Monday, October 4, 2010

Millionaire To Be: Assignment 2.... Also, /Squee!

Cataclysm release date is officially set for December 7th /happy dance. And now on to preparing to take over the Auction House when December 7th finally comes. Now that you have a stylish bank alt named something clever like MoneyPenny and a guild bank to store your wares we are going to move on to professions and how to evaluate and utilize them. There is no more sure fire way to make gold than to have max level professions, but you need to know what and how to sell your goods in order to cash in. This exercise is designed to help you evaluate, understand, and maximize the professions you do have. I will use tailoring as an example as it is a profession I know well.

First take your professions and make two lists for each. The first list is those items that max level characters will want or need. These are typically items that have high demand as well as high supply. Generally these items will give a medium to low margin. For tailoring my list looks like this:
  • Starter Epics - these are the item level 200 chest and back pieces that all tailors can make
  • Raid Epics - by raid epics I mean those epics with item levels higher than 200 which are learned either by a recipe drop in a raid, like Merlin's Robe, or from having Ashen Verdict reputation, like Deathfrost Boots
  • Spellthread - spellthreads include both the expensive ones made with eternals as well as the less expensive ones made with crystallized fire or life. Both levels will sell to max level characters.
  • Frostweave Bags - while these can technically be used by a character of any level most alts typically get netherweave bags to begin with and frostweave bags also use top end crafting materials so I've placed them under max level sellers.
  • Glacial Bags/Specialty Bags - some people will pay a premium for the 4 extra slots offered by glacial bags and many people use things like herb bags, enchanting bags, etc.
  • Moonshroud/Ebonweave/Spellweave - these specialty cloths are typically boughten by non-tailors in order to make the epics above.
  • Starter PvP Gear - In Wrath all armor crafting professions can make a set of item level 187 blue quality pvp gear. This was very profitable at the beginning of the expansion. In Cataclysm we will be able to make a new level of pvp gear each arena season, prolonging the profitability of selling crafted pvp gear.
Next make a list of items you think there may be a market for that are for low level characters or are part of niche markets. These are items that typically use BC or vanilla materials. Generally there is low to moderate demand and low supply, with margins ranging from medium to astronomical. Using tailoring as an example:
  • Shirts - playing to vanity can be a huge money maker. I sell every kind of shirt you can think of. An average shirt costs me about 1 gold worth of materials and I sell for between 25 and 55 gold depending upon the desirability of the shirt.
  • Tuxedo Pieces/Wedding Dresses etc - just like shirts these vanity items are nice sellers, particularly to other bank alts. I like to inspect bank alts to keep up with the latest bank alt fashion and sell accordingly.
  • Netherweave Bags - practically ever new toon out there will buy four of these.
  • Select Crafted Blues - Blue armor can be a very tricky market, but with a bit of experimentation you can find those pieces that do sell to characters seeking to upgrade a piece of gear that is lagging behind the rest of their gear.
  • Robes of Arcana - This is used for a warlock quest chain which results in a blue quality quest reward. Knowing little tricks like this can provide steady income.
Now that you have done this for all of your max level professions its time to apply some critical thinking.

Time – Obviously as Cataclysm becomes imminent this affects the value of certain items. Starter epics for example are not likely to sell when people can pick up much better gear through badge farming. However once the new expansion drops people will spend thousands on the new starter epics. Always be aware of how the lifecycle of expansions and patches will affect what you should be selling.

Server – Consider your server. Are you on a high, low, or medium population server? Is your server an RP or PvP server? These things will affect what and how much you sell. On an RP server there will be a bigger market for vanity items. On a quality raiding server raiding consumables, item enhancements, and gear will be more popular.

Profit Margin – How much are the materials for an item on your server and are these materials readily available? What can you sell the item for and how much compettion will you have versus demand. Also consider the deposit price. Things with low or no deposits you can afford to relist if you are undercut or you are selling rarer items that might expire a few times before they sell. For example, on many servers the flask market, once a powerhouse, is close to zero profit with increased supply, the rise of the price of materials, and vicious undercutting combined with a relatively high deposit cost. You would be better off selling herbs than making flasks on many servers.

The first step in using professions to make gold is understanding your professions. I hope that this exercise has helped you to think about what items you can sell and what items you should sell. Identify a few markets you wish to try, start off with two or three, and experiment. Be sure to track your costs and profit. Next week I'm going to talk about addons and resources.

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