Wednesday, January 7, 2009

For the Love of Money, or "How I Became the Richest Person in My Guild"

I have a solid 8,000g between Dustfire and my druid. Both have their epic flying. At 60, I had to borrow gold from my brother to get my epic land rider, and at 70 I was able to lend him 3,000g for his epic flying and gave my husband 1,000g for his epic mount.

I espouse a "do it yourself" view of making gold: work hard, never ask for handouts. As evidenced by the replies of women to sexist "Don't do it, she'll take all your money, dude" comments in this WoW Insider post, a lot of other women do the same. It's bolstering to see.

Below, I'll tell you how I went from broke to over 1k on Moon Guard (huge server) and how I broke 10k just before Wrath's release on Zuluhed (small server).

Crazy Opportunities
  • The Herb Craze: I made hundreds of gold on Zuluhed selling my herb stock just after Inscription released. I had my own Inscription to train, but to be honest, I could re-herb all of that. It wasn't a big deal if my Inscription didn't max right away, but if I didn't take advantage of the prices, I was a fool. On Moon Guard, I had enough herbs in stock to make 76g out of a handful of silver.
  • The Cooking Craze: You wouldn't think that a simple Winter's Veil would push an entire server (Moon Guard) to spend upwards of 30g for a 5-stack of Darkclaw Lobster (one of only a few fish that will push you to 300 cooking). But, in fact, one holiday achievement relied on 325 cooking, and the race to level it made my fishing skill into a landslide of cash.
  • The Clothing Craze: I had a plan in place for this Winter's Veil. There's a red winter clothes pattern for alliance and green for horde, both sold on neutral vendors. As soon as the holiday began, I ran into enemy territory to get the opposite faction pattern and began to manufacture. I sold out in a day at 30-35g each and had to buy cloth to continue making them. I don't believe it would have been quite so profitable on a Normal server, but Moon Guard is RP, where clothes matter.
  • The Pre-Sale Sale: I sold all of my excess materials on the Zuluhed AH a few months before Wrath, shortly before prices really started to plummet. I wanted to liquidate everything and be ready to restock with Wrath materials, and I knew I had to be early about it before everyone started slashing their prices.
How can you predict when a craze will happen?

First, know what's going on. The herb craze was easy to predict -- every news source said "Stock up on herbs to sell if you're not doing Inscription." They were more than right and I wish I'd done more stocking. Inscription required a lot more Goldthorn than anyone could have imagined, and even Peacebloom is hopped up on auction steroids to this day -- 1g a stack on Zuluhed from what used to be maybe 5s.

The cooking craze could have been predicted, if I'd known my cooking better. I knew that one of the achievements required 325 cooking skill, but I didn't realize how hard it was to reach 325, or that several points relied heavily on something I could supply through my fishing. I fished Darkclaw Lobster on a fluke to cover the cooking mats I'd bought the night before. Lucky mistake, but a mistake I wouldn't have made if I hadn't been willing to go fish to make my money back. As it was, I only got in on the tail end of the holiday craze and missed a lot of opportunity to rake in gold.

Always investigate your upcoming holiday achievements, especially this first year, and see if there's anything you can sell that people will need, then make an effort before the holiday begins to stock up. (Though not as flagrantly expensive as the Lobster, everyone doing Winter Veil needed 5 Small Eggs. These are farmable for people under level 10 and made a solid chunk of silver per egg.) People will be frantic to accomplish achievements this first year, creating a craze and thus market opportunities.

The Bag Trade

I didn't expect herbalism to take such a huge leap with Inscription, but I did know that one of our most precious commodities was bag space. Everyone and their sister can make regular bags, so I focused on the rarest type of bag -- herb bags.

Herb bags are rare because you have to be honored and/or revered with certain factions to get the patterns. Then you have to grind out (or buy) expensive materials to make them.

So I set to be an herb bag supplier. I had a list of hard-to-farm items to troll the AH for, looking to buy them cheap. I spent a few hours farming spiders for the proper silk.

And I spent days grinding rep.

But, in the end, when Dustfire produced bags at 130g a pop, she sold at least one a week on top of her 1000g a day "getting rid of all my junk" sales.

The Pet Trade

I've made a solid amount of gold on Moon Guard by checking the neutral auction house for 5g horde pets and reselling them on the alliance auction house for a modest profit. Anyone over 70 does not need this method of money-making, but it's a good starter business.

You want to be careful not to buy pets that look like horde- or alliance-only pets but aren't. I'm specifically talking about the pets available on neutral vendor Dealer Rashaad, who sells cockroaches and Siamese cats and different colors of some faction-only pets.

There are a few pets that you might want to think about farming or look for in particular on the Neutral AH. Farming these may take a few days, but (if you find the right buyer) they'll pay for at least half of your epic flying skill. That's more than the old island dailies could do. The most popular farmed pets are, of course, whelplings, so I don't recommend farming those unless your server is just pet-starved. These are the pets I see least often and for the highest amounts of cash:
  • Black Tabby - 1 in 1000 droprate, only able to be farmed by horde. If on a normal (non-PVP) server, consider using a horde (I rolled a DK) to farm this from level 31 mobs and trade it to your alliance bank. (My husband and I have a system where I post it and he immediately buys it for 1 copper. No down time.)
  • Hyacinth Macaw - 1 in 5000 droprate, probably better yanked off the AH from someone who doesn't know what they're selling. I don't recommend listing this on the AH if your server is small, but if it's very large, you're more likely to find an appreciative group of collectors willing to pay top dollar. The easiest thing might be just listing it in trade chat as the rarest pet in the game. Because it is. Very few people know about it, but if they go to check your facts, they'll be astonished. I wouldn't let it go for less than 3,000g. Someone on your server ought to be a collector, and collectors recognize the opportunity price of an honest-to-goodness super-rare pet.
  • Disgusting Oozeling - 1 in 2000 droprate (taking into account how often the bags drop and how often the oozeling drops from the bags). Not many people farm this. Even on Moon Guard, I've only seen it on the AH once for about 1,500g. I'd really wished for the money to buy it, because that seemed cheap to me.
  • Captured Firefly - 1 in 1000 droprate. More common than the others but still not as common as the whelplings.
The new pet achievements have made pet collecting more popular than ever. More on pets and pet news at

Greens, Blues, Epix

I disenchant all of my greens. I have a person for this. A good arrangement is to find someone you trust (perhaps an officer in your guild) and agree that they can skim a few enchanting mats off the top to put in the guild bank if they'll disenchant all the random garbage you send them. My person is a raid leader, former guild leader, my husband's best friend, and my de facto brother-in-law -- he takes a few mats for himself and uses them to give free enchants to guildmates.

You want to be careful about blues and epics and check for rarity before you just send it to be d/e'd. God forbid you have a [Teebu's Blazing Longsword] disenchanted, thinking it a crap old-world epic.

Why disenchant instead of sell?

Listing a piece of equipment costs money. Sometimes several gold just for a short amount of time. Unless you're sure the item will sell (such as twink items), it's cheaper in the long run to reduce it into easily-stackable enchanting materials that cost nothing to list. Yes, nothing. Ever. No matter how big and bad the mat is. 0g 0s 0c.

Listing a piece of equipment costs time. The easier it is to list your inventory, the more likely you are to do it. Nobody wants to spend time researching [Gloves of the Creepy Monkey] when you could just plop some enchanting mats up for the going rate and have done with it.

Auction House Tips

Always list 1 silver under the cheapest buyout. No one will spend 25g on something they can get for 24g 99s. Even though it's a small difference, it makes a big difference to the buyer and therefore your sales. And ignore auctioneer on this one -- just because your addon says it should go for 100g doesn't mean it sold for 100g. It just means someone listed it for that much. If you want it to sell, follow what people are doing right now. Don't worry about the money you could be making. Insisting on too high of a price will ensure that you don't make any money at all.

Be patient. If the price is lower than you're willing to undercut, wait a few days or a week. Keep checking. I never list dragonhawk pets for under 11g, and sometimes that means I just don't list them. I wait until I can undercut the lowest seller at a price I like.

Don't lose money. Once you've listed a low level item often enough to lose money on it, or if the average buyout price is lower than the vendor sale would make, cut your losses and just vendor it. Your bag space will thank you.

Always list a buyout. People will pay gold to buy but won't pay silver to bid on the same item. It's all about getting it now. When people want something, they don't want to sit at the auction house for a bidding war. They're going to wait and pay more to your competitor to get what they want so that they don't have to stress about it. Providing a buyout makes people willing to pay much more than a bid-only price. People only bid when they think they're getting a ridiculously good deal (ie, 4 silver for a 12g item). And ridiculously good deals are bad for you, the seller.

List on the weekend. Friday-Monday are your best sales days. More people are on and trolling the AH. On Zuluhed, I never bother to list anything during the week. On larger servers, during the week is reasonable, but on small ones it's just a waste of the listing fee.

Don't Spend Money

If you want to have money, you need to not spend it. What I mean is, you need to save it for those big ticket items you're interested in and not make impulse buys.


I don't see myself as an entrepreneur as much as someone who wants to supply the needs of her server. I see that people will need something and I want to help make it available. Not just to make money, though that's a nice side effect (and I'll list for as much as I can get ^_^), but because I think a happy, thriving server is a server where supply meets demand. So I try to help with the supply end of things.


  1. The only thing I disagree with is the not spending gold part. I DO feel that buying BoE epics on the AH and junk like that is frivolous and not worth the investment over the long-term, but when it comes to maxing your gear, buying the best enchants, gems, and sometimes even rep turn-ins it's worth every silver. The reason I could loan you money early and needed to borrow later is because the nearly 6k gold I had when wifey and I dinged 70 went STRAIGHT back into our gear. A few months later we got back to 5k and I got my epic flyer. The loan was to get her "up to speed" (ah, puns). So be frugal, but don't neglect your gear -- I guess that's all I'm really saying here.

    Also, raising your reputation with certain factions can save you a TON. For example, buying reagents from a vendor you're exalted with saves you a lot of money over the long-haul.

  2. There was also a vanity pet craze right after WotLK came out. My youngest son has a character (On Frostmane) he was collecting pets on even before the achievments, so he caught on to the craze pretty quickly and began watching the booty bay auction hall to see what horde pets were needed. If the auction hall was running short on snakes, he'd pop over to Orgrimmar, buy a few at 45s and sell them for 15g. Or whatever pet it was. When he learns about supply and demand in school, it's not going to be anything new to him.

    He had a blast doing it and in the first few weeks after the release, his level 20ish priest must have turned over about 800g in pets. Of course, he's 9. So saving money doesn't actually come naturally and he ended up spending about 700g of it buying pets for himself. Watching pets he'd just bought for 90g appear in the ah a week later for 25g was a great lesson for a young kid. Better he learn it with in-game gold rather than IRL dollars, imho.

    Anyway, it's calmed down a lot since the release, but those pets that were selling for 15g can sometimes still sell for 5g pretty easily and that's still a nice markup from 45s.

  3. You guys are full of awesome. I'm gonna take some DayQuil now. *sneeze*

  4. Just as a warning, I don't know about your server, but on mine (an RP server) there is a player who has some kind of bot that he/she uses to scan the neutral auction house for 1 copper items (low priced items). Numerous people on my server have had precious items like those mentioned swiped while in transfer. Since it's a bot even the fastest human hitting buyout often misses it. Hope it doesn't hit your servers!

  5. *laughs* Good tips, and an excellent way to make money.

    I have a better way. But it's limited. Hit 80. Do all the quests you skipped.

    I think I've made about 13000g this way.

    Granted, gold burns holes in my pockets.

    But you can rack up a thousand gold or more a zone at level 80 in both BC and WotLK.

  6. I could have sworn I was reading Entrepreneur Monthly when I read this post. :D

  7. I've made a ton of gold using my jewelcrafting. I just buy the ore and prospect it for the gems, then sell them uncut. It costs a fair bit to level, and then you have to shell out for the ore, but I easily made enough gold to get two characters their epic flying and still have $10K gold after in about a month. I love it, no more daily quests for me!

  8. The obvious way to avoid someone buying your transfer item for a low cost is just to list it at the neutral house for market price at the faction AH. If someone buy it then you just saved yourself re-listing it. Ending up with a stack of gold on a char with the wrong faction? No problem, list a crap item for the amount of gold you want to transfer then buy it with your other faction guy. If anyone should jump in on your transaction then you just made another little fortune.............

  9. This is true, but the neutral AH takes a much larger cut of your profits. I've sold 250g items and received 200g after the AH takes it. It's more cost effective if you're able to list, buy on your character, and relist, as long as no one swipes it. Avoiding that should be more common sense than anything -- list for a small amount of gold, have someone on the phone or in the same room ready to press "Search," and do it at a low traffic hour.


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