Every so often, I get asked something to the effect of "What's the fastest way to get 10,000 gold?" It's usually asked by someone who is perpetually poor in game and is looking to get a BoE or some other sort of reward that costs gold. The fastest way for me to get 10,000 gold is to log in and check my mail. My daily haul is many times that and scales based on how much time I have to craft, list, and relist. This isn't a useful answer to someone who lives paycheck to paycheck, though. So what advice would be helpful?
First off, if you're below level 85, get to level 85. This nets you quite a bit of gold simply from quest rewards and vendoring gear you acquire. If you're already level 85, the first thing you need to do is identify how much money you can make per hour running 5-mans for valor points that you can use to sell BoEs. On my realm, I could sell a BoE costing 1,650 VPs for about 10,000 gold. That means every valor point I earn could be worth 6 gold, which makes the 150 points I get from a 5-man worth 900g. I can do seven per week per character with the requisite gear. Also, every trash kill and boss kill has a chance of awarding you with valuables, including enchanting mats (if someone can DE) and BoEs.
Downtime between instances
Unless you're queuing as a tank or healer, though, you're going to have significant downtime. What can you do while queued to make money? For starters, professions. Every single profession has something it can do to make money. If you have herbalism, skinning, or mining, farm. Put your goods on the Auction House a little higher than the lowest, but undercut the biggest quantity listed. If you have crafting professions, you can spend your queue time in front of the Auction House trying to find items that you can craft that will get purchased and cost less to make than they'll sell for.
As soon as you're involved in the AH, you will definitely want to replace the base AH interface with Auctionator. It allows you to see on one page how many auctions are at each price. There's no need to manually read each auction and try to work it out for yourself.
Next up, basic arbitrage is something anyone can do while waiting for a queue to pop. Buy something that can be transformed and sold in its new form. For example, Greater Celestial Essences can be turned into Lesser Celestial Essences with a right-click, and these will sometimes sell for more than a third. Some professions can do things like this, too.
- The raw gems obtained from Prospecting just about any type of ore will be worth more than the ore itself.
- The inks obtained from Milling are worth more than the herbs needed to make them.
- The mats obtained from Disenchanting are sometimes worth more than the items you can disenchant.
- Heavy Savage Leather might sell for more than the five Savage Leather it takes to make them.
- Bolts of cloth might sell for more than the cloth itself.
The sunset of profit from dailies
Notice how my advice doesn't include dailies? That's because until you've exhausted your VP gains for the week, queuing for sellable VPs will be way more than anyone can make doing dailies. Daily quests were a viable way of making money when most people thought that 100 gold was a lot. Nowadays, that's one repair bill. Dailies should be done for reputation, gear, or fun, but never money. You can make more gold per hour doing just about anything with a profession than you ever will doing dailies.
The other bad, outdated advice I'd like people to ignore is grinding. Killing lots of monsters is a very low amount of money per hour compared to almost any alternative, unless you're skinning. Even then, all the non-leather you get from skinning is a drop in the bucket compared to how much you get from the leather.
Escaping the cycle
There is a middle ground between being a multimillionaire and being completely broke. There are lots of people who always have 30k to 50k gold around in case they decide to splurge on something, but they don't spend as much time keeping that balance as I do making my millions.
What's the difference between someone who is consistently broke and one of these middle-class players? Believe it or not, I don't think income is much of a factor. I suspect that a large part of the middle class makes money the same way I've outlined here. The biggest difference is how they choose to spend their money.
The best advice I can give someone trying to get out of the grinding for gold cycle is to look very carefully at where you spend your money and decide whether focusing in on what's really important to you would help you achieve your goals. You won't have to have to farm your butt off saving up for a Hagara pick-pocket if you hadn't spent all the gold you made last patch on mounts, vanity pets, and other less important items. Have a minimum balance in mind, and until you're at that level, don't spend anything.
The reality is that most people don't bother with gold making because there really isn't much you can do with it. But if you treat the 10k (or 30k or 50k) gold mark as your zero balance, then you'll be able to splurge every time something new comes out.
Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped. Do you have questions about selling, reselling, and building your financial empire on the auction house? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.