To give an example of how much a non-bot distribution pilot can make, I ran distribution missions in low sec for an hour. I ran them for an agent for Trust Partners, the same corp in the Thukker Tribe the Illinfrik botter used. I did have a few advantages over the typical Wreathe bot, however.
First, location matters. The base formula for loyalty point payouts for missions is:
LP reward = (1.6288 - System security) × Base LPThis means I received 70% more loyalty points for using an agent in a 0.2 security system than a player (or bot) in Illinfrik with a security rating of 0.8. As an added bonus, I have distribution missions trained to level 5, meaning I gain an additional 50% more loyalty points per mission. Alpha accounts are limited to training Distribution Connections to 2. Also, I use a Prowler, the Minmatar blockade runner, which, with my fitting an implants, exceeds a warp speed of 12 AU/sec. The best speed I calculated for any of the bots I saw was 6.2 AU/sec. So I have a warp speed advantage meaning I can do the missions faster than an alpha player as well as higher payouts.
So, since I can probably beat Han Solo's time on the Kessel run if we ever figure out how to get back through the EVE Gate, how did I do? I don't think that badly. I completed 14 missions, taking an average of 4:17 minutes per mission. I earned 22,486 Thukker loyalty points, which I calculate are currently worth around 3000 ISK/point. The average of 1606 LP per mission I think is a good payout. Mission rewards and mission time bonuses are really only used to help pay for the items in the loyalty store. The 9,084,000 ISK earned almost paid for the item I wanted to get out of the store, the Thukker Large Cap Battery.
Thukker cap batteries are valued by Abyssal site runners for their inherent resistance to the neutralizer pressure they face from the Triglavians. With a cost of 20,000 loyalty points,10 million ISK, and a Large Cap Battery I, I can get one Thukker Large Cap Battery per hour, which is my goal when running distribution missions. When I sell them on the market instead of fitting them on my own ships I aim for 60 million ISK in profit, which is where I get my valuation for Thukker loyalty points of 3000 ISK/point.
At the beginning of the post, I estimated that the Illinfrik botter could make 6-7 billion ISK per day if everything went right. Did I mention faction cap batteries, even if they are as awesome as the Thukker Large Cap Battery, are not high volume trade items? When the possibility exists of CCP coming in and banning accounts at any time, botters tend to dump items on the market, looking for ISK in the hand now. I don't face that pressure, so I can go ahead and leave my items on the market for weeks. And if the items don't sell? I can always use them on my own ships.
I guess I should include one more important item about distribution agents that didn't come up during my one hour run. Players are granted a storyline mission for completing 16 missions of the same level for a corporation. As I was two missions away from a storyline mission, I spent a few more minutes to run two more missions. The one I received was Materials for War. The requirements to complete the level 4 version of the mission is 8000 units of kernite. I keep a stock of kernite in the distribution agent's station, so anytime I receive the missio, I fly over to the agent, accept the mission and then immediately complete it. The reward is a +4 learning implant, which usually lists on the market for around 20 million ISK. Not bad for less than 12 minutes of mining and making a couple of jumps.
I know some will find the fact that distribution missions can make decent ISK, if over 20 million ISK per tick is considered decent. A lot of players just look at the low ISK payouts and snub the missions. But that's okay. Just means less competition for me.