Thursday, September 30, 2010

All them glitters is gold

Something that I've wanted to do for a long time was post an article on making in game currency. It seems it's such a taboo subject within the WoW community with few exceptions. I'm not sure if all the gold selling adds or "buy my gold guide" sites have just generally turned off bloggers about the situation. I also assume that it has a little something to do with fear, fear of losing ones so called superiority on the market proper. Well today I would like to boldly charge in, guns blazing, and reveal all you need to do to get a piece of the pie....all for 10 easy payments of $49.99! Ah, just playing around - all for free.

There is no I in team, except in yours.
The first piece of advice I can provide is more a suggestion than required. The basic idea is - the more max level toons you have, the more synergy you can create among them in order to improve your money making abilities. Your toons will be working for themselves but at the same time benefiting another toon on the last. For example, my DK is a jeweler and miner while my druid is an alchemist and herbalist. My DK can send ore and common gems to my druid to transmute into precious ore and rare / epic gems. I can sell the precious ore or send it back to my jeweler to prospect. I can send the rare / epic gems back to my jeweler to cut and sell. Now my hunter is an enchanter and scribe. I send any greens or enchanting mats I get on all my toons to him, this basically means he is never hurting for mats when I need an enchant or if I want to peddle some wares. My druid sends him herbs to mill and he creates scrolls and glyphs. I can enchant some scrolls to sell if my mats are getting overstocked or to send my other toons if they have a new piece of gear. Keepin' it in house. Just like a corporate structure, synergy is the key.

You must spend money to make money.
This is like the most over used phrase when it comes to auction house strategies. It pains me terribly to use it's sadly true. However there is come technique to this that can be the difference between making this tip work for you or become another depressing cliche. Here is the thing, you can't spend money to make money if you don't have money (......?). Trust me, this will make sense. It's all about capital. You have to have a nest egg in order to make a decent steady income. I remember a time where the thought of earning 5k gold for epic flying seemed SO impossible, but now ever 80 I have has epic flying and mammoths to boot. So the question does one get that capital?

Unfortunately you have to grind it the old fashion way. Do whatever you need to do in order to get that nest egg. Do daily quests, pick up two gathering professions, or beg - the idea is a little bit of pain now will pay off later. NEVER and I repeat NEVER buy gold from a gold farming service. I know it can be tempting, especially for those younger adults who may have the means to purchase gold, but just don't do it. You basically are encouraging account hacking and unfair trade practices when you purchase gold. There end rant. Once you have that nest egg (for me I felt like it was around 10k) you can begin to live the middle class life.

The goblins have it right on the money (no pun....oh what the hell totally pun intended) when they say "time is money". Your time IS money and once you hit the middle class life you can maximize the potential. The game becomes all about knowing profit margins and moving product. This echelon is the difference is between players who have some coin and players who HAVE SOME COIN. Can you make large profit margains by farming your own materal and crafting items? Of course. Smarter players spend some capital (thus lowering their profit margains) but turn out more product and earn more gold than their working class counterparts.

Method A] 60 minute prep (farming, crafting, posting) / 100 gold profit = 100 gold per hour
Method B] 10 minute prep (buying mats, crafting, posting) / 80 gold profit = 480 gold per hour

Which would you prefer?

Dance minions, dance!
Another seeming basic tip that most people don't even consider is having dedicated auctioneer toons. This can ease your money making experience in a number of ways; First it allows you to direct your products to certain auctioneers for faster posting. For instance I have one toon that JUST sells glyphs, scrolls, and runescrolls. My second auction mule sells cut gems and anything else I may loot, find, or make. I can create an automated process (more on that later) specific to each mule that increases my speed and ease while posting, with a direct increase to my profits. Secondly, having mules allows you ample space for storage of mats and finished products. If you specialize your markets you can get even more storage from these mules. Instead of typical bags (22 slots) I have the inscription bags (32 slots) across the board. That is an additional 40 slots in total storage space on his person, with another 224 available via the bank (+70 more spaces than traditional 22 slot bags) if those same bags are used. While I used my max leather worker to create those bags, most can be found on the market fairly cheap. The space is well worth the money. If you really want to get crazy you can purchase a guild charter and a few guild tabs. My mules are in their own guild and have a 3 tab guild bank that they can use among themselves. To be honest I moved product too fast to really utilize this bank, but the thought of having it is still nice. A side benefit of using mules is you only have to run auctioneer addons on them. Auctioneer is a very helpful tool but also drains resources while it's running. I would hate to have user side lag as a result of my addons while trying to kill the Lich King. You know?

Automation is the key.
The aforementioned tips are great to get you started but automation is really where it takes off. The other items lay the ground work and position you to utilize automation to make that income. First of all I'll define automation in terms of WoW and what it means to you as a seller (and buyer). Automation is the process of being able to quickly post auctions, quickly remove auctions that are unlikely to sell, and then quickly repost those auctions that were removed. Anyone see a common theme? So we want to be quick but how can I do that considering the blizzard auction UI is very clumsy and slow. Enter addons.

QA3 (Quick Auctions 3)
QA is literally the single handed reason I've made the kind of gold I've made over the years. What QA does is completely automate a specialized seller, for instance my glyph mule. You can create a set of preferences for a certain group of items (say glyphs, scrolls, and runescrolls) that customize this as you see fit. On the logistics side I can have QA post 3 stacks of 1 glyph for every type of glyph I select (which is them all). For the monetary side I have my preferences set to undercut my competition by 10 silver, to avoid posting a glyph if it's under 3 gold, and to default to 60g a glyph if there is no competition (or the competition is over 150% of that value). I then create other profiles for scrolls / vellum's / runescrolls and their various preferences. Once this is complete I open the auction house, click post and QA does the rest. It will analyze my inventory and post all my items in their respective groups at said preferences.

Then I go play the game.

After a few hours of that I'll come back to my auction mule, open the auction house, and click cancel. QA will begin to scan my current auctions to see which ones are unlikely to sell. By unlikely to sell I mean auctions that someone else has undercut me on. Yes it will happen and it's just a fact of doing business that we all have to live with. QA will then give me the option to cancel JUST those auctions, which I always do. Once they have been cancelled, I go retrieve them from the mail and repost them using the same method as before.

Basically with this set up I can automate my total operation with 3 clicks - mailbox, post, and cancel.

I don't want to spend a whole lot of time on auctioneer as it's a fairly staple program. Auctioneer works very similar to QA, allowing you to post your auctions and undercut your competition. For people who tend to play the house more than anything else you can follow market trends and record history with Auctioneer. My use of this addon is much simpler yet still very effective. I only run Auctioneer on my catch-all auction mule. I use the Appraiser feature (using alt-Refresh) to scan all the items in my inventory for current price. I then use the Post feature to post the items. Auctioneer does not cancel the items like QA but take the work out of figuring out the undercut price to post and the labor of splitting stacks.

Find the nearest auction house and give it a hug.
One general piece of advice I can give is this, hug the auction house like it's your momma. Now realistically you can't hug the house 100% of the time. If you are not raiding or doing something else that can limit your free time, make sure you log on to your mules and make sure your posts are the cheapest at the moment. Here is a bit of warning about this method, if you are selling items with a high deposit cost you can deminish your profits by reposting over and over. Items like glyphs, enchanting mats, and enchanted scrolls have little to no post cost and truely benefit from this method. If time is an issue, make sure to be actively hugging during prime times. If you are not sure, queue up for a instance as DPS. If the wait time is under 8 minutes, you have some traffic. Granted queues are via battlegroup, it's a fair enough random sample to be a good indicator.

Realize what works for you.
This is how I make gold. Will it work for you? Probably. Is it the best for you overall? Maybe. You have to take the basics of HOW to make gold (creating a nest egg and automating the process) and apply that to what you have available to you. Some people will wonder why I posted all this information on here if it can endanger my own in game livelyhood. The reason is simple, there is almost always tons of currency to go around especially if you have the foundation and the drive. By other people having this information, even on my own server, I won't go broke. If anything it will create a heathier economy for which to operate.

.....and you didn't really think I'd give away ALL my secrets, did you?

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