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Insider Trader: Hawking wares via the web


Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling and using player-made products.

It was an idea hiding in plain sight, so obvious that nobody thought of it: set up a web site to take orders for an in-game product. No, not a gold-selling site, not designed to generate real-world currency – instead, a site for collecting orders from players on a particular server for in-game service in exchange for in-game gold. That's exactly what Dethecus' first and biggest fishing entrepreneur, Koobluh (aka Chris Reinking), has done with Elite Fish Vendor. Unanimously applauded by other players, Elite Fish Vendor is not only an online ordering depot for fishing and cooking products, but also a growing reference for fishers and cooks of all levels. Koobluh generously shares his knowledge and experience with a free, open-to-all raw fish data list, fishing and cooking leveling guides and a brand new applet detailing all level 55+ fish and food buffs.

Is such a site kosher? Players across the board seem to support the site's concept, which isn't so different from advertising in the trade channel or on server forums. But just this week, Koobluh received an account warning notice from Blizzard stating he had violated the harassment policy for advertising, specifically citing advertising "any non-beneficial, non-WoW related businesses, organizations, or websites." Players on the forums are posting in support of Koobluh, who's waiting and hoping to hear more from Blizzard about whether or not this type of site will be deemed inappropriate.

Read more about Elite Fish Vendor, including how Koobluh came up with the idea and what keeps him going, after the break.

WoW Insider: How did you come up with the idea for Elite Fish Vendor?

Koobluh: Elite Fish Vendor was started back in June 2007 in an effort to find an alternative way to farm gold. Elemental Plateau was full of gankers. Just grinding for motes or any item in general was a pain because Dethecus is (or at least was) one of the most hardcore PvP servers out there. I started thinking about how else to make money.

Back in previous MMOs I've played like Star Wars Galaxies and Everquest 2, there was a lot of money in professions, specifically in gathering professions. Most people in WoW seem to have at least one gathering profession, so I'd have to compete to gather herbs or mine ore. And then it came to me: fishing. I checked the Auction House and the only fish up there was Blackened Sporefish. The market was mine for the taking. I started fishing like mad and got up to fishing 375/cooking 375 and built up a decent stockpile of fish for selling. I created the guild Elite Fish Vendor to use as a marketing front and then came up with some catchy trade channel advertisements to get the selling started.

  • Wiping in instances? Blame the healers for not having Golden Fish Sticks (+44 healing and +20 spirit for 30 minutes). <Elite Fish Vendor> has 'em for 7.5g for 5 or 28g per stack!
  • <Elite Fish Vendor>, the largest fish provider on the server, carries 8 specialty fishes for level 55+, including +20 agility, stamina, spirit, AP, strength, spell damage, mana per 5, and +44 healing! For details/pricing, PST the word "info."
  • Having a hard time downing a boss? A quick buff from one of <Elite Fish Vendor>'s numerous fish recipes might just do the trick! PST the word "info" for selection and pricing info!
  • Are your daily quests taking a bit too long? Turbo-charge your performance with some DPS boosting fish like Poached Bluefish (+23 spell damage) or Grilled Mudfish (+20 agility)! Get 'er done quick with fish from THE <Elite Fish Vendor>!
  • Dying can be a !@#$ need a little more health! <Elite Fish Vendor> has fish that give either +20 or +30 stamina to ya for cheap! That little buff might save you a repair bill some day. PST the word "info" for more information!
  • Trying to get off trial status in your guild? Want the officers to take note of ya? <Elite Fish Vendor>'s stat enhancing fish will give you the edge on your other guildmates! PST the word "info" for selection and pricing info!
  • DING! I'm level 70, are you? Let me help ya out! <Elite Fish Vendor> has a variety of fish to help players level from 55-70 faster! PST the word "info" for selection and pricing info! Get 'em while they're hot!
  • ARGGH a pirate! HIYAAH a ninja! Do you have it in you? Unleash the darkness with Savory Deviate Delight, only 3g per 5 from <Elite Fish Vendor>! PST the word "info" for more great deals!
I also used an auto-responder add-on to come up with an in-game information system complete with links of the fish and automated ordering.

How did the web site come into the mix?

I'm currently a (college) sophomore majoring in informatics (a newer degree that's the same as computer science except more focused on a certain technical field), with a focus on cybersecurity and web development, minoring in cognitive science. Because I was getting so many in-game orders per day, I thought it might be easier if I could get a bit more organized than my paper-and-pen method I had been using. In September, I put some of my newly learned skills to work on building When I did a Google search, there was only one other major fishing web site out there (El's Extreme Anglin').

When I launched my web site, the ordering page wasn't very much of a success due to spammers and people not paying for their orders. However, the cooking and fishing guides I wrote became the two most viewed pages on the site. Since the launch of, I've added things here and there. It was written entirely in HTML using Notepad (started from scratch). As time went on, I integrated a little Java script, and recently I started trying to learn Flash/Actionscript and just published my first Flash applet on the web site just two days ago.

Any plans for the future?

My current plans for the site are still a bit vague. Next semester, I'm taking a graduate-level web programming course and will be learning PHP and MySQL, so once I figure out those two things, I'll be integrating them into my site. During this winter break, I am seriously considering converting a large portion of the site to Flash as well as trying to develop maybe a mini-game using Flash. This web site isn't going to die any time soon, as it seems to becoming a test site/portfolio of my web design work.

So what's been the response to your business?

At first, Dethecus trade chat was very unsupportive (as you could probably imagine). However, after the first week or two, things really started taking off. First I was bringing in about 100g a day fishing, and I was impressed. After a couple weeks, though, I started bringing in the real money. We're talking 500g or more per day (my highest ever sales in one day was 800g). I had no idea someone could bring in the amount of money I was per day.

WoW Insider notes a sampling of recent player comments on the official forums:

"Very nice job on the site. Ordering via a website for in game delivery with in game currency is very cool. Props to you." – Nofuture of Whisperwind

"Okay, this is totally cool... not as much that you guys sell fish, but that you offer your services online!, and even cooler than that, unlike most people that would do this, you guys aren't trying to maximize your profits by being stingy with your information, you offer all the information one could need to fish up and cook their own food right on your website! and THAT is awesome in my book. I wish we had something like this on Lothar, 10/10 in my book. keep up the good work!" – Neviah of Lothar

Koobluh: Even better, Elite Fish Vendor has always been a one-man operation (though the guild is populated with my own alt as well as my best friend's alts [giving a shout-out to my best friend in the world, Danielle, aka Asarei!]). I've never had to split any of the profits and the virtual "corporation."

How much does Elite Fish Vendor regularly bring in?

The web site gets about 1,000 to 1,500 unique visitors a month, with about 60 percent coming back multiple times a month. As for the guild/business, it actually turns out my web site kinda hurt myself. There are now about a dozen major fisherman on Dethecus -- and while I still have the majority of the market, I don't make anywhere close to the money I used to make. I've always kept what the amount of gold I've made as well as where the gold goes a secret. The only figure I release is that I've made over 30,000 gold in the past months (which I know isn't too much per day, but it's still an impressive number).

What about the account warning from Blizzard this week? How will that affect Elite Fish Vendor?

According to Blizzard, is not considered a WoW-related website. Though I've advertised the URL in my ads in trade chat since its launch in December September, only now has Blizzard had a problem with it. I really don't know what to do about it. If I'm unable to advertise my website, it is going to be a serious blow.

Insider Trader's Lisa Poisso is a freelance writer who would much rather click on a web order form between daily to-do's than spend game time poking around in the Auction House for fish.

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