Gold through Production & Speculation
In this final section of the Ten Ton Hammer Ultimate WoW Gold Guide we're going to focus on the art of production and speculation in the World of Warcraft economy. This is the end game of WoW gold making and can also be the least effort depending on how you decide to approach it.
The producer is the player that uses professions that make equippable items from raw materials. Some high level producers choose to gather their own raw materials, but I personally prefer to simply purchase them from trade chat or the Auction House. This method of gold making can be done without ever leaving town.
As we discussed in the first section of the guide, the most lucrative production professions are Inscription, Jewelcrafting, and Enchanting. There is a logical reason for this (and for why professions like Blacksmithing and Leatherworking have fallen behind). These professions produce items that are frequently replaced, particularly Jewelcrafters and Scribes. Glyphs and gems are replaced on a nearly weekly basis by many players, this means that there is always a high demand for your goods whereas when you've crafted the Icecrown recipe legs and boots there's little to be gained from the services of a Blacksmith or Leatherworker.
Getting Set Up
The first thing you need to do when embarking on your production path of choice is accumulate recipes. This is one of many reasons why Inscription is a great entry choice at this point in the expansion. All non-trainable glyph recipes are learned through Book(s) of Glyph Mastery. These can be purchased on the Auction House for prices that are often less than 15g allowing you to quickly accumulate every recipe in the game. Jewelcrafting requires tokens gained through the Jewelcrafting Daily Quest to purchase recipes, and Enchanters use Dream Shards to purchase most of their high end enchants.
Other producers don't have it so easy. The professions that create armor items must rely on rare drops in raid instances in many cases to get the recipes that they need. The current best crafting recipes are bought with Primordial Saronites from the Icecrown Citadel vendor.
Accumulating these recipes can be very time consuming and is one reason why not many players embark on the production path. For instance: there are 72 epic Jewelcrafting recipes. That is 288 days worth of daily quests to get every recipe, yikes!
So many recipes, so little time
Whatever you choose, you'll need to get some recipes. When you're deciding which recipes to pick up first it's good to do a bit of market research. Say you pick Jewelcrafting; you probably have a good idea of which gems are frequently used by your class. That's a good place to start, so buy recipes for cuts that have a high turnover rate on the Auction House so your auctions aren't just sitting there for days on end. Ask your friends which gems they use for their classes too. Cuts like 20 strength, 23 spell power, 20 haste, and 30 stamina fly off the 'shelves'.
Managing Your Empire
Once you're in a position where you can start listing items on the Auction House it becomes vital to have a system for monitoring your auctions and replacing sold items. The default WoW UI is horrid for this. I list nearly 150 gems at once at any given time, Inscriptionists often list multiple times that. If you have to manually list every individual item and input a price on it you're going to go insane. This is why you need Auctionator.
Auctionator has several extremely useful functions that will make your producing life a breeze. When you first start into a market and you have relatively little gold and recipes you're going to want to flip your wares quickly. This means undercutting your competition so your goods sell first. Auctionator has easily used settings that allow you to automatically undercut your competition by a fixed amount (25 silver, for example) which allows you to quickly post items without more than a cursory glance at the price you're listing at.
The "Buy" tab on Auctionator additionally allows you to look up items and shows you whether you've been undercut or have the lowest price currently. I can type in "Cardinal Ruby" into Auctionator and it will spit out every type of Cardinal Ruby gem cut currently listed on the Auction House; cuts where I hold the best price are indicated with a check mark and ones where I've been undercut are displayed with an X. This paired with the ability to cancel an auction with a single click allows you to quickly assess your position on the market and aggressively re-list auctions to thwart your competition.
Auctionator allows you to easily see when you're being undercut
Making money producing can feel great, you see a nonstop stream of "Your Auction Has Sold" flooding your screen and eagerly await the gold in your mailbox. However, if at the end of the day all those sales haven't netted you much gold it's time to examine your methodology.
Profit margins, the difference between what it costs to make an item and what you sell it for, can be manipulated in several ways.
- 1. Cheaper Resource Inputs: WoW is a social game and it pays to develop relationships. Making friends (or business associates as it were) with farmers that gather the raw materials that you need to craft your wares can significantly lower your expenses. Tap your friends and guild and get them working for you!
- 2. Rip People Off: This may sound harsh, but there is a massive amount of gold to be made by listing huge amounts of auctions at ridiculous prices. This is a tactic that I personally use to Jewelcraft and it works like a charm. I list 2 of every cut at a huge markup from the rest of the market and due to the volume of listings many sell every day. This means you get more money for less effort since you don't need to replace inventory as fast as someone that flips huge amounts of product for less gold.
- 3. Market Manipulation: This is risky and often won't work but when it does it is extremely profitable. Do not attempt to manipulate trade markets unless you are willing to invest ungodly sums of gold. Market Manipulation is done by buying up all of your competition's listings as well as a significant amount of the raw material inputs available on the Auction House then relisting them at a huge markup. This is done to shift the price of an item higher but can backfire if your competition realizes what you're doing and begins listing more and undercutting you. This is not recommended until you have a firm grasp on your profession of choice and a hefty stockpile of gold.
Sometimes you need to charge more to make more
The key to a strong production system is to have a methodology that works and to be vigilant about re-listing auctions that have sold. Make your presence known, and eventually the market and the players will also come to know you and will come to you with materials and tips for your services. This is a tried and true system of gold making and it will work regardless of your server or faction if you give it time and learn your trade.
Speculators are often reviled by the playerbase since their entire purpose is to make gold from the efforts of others. They create nothing and consume nothing, they just raise prices. Speculation is an art form and isn't something that can be easily taught in a guide format so I'm simply going to explain what it is and how it makes money.
Speculators are players that have an extremely firm grasp on prices and use this knowledge to seize opportunities to buy and resell goods for a markup. This strategy is based solely on being well informed. Good speculators take advantage of breaking news to adjust their strategies -- new patches will often include changes to the game that will significantly impact item pricing. For example: I made about 6000 gold in 5 minutes when patch 3.3.2 was announced by purchasing every single Frozen Orb available on the Auction House when I became aware of the new Frozen Orb vendor in Dalaran and saw what it was offering. That's just common sense and being well informed.
If you frequently see players trying to buy Bind on Equip items like Battered Hilts in tradechat for 8000g and you see one listed on the Auction House for 6000g then consider it a good investment and try to flip it. Speculation isn't really a steady way to make gold unless you're willing to scan the Auction House religiously for deals, but it's something to keep in mind when you see deals that just seem too good to pass up.