Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Fox Van Allen and Basil "Euripides" Berntsen aim to show you how to make money on the auction house. Capitalism is the best, and communism is for dirty, Soviet-sympathizing hippies. If you disagree, email Fox or tweet him @foxvanallen so you can be added to the CIA's "list."
When I was leveling my first-ever shadow priest, I instinctively took the tailoring as one of my two main professions. I did it because I was leveling a cloth-wearing class and thought it'd be easier if I could make my gear. It never really occurred to me that I could actually make money through tailoring.
Of course, after exploring the auction house and learning more about my server's economy, I realized that I could make money with tailoring -- and in a number of different ways, to boot. It wasn't easy money, to be sure; tailoring had a lot of weird quirks that made making a lot of money challenging. It doesn't help that there are plenty of tailoring items being listed on the auction house at a price well below the material cost, either.
Sourcing your materials
For the most part, there aren't any "cloth farmers." You'll seldom, if ever, find a person selling 20 stacks of Embersilk Cloth at a time the way you might find someone selling Whiptail or Elementium Ore. It's usually much smaller quantities from a much larger number of people -- after all, everyone gets cloth drops if they're out running content, but not everyone has a use for the stuff.
Finding a large quantity of cloth at a competitive price can be difficult if you rely on the auction house alone. That leaves you a couple of options:
Farm it up yourself. It's slow and not very sexy, but there are a few areas where you can get a lot of cloth relatively quickly, if you have the stomach for repetitive killing. The Restless Front area of Tol Barad can be lucrative (if Finish the Job is not the daily), especially with many of the humanoid mobs there at low health. Just remember to use a Potion of Treasure Finding if you're going to be farming mobs like this for an extended period of time; it does work in Tol Barad. At the end of the day, there are plenty of places out there with gobs of humanoids. Find one that doesn't have any competition for mobs, and you're golden.
Talk to your guild. Barking in trade and trying to find cloth farmers typically isn't as effective as talking to the people you already know. If your guild has a forum, go there and tell them you're willing to buy any quantity of cloth COD. So long as you're offering a competitive price, it's a win-win -- all that extra cloth would have just wound up going to the auction house (or worse yet, to a vendor).
The rest of the stuff you'll need for tailoring are much easier to get. Volatiles are on the auction house in much greater quantity. Alternatively, Volatile Earth can be bought directly from miners and jewelcrafters, Volatile Life can be bought from herbalists, and Volatile Fire can be bought from those poor suckers obsessing over Molten Front dailies.
Oh, and this should go without saying, but if you're not a tailor, don't bother trying to go around and intentionally farm for cloth. We tailors have the benefit of Northrend Cloth Scavenging, which increases the amount of Embersilk Cloth that drops by a rather dramatic factor, too.
But what do I make?
Okay, so you've got all your guildies sending you cloth, you're buying out the cheap auctions, and you're doing a little bit of farming (or maybe you're just running your dailies). It's time to decide what to make.
On the most basic of levels, the first thing you should make are Bolts of Embersilk Cloth. Just about everything worth making requires them. And for those looking for every market to play in, it can be surprisingly profitable to buy Embersilk Cloth, convert it to Bolts, and then sell them on the AH at a markup.
A lot of low-level tailoring craftables do sell. Blue-quality items (check to make sure they're not bind-on-pickup before crafting) are snapped up by twinks, often at huge markups. Roleplaying items always sell at large markups, even on non-roleplaying realms.
Your real moneymakers, though, will be Cataclysm-level gear. (Surprise, surprise!) There are three ways to play this market: bags, PVP gear, and Dreamcloth gear.
The Cataclysm bag market
Some of the best-selling tailoring items have traditionally been bags. New alts are made all day long, so these bags will sell all day long, too. Everyone needs to buy or make them at some point, without exception. Demand for bags is exceptionally strong at all times (though never stronger than in the beginning of an expansion).
Netherweave Bags, the 16-slot BC era bags have always been strong sellers on my realm. Netherweave is quite inexpensive to obtain -- the only real investment here is time, since these things take 15 seconds each to craft. You can really only make a small handful of gold making these -- 5g on my realm -- but you can generally make and sell these all day long. The demand is near infinite, mostly from players unwilling to commit significant sums of money to gearing up a low-level alt.
Embersilk Bags are new-for-Cataclysm 22-slot bags. On most servers, this market has already made the Frostweave Bags obsolete, as prices have dropped significantly. This market was generally unprofitable when Cataclysm first came out because players leveling tailoring contributed to a supply glut, but by now, that glut has largely cleared.
Profession bags are an oft-forgotten way to play the bag market. The Hyjal Expedition Bag (36-slot herb) is extremely popular with herb farmers and bank alts. It generally sells well, but many people make these while leveling their tailoring skill, so be careful to check the market and see if these are profitable to make. The same goes for Otherworldly Bags, the 36-slot enchanting bag.
Generally, it's not especially profitable to make Frostweave Bags or Glacial Bags anymore; there are Cataclysm-level options that are cheaper and easier to make. Still, as the market changes, these could become very profitable again. If you're a leveling tailor, no need to shy away -- making these is a pretty safe bet. You'll still get a good chunk of gold selling them on the AH.
The PVP gear market
If there's one thing I know about World of Warcraft players, is that they're always looking for ways to bend the rules. They don't want to be gated, and they don't want Blizzard to tell them what to do. That's partially why the PVP gear market is so damn lucrative -- it's a shortcut around random dungeon finder ilevel requirements. After all, the current level of PVP gear, which includes the Bloodthirsty Embersilk Robe, is i358.
That's not to say people aren't interested in PVP and don't buy this stuff to PVP. The point here is that the set of possible buyers is much, much wider than just PVP-oriented players.
Tailors were given access to a whole slew of new cloth PVP gear in patch 4.2; old patterns were upgraded to ilevel 358, and some new patterns were added. Tailors can now make cloth gear to fill all nine cloth-specific slots. A lot of markets saw tailors overestimating demand, flooding the market and driving down prices. A number of servers have seen their markets recover since, so this is definitely a profit opportunity worth careful monitoring.
Dreamcloth is the Cataclysm tailoring cooldown. Once every week, you can make five pieces of Dreamcloth by combining eight Bolts of Embersilk Cloth and 30 Volatiles. Of course, with five Chaos Orbs (and eight bolts), you can make Dreamcloth any time. Before you make Dreamcloth, though, check to make sure it's profitable to do so. On my server, Dream of Hyjal is a profitable slam dunk; using your Dream of Skywall cooldown is much less a sure thing.
Because Dreamcloth cannot be made in infinite quantities, the basic laws of economics say the stuff is pretty valuable. The few items you can make with Dreamcloth sell for big bucks, but you'll need to do your research to figure out what sells for the greatest profit:
Powerful Enchanted Spellthread and Powerful Ghostly Spellthread are the means by which Cataclysm-era casters enchant their legs. The buff provided by these are massive -- 95 intellect plus either spirit or stamina -- so they're typically seen as a must-have for raiders. Combine that with the fact that these only cost one Dreamcloth to make, and these make a quick and easy way to convert Dreamcloth to cash.
Illusionary Bags, a 26-slot general use bag, tend to be a tough sell. There's a giant potential market out there for them, but given that they can easily sell for 5,000g on many servers, most of those buyers are priced out of the market. As Cataclysm starts winding down and Dreamcloth gets cheaper, demand will probably pick up. Making them requires eight Dreamcloth.
Luxurious Silk Gem Bags are the new 36-slot gem bag introduced in patch 4.2. Getting access to the pattern takes a lot of grinding in the Molten Front, so it's a pretty good bet that these will have strong profit margins, possibly through to the end of the expansion. Whether they'll sell well has yet to be seen -- after all, patch 4.2 brought us stacking gems, so there's less of an urgent need. Making them requires three Dreamcloth.
i378 Firelands gear such as Don Tayo's Inferno Mittens, Grips of Altered Reality, Boots of the Black Flame, and Endless Dream Walkers are a very niche market right now. There are virtually no sellers as 1.) the patterns are expensive raid drops, and 2.) each requires four Living Embers, which, like the patterns, are expensive raid drops. We've already talked about why Living Embers are rare commodities, a fact that's unlikely to change much moving forward. Still, if you can somehow get the Embers cheap, you might be able to score massive profits.
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 email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.