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Five myths about making gold

Basil Berntsen

Every week, WoW Insider brings you Gold Capped, in which Basil "Euripides" Berntsen and Fox Van Allen aim to show you how to make money on the Auction House. Check out Fox and Basil's reboot of Call To Auction, and email Basil with your questions, comments, or hate mail!

Gold making is one of those games you can play without much cooperative interaction with other players. If I hadn't been set straight about how to raid by cooperative guildies when I started, I'd still be as bad as I was when I started, minus any progress I'd have made myself. This type of environment is a breeding ground for less-than-optimal gold making strategies, so here are five myths about gold making that continue to require banishment.

1. Mats are free if you don't pay gold for them. It doesn't matter whether you picked up a gem from a Satchel of Exotic Mystery, farmed a stack of herbs, procced a bonus somehow, or mugged someone. If you figure your cost on the mats for whatever you're selling as what you actually paid for it, you're doing it wrong. The value of crafting mats is what you could sell them for.

The problem here is that people tend to assume that what they paid for something -- its cost -- is what they should use to calculate what they paid to make something. This could be a perfectly fine way to do business, except that farmed, swindled, traded, or procced mats are not usually something you have significant supply of. Unless you can produce "free" mats as often as you want, you should count the profit between what you really paid and what the mats are worth as soon as you have them in your possession. Then decide whether to craft or sell based on whether the crafted items can be sold profitably.

2. The cost of mats is absolute. If you prospect a bunch of ore and get a bunch of gems, are they worth what you paid for the ore or what you could sell them for? What if you can cut them first? Red gems sell for a lot more than all the other colors. If you are trying to decide which gems to cut and sell on the Auction House, the decision of what value to assign the raws is going to play a large part in how much money you make.

Unlike the earlier example where you have a limited quantity of mats available for much less than market price, you can buy as much ore as you want, within reason. There is no right answer to this question, but it's possible to avoid some common pitfalls.

  • Unless you are literally deleting things instead of selling them, don't assign all the value of what you're making to one mat. Even if all you want is Blackfallow Inks or Inferno Rubies, the other gems and ink will have some value, as long as you can sell them.
  • Since it takes time to turn raw herbs and ore into ink and uncut gems, don't simply assign the value of these inks and gems as what you paid for the ore. Add a bit at this phase to represent the time cost of processing.

Remember that in order to avoid getting inundated by copious amounts of less desirable items that are produced as a byproduct of processing for what you really want, you might need to lower your value on these in order to sell more.

3. Haunting the Auction House is the best way to compete. Haunting (or camping, or stalking) is when someone stands in the AH for hours on end and as soon as a competitor undercuts them, they relist a cheaper auction, usually by very little. This practice is the lowest form of auctioneering and shouldn't be considered the mark of a pro. People who rely on haunting are usually making less money than they would selling valor bracers and always making less money than they could by prioritizing their time better.

The determining factor in how much you sell on a given night is going to be the number of active, competitive auctions you have. Being undercut forces you to split the demand with your competitors, but unless demand isn't strong enough to push through the competitors' stock and make it back up to yours, you'll make a sale.

The most effective thing you can do with half an hour between DPS queues is to break into another market. Diversify and compete with more people for more markets instead of focusing down on a single one. After posting all my blacksmithing PvP gear, I know I'm being stalked and will be immediately undercut. Instead of waiting for that to happen and relisting all my stock, I'm busy making tailoring PvP gear. Or gems, or enchants, or leatherworking enchants. At the end of night, I've listed five times the number of auctions, and while I'm more likely to see them expire unsold, at least I'm not spending time (and listing fees) on cancelling and relisting the same small set of goods. I'll pull in many times the profit per hour as a camping competitor.

Instead of letting my competitor turn the game into a game of chicken, where we're competing to see who can stare at a monitor for longer, I force them to sell for less by undercutting heavily and posting a lot of stock. We can now compete on efficiency, and whoever can make sellable goods for the least money and time will make the most profit.

4. You don't need addons to be competitive. You do need addons to compete if you're playing the gold making game. Unlike raiding or PvP, where the built-in tools are at least basically functional, the default in-game UI for the Auction House (and some would argue, professions) is unusable. The mobile (paid upgrade) AH has some of the issues addressed, but you can't run a serious business there on 300 transactions per day.

5. You need very specific addons to be competitive. If you're interested and able to learn Trade Skill Master, of course I'd recommend it. It's hands down the best gold making addon made for the game. There's more than one way to scale a murloc, though. Auctionator makes the AH work the way it should in the default UI (and in the mobile AH, although Auctionator doesn't have as many bugs). There are also a variety of murlocs to skin, and Fox did a very nice writeup of several of them.
Maximize your profits with advice from Gold Capped. Want to know the very best ways to earn 10,000 gold? How about how to reach 1 million gold -- or how one player got there and then gave it all away? Fox and Basil are taking your questions at and

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