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How to start online share trading: Beginner's guide

Reading time: 18 minutes

Did you know that at the click of a button you could be buying and selling shares in some of the world's largest publicly traded companies such as Apple, BP or Facebook? Online share trading has never been more accessible to us than today but how to start can seem daunting. How do you find the best online share trading account? How do you choose the best online share trading platform? How do you actually perform an online share trade?

In this article, we answer these questions - and many more - on how to start share trading online. We'll point you to one of the best online share trading sites which could help in your trading decisions, as well as provide you with some online share trading tips to get started and share with you the best way on how to learn online share trading completely risk-free!

online share trading guide

What is online share trading?

Online share trading is the process of buying and selling shares (or stock) in a publicly listed company from your computer, laptop or phone, in the hope of making a profit.

The buying and selling of shares in public companies is controlled and managed by a stock exchange such as the London Stock Exchange or New York Stock Exchange. Historically, traders would turn up to these exchanges to buy and sell shares with other traders in what was called the 'trading pit'.

Nowadays, traders do not have to visit the stock exchange and can instead participate in online virtual share trading just by having the right broker account. By opening an online share trading account, the broker acts as an intermediary between the trader and the stock exchange.

In fact, with Admiral Markets UK Ltd you can open an Admiral.Invest account and actually invest in shares and ETFs from 15 of the largest stock exchanges in the world. You can also receive free real-time market data, create a stream of passive income by collecting dividend payouts, trade on MetaTrader - the world's best known online share market trading software - and enjoy many other benefits.

Accounts can be opened with just a €1 minimum deposit with investing fees starting from $0.01 per share and minimum transaction fees of just $1 on US stocks.

Why trade shares online?

Individuals from all walks of life participate in online share trading for different reasons. However, in nearly all cases it comes down to the possibility of making a profit. Most online share traders aim to buy shares at a low price and then sell them at a high price and pocket the difference in between, as the example chart of a company's share price shows below:

online share trading platform

An example candlestick chart of a company's share price showing profit and loss areas when buying shares.

In the above example, a trader buys one share of a company which is valued at $100. If the market goes to $200 the trader has made a $100 gross profit. The net profit will be a little lower as the trader still needs to deduct the cost of trading such as the brokerage fee.

If the value of the shares declined and moved down to $50 then the trader's investment would be in a loss. This is a very simplified example, but it shows what most traders aim to do when share trading online. Throughout the rest of the article we will explain how to start online share trading, the factors you need to know about when making decisions on which shares to buy and sell and how to actually perform an online share trade in the online share market trading software offered by Admiral Markets.

How to do online share trading

To begin share trading online it's important to have access to the right trading tools and resources. Here's how to start online share trading for beginners:

1. How to choose the best online share trading account

Your trading account is your connection to all the other individuals in the world who want to buy and sell shares. If you would like to buy shares in a certain company such as oil-giant BP, then you need to find someone who not only owns BP shares but is also willing to sell those shares to you. Essentially, this is what your broker does for you - connects you to the market with other stock or shareholders, hence the term 'stock market'.

Having an online share trading account with a broker gives you access to their trading platform where they can connect your buy and sell orders to other buyers and sellers via their connection to the stock exchange, which manages the stock market and lists the shares of the company you are trading in.

As your broker will hold your trading or investing capital it is important to choose one that offers the highest regulation, safety and security. For instance, investment firms operating under the Admiral Markets trademark offer the highest regulation from the UK's Financial Conduct Authority, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Estonian Financial Supervisory Authority and the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission.

Admiral Markets offers additional benefits for users, such as:

  • Allowing the use of multiple types of trading and investing accounts such as Admiral.Invest where you can buy shares in publicly listed companies from 15 of the world's stock exchanges.
  • Offering the ability to open a CFD (Contract for Difference) trading account to potentially profit from rising and falling markets, as well as access leverage of up to 1:500 for clients categorised as professional and up to 1:30 for those classified as retail clients. This enables traders to control a bigger position with a smaller deposit.
  • Offering the ability to trade with a broker offering some of the lowest and transparent brokerage fees in the marketplace.
  • Giving access to the fastest and most popular trading platforms from MetaTrader for PC, Mac, Web, Android and iOS.

If you're feeling inspired to open an account online, you may be pleased to know that Admiral Markets also provides you with the latest market updates and technical analysis for FREE!

Click the banner below to open a share trading account online today!

Trade Forex & CFDs

2. How to choose the best online share trading platforms

Your online share trading platform is how you place your entry and exit levels on the company of your choosing. Knowing how to choose the best online share trading platforms is important as it is your access to important information and tools such as the live market price of the company you are trading, the historical price chart of the stock, the different trading tools and technical indicators that can help in making trading decisions and more.

With Admiral Markets, users can access the online share market trading software from MetaTrader. This platform allows traders to view price charts of a company's share price as well as access order tickets from it to place buy and sell trades and view how they are performing. Admiral Markets offers the following online share market trading software:

The MetaTrader 5 desktop, web and mobile platform offers certain advantages when buying and selling shares. For instance, traders can access multiple types of trading accounts from it - such as an Admiral.Invest investing account or the Admiral.MT5 account for CFD trading - as well as access multiple asset classes.

best online share trading platform

An example of the Admiral Markets MetaTrader 5 trading platform showing the price chart of Apple shares, the MACD and Stochastic trading indicators, a list of symbols showing the different stock market regions available and an open order ticket.

Disclaimer: Charts for financial instruments in this article are for illustrative purposes and do not constitute trading advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument provided by Admiral Markets (CFDs, ETFs, Shares). Past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance.

So far, you have learnt what online share trading is, how to choose the best online share trading account and online share trading platform. But how do you decide which shares to buy and sell and when? There are a variety of different methods and strategies to choose from. Knowing which ones are suitable for you may prove to be very helpful in building consistency and experience in online share trading.

3. Online share trading basics: Choosing a strategy

A trading strategy helps traders analyse shares in a consistent, methodical way for clues on where the market could move next. To identify these 'clues' traders use different analysis methods such as fundamental analysis and technical analysis:

  • Fundamental Analysis. This is the study of company-specific data and general economic data. Company-specific data includes analysing earnings per share announcements, sales, profits, new product launches and so on. Traders are trying to identify if the company is likely to make more profit in the future as that could translate into a higher share price as the company becomes more valuable.
  • Technical Analysis. This is the study of price to identify patterns of buying and selling activity which could lead to possible entry and exit levels. The study of a share price generally comes down to using chart patterns, price action and technical trading indicators such as moving averages, MACD and many more.

There are six types of strategies to choose from when trading and each have a different weighting in how much fundamental or technical analysis it uses. Four of these strategies are most commonly used in online share trading. These include:

i. Day Trading Strategies

This is a style in which traders buy and sell shares within a single trading day and exit by the end of the day, not holding any trades open overnight when the market is closed. Typically, traders would use the lower timeframes when making their trading decisions. In the MetaTrader platform provided by Admiral Markets, you can view the 1 minute, 5 minute, 15 minute chart and many more different timeframes.

ii. Swing Trading Strategies

Swing trading is a type of strategy which involves traders holding shares for several days and in some cases weeks. Most swing traders will use a combination of fundamental and technical analysis to make their trading decisions but more weight will be placed on technical analysis and the use of technical indicators such as moving averages (a commonly used trading indicator when share trading online).

iii. Position Trading Strategies

Position trading is a style which involves traders holding shares for several weeks or months. Typically, position traders would use the higher timeframes such as the daily, weekly and monthly chart to make their trading decisions. While position traders will use technical analysis to help time and exit trades they would also use more fundamental analysis than swing traders as they are trying to hold onto shares for a much longer period of time.

iv. Investing Strategies

Investing strategies have a lot of similarities to trading strategies. The biggest difference is the holding period. Investors typically look to hold shares for many months or years and try to capitalise on the capital gain as well as dividend payouts which are cash payments some companies provide to shareholders.

To perform technical analysis of share prices, you only need a trading platform like the free MetaTrader platform provided by Admiral Markets.

Did you know that you can access the Admiral Markets MetaTrader 5 trading platform completely FREE? Just click on the banner below and download the platform for free in just a few simple steps!

Trade With MetaTrader 5

However, to perform fundamental analysis traders need to use different websites to source their information.

4. How to choose the best online share trading site

As there are many different websites offering different services to traders, the best online share trading site for one trader may not be the same for another. On the Admiral Markets website, you may find a variety of pages that could help you when share trading online. One such site is the Premium Analytics page.

To access the Admiral Markets Premium Analytics page, simply login to your account via the homepage and select Premium Analytics from the Analytics tab, as seen below:

best online share trading site

Once logged in you can search for your instrument or select it from the drop-down menus on the left. In the example below we have selected AAPL which is the symbol for Apple shares:

Premium Analytics for online share tradingA screenshot of viewing Apple on the Admiral Markets Premium Analytics research site.

From here we can view market news, instrument news, access a corporate calendar, as well as technical insight and a research terminal showing newswire sentiment. There are also a lot more features on the Admiral Markets homepage under Analytics that can help you with your trading. These sections include Fundamental Analysis, Technical Analysis, a Trader's Blog, Market Heatmap and more.

Now you now more on the different types of strategies used when online share trading, let's look at how to do online share trading in your trading platform. If you haven't yet downloaded the MetaTrader platform provided by Admiral Markets you can do so here, as it may prove useful to download it first to follow through the next examples.

Online share trading for beginners: Placing a trade

Once you've opened your live or demo trading account and have downloaded your free trading platform, you are in a position to start share trading online using the following steps:

  1. Open the MetaTrader trading platform.
  2. Open the Market Watch window by selecting View from the menu at the top of the platform or by pressing Ctrl+M on your keyboard. This will open up a list of tradable symbols on the left side of your chart.
  3. Right-click on the Market Watch window and select Symbols or press Ctrl+U on your keyboard.
  4. This will then open the window shown below which details all the markets available for you to trade on. From here you can add a wide variety of shares to your Market Watch window by selecting the relevant share or country and clicking Show Symbol.

online share trading platform - MetaTrader 5

An example of the Admiral Markets MetaTrader 5 trading platform showing the Symbols window.

Disclaimer: Charts for financial instruments in this article are for illustrative purposes and do not constitute trading advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument provided by Admiral Markets (CFDs, ETFs, Shares). Past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance.

After clicking the OK button in the Symbols window you can now view the different instruments in the Market Watch window. To view a price chart of a company's share price, simply left-click on one of the stock symbols in the Market Watch window and drag it onto the chart area. From here you can now open up a trading ticket:

  1. Right-click on the chart.
  2. Select Trading.
  3. Select New Order, or press F9 on your keyboard.
  4. A trading ticket will open for you to input your entry price, stop loss and take profit levels and your share trading size (volume).

MT5 for share trading

An example of the Admiral Markets MetaTrader 5 trading platform showing a trading ticket.

Disclaimer: Charts for financial instruments in this article are for illustrative purposes and do not constitute trading advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument provided by Admiral Markets (CFDs, ETFs, Shares). Past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance.

Online share trading tips: Pending orders

Did you know that with an Admiral Markets account you can also place pending orders when share trading online? This means you can instruct the broker to enter you into a position if and when the market price reaches a certain price level of your choosing.

To place a Pending Order, you can simply open a trading ticket and select Pending Order instead of Market Execution:

MT5 for trading shares online

An example of the Admiral Markets MetaTrader 5 trading platform showing an order ticket.

Disclaimer: Charts for financial instruments in this article are for illustrative purposes and do not constitute trading advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument provided by Admiral Markets (CFDs, ETFs, Shares). Past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance.

You can also attach stop loss and take profit orders if and when your trade triggers into a live trade by reaching your entry price. One of the best online share trading tips is to always use a stop loss which gets you out of a losing trade at a price level of your choosing. This can help to minimise losses.

Once you've added in your stop loss and take profit price levels, you can view your order levels on the chart as shown below by the dotted horizontal lines:

MetaTrader 4 share trading platform

An example of the Admiral Markets MetaTrader 5 trading platform showing a trader's order price levels on the chart.

Disclaimer: Charts for financial instruments in this article are for illustrative purposes and do not constitute trading advice or a solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument provided by Admiral Markets (CFDs, ETFs, Shares). Past performance is not necessarily an indication of future performance.

To learn more on how to trade on the Admiral Markets MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5 trading platform, feel free to watch the video below:

Why start online share trading with Admiral Markets?

Here are just a few reasons why you should consider Admiral Markets when it comes to share trading online:

  • Trade with a well-established, highly regulated company which includes regulation from the UK's Financial Conduct Authority.
  • Benefit from a negative balance protection policy to protect your from adverse movements in the market.
  • Access the fastest and most popular online share market trading software called MetaTrader which you can use on PC, Mac, Web, Android and iOS operating systems.
  • Open multiple types of trading and investing accounts such as Admiral.Invest where you can buy shares in publicly listed companies from 15 of the world's stock exchanges and create an income stream by collecting dividend payouts.
  • Open an account for CFD (Contract for Difference) trading to potentially profit from rising and falling markets, as well as access leverage of up to 1:500 for individuals classified as a professional and up to 1:30 for those classified as retail.
  • Trade with a broker offering some of the lowest and transparent brokerage fees in the marketplace so you can hold on to more of any profits you make.

Did you know that you can test drive some of these features by opening a FREE Admiral Marketsonline share trading demo account? This type of account will allow you to trade in a risk-free environment until you are ready for a live trading account.

To open your free online share trading demo account, simply click on the banner below:

Trade With A FREE Demo Trading Account

About Admiral Markets

Admiral Markets is a multi-award winning, globally regulated Forex and CFD broker, offering trading on over 8,000 financial instruments via the world's most popular trading platforms: MetaTrader 4 and MetaTrader 5. Start trading today!

This material does not contain and should not be construed as containing investment advice, investment recommendations, an offer of or recommendation for any transactions in financial instruments. Please note that such trading analysis is not a reliable indicator for any current or future performance, as circumstances may change over time. Before making any investment decisions, you should seek advice from independent financial advisors to ensure you understand the risks.