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Gold Capped: Finding and keeping farmers

Basil Berntsen

Every week, Gold Capped (from Basil "Euripides" Berntsen) aims to educate players about how to make money on the auction house. For the inside line on crafting for disenchanting, transmutation, cross-faction arbitrage and more, check in every Wednesday. Also, feel free to email Basil any comments, questions or hate mail!

Sometimes, the cheapest way to acquire the quantity of farmed mats you need is to buy them direct from a farmer. Buying them on the auction house is probably more convenient; however, your farmer has to pay the AH cut, and you have to beat your competitors to it. Having a farmer send everything they farm cash on delivery every day is a much more efficient way and has some serious benefits for both sides of the deal. How can you find farmers and convince them to send you goods instead of listing them on the AH?

This is not a one-way deal. You need to make it better for a farmer to ship directly to you than it would be for them to go and post their items for sale. To do that, let's look at the annoying parts of selling farmed goods.

  • Unsold inventory If you list 20 stacks of herbs on the AH, it's possible that you'll get undercut and the demand will never outweigh the additional supply, meaning you won't sell your stock. This costs you your deposit fee (which goes up as you make longer auctions).
  • Delayed reward Even when your items sell, they don't always sell right away.
  • Uncertain prices Prices can vary wildly, and you never know how low you'll have to post stock at to make it move.
  • Auction house cut You make 5 percent less than your clients were willing to pay, every time you make a sale.
On a few fronts, it's clearly better for them to sell direct. No AH cut, and assuming you are buying in volume, no unsold inventory. Many farmers like the idea of not having any volatility in pricing either. That said, they're currently doing business in a way they're comfortable with, and there may be a mental barrier for them to overcome.

Finding suppliers

So how do you find farmers? Here are a few techniques I've used with moderate success.
  • Look through the posted auctions for the day as well as your purchase history (if your addon supports it, like Auctioneer does) to figure out who you have been buying form.
  • Advertise in trade that you're looking for a miner (or herbalist or skinner).
  • Go to the zone where whatever you are looking for is farmed, and ask around in general chat if anyone is farming.

Once you find these people, add them to your friends list and get in touch. It's probably better to watch for them for a few days and hopefully catch them online rather than sending an in-game mail immediately, as they're much less likely to ask a question before deciding via mail.

Agreeing to a price

When you talk to farmers, be prepared to answer a few questions. Mostly importantly, talk price. All else being equal, price is the most important piece of this negotiation. You need to negotiate knowing that they're saving 5 percent from the AH cut, but remember that they're comfortable with what they're doing now and you may have to overcome that comfort barrier. Still, just pointing the 5 percent out and offering guaranteed sales for the same price they make now has gotten me quite far with my farmers.

Of course, pricing goes up and down on the auction house, and they may challenge you about that. Generally, I tell them that while time is sometimes true, the average price will always be fair market, and they're just as likely to sell me stock above market price as they are below it. Combine that with the 5 percent savings on the fees, and we're usually in business.

Keeping suppliers

You want to encourage your new friends to send you as much stock as possible, so I have a few techniques I use to aid with this. For starters, put together a file (I use Google Docs) with all their names, as well as some details like what they farm and how much you pay. Now add some place to keep track of how much stock they send you, and add a little room for a note about what they do with their main on Tuesday nights. If it's raiding or PvE, I have found that sending them an thank-you flask for especially large orders has gotten people sending me more product in the long run. I also tip Eternal Belt Buckles, meta gems and enchanting mats.

Also, picking up your cash on delivery mail every day is a big boost for your suppliers, as it allows them to be able to count on when they'll receive the money. Also, if you will be unable to check mail for a few days, remember that COD mail only lasts two days, not the standard 30.


Sometimes, the market price will change and your costs will need to be lowered. When this happens, remember that it's going to cost your suppliers gold. Make sure to mention that you wouldn't be doing this if it weren't for the AH price change. For this to be worth the risk of losing a good supplier, you probably want to make darn sure it's not just a temporary bubble of stock. Also, be open to your suppliers renegotiating with you if they feel they deserve a higher price.

Another point: The time to try and get some of the 5 percent they're saving in AH fees is not during the initial negotiation, it's after they've made a couple of sales to you and maybe you've sent them a thank-you tip for a large delivery. At this point, you're probably their favorite character in the game, and asking for half of the AH fee you're saving them is most likely to succeed.

Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped, plus the author's Call to Auction podcast. Do you have questions about selling, reselling and building your financial empire on the auction house? Basil is now taking questions for a special series, "Ask an auctioneer," at

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