I started playing Elite Dangerous on the PS4 as soon as it was released and have ranked up my commander to Elite status and unlocked, and ranked up, all the engineers.
It took me a couple of days but I managed to reconfigure my old Mac Mini so I could play the Beyond 3.0 beta, and while I was playing the beta I decided to start "levelling up" a new commander so I'd be ready for the next beta in about 2 or 3 months time. So, I played through the PC version of Elite Dangerous, recording videos and making notes to bring you this beginners guide.
I've since also started a new commander on the Xbox following my own guide and making the odd tweak here and there.
To start with, you'll just want to get a feel for the game. Spend a couple of hours doing the Mentor missions to earn just enough credits (approx 550k) to buy and fully equip a Hauler and learn how to play the game.
In case you're wondering, the Hauler has the biggest jump range of any small ship so will be great for beginning your journey out into the beyond.
The way the game works can be hard to understand for some new players. So here's a brief explanation.
There are 3 main rank categories; Combat, Trade and Exploration
Your rank in each of these categories determines what missions are available and the amount of credits you will earn when doing activities in the game. Also, apart from your ranks, there are several factions at each port you dock at. Your standing with these factions also determines the missions available and the rewards you receive when doing those missions for them.
So the highest rewards will come when you reach a sufficient rank high enough to start picking up Elite level missions and when you're also allied with the local factions.
These local factions can also be aligned with the main powers, e.g. Federation, Empire and Alliance. Which means doing missions for them can also rank you up with those powers which in turn can unlock additional features within the game, such as system permits and new ships (Fed & Empire only). To make the most out of the missions you do, you need to raise your reputation with the factions at each port you want to use as a base so you become allied with them. If those factions have aligned themselves with one of the powers, those factions will also build up your reputation with the powers they're aligned to.
There's also influence as well, which is that factions political standing within that particular system you're in. Changing a factions influence can determine the state of that faction and indeed the whole system. The current state of the faction or system can also determine which missions are available and the rewards they offer. I believe this is one of the main reasons why people believe certain missions have been nerfed from time to time. Just remember there is a background simulation going on in the game, as well as players that can affect minor and major changes across 100's of inhabited systems across the galaxy.
Anyway, the best way to make any progress in the game is to pick just a handful of systems to run missions out of so you get yourself allied with those factions for the best rewards. This guide will take you to some of those systems as part of your progression in the game.
Beginning Your Journey
Every ship is equipped with a Discovery scanner. Make sure you assign it to a Fire Group in your right hand panel before you set off.
Whenever you jump into a new system, "honk" (use the discovery scanner) to scan the system. You can use your FSS scanner too, which takes a little getting used to, but you will gain even more data to sell.
Now that you've bought and equipped a Hauler your jump distance should now have improved quite a lot over your Sidewinder so now it's time to set off on your journey.
Your career in Elite Dangerous will start in a system called Ceos, but, before you head there, there's another place you can go to along the way; Dav's Hope, which you can find in the system Hyades sector dr-v c2-23 on the 5th planet at the coordinates 44.818, -31.389. When you get within 1000ls, Dav's Hope will appear in your navigation panel.
Going to Dav's Hope will help you make a start on engineering by collecting materials necessary for performing engineering upgrades. When you've finished there, head to Ceos. You can spend as long or as little time as you want here, it's up to you, but remember to bookmark it in the galaxy map before you leave.
Starting Your Career /
Ranking Up In The Federation
Now that you've arrived in Ceos, you can start building up your career.
Pick up all the Data & Courier missions from Federation Unite and Sirius Corporation, except the Horizons missions. If you can still pick up more missions, pick up some more Data & Courier missions from the other two factions then head to Sothis. Hand in the missions and pick up some more Data & Courier missions again at each of the stations in Sothis. When you get to Sothis Mining, Hand in the missions again, load up with Cargo, Data & Courier missions then head back to Ceos and do it all again.
The Gold and Silver cargo missions at Sothis Mining can be quite lucrative, especially for a beginner, however, you need the cargo space.
Once you've got enough money to buy a Python (or a Krait Phantom, as this is a great versatile ship, with a great jump range) it might be worth you coming back here to do the cargo missions at Sothis Mining because you can fit it with 280+ tonnes of cargo space (182 tonnes on the Krait Phantom). This does also depend on the current state of Ceos and Sothis.
Whenever you see any Federal Navy missions, other than Source missions, do those.
Source missions will require you to travel about 300ly back in to the bubble to pick up the commodities required, then travel back to Ceos/Sothis to drop them off, hence why I suggest not doing those missions because these missions will take too long to complete.
Going to Ceos will unlock Elvira Martuuk and when you get to Sothis you can hand in your system scan data, from your discovery scanner, to the Universal Cartographics which should unlock Felicity Farseer. Both of these engineers can seriously increase your jump range.
Completing the Data & Courier missions will earn you quite a lot of credits due to the number of missions you can do all in one go. It will also work towards ranking up in the Federation which will unlock system permits and new ships. These missions will also work towards unlocking the Sirius permit which you will need later on to unlock the engineer Marco Qwent.
On your first round trip you will be able to afford to trade your Hauler in for a Cobra Mk III, however, I wouldn't bother with the Cobra because you'll soon have enough credits to buy a Diamondback Explorer, which has a much higher jump range and can easily do everything the Cobra can. If you do decide to buy a Cobra, as you continue with these missions you'll be able to buy better modules to upgrade it. That being said, I would advise you store your Hauler as a precaution rather trading it in, just in case you are unable to buy all the modules necessary to increase the Cobras jump range.
At the very least you should carry on doing the Ceos/Sothis missions until you reach the rank of Petty Officer with the Federation which will unlock the Sol permit. I carried on to get Chief Petty Officer which unlocks the Federal Assault Ship. You will also need around 20mil credits before you move onto the next step.
A Little Bit Of Admin
Once you get to Petty Officer and you have collected around 20mil credits you will be ready to move on to buy a Diamondback Explorer (DBX), which will allow you to jump greater distances across the galaxy.
Just remember to use your Discovery Scanner whenever you jump into a new system, and if you're not in a rush also use your FSS scanner. I can't stress enough how important this is! Every piece of scan data you sell goes towards your Explorer rank.
The first thing you should do now is buy a Diamondback Explorer for general use. Click on the DBX General Use image, then click on the $ icon to go to EDDB, enter Maia in the Reference System text box then click on the Find Stations button. The DBX is one of the best ships in the game for long distance jumping.
Pick one of the Stations (Starports) in the list and head over there to buy and equip the ship.
Just be aware that starports can, and do, run out of modules from time to time so you might have to go to one or more of the other Stations in the list.
You don't have to wait until you get to Petty Officer to buy the DBX. I actually took a little break from the Ceos/Sothis missions to buy the DBX and I bought all the modules shown in both the DBX General Use and DBX Combat ship builds. This enabled me to go back to Ceos/Sothis fully equipped to complete any Federal Navy missions that showed up in the mission board, including the combat missions.
Note: You don't have to go for a DBX. On my third play through I bought a Krait Phantom instead, which proved to be an excellent explorer and good all rounder.
Using the DBX in Ceos & Sothis, I completed some combat Federal Navy missions which enabled me to finish unlocking the engineer Tod 'The Blaster' McQuinn. All Tod needs to unlock is for you to earn 15 bounty vouchers by blowing up 15 wanted ships, then donate 100,000 credits worth of bounty vouchers to him at his base. Ranking up Tod to about 31/4 you get an invite for the engineer Selene Jean.
Once you have bought the DBX, it's time to do a little admin work to unlock some of the easier engineers.
Head over to Darnielle's Progress in the Maia system. When you get there, buy 1 unit of Meta-Alloys from the Commodities Market.
Next, you need to go to Cheranovsky City in the Ngurii system. When you get there, buy 3 units of Soontill Relics from the Commodities Market.
Now head to Long Sight Base in the Khun system to donate the Soontill Relics to Elvira Martuuk. While you are there, it would be a good idea to upgrade your Frame Shift Drive to increase its range, if you have the materials. Also, while you're in the engineering screen for the Frame Shift Drive, Pin the blueprint for the Increased Range upgrade. Pinning blueprints allows you to perform upgrades on modules without having to go to the associated engineer.
You could also start to upgrade your Thrusters and Shield Generator to increase your rank with Elvira. If you get your rank with her to about 31/4 you will get an invite for the engineer Zacariah Nemo. You may not have enough materials to finish ranking her up, don't worry, you will do it in time.
Now, head to Caidin Reach in the Yoru system. When you arrive, open up the Starport Services menu, then go to Universal Cartographics and sell all your system scan data you collected with your discovery scanner. If you haven't already unlocked Felicity Farseer, this should do it.
Whenever you think you've got a lot of system scan data to hand in, come back here to sell it. It will, slowly, build up your reputation with the Party Of Yoru which you will need to unlock Zacariah Nemo.
You can also spend some time here getting combat bounties or mining to build up your rep with the Party Of Yoru.
Once you are allied with the Party Of Yoru, pick up the Engineer Invitation mission from the Mission Board.
Now, go to Farseer Inc in the Deciat system and donate the Meta-Alloys to her to finish unlocking her. If you've got any materials, try running some upgrades to rank her up. When you get her to about rank 31/4 you will get an invite for the engineer Juri Ishmaak. Like with Elvira, you may not have the materials to rank her up, it doesn't matter at this stage. While you're there, pin the Thrusters blueprint for the Dirty Drive upgrade. Once you've unlocked Professor Palin, you can change the pin to Faster Boot Frame Shift Drive or Clean Drive Thrusters.
After unlocking Felicity Farseer, it's time to unlock The Dweller. Find a star port, any port with a mission board that offers cargo delivery missions. Pick up enough missions to deliver at least 5 units of any commodity to any port then abandon those missions to turn the haulage into stolen cargo. Now you'll need to find 5 black markets to sell those commodities to.
There is a filter in the galaxy map which is suppose to show you where the black markets are, but it won't show them unless you've been to those specific ports first. What you need to do instead is highlight a system in the galaxy map, open the system map, highlight a port and check what facilities are listed in the information panel on the left. It sounds long winded but you only need to find 5 black markets.
An alternative, and easier way, is to use the eddb.io/system website to find black markets near your location.
Once you've got the stolen cargo and found your black markets, visit each port in turn, open Starport Services, go to Contacts and sell 1 unit of cargo at each of the black markets. Do this at 5 different black markets and you'll unlock The Dweller. All you'll need to do then is visit The Dweller and donate 500,000 credits. When you get The Dweller to rank 31/4 you will get an invite for Lei Cheung. While you're visiting The Dweller, pin the Charge Enhanced Power Distributor blueprint.
Next, because of your work in Ceos/Sothis, you should be able to go and collect the Sirius permit and finish unlocking Marco Qwent. To collect it, head to Davy Dock in the Procyon system. When you get there, the permit should be available for you in the Message Board.
Note 1: This is one of the more awkward permits to pick up. Lot's of commanders have complained about this permit not being available. If you are also having trouble picking it up, try these stations - Sirus Corporation Stations.
Note 2: In order to unlock Marco Qwent, you also need to complete an Engineer Invitation Contract, which you should be able to pick up in the Message Board at Patterson Enterprise in Sirius.
Once you've picked up the Sirius permit and you have completed the Engineer Invitation Contract, you'll just need to do missions that give Modular Terminals as rewards and donate those to Marco to finish unlocking him. When you've ranked him up to 31/4 you will get an invite for Professor Palin and Lori Jameson.
If you need data for the engineer upgrades, you can go to Balandin Gateway in the Rhea system where you will find up to 3 satellites you can scan for engineer data. Just scan the satellites then log off and back on again for them to respawn.
If it's wake data, you should find a system in a state of Famine and then find a Distribution Centre. Distribution Centres don't show up in every Famine system, so this will be trial and error, and you'll need to be within 1000ls of one for it to appear in your navigation panel. There's a lot of activity at distribution centres so they'll be a lot of High Wakes that you can scan but make sure you have a Wake Scanner equipped on your ship.
Decoding The Ancient Ruins
Using the General DBX Build above, you can make your way over to Felice Dock in the Meene system to pick up the Decoding The Ancient Ruins mission. The goal for this part of the guide is to (at least) earn enough credits to buy a Python (or Krait Phantom) and equip it for cargo (combat will come later).
Completing this mission will earn you 111 million credits, however, you only need to scan enough obelisks to earn enough for the Python (about 68mil) or Krait Phantom (about 82mil).
Alternatively, you could go back to Ceos/Sothis to run more cargo, data & courier missions to increase your Federation rank, which will go towards unlocking the Federal Corvette.
However, doing the Decoding The Ancient Ruins mission will get you quite a lot of scan data that you can use to sell in Yoru and the mission itself will make massive progress towards your Explorer rank.
This is the build of Python you're aiming to get by doing the Decoding The Ancient Ruins mission.
It's the best medium size ship for running cargo, passengers, combat and is a pretty decent ship for mining too.
This ship will help you greatly with all sorts of different activities and will start you off with earning credits for all sorts of modules you'll need later on.
Unlocking Selene Jean
Using your new Python, you need to equip it for mining then head off for an hour or two mining in a pristine metallic ring of a planet. You can find a decent place to mine on EDDB, or you can try mining where I went.
I did my mining in the 38 Lyncis system because it's quite close to Kuk, which is where Selene Jean is located. But first, I had to equip my ship and for that I went to Francisco De Almeida Ring in the HIP 47110 system. Once you've equipped your ship you'll need to stock up with limpets. You can buy limpets in Advanced Maintenance under Restock.
You can also use EDDB to find places that sell the mining equipment you need.
Once you've equipped your ship, stocked your ship with limpets and arrived in the 38 Lyncis system, head to the planet Lyncis 4 (the 4th planet) and to the A Ring (the inner ring).
In order to unlock Selene Jean, you need to mine at least 500 units of ore. The reason for mining in a pristine metallic ring is because the second part to unlocking Selene Jean is to mine 10 units of Painite and donate that Painite to her and you find that Painite in pristine metallic rings.
Unlocking Professor Palin / Chloe Sedesi
Using your DBX, you need to travel 5,000ly away from where you originally started playing Elite Dangerous. Horizons players will have started at Bakers Prospect in Asellus Primus, other players will have started in a random Federation system.
It is recommended that you wait until you have, at the very least, upgraded your FSD to grade 5 before starting your journey. You also could do with outfitting your ship for exploration.
When you are ready to set off, plot a course that will take you over 5,000ly away from where you started. I went to the Jellyfish Sector FB-X C1-5 system which, apart from being in a really nice nebula, also has an asteroid starport you can dock with. If you don't want to go there, I do recommend you travel somewhere south of the bubble, somewhere on the same side of the bubble as Maia because it will save a little time later on.
Don't forget to use your discovery scanner! You will need all the data at the end!
When you have travelled over 5,000ly you will get an invitation from Professor Palin and Chloe Sedesi. If you don't get the invites, just log off and log back on.
Once you've got the invite you'll now need to collect 25 Thargoid sensor fragments for each engineer. These fragments are engineering materials so you don't need cargo space to collect them.
Plot a course to HIP 18368, which is where you can find the sensor fragments. If you can't plot a course direct there, plot a course to Maia, then after every few jumps try to plot a course to HIP 18368 again. There are other sites you can go to, for a full list click here.
When you get to HIP 18368, plot a course to the 8th moon of the 2nd planet (HIP 18368 2 H), then head for the coordinates -21.5287, -27.1165 and land somewhere near the middle of the site. If you've got a Detailed Surface Scanner, you can fire probes at the planet to reveal the Thargoid Structure.
Once you've landed, deploy your SRV and hunt down all the scavengers. When you kill a scavenger they will drop random Thargoid materials, one of which is the sensor fragments you need for Professor Palin.
You can also use this site to farm materials by shooting the Organic Structures around the area. Shooting the scavengers will also increase your combat rank.
When you've collected at least 25 sensor fragments, set course for Abel Laboratory in the Arque system and hand them in. If you've collected at least 50, you can hand them in to Chloe Sedesi in Shenve too, so you can unlock both Palin and Sedesi.
When you've unlocked Professor Palin, make sure you pin the Dirty Drive Tuning blueprint, and try to do as many upgrades as possible to rank him up.
Also, while you're there, go into Outfitting and buy a couple of 1F Corrosion Resistant Cargo Racks. They'll come in handy for doing missions for Professor Palin later on. With Chloe Sedesi, I recommend pinning the Clean Drive blueprint.
When you've finished with Palin, go back to Caidin Reach in the Yoru system to hand in your scan data, if you're not already allied with them. When handing in each page of data, listen out for a message. When you get a message saying you're now allied with the Party Of Yoru, stop handing in your scan data there and go to Awyra Flirble in the Eurybia system and hand it in there instead.
Ranking Up In The Empire
When you're ready to start ranking up in the Empire, go to the Ngalinn system and head for Hickam Survey.
Just like with Ceos/Sothis, you need to stack as many courier/data missions as you can. Whenever there are any Imperial Navy missions available, do those.
Donation missions are really good for increasing your reputation, it's entirely up to you how much you want to spend on those.
When you have a full stack of missions, plot a course for Mainani and head to the Mies Van Der Rohe's Claim outpost to drop the missions off.
Pick up a full stack of courier/data missions again and head to Flettner Survey in Aitvas. Pick up more missions and head back to Ngalinn. Rinse and repeat.
You should stay here doing these missions until you raise your reputation with the Empire to friendly and, at the very least, reach the rank of Outsider in the Empire. This will ensure you can unlock the engineers Hera Tani and Tiana Fortune.
On my third play through, I used these missions to both rank up and get Modular Terminals for Marco Qwent.
A Little More Admin
Now it's time to do a little more work on your engineers.
If you haven't already done so, head to Caidin Reach in the Yoru system. If you're friendly/allied with the Party Of Yoru, check the Mission Board for an Engineer Invitation and do it to unlock Zacariah Nemo.
Once you have an invite for Zacariah Nemo it's just a simple matter of going to Zhen Dock in the Xihe system to buy 25 units of Xihe Companions and then taking them back to Nemo Cyber Party Base in Yoru to donate them to him.
If the system is in a Lockdown state the mission board may be locked out or there may not be any missions. Lockdown states can last up to 14 days but there is a way to reduce that time down to 3-4 days.
System states don't change straight away, they only change once per day. So, if a system is in lockdown today, check it again tomorrow. Also, the state after lockdown may be None so engineer invitations still might not be available.
To reduce the lockdown length/duration, find a Nav Beacon or Resource Extraction Site and kill all wanted ships except those that are aligned to the faction you're trying to rank up, in this case the Party Of Yoru, then hand your bounties in. Don't forget your Kill Warrant Scanner!
If you want to check what state Yoru is in, either use the Galaxy/System Map or check the state using EDDB.
Once you're finished in Yoru, head to Awyra Flirble in the Eurybia system and hand in any scan data you've got. If you are now friendly with them there should be an Engineer Invitation Contract. It should be a simple data or cargo mission, whatever it is do it.
Once you've completed the mission and unlocked Liz Ryder, she'll need 200 units of landmines. You can use EDDB to find the nearest place to Eurybia to buy the landmines. You'll have to buy them from a planetary port. Simply buy the landmines and take them to Demolition Unlimited in the Eurybia system to donate to her to finish unlocking her.
Do as many upgrades as you can to get her to grade 31/4 to get an invite for Hera Tani.
With the previous part to this guide showing you how to rank up within the Empire, you'll be able to go straight to Kamitra to start picking up cigars to finish unlocking Hera Tani. Simply go to Hammel Terminal in the Kamitra system, buy the Kamitra Cigars then donate them to Hera Tani at The Jet's Hole in the Kuwemaki system. Pin the blueprint for Overcharged Power Plants when you've unlocked her.
Again, do as many upgrades as possible to get her to grade 31/4 to get an invite for Broo Tarquin and Tiana Fortune. As with Hera Tani, if you ranked up with the Empire, Tiana Fortune will be available straight away. Broo Tarquin requires you to be combat rank of Competent or better.
Similar with Hera Tani, go to Lave Station in the Lave system and buy Lavian Brandy and donate it to Didi Vatermann at her base in the Leesti system. You'll need to donate 50 units of Lavian Brandy to unlock her. When you unlock her, pin the blueprint for Heavy Duty Shield Boosters.
To unlock Lei Cheung it will take a little more work. He requires you to have traded in over 50 markets, that is to say; bought and sold goods from the Commodities Markets in/with at least 50 different ports. It's fairly simple to do. Check Lei Cheung in your Engineers list to see how many markets you've already dealt with then buy the difference in Biowaste, i.e. if you've already traded with 20 markets, buy 30 biowaste. Then all you need to do is use the Visited Stars filter in the Galaxy Map to show you systems you haven't been to yet and sell 1 unit of cargo to each port you find in those systems.
Getting Lei Cheung to grade 31/4 will get you an invite for Ram Tah.
Before you go to unlock Bill Turner, you need to get the Alioth system permit.
Head to Rominger Dock in the 78 Ursae Majoris system. There's a number of different activities you can do here to increase your reputation with the Alioth Independents, e.g. combat at the nav beacon, trade marine equipment with Townshend Hub, doing missions, etc. The best way, in my opinion, is to do wing missions that offer reputation as a reward. You'll need your Python for that, equipped for cargo running. You can use EDDB to find commodities for source type missions.
When you get allied with the Alioth Independents you'll be able to pick up the Alioth permit in the mission board.
After getting the Alioth permit you'll also need to get friendly with the Alliance. To do this, I did missions out of Ridley Scott station in the Zaonce system but any Alliance controlled system will do.
Once you get the invite for Bill Turner, you'll need to mine 50 units of Bromellite.
Using the Python Miner build above, head to Johnson City station in the BD+73 447. You can use this station as a base while you're in this system.
Stock up with limpets then go to the planet BD+73 447 A 2. Head for the outer ring (the B ring) which is the icy ring. The closer to the extraction sites you go the higher the yield, however, you will also increase the chance of being attacked by pirates.
When you've mined enough Bromellite, go and donate it at Bill Turners base in Alioth.
Juri Ishmaak requires you to earn 50 or more combat bonds, which you would normally get from fighting in Combat Zones. However, the easiest way to earn combat bonds is by killing Thargoid Scout ships.
Before you can go off hunting Thargoids though, you will need to outfit your ship for combat against Thargoids because conventional weapons won't work. To do that, use EDDB or find a military surface port.
You can find Thargoids in systems they've recently attacked. You can see these in the Galaxy Map if you've turned on the options to show damaged and repairing starports. GalNet will also have a Starport Status Update article that will tell you which ports have been recently attacked.
When you enter one of these systems, start looking for Unidentified Signal Sources (USS). If your scanners detect the USS as a Non-Human Signal Source Threat 3 or 4, enter it and kill any Thargoid Scouts you find in there. You need to kill 50 Thargoids in total for the first part.
Be careful when you blow the Thargoids up because they will blow up in a plume of toxic gas. If your hull is suffering from caustic damage, when you land at a port, the caustic damage will be removed automatically.
If you go to a system with a damaged starport, there will be a rescue ship you can use as a base, just in case there are no other ports.
While hunting Thargoids, you will earn 10,000 credits per kill which, if you're not careful, may not cover the amount needed to repair your ship after each run. To combat this, there are Thargoid missions you can pick up if you want to, to give you some extra credits. After each run, hand in your combat bonds using the Contacts screen. The Engineers screen may not update when you hand in your bonds until you use your FSD again, or relog.
While working towards unlocking Juri Ishmaak, you may earn enough rep to unlock Broo Tarquin, if you haven't already done so. When you have completed the first part for unlocking Juri, you will have to go out and kill another 10 Thargoid Scouts to earn another 100,000 credits worth of combat bonds. When you've collected at least 100,000 credits worth of bonds, go and donate them to Juri at his base in Giryak.
Once you've unlocked Juri, do as many upgrades as you can. When you rank him up to grade 31/4, you will get invites for Colonel Bris Dekker and The Sarge. If you haven't got anything to upgrade, you'll be able to find something in Outfitting.
While you're there, pin the blueprint for Light Weight Sensors.
When you've reached a combat rank of Competent, go to Futen Spaceport in the Fujin system.
When you land, you need to buy Fujin Tea from the Commodities Market. There will only be a limited amount available and you'll need to deliver 50 units to Broo to unlock him. When you pick one batch of tea log off, wait for 10-15 minutes, then log back on and buy some more tea, then go and deliver the tea to Broo.
When you've unlocked him, pin the Efficient blueprint for the type of laser you will use the most.
Community Goals, or CGs, are an excellent way to start making credits while also building up your trade and combat ranks.
Sign up to the Community Goals through the Mission Board. Each week there are usually two CGs; a cargo transport/trade CG and a basic combat CG (Extraction Sites). There are other CGs such as material/data collection, advanced combat (Combat Zones) and Thargoid combat (Non-human Signal Sources). As a beginner, you're probably better off sticking with the basic trade and combat CGs.
Finding commodities for the trade CGs can be tricky if you're in a large ship. Using your Python might be a better option at times.
Search for the commodities you need for the CGs using EDDB.
Community Goals are a good start, but one of the best ways to make credits and to increase your trade rank is by completing passenger missions.
Head to Evans Port in the Parutis system. When you get there, open the Passenger Lounge and pick up any passengers wanting to go to Vela Dock in the Medb system. If there aren't any missions just board hop (log off and log on to a different game mode) and keep board hopping until you've filled all your passenger cabins up.
Completing the missions will take approximately 35 minutes but will earn you quite a lot of credits and a lot of rep towards your trade rank. To start with, you'll earn around 30mil per run but once you've become allied with the factions you can earn up to 80mil per run.
Getting To Elite
The easiest and probably the most lucrative way to get to Elite is buy earning credits towards building your trade rank. The more you earn doing trade missions, the faster you'll rank up.
Passenger missions are a really good way to earn credits and raise your trade rank. My previous video will help you on your way to Elite.
Once you've earned approximately 1bil credits, you'll get to Elite and unlock the Shinrarta Dezhra system permit. The engineer Lori Jameson is located in Shinrarta Dezhra so getting to Elite you'll be one step closer to unlocking her.
The main advantage of getting to Elite is being able to go to Jameson Memorial in Shinrarta Dezhra because it sells every ship available in the game and every ship module at a 10% discount.
Although I wrote this guide a while ago and a lot has changed in Elite Dangerous, this guide should help you along the path to becoming Elite.
Good luck Commander...