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Here at WoW Insider, we've been on a beginners' class guide kick. But after taking the time to put together my shadow priest leveling guide (and after reading the warlock leveling guide written by my less talented coworker), I realized that we didn't have any kind of leveling guides for professions. Time to fix that! After all, you need professions to make money.
But first, the most important question: What professions should your character choose? The best answer is always going to be "whatever appeals to you most" -- but if you're a magic-using, cloth-wearing class, I'd recommend you at least take a look at tailoring. By leveling it, you get access to Lightweave Embroidery, one of the best level 85 buffs in the game for casters.
Of course, you can level tailoring on any character, and a lot of the craftables you make can be sold at a profit. But if that character can't use the buffs from the profession, you're missing one the key benefits to max leveling a profession.
Should I level tailoring?
Generally speaking, it's hard to argue that one profession is hands down better than another. They all have their own unique advantages and drawbacks. And a profession that's not especially lucrative or useful in one patch or expansion may wind up being the best in the next.
The tailoring profession is best leveled by someone who is actively leveling a character. The profession requires a lot of cloth. This cloth can be quite expensive to obtain at level 85, but leveling characters will routinely find cloth out in the wild.
The tailoring profession is best leveled alongside an enchanter. The two professions have terrific synergy. Tailoring requires you to craft a lot of gear that people aren't going to be interested in buying off the Auction House. Disenchanting this surplus green gear turns them into enchanting materials, which is far more liquid a commodity.
Obviously, the best way to level tailoring is to craft the items with the lowest cost to make that sell for the highest profit margin (or lowest amount of net loss). What items sell the best tend to vary from server to server. Still, some things hold more constant than others.
If this is the first time you've ever leveled a profession (don't laugh -- we were all there once!), you should know that the tailoring profession, like most non-gathering professions, is pretty poorly balanced in terms of leveling. In the early levels, you're likely to find more Linen Cloth and Silk Cloth than you can use while leveling. By the time you hit level 80 and are ready to leave Northrend behind, you'll be frustrated that your tailor still needs tons more Frostweave Cloth.
Balance your leveling
It's most efficient to pace your effort to level tailoring with your effort to level your character. This makes sense on a number of levels. You may as well be crafting things your character can use, and if your character levels faster than you level your profession, the gear you're making will always be outdated. And, of course, by leveling in tandem, you're actively getting the cloth you need from level-appropriate mobs. It just makes the whole process feel smoother.
Tailoring 0-75 Level 1-15 humanoid mobs (Linen)
Tailoring 75-150 Level 16-25 humanoid mobs (Wool)
Tailoring 225-300 Level 50-60 humanoid mobs (Runecloth)
Tailoring 300-375 Level 58-68 The Burning Crusade content (Netherweave)
Tailoring 375-450 Level 68-80 Wrath of the Lich King content (Frostweave)
Tailoring 450-525 Level 80-85 Cataclysm content (Embersilk)
Priority 1: Craft Bolts of Cloth
While tailoring, you're going to need bolts of cloth. Lots and lots of bolts. They're the simplest and most useful thing a tailor makes.
As a tailor, there's no reason not to craft bolts of cloth. They take up less bag space. They're generally worth more than the component pieces of cloth you used to make them.
Bolt of Linen Cloth Make these from skill level 1 through 50. Resist the urge to craft anything else until this pattern goes gray. You should have far more Linen than you need from drops alone, but in a pinch, Linen is almost always cheap on the Auction House.
Bolt of Wool Cloth As soon as you hit skill level 75, drop everything and start making these. Keep making these until the pattern goes gray at 105.
Bolt of Silk Cloth Start making these when you get to skill level 125. Keep making these through to level 145.
Bolt of Mageweave Cloth You can make these as soon as you hit 175. Craft these through to 185.
Bolt of Runecloth Start making these at 250; make nothing else until you hit skill level 260.
Bolt of Netherweave You gain the ability to craft these bolts at 300. Making these should continue to provide skill points through to 325.
Bolt of Imbued Netherweave Start making at 325. Make until it stops awarding skill at 340.
Bolt of Frostweave Start crafting Frostweave at 350. Don't stop until the act grays out at 375.
Bolt of Imbued Frostweave Make this from skill 400 to 405.
Bolt of Embersilk You can start crafting bolts of Embersilk at 425. It should continue to award skill points through to 450.
Dreamcloth When you hit level 525, you're likely going to want to craft gear with Dreamcloth, so it pays to start making it as soon as possible (500). Whether or not you want to wait out the week-long cooldowns or pay the premium price for certain types of volatile elementals is up to you.
Don't take these bolts to the Auction House -- hold on to them. You'll need them to finish the leveling process. And if you make more bolts than you need, don't worry. You can always sell the bolts on the Auction House later.
Priority 2: High-capacity bags
The one item that has consistently sold well throughout World of Warcraft history are bags. Everyone needs them. But not all bags sell. The only bags that sell to any reliable extent are those that contain a minimum of 16 slots. Profession-specific bags sell well too, so long as they're 32-slot bags or higher. These bags frequently sell at a profit, so obviously you're going to want to concentrate your leveling effort here where you can.
Netherweave Bag This pattern is available at 315, though you'll still be making Netherweave Bolts until 325. Keep making it until it stops awarding skill points at 330.
Frostweave Bag Make these starting at skill level 410. You should generally switch over to making Embersilk Bolts at 425, but these bags award skill points to 440. So if you have excess Frostweave, keep going.
Embersilk Bag If these are profitable to make (at 15 bolts each, these can be quite pricey), then you can grind these from 480 to 495.
Hyjal Expedition Bag Early in the Cataclysm expansion, these bags were made at huge losses just to finish the tailoring leveling process. Now that fewer people are leveling tailoring, these can usually be made at cost or at a profit. Just be aware that the market for specialty bags such as these can be easy to flood.
Priority 3: Bind-on-equip gear
Crafting bolts and bags put you well on your way to hitting 525, but you'll still need to fill in the blanks along the way. For this, you'll probably need to make green- or blue-quality bind-on-equip gear.
This is where there's no right answer for the leveling guide. You're going to want to try to craft whatever sells for the most profit (or usually, the smallest loss), but this can vary from server to server. You might need to do a small amount of research on the Auction House first. Thankfully, this is easy enough. I like to do the bulk of my crafting in the Auction House itself, so I can search to make sure the market isn't already flooded with what I'm about to make.
Players who have already reached level 85 will have access to heirloom gear to send to any future characters they decide to level. Right now, heirlooms are available for your head, shoulders, cloak, and chest. Tailoring gear for these slots tends to sell especially poorly, since very few people are in the market to buy them. Focus your crafting efforts on the other slots: wrists, gloves, belts, pants, and boots.
There are some other things to consider, as well. Often, blue-quality gear will take the most effort and materials to make. But this means that few players actually bother to craft the gear. A surprising amount of blue-quality gear will sell for a profit, especially if it's for one of those five non-heirloom slots.
Further, gear for twinks -- characters who purposefully refuse to level past a certain point for PvP reasons -- is always a popular seller. This gear is pretty easy to spot, even for beginners. Blue-quality stuff is more popular with twinks than green-quality stuff, because twinks only want the absolute best gear. Further, gear that has a minimum level requirement that ends in nine is popular with twinks, since they typically halt their growth at levels that end in nine. For a specific example, look at the Spidersilk Boots. They take more materials to make than their green-quality counterparts, but the extra effort is well worth it. They often sell for around 250 gold, depending on your server.
Finally, a warning to the crafting novice: Before making something, check to make sure that item you're about to craft is bind on equip, not bind on pickup. If it's tagged as the latter, it will be bound your character and you won't be able to sell it. Don't waste time bind-on-pickup gear like the Robe of Power unless you plan on using it yourself.
Priority 4: The rest
One of the best ways to make money in WoW is to do what everybody else is not doing. That makes writing guides like this difficult. If everyone has the same information, then very few people who have that information will be able to make money off it.
That said, those who have the greatest success while leveling a profession will be those who have a little bit of creativity to find underserved markets specific to their server. On many servers, roleplay gear -- that is, gear worn for looks and not functionality -- tends to sell slowly but often at a profit. Shirts can be surprisingly profitable, but do your research first. And don't list too many at once.
If you're not a enchanter, don't be afraid to make contacts with people in your guild who are. If they're willing to lend a helping hand, you can always send them your excess crafted gear and have them disenchant it for you. Enchanting materials almost always sell better than the gear the materials came from.
And as a final note: Don't be afraid to craft gear for yourself! While a lot of people level professions for the purposes of making money, that's really only half of what the process is good for. Cloth-wearing tailors have access to some of the best gear possible for their class, if only they go through the trouble of making it. If you can get a skill point out of creating a better piece of gear for yourself, there's really no reason not to.
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.