Let's look at the characteristics of the kind of business that best suits the part-timer, or someone with limited interest:
- Low up-front investment: you want to be able to start without having to grind and do dailies to get start-up capital
- Minimal risk: you don't want to lose money, you want to make it
- Low complexity: if it requires three addons and the need to write macros to be profitable, it's not easy money
There's a trade-off here. If an opportunity is low risk, low complexity and requires little up-front investment, it's going to be very popular. This means that you will be sharing the market with a lot of people. We're looking to find a sweet spot that trades off on something you're willing to sacrifice.
Making money has never been easier. Blizzard has had years to work on quality of life improvements that have delivered us unprecedented ease of doing business. Significantly, the auction house now contains, as a base, some of the very functionality that we used to rely on addons for: the ability to post multiple auctions at the same time.
Market prices swing reliably week over week. Tuesdays are big raid nights, and Saturday and Sunday have the most people playing casually. This leads to certain items being reliably more expensive or cheap one night or another.
- Things raiders need will sell for higher prices on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Look into gems, enchantments, flasks, potions, enchanting mats and stat food.
- Things raiders sell tend to get cheaper that day -- specifically Primordial Saronite, which is in much higher supply when people get their weekly ration of Emblems of Frost. I wouldn't suggest trying too hard on this one, though, because these things will only drop in the long run. Still, week to week, you can count on the supply being much higher on Tuesdays than, say, Saturdays.
- Things that 10-man PUGs need are in higher demand on Tuesdays and Saturdays: Drums of the Wild, Forgotten Kings and Runescroll of Fortitude all provide buffs that are often missing in 10-mans.
- Raw materials (herbs, ore, leather, etc.) all tend to be cheaper early in the mornings.
Timing market swings is probably a whole post to itself, but it's in this article because there's very little in the way of up-front investment, seeing as how you don't need to level a trade skill. All you need to know is how much prices change over any given week, and while there are some nice addons
for this, you can accomplish quite a bit with pen and paper (or a spreadsheet or text file).
Sometimes people sell things for less than what you can convert them to. I'm going to include some common ones that require tradeskills here; however, if you don't have access to the required skill, see if your friends do.
Use your trade skills
The best market you have will probably be the trade skills you have access to. No matter what level they are, most crafting professions have something they can make for a profit. A large number of posts I've written so far have been about how to use trade skills to make money. Even if you have a gathering profession, see if any of the conversions you can make are worth money.
Being an auctioneer is like being able to print money (or gold, as it were). Wait, that doesn't make sense ... You can print on gold, but you can't print gold. That would be closer to transmutation? I can transmute titanium, but that's only worth it if the price of saronite is low enough to justify the time spent making it. I need some sort of analogy here. ... Whatever, I'll figure it out later. Making gold? Every week, Gold Capped will teach you the tricks of the trade, from setting up your auction addons and user interface, to cross faction arbitrage, to learning how to use your trade skills.