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Discovering ways to make money in World of Warcraft is an important part of getting the most enjoyment out of the game. There are many different and effective ways to make enough money for repairs, consumables, equipment, and other items.
Some players attempt to purchase gold from third party gold sellers. This form of making money is against Blizzard's terms of service and may lead to a permanent ban on an account. It may also lead to real world identity theft or theft of the purchaser's WoW account depending on the reliability and intentions of the gold selling company.
There are four major money making strategies: farming, crafting, daily quests and playing the auction house. The amount of gold earned depends on the dedication of the player, the economy of the auction house on the server, the server ratios of casual, serious, and hardcore players, and time periods surrounding a major patch.
This guide covers many of the ins and outs of both making money, and spending it wisely. Many players have "secret" strategies for making money that they wouldn't want to put in a public info site, since it gives them their edge in the marketplace. If you can gain the trust of a successful WoW tycoon, you should ask them some of their techniques. However, this guide covers many of the more common strategies.
If you don't want to read this entire article, but you're primarily focused on how to get your mount at level 20, follow these steps. They will work for anyone, require no grinding sessions, and generally offer a high reward-to-time ratio:
- If you do nothing else, do this: Learn to use the Auction House, both for buying and selling.
- Consider installing the Auctioneer addon and use it to your advantage in the Auction House.
- Bargain hunt, do not pay full price.
- Always post a buyout price on your auctions - many players will not bid on an auction with no buyout, unless the item is heavily discounted, and then it usually sells for a fraction of what it could have gotten. You will have more sales at a higher price and get your money more quickly if you post a proper buyout price.
- When you have saved around 5 (and you will quickly, due to having taken gathering professions), you can start investing. Buy cheap items on the AH and then re-list them for a profit. Only buy and sell what you know, and test your theories in small quantities.
- Take one or (better yet) two of the gathering professions: Mining, Herbalism, or Skinning. All of them are surefire moneymakers.
- While you don't have to Fish (and fishing is not to everyone's taste, as it involves a lot of sitting and staring at a bobber), fishing can become a good source of income as you level.
- Wait until you are level 40, or even level 70 to take crafting professions—they can be money sinks and you can buy the items you would have purchased with the extra money from gathering. Raw materials are usually worth more than a crafted product.
- If you do craft, learn what sells.
- Generally, do not craft white items unless you know there is a demand for that item.
- Learn what stats are useful and craft items that appropriately enhance those stats.
- Do not overproduce; increased supply depresses price. You will get a better price per item if you sell fewer of an item.
- Be frugal upgrading your gear.
- Every bright, shiny new piece of gear is going to be old and shabby in a level or two.
- Learn what stats help your character, and stick to that gear - avoid having to replace gear.
- You do not need to upgrade at every opportunity, especially while leveling.
- Does the gear you are thinking of upgrading to offer a significant improvement? Think in percentage increases.
- Plan on getting gear from quest rewards, drops, or instances.
- Remember that as you level, you will be replacing your gear soon, no matter how good it looks now.
- When leveling, avoid investing a lot in high-priced gear, especially blue or purple gear. You do not need rare or epic gear to level.
- Remember that the demand for blue and purple gear is driven primarily by twinks and alts. These are players that have substantial financial resources already, and can afford to pay a premium. As a result, you will not find many bargains in such gear; they tend to be vastly overpriced.
- Participating in raid groups into instances can get you the same gear.
- If you're a first-time player, learn first. Research. Ask. Test. Try, wisely. And above all, always spend cautiously--you'll need that money later.
If you follow this basic advice you should have no problem at paying for the mount at level 20, and you will always be able to afford skill training, food and potions along the way.
Cold booting your economy
You've started a new character with no alts for support, and you are dealing in the coppers level. How do you get your financial engine rolling?
Most of these should sell for silvers each in the auction house:
Harvest Small Eggs and sell them.
Harvest Stringy Wolf Meats and sell them.
Harvest Chunk of Boar Meats and sell them.
Train and get tools for two gathering professions. Do this even if you plan on taking different professions at higher levels - this can give you orders of magnitude more cash in just one run:
Invest in Apprentice Level Mining Profession Training, mine copper, and sell it. You may get 10-30g for a stack of 20 bars on an established server.
Invest in Apprentice Level Skinning Profession Training, skin leathers, and sell them. Low level leathers will sell for a bit of silver each, making a stack over 1g or more on some servers.
Invest in Apprentice Level Herbalist Profession Training, gather herbs, and sell them. Low level herbs will sell for a few gold for stacks, with Briarthorn going up to 20-50g a stack on some servers.
For those interested in more details on spending wisely, and generating good cashflow, we cover a number of topics in more detail. Please note that this guide represents the accumulated wisdom of many people. You don't necessarily have to do all of these things--there is no one "right" way to make and manage money. However, these pointers will give you ideas on how to establish a firm financial foundation for your character.
Saving your money
The most important step in being able to buy a mount and make other large purchases should be self-evident: saving. Economize as often as you can, and don't buy anything unless you absolutely have to. You can burn through hundreds of gold even before level 20 by visiting the auction house for new equipment at every opportunity. If you do so, over the long haul you will be left with very little to show for it. Before level 20, keep your eyes on the prize: getting that mount. The mount helps you move faster. Faster movement means faster killing, faster questing, faster quest turn-ins, and faster leveling. It is the most important tool to fast leveling you can get at level 20, and infinitely more important than getting your hands on that Left-Handed Vorpal Cleaver of the Zipswitch that you could have purchased at level 23. Stay focused.
The same goes for the level 40 mount. An elite ground mount means still-faster leveling. Not only that, but you'll get knocked off considerably less often by mobs while getting around inside zones, meaning you'll die less often as well. Remember, as the goblins are so fond of saying, "Time is money, friend!" So it behooves you to get an elite ground mount as rapidly as possible.
Once your character makes it to Outland and beyond, cashflow frees up considerably. The quest rewards are much better than in Azeroth. In fact, a typical character will earn from 1000-1200 in quest rewards and vendor trash while leveling 60-70 in Outland, and perhaps 1400-1600 from 70-80 in Northrend. The tendency is, therefore, to spend more freely after one hits 60. However, it is important for players not to go crazy on their spending once they make it to Hellfire. One thing is, training costs, repair costs, and consumable costs are also higher. More important, there is a large purchase that you are going to want to make at some point after level 60, your first flying mount and skill. The "bird" costs 40, the skill will cost you far more. Not only that, but if you want to fly it in Northrend at level 70, you'll have to shell out another 400 for Cold Weather Flying. And for those characters who will be 'farming' herbs or ore in either Outland or Northrend, an elite flying mount is almost essential, as it helps you gather almost twice as fast. That's another 5000 you'll be looking at. Therefore, budgeting carefully during the 60-80 leveling process is essential to ensuring you have sufficient cash on hand for making those purchases. Saving your pennies early makes that bird appear that much sooner.
Here are some things to consider when budgeting your money:
An alt (low level or no) in a capital city is an effective way to not only cheaply increase your available bank space, but to be a simple savings and auctioneer account. This character can serve as your bank, an auctioneer, bag-space creator and a time saver. Get one. (There may or may not be Item Recovery issues with characters below level 10, in cases where one's account is hacked.)
To use it as a bank, figure out how much you want to have on-hand on your character based on how much you normally spend on repairs, food, ammo, etc. and send the rest to the bank alt. The principle here is "Out of sight, out of mind.". Money "you don't have" cannot be spent, requiring you to log out of your character, and then to log into the alt.
To use it as an auctioneer, send all your auctionable items from your alts to your bank alt, and organize all your auctions from this character. This saves your time spent on auction house management, focuses all your income to one character and allows for easier overview of your cash flow. Consider using an alt management addon to be able to access all information about your alts from your bank character. One such addon is Altoholic
To use it as a bag-space creator, simply send excess items to the bank alt whenever you're near a mailbox for a low price of only 30 a slot. Even if you accidentally send the wrong item to the bank alt, it can be returned-to-sender for free. It's very quick, due to the fact that sending mail between characters on the same account is always instant.
Altogether, focusing all these activities on one character saves large amounts of time. Do consider leveling it above level 1, though, because a number of player use addons that block messages from level 1 characters. Usually level 5-10 is fine, and that only takes a couple of hours to reach.
Economizing on professions
Improper leveling of your production profession skills can cost a small fortune. Heck, even proper leveling of some production skills can cost a small fortune. And keep in mind that equipment you produce using your profession will typically be slightly worse than equipment otherwise obtainable at your level via the Auction House and/or instances. It is therefore strongly recommended not to take on a production trade skill until you hit at least level 30, or better yet, level 70+. However, if you are determined to take on such a profession (particularly under level 30), read a suitable leveling guide in order to gain whatever skill level you desire for the least amount of money.
Getting good equipment without breaking the bank
The most important part of saving is to never buy equipment unless you're positive that it will increase your earning potential, or significantly speed your character's leveling progress. While it is true that gear is important (particularly for melee combat characters), it is also true that an overemphasis on having great gear before level 80 is dumb. Who cares if you're wearing a green sword at level 43? If you're advancing well, you aren't going to be level 43 for very long anyway. The only gear that currently "counts" is level 80 gear.
The two best ways to get good equipment are:
- Finding quests with rewards that will be useful to you. If you can get yourself in a good guild, or team up with some higher level players in group quests, you can often get higher level quest equipment that you couldn't get on your own.
- Using the Looking for Group interface, or joining a good guild, and doing instances that are around your level. You'll learn valuable grouping skills, and the level of loot in an instance is typically much better than what you could find on your own. If possible, concentrate on instances with humanoid mobs, since selling the cloth that they drop is a good way to make money.
A common mistake of new players is to upgrade their gear at every opportunity, paying for a new piece even if it will only add one or two new stat points over an existing item. Likewise, investing in headgear, neckwear, trinkets, and rings at the earliest available levels can also consume valuable cash. While it might seem foolish to leave an available slot empty, you will eventually find something to fill it. Blizzard will see to it via the quest rewards you'll get along the way. In the mean time, the 1 or more you save will serve you well if you invest it wisely. The bottom line is that one can easily level all the way to 80 relying on just quest/drop greens. Instance blues help a fair bit, too, but aren't essential.
This is not to say that you should never buy gear. Having equipment that is reasonably current while leveling allows you to kill enemies faster, and die less often in the process. Faster leveling = sooner to higher levels (where the real money is to be made). Likewise, death = loss of time. And, as we all know, "Time is money, friend!" So, players should not hesitate to make well-considered equipment acquisitions during their leveling up, but only if they represent a substantial improvement over their existing equipment and if the price is right. Try to find good deals. It should go without saying that you should never purchase any equipment from vendors; always use the Auction House. Look several levels above and below your own for bargains. Don't buy items that you won't hold onto for at least 4-5 levels. And don't always use the buyout option at the AH. Some of the best deals come from bidding and being patient. If you know there's an item that would be great for you, say, five levels from now, keep your eye out for it and bid on it, several times if need be. When you get it, stuff it away for later. That's why you have a bank alt.
Note that these general principles do not apply to blue or purple items. If you are a first-time player, there is absolutely no reason to purchase these items. None. Sub-80 rare and epic items are only for the alts or twinks of established players that have money to waste (because that's what it is) by showing off their Staff of Jordan (or whatever). Blues and purples are completely cost-ineffective for first-time characters. Within a few levels, you will find green gear that is roughly comparable, or you'll get better blues from instance runs at the same level. So, do not buy these items, under any circumstances, if you are a first-time character (no matter how cool they look). And even if you're reasonably well-off financially, think twice. This is especially true as your character gets closer to levels 58 and 68. Even the most basic quest-reward gear in Outland will have substantially better stats than anything you can buy off the AH for a level 56 character. The same is true of Northrend gear at level 68 vis-a-vis the stuff you'll get in Outland at level 68. As such, smart players stop making AH gear purchases by about level 54 or so, and then just gut it out until level 58. The same is true at levels 64-68. Within the first several quests in Hellfire and/or Northrend you'll have replaced half of your gear in any case, guaranteed.
Buying items on the Auction House
The Auction House is always the best option for getting good equipment at a good price. The only items you should be buying from Vendors are basic consumables: food, drinks, arrows, bullets, vials, dyes, etc. Most other things should come from the Auction House, as they are generally cheaper. Keep these tips in mind when buying items off the Auction House:
- Always check each of the prices of the item, and look over a spread of several days. This is not so important on small items, but anything that you are spending hundreds of gold on you need to check prices carefully. It is also a good idea to check a website such as Allakhazam, Goblin Workshop, Wowhead or WoWuction to see what an item normally sells for.
- Make sure you have an idea of how much you should be spending on an item. Don't be afraid to ask for a price check on the Trade channel, or from members of your guild. Other players may have the item, or may have seen it on the AH before. This can prevent you getting ripped off.
- Be warned that players will occasionally list items in the Auction House that are sold by vendors. This typically applies to limited sale quantity items or items in remote, harder to reach locations. Items from Outland that advance certain skills (such as books for training Cooking or First Aid past a skill of 300) are typical. These items are notoriously listed for 2, 3, or even 10 times their vendor purchase-able price. Using an add-on such as Auctioneer Advanced can forewarn you of such a tactic. You should ONLY buy such items if your server is so full and busy that you simply are unable to acquire the item on your own. Otherwise, wait for the vendor to re-stock (usually takes about 20 minutes to 1 hour depending upon the vendor). You'll save yourself a considerable amount of money. See Buying Items from Vendors for Resale below for more on this.
The Auctioneer addon
Anyone who is serious about using the Auction House should consider getting the Auctioneer addon. Auctioneer assists players in the auction house by automatically gathering price information for your server. Among other things, Auctioneer offers the following useful features:
- The normal auction house window is augmented with additional functionality to search current auctions for cheap deals and buyouts
- By using the BottomScanner module of Auctioneer, it is possible to have an alert displayed when an unusually cheap item is listed in the AH -- the item can then be bought for resale or disenchanting
- Several convenience functions for searching, listing items and displaying past transactions have been added
- Auctioneer displays statistical data on the rarity, historical and recent pricing for your item, as well as vendor prices, the stack size for the item, and what trade skills it is used in
- Note, however, that recent versions of Auctioneer have become increasingly complex. Some would say too complex, in that the addon now has a myriad of options for searching for and/or auctioning items. Be prepared to spend some time with the tool to become acquainted with options.
Maximizing training bang for the buck
There are a lot of skills and spells you can train as you progress, each of which costs money. When you can afford to, you should train all the abilities that your class trainer offers. If you're completely broke, it's fine to put off upgrading abilities you rarely use for a level or two so that you can upgrade your most-used abilities. If this happens, you should ask yourself whether you are spending too much money on buying unnecessary equipment upgrades or leveling production trade skills. Be sure to save enough for class abilities and riding training before spending money on other things. This assumes you're earning money at a rate where buying skills makes a difference at all. If you have a hundred gold from two gathering professions by level 20, those skill ranks costing a fraction of a gold won't make any difference to your purse.
If you are dead set on leveling a production trade skill instead of taking two of the gathering skills, remember that not everything your trainer offers is worth buying. While it might be nice to have a long list of colorful shirts and dresses to produce as a tailor, for instance, the truth is they offer very little in the way of potential revenue. Also keep in mind that, generally, whatever items you craft at lower levels will not likely sell for more money than you could have made by simply selling the raw materials used to make them. For this reason, two gathering skills are highly recommended until you get closer to 80 (70 if you don't have the WotLK expansion or 60 if you don't have the TBC expansion).
- EXCEPTION: If you are leveling trade skills while advancing, review the materials requirements of every recipe, pattern, plan, or formula that are planning on purchasing from a trainer. For example, some of the shirt patterns for tailors use very few materials and thus yield a more efficient manner of leveling the trade skill. Check profession leveling guides here on the wiki, ask a guild-mate or friend, or check out information on other web sites to help in this area. A little pre-planning and fore-thought can save you huge investment costs in the long run.
World of Warcraft offers a lot of ways to make money (gold). There is no one "right" way to make money, although there are some definite wrong ways! Some people like to play the Auction House, some people do their daily quests, some people tend to farm, etc. Many characters do a combination of all three of these along with other activities. Below is a compendium of money-making methods.
Selling vendor trash
Any item with a grey name is considered vendor trash or poor quality. White items have some use such as tradeskills or as spell reagents, so you may want to check to see if they're worth more than the vendor price. Keep your eyes out for regular quality weapons, as even the worst of these tend to sell for several silver, or several gold at high level. Always check the tooltip for the vendor price before discarding anything. Also, white (or even grey) shoulder armor under level 20 sells regularly on the auction house, mainly because there is nothing better available at that level.
Unless low quality items have some known quest use or are coveted by other players, you should try to sell it as soon as possible to create bag space. Always (or almost always, see above exceptions) keep things like cloth, leather, herbs, or large stacks of white/gray items over other loot when you have to decide what to keep when your bags get full. It might be worth your while to invest in larger bags (10-20 slot), especially if you know a tailor.
AutoProfit is a particularly handy addon if you regularly bring home several bags' worth of trash all mixed in with the rest of your inventory - it allows you to sell all gray items to the vendor with a single click.
In general, if you have bag space, you should always pick up whatever vendor trash you can, particularly weapons, even if they are grey. Don't be too proud. This stuff may not sell for much, but vendor trash can easily pay for your repair bills, and as you level past your 60s that's not an inconsiderable amount of money.
Playing the Auction House
The Auction House (AH) is a brilliant way of making money if you know the tricks on how to do it. The basic strategy with the AH is to buy things cheap, re-list them on the AH, and then sell them for a profit. Even better, of course, is to get good items from drops and then sell them on the Auction House for pure profit. Many players generate most or all of their cashflow simply by speculating on the AH. So a good understanding of the it, as well as some time to invest, is essential to turning it into a money-making proposition for you. It is also highly recommended that you get the Auctioneer addon for quick listing auctions, and knowing the average price of items.
Your server population may determine how much profit you can make. Lower population servers generally have lower prices in the AH as there is less demand, but rare items or recipes can really make a profit as they are harder to come by. Higher population servers have a higher demand. However, they are more likely to have a flooded market, which makes items hard to sell, especially in the case of low-level gathering professions.
- Know the price of your items and how much they are worth; make sure you check this as the more accurate the price, the more sales you will get. Auctioneer can help with this, but also use your own common sense.
- Always post a buyout price on your auctions. Don't think that "They'll just bid it up anyway." Many players will not bid on an auction with no buyout price unless the item's bid price is heavily discounted to begin with. This can lead to bidding wars, but in many cases the item will sell for a fraction of what you could have gotten if you had posted a buyout price in the first place. You will have more sales at a higher price and get your money more quickly if you post a proper buyout price.
- When selling, make sure that you are not pricing way above the others; the best bet is to aim higher if you know it will sell before it expires, or at the same price or lower if there is lots of competition.
- Don't gouge your customers. You can make plenty of money on the AH without charging exorbitant prices. Demand is price sensitive, and people tend to have a good feel for what an item is really worth. If your items don't sell, you are probably charging too much.
- A tactic for guaranteeing the sale of your auction is to "underbid" the current auctions. Create a low bid price, but a value you will be happy with. This will make your auction appear at the top of AH searches, and make it unlikely the item will return to your mailbox, meaning you have to list it again.
- Be aware of the seasonality of items. Check what items are used in seasonal achievements, such as Delicious Chocolate Cake or Small Egg during Children's Week. When the Darkmoon Faire is in season, Darkmoon cards and decks (Furies, Elementals, Lunacy, etc.) tend to sell well, but prices also tend to get depressed. When the Faire leaves, prices return to normal, but sales volume decreases. The same is true of things like Snowman kits, Red Holiday wear, etc. Holding onto that Snowman kit for a few months, and then listing it in July, can net you a significant profit.
- Be patient. If you are trying to sell an item for a large amount of money you might have to post it for several days in a row, or post it then wait a week and post it again.
- Be aware that the listing costs of items are very important. For instance, Armor and (especially) Weapons have high listing costs, meaning that if you're going to buy them on speculation, you had better be darned sure they will sell within a few listings, or the listing cost will destroy your profit margin.
- Recipes, plans, etc. have lower listing costs, making listing them over and over again less painful.
- Be cold-blooded about admitting that you've taken a bath on an item. If you bought that sword for 5g, listed it for 10g, and the listing cost is 2g50s each time, after two times it had better sell just to break even. Once you hit that point, don't keep listing it over and over in desperation trying to make something off the AH. D/E it, or vendor it, and move on. Lesson learned. Don't get trapped in the fallacy of sunk costs.
- Some of the best things that can be sold in the auction house are special items or pets (see making money with companions) that can only be found in certain areas. For example, the Savory Deviate Delight recipe can only be found in Horde areas, and for this reason sells really really well on the Alliance AHs.
- If you have Auctioneer, run it for several weeks before beginning to speculate. That will give you a well-populated database to work with, which will have enough historical data to make reasonable purchasing decisions.
- Keep track of the median disenchant value of the items you are selling. In some cases, if an item doesn't sell after a listing or two, simply D/E'ing may be more profitable than trying to sell the item at fire-sale prices just to get rid of it.
- Don't put all your eggs in one basket. It's a lot better to spend your working capital on buying forty items for auction, each with the potential for profit, than to take all your working capital and invest it in that one purple leatherworking recipe that you hope will make you several hundred gold. If that puppy doesn't sell, or doesn't sell for what you want, you've just wasted all your working money, and deprived yourself of a lot of flexibility. Leave speculating on purple items until you have a few thousand gold squirreled away.
Buying items for speculation
Buying items for speculation means buying item cheap in hopes of reselling for more. This works, this works well, but this works only if you know your market. Stick to what you know. Make cautious forays into unknown areas to test the waters.
Items to speculate on are not merely cheap; there must also be a demand or you will end up with a lot of cheap items sitting in your inventory. Items that are always in demand are:
- Quality gear. These can be greens, rares, whatever. However, always think, "Who needs this?" Items that have stats like Stamina are typically useful to all players. Items with stats like Spirit are only useful to a subset. Items that combine two highly sought-after stats, like Stamina and Intelligence (which all casters need) will sell for more than items that combine two stats like Agility and Spirit (which practically no class needs).
- Materials ('mats') - items that get used in professions. This is driven more by use than by source; for example, copper is very easy to mine, but it is widely in demand, and you can often find bargains in copper, bargains you can profit from. Contrarily, some very scarce mats may have low demand, may only be used in one mediocre recipe, and may not sell.
Recipes - provide in-game capability to create more kinds of items, and so are always in demand, BUT be careful; if the ingredients are obscure, and the benefits marginal, or the recipe is too common, this is not a good option. Some otherwise very good recipes drop far to often to hold value - Copper Chain Vest comes to mind. This produces an excellent entry-level item, but the recipe is available for low silver at the auction house.
Pets - Reasonably good for speculation, but track demand a bit before you invest.
- Main article: Making money with companions
If you make a mistake in speculating, admit that you made a mistake and move on. Sell the item for what you can to recover as much as you can.
Many players who already have higher level characters create alts that they level to a certain point and then stop. Often, these twinks are level 18-19, 28-29, 38-39, etc. for the purpose of going to battlegrounds at the top of their tiers and kicking butt. Since these twinked characters are owned by higher level players with lots of cash, they usually outfit them with the best gear available at their level. Thus, items that require level 17-19, level 27-29, or any other items around this level, with good stats or dps, often sell for much higher prices than they normally would. This is especially true on an older server, and also especially true of blue (rare) items. In general, "good stats" include Cloth "of the Eagle" (for mages, warlocks), Leather "of the Monkey" (for hunters and rogues), and Mail "of the Bear" (for warriors/paladins)as well as weapons with these suffixes that can be used by the right class.
Neutral Auction House
The goblins of the Steamweedle cartel have set up several neutral auction houses about Azeroth. Gadgetzan, Booty Bay, and Everlook all house neutral auction houses. The neutral is useful for making money, as commodities that Alliance players can get easily can be sold at a cheap price to Horde players (or vice versa), and then sold at a higher price at a major city.
Buying items from vendors for resale
Although you usually don't want to buy items to sell from vendor, some items can be sold for much more than you pay for them from the vendor. There are a few reasons people will buy a vendor item for a higher cost at the AH. They vendor may be hard to get to, the recipe only sells in limited stock, or the buyer simply may not know where the item is from.
Some players even turn this into their profession by systematically "plundering" vendors in the game world and then selling the items on the auction house at a significant markup. The reason why this works (even for items which are on unlimited supply at vendors) is, that many players don't want to spend time traveling to specific vendors to get hold of a recipe or skill book. They would rather pay a slightly higher price at their local auction house. In some sense, they use the auction house as a "super market" or "convenience store". So it is completely reasonable and legitimate to be the supplier for this convenience store and make money out of it.
This scheme works particularly well with items such as:
- Vanity Pets
- All kinds of recipes (cooking, alchemy, tailoring, etc.)
- Limited stock items from almost any vendor (eg. Strong Fishing Pole, Aquadynamic Fish Reactor)
Players wishing to avoid spending vastly over the odds on a vendor pattern should consider using Adspace, which will add information to tooltips for patterns, books and similar items detailing their vendor cost and location.
Using Your guild
Guilds are perhaps one the most effective ways of progressing your character, and in turn, making money. Most 'high-end' guilds have a guild bank where members donate items for other members. This may range from potions, reagents, and craftable plans. Usually you will have to donate to a guild bank in order to receive items as well as stay active in your guild, but receiving potions that will aid your progression and craftable plans allowing you to profit off selling the products will benefit you in the long run. Also, donating to your guild bank may mean donating something you cannot use in turn receiving something you can use. Sometimes, additional services such as VoIP servers are provided and play a key role especially in end-game content; communication is paramount to a the success of an efficient group. Efficiency results in receiving gear faster, running more frequently in a shorter amount of time, and in turn making more money from runs. In a well put together guild, members become a close knit community including financial and questing support, which are among the most profitable benefits. If you have not considered joining a guild as part of your strategy moving through the game, you may wish to strongly reconsider.
If you can Solo an instance, you have two options. The first is to take the place apart yourself and sell all the drops on the Auction House. For level 80 characters, Scarlet Monastery, Uldaman, and other mid-level instances are easily soloable, and are a very popular source of cloth and marketable blue and green items. If you're reasonably well-geared, and feeling more adventurous, Scholomance and Stratholme are also soloable, and can be extremely lucrative as a source of auctionable items.
Soloing an instance can be all the more profitable if your character is an enchanter. During any solo instance run, you'll end up with some items which can be sold or traded, and some that are bind-on-pickup. Non-enchanters can only sell these soulbound items to a vendor, but an enchanter can disenchant the bind-on-pickup rare items, and then sell the shard/dust/essence instead of just selling the blue item to a vendor. (A side benefit of selling enchanting materials is that they do not require a deposit to list in the auction house, allowing you to list endlessly until the item sells.)
Alternately, you can offer to run people through the instance for a price. Some people get so desperate to run a certain instance for whatever reason, be it rep, a quest, or specific loot, they're willing to pay a pretty penny to go through it. You can turn that desperation into a tidy profit.
Video guide for soloing instances
|Earn 3200gold in 8 hours each week|
Nearly all quests offer cash or items as a reward, and often both. While completing quests shouldn't be your main form of wealth generation, it is something you are going to do anyway. The key to making the most of quests is picking your reward items wisely. Don't always pick the item that most fits your class - if it isn't demonstrably better than your current item, instead go for whatever reward sells for the greatest amount to the vendor. You can select the in-game interface option to display it in the tooltip. In general, if you can't use a quest reward for your character, pick either a plate-armor or melee weapon as your reward--these tend to sell to vendors for more than other items.
Completing daily quests
Repetitive daily quests are a legitimate method of generating significant cashflow. Players who spend several hours a day doing daily quests can often generate 100 per hour. Many players have funded the purchase of their elite flying mounts solely through doing daily quests. Another trick for higher level players is to do level 70 dailies as a level 75-77. If you have a hankering to get a Netherdrake, for instance, and you already have a fast flying mount (which is a pre-requisite for the drake), you will find your mid-70s an ideal time to go get that drake. Not only will the quests be a lot easier to do at level 75+, but the dailies will pay about 1200 as you level rep, and you'll get XP along the way to boot (albeit not as much as quests in Northrend.) So if you're looking for a break from the grind of leveling to 80, and want to kick back, spank some level 69s and make some decent money along the way, doing lower level dailies can be a fun way to make some extra cash.
Elemental items (Primals, Eternals, etc.) can be a good source of money, because they are always in demand on the AH. See which mobs you will most benefit from farming, then set out for a few hours. In the process you will also most likely collect significant vendor trash, and may get other profitable item drops as well. Note, however, that older elemental drops usually lose profitability compared to newer ones, i.e. Primal Water sold well to level 70 players in BC, but sells far less well to level 80 players in WotLK, because level 80 gear requires Eternal this'n'that.
Using your Trade Skills (Professions)
Look in the Auction House for items that sell for good prices, but don't have a big supply in the market, so your prices won't get much competition.
Sometimes you can make money by crafting items with ingredients supplied by other players who give you a tip to make the item. This is not necessarily a reliable source at low levels, but it can be a good supplemental income source at higher levels, particularly if you have good recipes. And if you can charge for the customer using your materials (as opposed to materials supplied by him/her), you can mark those up.
With Mining, from the moment you take the skill you can make good money selling stacks of the bars or ores in the Auction House. Blacksmiths, Engineers and Jewelcrafters are interested in the bars, while Jewelcrafters and even other miners may want to buy the ores. Make sure to check the relative prices of ore versus bars before smelting. As your skill increases, so does your earning potential. At the maximum level you may smelt Titansteel for a daily fee.
Skinning is both highly profitable and convenient, in that you will be skinning the monsters that you're already killing as you level. A skinner starts by collecting relatively worthless ruined leather scraps, but soon moves on to light leather, which can be sold for a good profit. An excellent way to farm leather is to skin the kills of other players, especially if you are following along in the wake of a group. However, do wait to start skinning until it's clear that the other player has abandoned the kill. Don't assume that the other player doesn't skin just because they are not a leather-wearer, for example. Note that your chances of getting a better grade of leather increases with your experience; it is possible, though rare, to get light leather from rabbits. Higher grades of leather yield higher profits. A skinner/miner has potent earning power through the auction house, but often runs out of inventory space.
Herbalism is also a good source of money. Herbs are required by alchemists and scribes. Unlike ore which is found only in rocky areas, herbs can be found in many places. Be sure to check on the auction house for what herbs are in demand for a high value; often a lower level one is very valuable, so you can farm an area you already know for quick money.
While taking both Mining and Herbalism is not recommended, as you cannot track both on the minimap, consider getting the Gatherer addon. This maps nodes and herbs on your minimap, allowing you to visit these places again and again if you are farming.
Common item recipes to look for include:
These items sell well for decent money, even though they are common quality items. Beware, these recipes can be pricey if you buy them, so try to get a bargain and ask around to see if you are getting a good price.
- 1 Gold Bar
- 4 Coarse Stone
There's a good chance you can buy the raw materials for 25% - 75% of the going rate of the finished item, or mine them for free. The fee for an 8 hour auction is only 1 silver, so you can afford to re-auction rods that don't sell the first time. Be careful of making too many rods or other parts of a kind at once, though, as you may get stuck with them for a long time when others produce the same item and set a cheaper price to it.
- Main article: Making money with engineering
A good money maker for Engineers are Scopes, which are all crafted by engineers and essential for hunters.
Certain quests require items that can be crafted. A couple of examples:
There is usually good money to be made selling bags, particularly the upper-level bags. This is particularly profitable if you are able to farm the majority of the materials.
There is a constant market for transmutations. If you are capable of doing these, you can charge an upcharge on each of those transmutes. A player who logs on his/her character each day, and sticks to it, can generate a significant subsidiary revenue scheme through transmutes. Likewise, if you have a transmute that allows you to transmute a lower value element (such as Earth) into a high-priced one (like Water or Fire), you can make a cool 15-20 profit every day by simply doing your transmutes.
Arcanite Bars still remain a great source of income for Alchemists due to its continuous demand.
Crafting gems is profitable if you have the right designs. Usually only the high level jewelcrafting (JC) are sought for gems, but you can make gold at low levels from JC too!
Jewelcrafters can create jewelery for other players, which can make big profits. Often players buying for their alts will invest in low-level rings and necklaces, simply as rings and necklaces from quests are hard to find. You can make a tidy sum by selling these items in the Auction House.
Jewelcrafting also offers players the Prospecting ability; players can break down most Mining ores to find gems used in Jewelcrafting. The Enchantrix addon can calculate the prospecting value of an ore, and when combined with the Auctioneer addon, you can compare the prospect value to the ore's value and determine whether it has a fair chance of producing a profit. For example, on most servers Tin Ore has a significantly higher prospect value than the ore itself, and players can make a tidy profit by prospecting tin from the AH. The low skill needed to prospect tin ore makes this a great profession choice for bank alts!
Glyphs are pretty cheap to produce and some of them are highly sought after, especially those learned at higher levels. Learn which glyphs are in demand and you may get a nice amount of gold by selling them. Don't assume that a high average price of a glyph means that it is in demand; if nobody is buying it, it doesn't matter what the price is.
You should also further develop your inscription skill through minor and Northrend Inscription Research. If you're lucky, you may get a glyph that people want and not every inscriber can make, which can give you more gold. Research them every day to get those high yield recipes faster.
Additionally, you can make tomes held in the off-hand and the Darkmoon cards. These take more materials to make, but the tomes are classified as rare items and can fetch a good price, and even the lower level decks of cards can get you a BoE rare to sell.
While enchanting is generally considered expensive to level, you can make a profit with it as soon as you start disenchanting for profit. It is not unlikely that almost any green item in this case will have a buyout price for a lot less than the materials it disenchants into. Likewise, it is lucrative to check the auction house for green items with unpopular suffixes, such as "of the Gorilla," with low starting bids.
You may want to get a another player or friend to disenchant items for you. Of course offer them some kind of fee or tip for their time, your overall profit will be greater.
Selling enchants can also make some money, but usually only when you have very high level (over 400). Thus, enchanting is isn't really recommended as a good early money making source, particularly because its leveling costs are quite high.
If you use a dedicated banker alt, that does nothing but work the Auction House, have him/her pick up enchanting, so this character can disenchant low-level items.
Rogues can make fast money from pickpocketing mobs, opening lockboxes and selling items that drop from those on the AH. If you don't have a rogue make one and get him to at least level 16. Rogues can also make some money by picking locks for people and getting tips. Not a great revenue source, but a decent one to supplement multiple strategies for making money. Generally, the usual lockpicking tip is between 50s to 1 gold, the most common being 50 silver. Sometimes, you can get lucky and have someone tip up to 5 gold for lockpicking several (or even just one) boxes. It's always beneficial for a rogue spending time doing repairing, training, etc. in a city to put up a lockpicking advertisement on the trade channel. Just make sure you let the buyers decide the price and that your lockpicking level is high enough.
Summoning or portal opening
These are Warlock- and Mage-only skills which can net you some money. It's not much, but a few gold is worth it. Note that Mages have an easier time with this than Warlocks as Warlocks need to be at the location for the summoning and need an additional person (a 3rd) for the group to help out with the summons. Mages only need the reagent to open the portal. While the Warlock doesn't incur a cost (except the loss of a soul shard), the Mage will typically be more successful at finding employment using this method.
Nothing says "loser" like begging. Everyone (and I mean everyone) hates beggars. Don't do it. If you don't care about etiquette, you can make a small amount of money this way, but it isn't as efficient as the regular (and respectable) ways of making money. You can never tell how an unknown player is going to react, but if you do any amount of begging you will probably earn some dislike.
Promising to pay strangers back if they give you the money is a nice gesture, but is likely to be met with skepticism and cynicism. Better to try this with a friend or a guildmate than with strangers, and always, always keep your word.
If you find yourself coveting your first mount, and with no money to purchase it, try to swallow your frustration and work at earning and saving up so you can buy it honestly. Nothing is more annoying to other players who are working hard to earn their own money than hearing someone begging for gold so that they can buy a mount or fancy piece of gear.
That being said, there are occasions when a little kindness is not unwarranted. A typical example is a new player who just dinged level 20. They are suddenly confronted with a whole set of relatively expensive skills at his or her class trainer, and the cost of mount and riding training, and needs a small amount of money to learn those new skills. Likewise, sometimes one sees a player who, just by the way s/he walks, is clearly a new player. Kindness to non-whiny, well-intentioned, legitimately inquisitive newbies is karmically rewarding, and one should not worry about shelling out an occasional boon to such players. Remember, at that level, a few gold can go a long way. Heck, even a few older bags that you have lying around collecting dust in your vault will often be much appreciated.
This is a risky way to make money, and not recommended. Tell a player that if he beats you in a duel you will give him 10 gold, but if you beat him he has to give you 5 gold. This can be very effective if you are skilled in PvP and make the bet with a trustworthy person, or friends. It is a very risky strategy, as you may lose gold, or the other player won't cough up the money anyway. You will also get a bad reputation if you don't cough up the money in the case of defeat.
Treat Your Profession Like A Business
Perhaps the best and most secure way to make money within the game is to apply some basic business practice to your Professions. While some of these tips are common sense and common knowledge, it can't hurt to be reminded of basic principles of trade.
As previously stated, people will only buy your wares if they want it. Do not waste time gathering or producing items that people do not need. Focus on items that will most likely be wanted and bought.
- Understand what kind of players need what kind of items. For example, Leatherworkers making Leather armor should focus on items with stats that only druids, hunters, rogues, and shamans would want. Demand is mostly built on the need of players.
- Some recipes produce items with random attributes. While random, it is not necessarily too risky to craft these items in hopes of getting something good.
- Many players, even the experienced ones, will base the power and worth of an item on its rarity. As such, Rare items are more likely to sell than Uncommons. Focus on trying to put these items together where possible and profitable.
- Similarly, item sets also quickly attract the eyes of buyers. Even some of the older pre-BC and pre-WotLK items whose bonuses are outclassed by newer items from BC will still find demand simply because most people are natural collectors. Try it when you can.
Profit is only created if you make sure your costs are less than your earnings. This is not so much an issue for gatherers who simply trade in some time and effort to gain their wares, but for production professions, this must be kept in mind. Many high-end items that sell well require materials that cannot be provided by the gathering profession normally paired with your production profession. To craft these items, purchasing the raw material from the AH or another player becomes necessary. You must keep record of how much you spent to obtain these materials, or else you may price the finished product inaccurately, either too low that you sell it at a loss, or too high that you can't sell it all.
Record keeping is thus necessary to ensure profit. Listing expenditures in a notebook or the like will help make sure you sell your items at the right price. This may seem excessive and time consuming, but it will save you a lot of time and effort in your endeavors to earn cash.
For items that you can gather directly, you have the choice of either going out to gather them yourself or to buy them from the AH. The former adds no cost to your item but requires time and effort, while the latter can be quick and hassle-free. Even should you choose to get the materials yourself, don't forget to add them to your cost — your labor and time should be compensated for, even if just a little.
When buying raw materials from the AH, keep an eye out for bargains. Choose only the cheapest items available to keep costs down. Try scanning the whole section of item listings in the AH to check prices; often the prices for stacks of items in the AH are much cheaper than individual pieces (for example, a single Thorium Bar may be priced at 3 , but a stack of 10 may actually be priced at only 2 per Thorium Bar) — you may spend more to acquire your materials, but you also save more and ensure larger profit in the long run. You can find a lot of terrific bargains this way.
Once you have assembled all the materials required to make the item, you can then refer to your records for how much you spent to acquire those goods in order to come up with your total cost — the price at which you would break even if you sell the item. From there, you can assign a higher selling price that gives your profit.
When assigning a selling price, do not aim for too low a price that would give you too little profit, but certainly do not assign too high a price. Too much greed is never a good thing, and the AH is filled with items that do not sell due to excessive inflation. A very common tactic in the AH is to sell for lower than what another player is offering, and many players make a lot of money that way. Similarly, losing sales thanks to being undercut is never fun. Aim for as low a price you can that will still make you a good profit. If you can keep producing the same item over and over, sell cheaply yet make a good amount of the item, you will reliably make a lot of money by volume. Moving inventory is the best kind of inventory.
Similarly, when earning by volume, do not overload the AH with your items. Basic supply and demand: too much supply will make your wares too common and unwanted. Furthermore, with great demand and a cheaper price, you may end up starting a price war with your competitors, with them actively trying to undercut and outdo you. Moderate the amount of items you're selling on the AH to small batches, refilling them only when sold out.
Once you have your finished product and have a price for it, keep in mind that using either your faction AH or the neutral AH also costs money: if the item does not sell, its deposit is taken by the AH; if it does sell, the deposit is returned, but a cut from the payment it taken by the AH as a commission. You must factor this into your selling price: your faction's AH will take 5% from your sale, while the neutral ones will take 15%. You can factor this into your cost to determine the minimum price at which you need to sell to at least break even:
- In factioned Auction Houses:
Break Even price = Cost / 0.95
- In the neutral Auction House:
Break Even price = Cost / 0.85
In the event your item does not sell but you still wish to try selling it again in the AH, factor in the deposit you paid for the previous auction.
- In factioned Auction Houses:
New price = Item's original price + (deposit / 0.95)
- In the neutral Auction House:
New price = Item's original price + (deposit / 0.85)
This is cumulative, as you take into account each failed sale as a loss. In the event too many deposits accumulate, you must decide whether to continue selling the item inflated by too many sales or finding of another way to dispose of it. One final tip: when you find that an item fails to sell in one AH, selling it on the other may finally dispose of it and get you your earnings.
Whatever your approach, if you use some common sense and apply yourself, you can make significant quantities of money in the game. By managing your cashflow, conserving and budgeting where you can, and investing wisely in those activities that make you money, you can become financially solvent relatively early in your career, and remain comfortably well-off (while still buying good gear) at level 80. Good luck!
- Making money with alchemy
- Making money with enchanting
- Making money with engineering
- Making money with companions
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