Trading is all about making money and one of the most asked questions is “How can I make more money?”. There are mainly 5 different ways ‘to make more money’ in trading that we will discuss in the following article. We will lay out the possible problems that you might run into and what to be aware of when trying to increase your trading performance.
- Trade More Instruments
Once you have a tested and proven trading strategy, the most obvious thing to do to get more trades and increase your performance is to add more instruments to the ones you are already trading. Whereas this seems like a smart thing to do, it brings a variety of problems that will not only not increase your performance, but will undoubtedly result in a lower trading performance. The reasons why just adding more instruments to your arsenal and keep doing the same things won’t work are the following:
- Different instruments behave differently regarding overall volatility and general price behavior. Therefore, the stop loss and take profit strategies that work on one instrument, may not work on another one. Whereas one instrument follows certain patterns accurately, a different instrument may not respect technical rules at all, or respond to a different approach.
- Furthermore, adding correlated instruments increases risk to your overall trading performance. When trading correlated pairs, price moves similar and, therefore, the outcome of trades will be similar. In short, by trading correlated instruments you mainly just increase risk due to a greater exposure.
The graphs below show the percentage price change of 4 different instruments, three of them are big US corporations and included in the Dow Jones Index. You can see that although they are included in the same index, the way they move and behave is significantly different. Thus, taking one profitable strategy and blindly applying it to different instruments will not automatically result in an increased performance.
2. Trading lower timeframes
The next thing on the list when thinking about increasing trading frequency and trading performance is just to change to trading lower timeframes. Isn’t it obvious that when you get one signal every few days on the daily timeframe, you should see a potential setup daily on an intra-day timeframe!? Trading lower timeframes seems an easy way to get more trades and, potentially, more winners, but is it true? Here is what you have to keep in mind when moving down timeframes:
- The price action on lower timeframes is completely different. Intra-day spikes can be significant and the impact of news announcements can result in large price spikes that do not change overall direction, but shake traders out of their positions.
- The psychological pressure increases and the likelihood to fall for emotional trading errors rises sharply. When the time between trade setups is small and traders see markets moving rapidly throughout the day on lower timeframes, they are more prone to revenge trading and interfering with their trades.
- A solid trading plan is key when trading lower timeframes. When markets move fast, a piece of unexpected news surprises the markets and things get hectic, you do not have the luxury to sit back and think long about what to do. You need to have a trading plan in place that tells you exactly what to do and when to do it. If you do not have a trading plan, trading lower timeframes is an impulse game.
3. Increasing Position Size
“Ok, I understood the potential problems when adding new instruments or moving to lower time frames, but what about increasing position size? I can stay on my original time frame and keep trading the instruments I know work?!” And you are right, although there are a few things to consider when it comes to increasing position size, it offers a few benefits. Here are the pros and cons:
- You do not have to study new instruments and you do not have to add the psychological pressure that comes with trading lower timeframes.
- Once you have a tested and proven strategy, taking a larger position can increase your overall performance, but…
- Only when you have tested and evaluated your strategy, you can increase your position size. If you haven’t collected data about your performance, increasing position size will result in a disaster.
- Only when you KNOW, and by this I mean tested and calculated, your actual win rate and the likelihood of losing streaks, you can adjust position size. Only if you can answer the following questions you should think about increasing your position:
- What is my win rate?
- How likely are 6, 7 or 8 losing trades in a row?
- Every trader will experience a losing streak of 6, 7 or 8 trades. Can you deal with losing 30% of your account on 8 losing trades when risking 4% per trade?
- A greater position size equals higher psychological pressure. As we outlined in the previous point, every trader will experience losing streaks and most traders cannot keep a cool head during such periods. When doubt and fear mix with an increased position size, you have a recipe for a bad time.
4. Adding a Second Strategy
The fourth possibility to increase trading performance is by adding a new trading strategy. By adding a new trading method you do not have to worry about correlated instruments increasing your risk, lower time frames adding psychological pressure and increased position sizes that could ruin a trader, even with a profitable trading strategy. But, and there is always a but, adding a new trading strategy does not only have positive aspects.
- Learning a new trading strategy can take months or even years and it may interfere with your current trading performance and your focus.
- Is the new trading strategy really completely different? If not, you are likely to get similar trading signals and, therefore, not add an independent variable, but increase the frequency of similar trades.
- But, if one trading strategy performs well in a trending market, adding a trading method that allows you to trade range bound markets profitably will get you the best of both worlds.
5. Improve Your Current Strategy
All previous points have their pros and cons – some have more cons, some less. But what if there was a way to increase your trading performance without having to worry about potential problems or traps you might run into? Although improving your current trading strategy is easier said than done, there are only few, if any, downsides to increasing your trading performance this way. The following points can serve as a guideline how to follow through:
- Tweaking your current trading strategy involves a lot of data tracking, analyzing and trial and error. In short, it includes all the things most traders do not like to do, but that will make the difference between the average losing trader and the professional winning trader
- Possible ways to tweak your trading strategy is by optimizing entries, stop loss and take profit placement, trade management, holding time and being aware of emotional and psychological shortcomings.
- Improving your trading strategy takes a lot of time and trying different approaches. Each time you change a parameter, you have to collect new information and data from a sample size of trades before you can evaluate whether the change increased the performance. This process takes a long time and requires a lot of work from you which is the reason why, although it is the best way to make more money, few traders will do it.
All previously described methods can help you increase trading performance and it is up to you as a trader to find what is working for you. However, this article has the goal to open your eyes for the pros and cons each approach has and what to be aware of when trying to increase your trading performance.