your strategy

For the Position Sizing section on the Order Details tab you can choose Fixed Dollars, Fixed Shares, and Based on Stop Loss.  I normally choose Based on Stop Loss since I want to risk a specific amount of dollars with each trade rather than a specific number of shares.

Choosing position sizing based on a stop loss order.
Position size is based on stop loss

In the Risk Mgmt tab, I choose a stop loss based on Today’s Low for this particular strategy.

Choosing a stop loss value.

On the Hold Time tab, I specify that the trade will exit just before the market close at 3:55pm eastern time.

Setting a timed exit.
Setting a timed exit

All the aspects of my trade are defined in this configuration.  There is no possibility of the trading errors I described above.  This is one of a handful of trading strategies that I have set up in Brokerage+.

I set up a different strategy in Brokerage+ for each trading strategy I use.  Now, here’s where the magic happens. From anywhere in Trade-Ideas whenever I see a symbol I want to trade I simply right click on it and choose from my predefined strategies.  All the aspects of my trade setup is sent automatically and without any possibility of human error: the symbol, the proper share size, the right exit orders – everything about my trade is handled by Brokerage+!

My pre-defined strategies in Trade-Ideas Brokerage+ show up throughout Trade-Ideas Pro on the right click menus.
Quickly choose from your predefined strategies and then…
Resulting orders are calculated automatically and sent right to my broker.
…your orders are sent automatically.

See the image above – those are all the orders that Brokerage+ sent automatically just by me selecting my predefined strategy from the menu.  The first one is the entry order, the second one is the stop order, and the last one is the timed exit order.

Before I started using Trade-Ideas I would enter my trades manually – it should be easy to see how much of a time saver Brokerage+ is AND I end up making more money trading in two distinct ways:

  1. I enter trades much quicker than before so I have the ability to take more winning trades
  2. The trades I enter are accurate and follow my predefined and statistically proven trading plan

Real-Time Testing with Trade-Ideas Simulated Trading

Once I get my strategy idea working in the OddsMaker, the next step for me is to see how it trades in real time.  I do this without risking any money at all using Brokerage+ and Trade-Ideas Simulated Trading (a.k.a Paper Trading).  In late 2019 Trade-Ideas released this brand new feature which I quickly realized would be a big part of my trading routine.

When you find backtest with excellent results, it’s so tempting to start trading it with real money right away. I’ve done this more times than I wish to remember and have lost money doing so.  I really wish Trade-Ideas had created Simulated Trading years ago because it would have saved me a lot of money in those unprofitable years! Here’s how…

There’s a big difference between backtesting success and actual live trading success.  Most traders assume this is a really quick hop but it’s actually a large chasm to cross.  Imagine trying to jump across a gap but when you get in mid-air you realize it’s much further than you thought it was and you’re not going to reach the other side!  That’s the problem that Simulated Trading solves – it bridges the gap from theoretical results to live, real time trading with real money.

In short, Trade-Ideas Simulated Trading allows you to practice your trades without risk but in a real-time environment.

Trade-Ideas Charts

When I first started using Trade-Ideas, to be honest I wasn’t impressed with the charts.  The first thing I noticed was they weren’t quite real-time. That is, the data isn’t updated with every single trade, but it’s updated every 10 seconds.  I was a little disappointed with this and at first I continued using my charts in TWS.

Over time, though, I found myself using the built in Trade-Ideas charts more and more.  I’ve completely converted over from my TWS charts and here’s why.

  • When an alert comes in to one of your alert windows and you double click on it, a blue arrow appears on your chart showing exactly when that alert occurred.  This also includes backtest trades from the OddsMaker backtester. This is a critical feature – especially when doing research outside of market hours. (See animation below)
Double click to see exactly when and where the alert occurred right on the chart.
Simply double click to see the alert on the chart – no typing!
  • Your executions appear on the chart exactly when they occurred.
  • The Trade-Ideas charts get saved when you save your layout so I don’t have to maintain two different layouts (one for Trade-Ideas and one for TWS charts).
  • Finally, I realized that the 10 second update for data in Trade-Ideas charts is actually perfectly acceptable for the trading I do.

Sure the Trade-Ideas charts don’t have every single indicator you might desire, but what I’ve found is that they’re much better than my initial impression and if I’ve learned anything through this process it’s that charting indicators are overrated.

Channel Bar – Profitable Strategies Hiding in Plain Sight

One of the first things you notice when you bring up Trade-Ideas for the first time is the Channel Bar.  There are a LOT of channels there and when you click on them it opens up the set of windows and charts that corresponds to that channel.  Those first few days I was trying to view a lot of the channels during the trading day to find something moving – looking back that’s probably what caused my overtrading – there are a lot of tradeable events during the day and it was easy for me to talk myself into watching and trading them.  Multiply this by the number of channels and you can literally find something that’s moving at any point in the trading day.

I realized after a couple of days that I was using these channels in the wrong way for me.  I needed to take a step back and use these channels as a starting point – suggestions for trading plans that I might want to customize and trade, not complete trading plans as is.

Most of my trading experience was dabbling in gappers – stocks that have gapped up or down today.  To trade profitably you need price movement and a gapping stock is a good place to start to anticipate that volatility.  For this reason I decided the first channel for my deep dive would be the “Trade the Gap” channel.

The Trade the Gap channel highlights gapping stocks but as anyone who has looked at gappers knows, all gappers are not the same.  For example, some stocks gap routinely while others only rarely gap. There are also stocks in a downtrend on the daily chart that are gapping up today.  I’m less interested in those since there’s so much overhead resistance (“objects in motion tend to stay in motion”). The Trade the Gap channel shows all gappers though.  I knew I needed to customize this channel to make it useful to me. If I used it as is, I worried I would just continue to overtrade.

Here’s a good example of the kind of customization that I did.  See BLUE on 12/09/19. This stock appeared in the Trade the Gap channel.  If you look at the daily chart below you’ll see it’s way below the daily highs from July and just steadily marching downward.  This is the kind of stock that I wanted to exclude from my screen.

Contrast BLUE, however, with KRMD from the same day.  There’s no overhead resistance at all on the daily chart.  This is the kind of gapper I wanted to remain on my screen.

Is Trade-Ideas Worth It?

Although I was hesitant to subscribe at first given the price, Trade-Ideas has turned out to be an absolute bargain for me. I could not trade without it and I highly recommend it.

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