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Guide to making money

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Discovering ways to make money in World of Warcraft is an important part of getting the most enjoyment out of the game. There are many different and effective ways to make enough money for repairs, consumables, equipment, and other items.

Some players attempt to purchase gold from third party gold sellers. This form of making money is against Blizzard Entertainment's terms of service and may lead to a permanent ban on an account. It may also lead to real world identity theft or theft of the purchaser's WoW account depending on the reliability and intentions of the gold selling company.

There are four major money making strategies; farming, crafting, daily quests and using the auction house. The amount of gold earned depends on the dedication of the player, the economy of the auction house on the server, the server ratios of casual, serious and hardcore players and time periods surrounding a major patch.

Overview

This guide covers many of the ins and outs of both making money, and spending it wisely. Many players have "secret" strategies for making money that they wouldn't want to put in a public info site, since it gives them their edge in the marketplace. If you can gain the trust of a successful WoW tycoon, you should ask them some of their techniques. However, this guide covers many of the more common strategies.

Quick guide

If you don't want to read this entire article, but you're primarily focused on how to get your mount at level 20, follow these steps. They will work for anyone, require no grinding sessions and generally offer a high reward-to-time ratio:

  • If you do nothing else, Learn to use the Auction House, both for buying and selling.
  • Bargain hunt, do not pay full price.
  • Always post a buyout price on your auctions - many players will not bid on an auction with no buyout, unless the item is heavily discounted and then it usually sells for a fraction of what it could have gotten. You will have more sales at a higher price and get your money more quickly if you post a proper buyout price.
  • When listing an auction, put your bid price lower than the others. This will make your auction appear above all the others when searching, so people will see it!
  • Learn to use your professions. See the Professions section of this guide.
  • Be frugal upgrading your gear; every bright, shiny new piece of gear is going to be old and shabby in a level or two.
  • When exploring dungeons with other players, remember that even some grey items can still be vendored for a substantial amount. This is true with armor and weapons.
  • If you are questing, and a particular quest offers equipment doesn't offer any rewards useful to you, remember that weapons will sell for the most amount of money, followed by chest armor, leg armor, and shoulders.
  • If you're a first-time player, learn first. Research. Ask. Test. Try, wisely. And above all, always spend cautiously—you'll need that money later.

If you follow this basic advice you should have no problem at paying for the mount at level 20 and you will always be able to afford skill training, food and potions along the way.

Cold booting your economy

You've started a new character with no alts for support, and you are dealing in the coppers level. How do you get your financial engine rolling?

Most of these should sell for silvers each in the auction house:

Invest in Mining training, mine copper and sell it. You may get 10-30g for a stack on an established server. Check the price of both ore and bars, as ores sometimes sell for more.
Invest in Skinning training, skin leather and then sell it. Low level leathers will sell for a few silver each, making a stack worth several gold on some servers.
Invest in Herbalism training, gather herbs and then sell them. Low level herbs will sell for a few gold per stack, with [Briarthorn] and [Stranglekelp] going up to 20-50g a stack on some servers.
  • Train Fishing, and fish anywhere.
Fish used in cooking will sell for 1g per stack, or more.
Junk-quality catches can be sold to vendors for as 1s each.
The highly sought-after  [Deviate Fish] will sell for several gold each.
  • Once you hit level 20, consider training in Archaeology. It's a secondary profession, like cooking, so it won't affect your gathering professions. Also, the artifacts produced by the skill, even the seemingly useless ones (grey) vendor for a TON of money, sometimes for as high as 200g a pop! However, it may require you to venture into areas full of hostile mobs, so be careful. It's a "high-risk/high-reward" option, if you will.

One of your first purchases should be more bags. The  [Traveler's Backpack] can only hold so much, and if you have to leave things behind due to a lack of bag space, you're losing revenue. Netherweave Bags are great once you can afford them, but for now try to get each of your bag slots filled with a bag that'll hold 6-12 items, sell vendor junk at every opportunity, and use your bank for longer-term storage.

If you are a low level (1-10) and need bags, but don't have the money, consider hunting rare mobs in the starting areas. Many low level rare mobs drop 6-slot bags to help get you started If not, they may drop a white or green piece of equipment. Mulgore in particular is a good hunting spot.

Detailed guide

For those interested in more details on spending wisely and generating good cashflow, we cover a number of topics in more detail. Please note that this guide represents the accumulated wisdom of many people. You don't necessarily have to do all of these things—there is no one "right" way to make and manage money. However, these pointers will give you ideas on how to establish a firm financial foundation for your character.

Saving your money

The most important step in being able to buy a mount and make other large purchases should be self-evident - saving. Economize as often as you can and don't buy anything unless you absolutely have to. You can burn through hundreds of gold even before level 20 by visiting the auction house for new equipment at every opportunity. If you do so over the long haul, you will be left with very little to show for it. Before level 20, keep your eyes on the prize: getting that mount. The mount helps you move faster. Faster movement means faster killing, faster questing, faster quest turn-ins and faster leveling. It is the most important tool to fast leveling you can get at level 20 and infinitely more important than getting your hands on that Left-Handed Vorpal Cleaver of the Zipswitch that you could have purchased at level 23. Stay focused.

The same goes for the level 40 mount. An elite ground mount means still-faster leveling. Not only that, but you'll get knocked off considerably less often by mobs while getting around inside zones, meaning you'll die less often as well. Remember, as the goblins are so fond of saying, "Time is money, friend!" So it behooves you to get an elite ground mount as rapidly as possible.

Once your character makes it to Outland and beyond, cashflow frees up considerably. The quest rewards are much better than in Azeroth. In fact, a typical character will earn from 1000-1200g in quest rewards and vendor trash while leveling 60-70 in Outland, and perhaps 1400-1600g from 70-80 in Northrend. The tendency is, therefore, to spend more freely after one hits 60. However, it is important for players not to go crazy on their spending once they make it to Hellfire. One thing is, training costs, repair costs, and consumable costs are also higher. More important, there is a large purchase that you are going to want to make at some point after level 60, your first flying mount and skill. The "bird" costs 50g, the skill will cost you far more. Not only that, but if you want to fly it in Northrend at level 70, you'll have to shell out another 500g for Cold Weather Flying. And for those characters who will be 'farming' herbs or ore in either Outland or Northrend, an elite flying mount is almost essential, as it helps you gather almost twice as fast. That's another 5000g you'll be looking at. Therefore, budgeting carefully during the 60-80 leveling process is essential to ensuring you have sufficient cash on hand for making those purchases. Saving your pennies early makes that bird appear that much sooner.

Here are some things to consider when budgeting your money:

Bank alt

An alt (secondary character) in a capital city is an effective way to not only cheaply increase your available bank space, but to be a simple savings and auctioneer account. This character can serve as your bank, an auctioneer, bag-space creator and a time saver. Get one. (There may or may not be Item Recovery issues with characters below level 10, in cases where one's account is hacked.)

To use it as a bank, figure out how much you want to have on-hand on your character based on how much you normally spend on repairs, food, ammo, etc. and send the rest to the bank alt. The principle here is "Out of sight, out of mind.". Money "you don't have" cannot be spent without logging out of your character, and then logging into the alt. That brief moment may be enough to deter an impulse purchase.

To use the bank alt as an auctioneer, send all your auctionable items from your alts to your bank alt and organize all your auctions from this character. This saves your time spent on auction house management, focuses all your income to one character and allows for easier overview of your cash flow. Consider using an alt management addon to be able to access all information about your alts from your bank character. One such addon is Altoholic

To use it as a bag-space creator, simply send excess items to the bank alt whenever you're near a mailbox for a low price of only 30c a slot. Even if you accidentally send the wrong item to the bank alt, it can be returned-to-sender for free. It's very quick, because sending mail between characters on the same account is always instant.

Altogether, focusing all these activities on one character saves large amounts of time. While the easiest thing to do is to create a character and run them straight to Stormwind or Orgrimmar, consider leveling your bank alt at least a little bit. Level five or ten should be sufficient, and it only takes a few hours. Why bother?

For one thing, a number of players use spam-blocking addons that ignore messages from low-level characters.
Second, supplies and equipment owned by characters below level 10 are not tracked as thoroughly by Blizzard, making it difficult to recover your items if they get stolen.
Third, if your alt reaches level 5, they can have their own career. Apprentice-level professions only require level 5, so you can have a low-level character gather  [Copper Ore] or  [Light Leather] to make a few extra gold. Since the Cataclysm, a level 5 character can learn secondary skills up to skill level 525, so your alt can catch valuable fish or cook auctioned food to sell at a profit.

Economizing on professions

Improper leveling of your production profession skills can cost a small fortune. Heck, even proper leveling of some production skills can cost a small fortune. And keep in mind that equipment you produce using your profession will typically be slightly worse than equipment otherwise obtainable at your level via the Auction House and/or instances. Elixirs and scrolls rarely sell until the level cap, even when priced at a loss. It is therefore strongly recommended not to take on a production trade skill until you hit at least level 30, or better yet, level 70+. However, if you are determined to take on such a profession (particularly under level 30), read a suitable leveling guide in order to gain whatever skill level you desire for the least amount of money.

You can also reduce your out-of-pocket cost by choosing complementary professions, such that the outputs of one profession provide inputs for the other. For example, leveling Alchemy to 525 can cost thousands of gold, even using the most efficient recipes; most of that will be lost money, as few players see a need for elixirs while leveling, or are even aware of their existence. However, if your Alchemist is also an Herbalist, you will collect hundreds of herbs during the leveling process without really trying, and will have the option of farming your own herbs if time is more plentiful than money, or if Auction House prices are unreasonable. The Professions page provides detailed advice on complementary professions.

Getting good equipment without breaking the bank

The most important part of saving is to never buy equipment unless you're positive that it will increase your earning potential, or significantly speed your character's leveling progress. While it is true that gear is important, it is also true that an overemphasis on having great gear before level 80 is dumb. Who cares if you're wearing a blue sword at level 43? If you're advancing well, you aren't going to be level 43 for very long anyway.

The two best ways to get good equipment are:

  • Finding quests with rewards that will be useful to you. If you can team up with some other players in group quests, you can often get higher level quest equipment that you couldn't get on your own.
  • Using the Dungeon Finder to do instances. You'll learn valuable grouping skills, and the level of loot in an instance is typically much better than what you could find on your own. If possible, concentrate on instances with humanoid mobs, since selling the cloth that they drop is a good way to make money.

A common mistake of new players is to upgrade their gear at every opportunity, paying for a new piece even if it will only add one or two new stat points over an existing item. Likewise, investing in headgear, neckwear, trinkets and rings at the earliest available levels can also consume valuable cash. While it might seem foolish to leave an available slot empty, you will eventually find something to fill it. In the mean time, the 1g or more you save will serve you well if you invest it wisely. One can easily level all the way to 80 relying on just quest/drop greens. Instance blues help a fair bit, too, but aren't essential.

This is not to say that you should never buy gear. Having equipment that is reasonably current while leveling allows you to kill enemies faster and die less often in the process. Faster leveling = higher levels (where the real money is to be made). Likewise, death = loss of time. And as we all know, "Time is money, friend!" So, players should not hesitate to make well-considered equipment acquisitions during their leveling up, but only if they represent a substantial improvement over their existing equipment and if the price is right. Try to find good deals. Look several levels above and below your own for bargains. Don't buy items that you won't hold onto for at least 4-5 levels. And don't always use the buyout option at the AH. Some of the best deals come from bidding and being patient. If you know there's an item that would be great for you five levels from now, keep your eye out for it and bid on it. When you get it, stuff it away for later.

Note that these general principles do not apply to blue or purple items. If you are a first-time player, there is absolutely no reason to purchase these items. None. Sub-80 rare and epic items are only for the alts or twinks of established players that have money to waste by showing off. Blues and purples are completely cost-ineffective for first-time characters. Within a few levels, you will find green gear that is roughly comparable, or you'll get better blues from instance runs at the same level. So, do not buy these items, under any circumstances, to equip. This is especially true as your character gets closer to levels 58 and 68. Even the most basic quest-reward gear in Outland and Northrend will have substantially better stats than anything you can buy off the AH for a level 56 or 66 character. As such, smart players stop making AH gear purchases by about level 54 or so and then just gut it out until level 58. The same is true at levels 64-68. Within the first several quests in Outland and/or Northrend you'll have replaced half of your gear, guaranteed.

Buying items on the Auction House

The Auction House is always the best option for getting good equipment at a good price. The only items you should be buying from Vendors are basic consumables: food, drinks, vials, dyes, etc. Most other things should come from the Auction House, as they are generally cheaper. Keep these tips in mind when buying items off the Auction House:

  • Always check each of the prices of the item, and look over a spread of several days. This is not so important on small items, but anything that you are spending hundreds of gold on you need to check prices carefully. It is also a good idea to check a website such as Allakhazam or Wowhead to see what an item normally sells for.
  • Make sure you have an idea of how much you should be spending on an item. Don't be afraid to ask for a price check on the Trade channel, or from members of your guild. Other players may have the item, or may have seen it on the AH before. This can prevent you getting ripped off.
  • Be warned that players will occasionally list items in the Auction House that are sold by vendors. This typically applies to limited sale quantity items or items in remote, harder to reach locations. These items are notoriously listed for 2, 3, or even 10 times their vendor purchase-able price. Using an add-on such as Auctioneer Advanced can forewarn you of such a tactic. You should ONLY buy such items if you simply are unable to acquire the item on your own.

The Auctioneer addon

Anyone who is serious about using the Auction House should consider getting the Auctioneer addon. Auctioneer assists players in the auction house by automatically gathering price information for your server. Among other things, Auctioneer offers the following useful features:

  • The normal auction house window is augmented with additional functionality to search current auctions for cheap deals and buyouts
  • By using the BottomScanner module of Auctioneer (note: BottomScanner was deprecated and replaced with Searchui module as Resale), it is possible to have an alert displayed when an unusually cheap item is listed in the AH—the item can then be bought for resale or disenchanting
  • Several convenience functions for searching, listing items and displaying past transactions.
  • Displays statistical data on the rarity, historical and recent pricing for your item, as well as vendor prices, the stack size for the item, and what trade skills it is used in

Note, however, that Auctioneer is a very complex tool. Some would say too complex, in that the addon has a myriad of options for searching for and/or auctioning items. Be prepared to spend some time with the tool to become acquainted with options.

Maximizing training bang for the buck

There are a lot of skills and spells you can train as you progress, each of which costs money. When you can afford to, you should train all the abilities that your class trainer offers. If you're completely broke, it's fine to put off upgrading abilities you rarely use for a level or two so that you can upgrade your most-used abilities. If this happens, you should ask yourself whether you are spending too much money on buying unnecessary equipment upgrades or leveling production trade skills. Be sure to save enough for class abilities and riding training before spending money on other things. This assumes you're earning money at a rate where buying skills makes a difference at all. If you have a hundred gold from two gathering professions by level 20, those skill ranks costing a fraction of a gold won't make any difference to your purse.

If you are dead set on leveling a production trade skill instead of taking two of the gathering skills, remember that not everything your trainer offers is worth buying. While it might be nice to have a long list of colorful shirts and dresses to produce as a tailor, for instance, the truth is they offer very little in the way of potential revenue. Also keep in mind that, generally, whatever items you craft at lower levels will not likely sell for more money than you could have made by simply selling the raw materials used to make them. For this reason, two gathering skills are highly recommended until you get closer to 80 (70 if you don't have the WotLK expansion or 60 if you don't have the TBC expansion).

  • EXCEPTION: If you are leveling trade skills while advancing, review the materials requirements of every recipe, pattern, plan, or formula that are planning on purchasing from a trainer. For example, some of the shirt patterns for tailors use very few materials and thus yield a more efficient manner of leveling the trade skill. Check profession leveling guides here on the wiki, ask a guild-mate or friend, or check out information on other web sites to help in this area. A little pre-planning and fore-thought can save you huge investment costs in the long run.

World of Warcraft offers a lot of ways to make money (gold). There is no one "right" way to make money, although there are some definite wrong ways! Some people like to play the Auction House, some people do their daily quests, some people tend to farm, etc. Many characters do a combination of all three of these along with other activities. Below is a compendium of money-making methods.

Selling vendor trash

Any item with a grey name is considered vendor trash or poor quality. White items have some use such as tradeskills or as spell reagents, so you may want to check to see if they're worth more than the vendor price. Keep your eyes out for regular quality weapons, as even the worst of these tend to sell for several silver, or several gold at high level. Always check the tooltip for the vendor price before discarding anything. Also, white (or even grey) shoulder armor under level 20 sells regularly on the auction house, mainly because there is nothing better available at that level.

Unless low quality items have some known quest use or are coveted by other players, you should try to sell it as soon as possible to create bag space. Always (or almost always, see above exceptions) keep things like cloth, leather, herbs, or large stacks of white/gray items over other loot when you have to decide what to keep when your bags get full. It might be worth your while to invest in larger bags (10-20 slot), especially if you know a tailor.

Sell-O-Matic is a particularly handy addon if you regularly bring home several bags' worth of trash all mixed in with the rest of your inventory - it allows you to sell all gray items to the vendor with a single click.

In general, if you have bag space, you should always pick up whatever vendor trash you can, particularly weapons, even if they are grey. Don't be too proud. This stuff may not sell for much, but vendor trash can easily pay for your repair bills, and as you level past your 60s that's not an inconsiderable amount of money.

Playing the Auction House

The Auction House (AH) is a brilliant way of making money if you know the tricks on how to do it. The basic strategy with the AH is to buy things cheap, re-list them on the AH, and then sell them for a profit. Even better, of course, is to get good items from drops and then sell them on the Auction House for pure profit. Many players generate most or all of their cashflow simply by speculating on the AH. So a good understanding of the it, as well as some time to invest, is essential to turning it into a money-making proposition for you. It is also highly recommended that you get the Auctioneer addon for quick listing auctions, and knowing the average price of items.

Your server population may determine how much profit you can make. Lower population servers generally have lower prices in the AH as there is less demand, but rare items or recipes can really make a profit as they are harder to come by. Higher population servers have a higher demand. However, they are more likely to have a flooded market, which makes items hard to sell, especially in the case of low-level gathering professions.

General Tips

  • Know the price of your items and how much they are worth; make sure you check this as the more accurate the price, the more sales you will get. Auctioneer can help with this, but also use your own common sense.
  • Always post a buyout price on your auctions. Don't think that "They'll just bid it up anyway." Many players will not bid on an auction with no buyout price unless the item's bid price is heavily discounted to begin with. This can lead to bidding wars, but in many cases the item will sell for a fraction of what you could have gotten if you had posted a buyout price in the first place. You will have more sales at a higher price and get your money more quickly if you post a proper buyout price.
  • When selling, make sure that you are not pricing way above the others; the best bet is to aim higher if you know it will sell before it expires, or at the same price or lower if there is lots of competition.
  • Don't gouge your customers. You can make plenty of money on the AH without charging exorbitant prices. Demand is price sensitive, and people tend to have a good feel for what an item is really worth. If your items don't sell, you are probably charging too much.
  • A tactic for guaranteeing the sale of your auction is to "underbid" the current auctions. Create a low bid price, but a value you will be happy with. This will make your auction appear at the top of AH searches, and make it unlikely the item will return to your mailbox, meaning you have to list it again.
  • Undercutting is slightly different; undercutting is the act of pricing your item lower than any of your competitors. This results in faster sales, but a lower price per unit. Raw materials like ore and herbs are often bought in bulk by players trying to level their professions or exploit an opportunity. Pricing your items higher will earn you more per unit, provided you have the patience to wait for those buyers come along. If somebody else undercuts you, consider whether it's worthwhile to undercut them back. As noted above, it may just mean that your stock sells five seconds before theirs.
  • Be aware of the seasonality of items. Check what items are used in seasonal achievements, such as  [Delicious Chocolate Cake] or  [Small Egg] during Children's Week. When the Darkmoon Faire is in season, Darkmoon cards and decks (Furies, Elementals, Lunacy, etc.) tend to sell well, but prices also tend to get depressed. When the Faire leaves, prices return to normal, but sales volume decreases. The same is true of things like Snowman kits, Red Holiday wear, etc. Holding onto that Snowman kit for a few months, and then listing it in July, can net you a significant profit. Holiday mounts and companions, when they're resellable, tend to be very valuable the first few days of the holiday, when they're almost impossible to obtain. As the holiday progresses and other players start earning their mounts, the price drops sharply. The price will likely jump again as soon as the holiday ends and the holiday vendors disappear.
  • The first few weeks after a new expansion or content patch are sort of like holidays. Demand skyrockets for high-end goods like gems and enchants as players replace their old gear. Low level and crafting items also sell well, since patches tend to bring lapsed players back into the game, or inspire players to finish their profession grinds. Long story short, the first few weeks after a patch are a seller's market.
  • Be patient. If you are trying to sell an item for a large amount of money you might have to post it for several days in a row, or post it then wait a week and post it again.
  • Be aware that the listing costs of items are very important. For instance, Armor and (especially) Weapons have high listing costs, meaning that if you're going to buy them on speculation, you had better be darned sure they will sell within a few listings, or the listing cost will destroy your profit margin.
  • Recipes, plans, etc. have lower listing costs, making listing them over and over again less painful.
  • Be cold-blooded about admitting that you've taken a bath on an item. If you bought that sword for 5g, listed it for 10g, and the listing cost is 2g50s each time, after two times it had better sell just to break even. Once you hit that point, don't keep listing it over and over in desperation trying to make something off the AH. D/E it, or vendor it, and move on. Lesson learned. Don't get trapped in the fallacy of sunk costs.
  • Some of the best things that can be sold in the auction house are special items or pets (see making money with companions) that can only be found in certain areas. For example, certain recipes the  [Savory Deviate Delight] recipe can only be found in the Barrens; since this area isn't heavily traveled by Alliance players, the recipe sells well on Alliance AHs (though not as well as it did when the Barrens was all Horde territory). Faction-specific recipes and companions can be obtained for a few silver in each race's starting area, but sells on the neutral Auction House for several gold.
  • If you have Auctioneer, run it for several weeks before beginning to speculate. That will give you a well-populated database to work with, which will have enough historical data to make reasonable purchasing decisions.
  • Keep track of the median disenchant value of the items you are selling. In some cases, if an item doesn't sell after a listing or two, simply D/E'ing may be more profitable than trying to sell the item at fire-sale prices just to get rid of it.
  • Don't put all your eggs in one basket. It's a lot better to spend your working capital on buying forty items for auction, each with the potential for profit, than to take all your working capital and invest it in that one purple leatherworking recipe that you hope will make you several hundred gold. If that puppy doesn't sell, or doesn't sell for what you want, you've just wasted all your working money, and deprived yourself of a lot of flexibility. Leave speculating on purple items until you have a few thousand gold squirreled away.

Buying items for speculation

Buying items for speculation means buying item cheap in hopes of reselling for more. This works, this works well, but this works only if you know your market. Stick to what you know. Make cautious forays into unknown areas to test the waters.]

Items to speculate on are not merely cheap; there must also be a demand or you will end up with a lot of cheap items sitting in your inventory. Items that are always in demand are:

  • Quality gear. These can be greens, rares, whatever. However, always think, "Who needs this?" Items that have stats like Stamina are typically useful to all players. Items with stats like Spirit are only useful to a subset. Items that combine two highly sought-after stats, like Stamina and Intelligence (which all casters need) will sell for more than items that combine two stats like Agility and Spirit (which practically no class needs).
  • Materials ('mats') - items that get used in professions. This is driven more by use than by source; for example, copper is very easy to mine, but it is widely in demand, and you can often find bargains in copper, bargains you can profit from. Contrarily, some very scarce mats may have low demand, may only be used in one mediocre recipe, and may not sell.

Recipes - provide in-game capability to create more kinds of items, and so are always in demand, BUT be careful; if the ingredients are obscure, and the benefits marginal, or the recipe is too common, this is not a good option. Some otherwise very good recipes drop far to often to hold value - Copper Chain Vest comes to mind. This produces an excellent entry-level item, but the recipe is available for low silver at the auction house.

Pets - Reasonably good for speculation, but track demand a bit before you invest.

Main article: Making money with companions

If you make a mistake in speculating, admit that you made a mistake and move on. Sell the item for what you can to recover as much as you can.

Converting Materials

Many trade materials can be created from other materials. For example, metal can be sold in either ore or bar form, each with its own audience and level of demand. Check the prices for both materials, and look for opportunities to convert one to the other; if  [Copper Ore] sells for 50s each, and a  [Copper Bar] sells for 1g, even a low-level miner can buy the ore, smelt it into bars, and sell the bars for a profit. Likewise, jewelcrafters can prospect ore to yield gems, and enchanters can disenchant armor or weapons into dust and essences. As this is a form of speculation, the same rules apply: start small, know your audience, and don't get too heavily leveraged on one product.

Twink items

Many players who already have higher level characters create alts that they level to a certain point and then stop. Often, these twinks are level 18-19, 28-29, 38-39, etc. for the purpose of going to battlegrounds at the top of their tiers and kicking butt. Since these twinked characters are owned by higher level players with lots of cash, they usually outfit them with the best gear available at their level. Thus, items that require level 17-19, level 27-29, or any other items around this level, with good stats or dps, often sell for much higher prices than they normally would. This is especially true on an older server, and also especially true of blue (rare) items. In general, "good stats" include Cloth "of the Eagle" (for mages, warlocks), Leather "of the Monkey" (for hunters and rogues), and Mail "of the Bear" (for warriors/paladins)as well as weapons with these suffixes that can be used by the right class.

Neutral Auction House

The goblins of the Steamweedle cartel have set up several neutral auction houses about Azeroth. Gadgetzan, Booty Bay, and Everlook all house neutral auction houses. The neutral AH is useful for making money, as commodities that Alliance players can get easily can be sold at a profit to Horde players (or vice versa), who may then sell the product on their faction Auction House for a higher price. For example,  [Recipe: Crispy Bat Wing] is sold by a single Horde-aligned vendor in Brill, and  [Pattern: Herbalist's Gloves] is sold by a single Alliance vendor in Ashenvale. These recipes are only accessible to the other faction through the neutral Auction House, so they can often be sold for many times their purchase price.

Buying items from vendors for resale

Although you usually don't want to buy items to sell from vendor, some items can be sold for much more than you pay for them from the vendor. There are a few reasons people will buy a vendor item for a higher cost at the AH. They vendor may be hard to get to, the recipe only sells in limited stock, or the buyer simply may not know where the item is from.

Some players even turn this into their profession by systematically "plundering" vendors in the game world and then selling the items on the auction house at a significant markup. The reason why this works (even for items which are on unlimited supply at vendors) is, that many players don't want to spend time traveling to specific vendors to get hold of a recipe or skill book. They would rather pay a slightly higher price at their local auction house. In some sense, they use the auction house as a "super market" or "convenience store". So it is completely reasonable and legitimate to be the supplier for this convenience store and make money out of it.

This scheme works particularly well with items such as:

  • Vanity Pets
  • All kinds of recipes (cooking, alchemy, tailoring, etc.)
  • Limited stock items from almost any vendor (eg. Strong Fishing Pole, Aquadynamic Fish Reactor)

Players wishing to avoid spending vastly over the odds on a vendor pattern should consider using Adspace, which will add information to tooltips for patterns, books and similar items detailing their vendor cost and location.

Using Your guild

Guilds are perhaps one the most effective ways of progressing your character, and in turn, making money.

Guild Perks

A well-established guild can offer you Guild Perks which range from useful to incredibly lucrative! Some of these include:

Guild Bank

Most 'high-end' guilds have a guild bank where members donate items for other members. This may range from potions, reagents, and craftable plans. Usually you will have to donate to a guild bank in order to receive items as well as stay active in your guild, but receiving potions that will aid your progression and craftable plans allowing you to profit off selling the products will benefit you in the long run. Also, donating to your guild bank may mean donating something you cannot use in turn receiving something you can use.

Guild runs

If your guild runs PvE content, it's a good idea to join in! Guild runs generally have better communication with each other, resulting in receiving gear faster from dungeons and raids, running more frequently in a shorter amount of time, and in turn making more money from runs. In a well put together guild, members become a close knit community including financial and questing support, which are among the most profitable benefits. If you have not considered joining a guild as part of your strategy moving through the game, you may wish to strongly reconsider.

Soloing Instances

For level 80 characters, almost any old-world instance can be completed solo even in mediocre gear, and Outland dungeons and Heroics and be completed with better gear and a fair amount of practice. At level 85, Outland Heroics and old-world raids are trivial with a little practice, while Karazhan and Wrath Heroics are within reach. If you can Solo an instance, you have two options. The first is to take the place apart yourself and sell all the drops on the Auction House.

Soloing an instance can be all the more profitable if your character is an enchanter. During any solo instance run, you'll end up with some items which can be sold or traded, and some that are bind-on-pickup (almost all boss drops bind on pickup). Non-enchanters can only sell these soulbound items to a vendor, but an enchanter can disenchant the bind-on-pickup rare items, and then sell the shard/dust/essence instead of just selling the blue item to a vendor. (A side benefit of selling enchanting materials is that they require only a 1s deposit to list in the auction house, allowing you to list endlessly until the item sells.) Be sure to check your Auction House to see what each type of material is worth; some sell for so little that it's better to vendor the item. Keep an eye out that might be useful for Transmogrification. An uncommon item can sell for hundreds of gold if it looks interesting enough.

The second way to make money by soloing dungeons is to offer to run people through the instance for a price. Even with Dungeon Finder in place, some people get desperate to run a certain instance. Whether they need it for rep, a quest, or specific loot, they're willing to pay a pretty penny for it. You can turn that desperation into a tidy profit.

Completing quests

Nearly all quests offer cash or items as a reward, and often both. While completing quests shouldn't be your main form of wealth generation, it is something you are going to do anyway. The key to making the most of quests is picking your reward items wisely. Don't always pick the item that most fits your class - if it isn't demonstrably better than your current item, instead go for whatever reward sells for the greatest amount to the vendor. You can select the in-game interface option to display it in the tooltip. In general, if you can't use a quest reward for your character, pick either a plate-armor or melee weapon as your reward—these tend to sell to vendors for more than other items.

Completing daily quests

Repetitive daily quests are a legitimate method of generating significant cashflow. Though farming, crafting, and playing the Auction House each have better cash-per-hour potential at the level cap, dailies are still a staple of the working-class player's income. By planning out an efficient route, a player can complete his/her allotment of 25 daily quests within two hours, generating 100-500g per hour depending on level, professions, and farming activity. Many players have funded the purchase of their elite flying mounts solely through doing daily quests. The Burning Crusade expansion introduced daily quests, so a player's first large-scale exposure to daily quests will come at level 70. However, cooking and fishing dailies are available at level 5 in each capital city.

Another trick for higher level players is to do level 70 dailies during the Northrend level grind, and Northrend dailies during the Cataclysm levels. The quests are much easier at higher levels, but still award gold and EXP. If you have a hankering to get a Netherdrake, for instance, and you already have a fast flying mount (which is a pre-requisite for the drake), you will find your mid-70s an ideal time to go get that drake. Not only will the quests be a lot easier to do at level 75+, but the dailies will pay about 1200g as you level rep, and you'll get EXP along the way to boot (though usually less EXP per hour than you'd get for questing in Northrend.) Similarly, Northrend dailies award around 7g and 22,000 EXP each (13g 23s at the level cap), and are very easy to complete at level 83 in full Cataclysm gear. So if you're looking for a break from the grind of leveling, and want to kick back, spank some level 69 mobs and make some decent money along the way, doing lower level dailies can be a fun way to make some extra cash.

Elemental Items

Elemental items (Primals, Eternals, etc.) can be a good source of money, because they are always in demand on the AH. See which mobs you will most benefit from farming, then set out for a few hours. In the process you will also most likely collect significant vendor trash, and may get other profitable item drops as well. Note, however, that older elemental drops usually lose profitability compared to newer ones, i.e. Primal Water sold well to level 70 players in BC, but sells far less well to level 80 players in WotLK, because level 80 gear requires Eternal this'n'that.

Using your Trade Skills (Professions)

Look in the Auction House for items that sell for good prices, but don't have a big supply in the market, so your prices won't get much competition.

Sometimes you can make money by crafting items with ingredients supplied by other players who give you a tip to make the item. This is not necessarily a reliable source at low levels, but it can be a good supplemental income source at higher levels, particularly if you have good recipes. And if you can charge for the customer using your materials (as opposed to materials supplied by him/her), you can mark those up.

Quick Tips

  • Take one, or better yet, two of the gathering professions: Mining, Herbalism, or Skinning. All of them are surefire moneymakers.
  • Wait until you are level 40, or even level 70 to take crafting professions—they can be money sinks and you can buy the items you would have purchased with the extra money from gathering. Raw materials are usually worth more than a crafted product.
  • If you do craft, learn what sells.
  • Generally, do not craft white items unless you know there is a demand for that item.
  • Learn what stats are useful and craft items that appropriately enhance those stats.
  • Do not overproduce; increased supply depresses price. You will get a better price per item if you sell fewer of an item.

Gathering skills

Mining, Skinning, and Herbalism are all good money-making professions, particularly at higher levels.

With Mining, from the moment you take the skill you can make good money selling stacks of the bars or ores in the Auction House. Blacksmiths, Engineers and Jewelcrafters are interested in the bars, while Jewelcrafters and even other miners may want to buy the ores. Make sure to check the relative prices of ore versus bars before smelting. As your skill increases, so does your earning potential.

Skinning is both highly profitable and convenient, in that you will be skinning the monsters that you're already killing as you level. A skinner starts by collecting relatively worthless ruined leather scraps, but soon moves on to light leather, which can be sold for a good profit. An excellent way to farm leather is to skin the kills of other players, especially if you are following along in the wake of a group. However, do wait to start skinning until it's clear that the other player has abandoned the kill. Don't assume that the other player doesn't skin just because they are not a leather-wearer, for example. Note that your chances of getting a better grade of leather increases with your experience; it is possible, though rare, to get light leather from rabbits. Higher grades of leather yield higher profits. A skinner/miner has potent earning power through the auction house, but often runs out of inventory space.

Herbalism is also a good source of money. Herbs are required by alchemists and scribes. Unlike ore which is found only in rocky areas, herbs can be found in many places. Be sure to check on the auction house for what herbs are in demand for a high value; often a lower level one is very valuable, so you can farm an area you already know for quick money.

With Mining or Herbalism, consider getting the Gatherer addon. This maps nodes and herbs on your minimap, allowing you to know which spots to visit when you are farming.

Blacksmithing

Common item recipes to look for include:

These items sell well for decent money, even though they are common quality items. Beware, these recipes can be pricey if you buy them, so try to get a bargain and ask around to see if you are getting a good price.

Blacksmiths should also watch the prices for "Needed by" items such as the metal rods used by enchanters, and compare the price for the raw materials. For example, a Golden Rod requires

  • 1 Gold Bar
  • 4 Coarse Stone

There's a good chance you can buy the raw materials for 25% - 75% of the going rate of the finished item, or mine them for free. The fee for an 8 hour auction is only 1 silver, so you can afford to re-auction rods that don't sell the first time. Be careful of making too many rods or other parts of a kind at once, though, as you may get stuck with them for a long time when others produce the same item and set a cheaper price to it.

Engineering

Main article: Making money with engineering

Tailoring

There is usually good money to be made selling bags, particularly the upper-level bags. This is particularly profitable if you are able to farm the majority of the materials.

Alchemy

Main article: Making money with Alchemy

There is a constant market for transmutations. If you are capable of doing these, you can charge an upcharge on each of those transmutes. A player who logs on his/her character each day, and sticks to it, can generate a significant subsidiary revenue scheme through transmutes. Likewise, if you have a transmute that allows you to transmute a lower value element into a high-priced one, you can make a cool profit every day by simply doing your transmutes.

 [Arcanite Bar] still remains a great source of income for Alchemists due to its continuous demand.

Jewelcrafting

Crafting gems is profitable if you have the right designs. Usually only the high level jewelcrafting (JC) are sought for gems, but you can make gold at low levels from JC too!

Jewelcrafters can create jewelery for other players, which can make big profits. Often players buying for their alts will invest in low-level rings and necklaces, simply as rings and necklaces from quests are hard to find. You can make a tidy sum by selling these items in the Auction House.

Jewelcrafting also offers players the [Prospecting] ability; players can break down most Mining ores to find gems used in Jewelcrafting. The Enchantrix addon can calculate the prospecting value of an ore, and when combined with the Auctioneer addon, you can compare the prospect value to the ore's value and determine whether it has a fair chance of producing a profit. For example, on most servers  [Tin Ore] has a significantly higher prospect value than the ore itself, and players can make a tidy profit by prospecting tin from the AH. The low skill needed to prospect tin ore makes this a great profession choice for bank alts!

Inscription

Glyphs are pretty cheap to produce and some of them are highly sought after, especially those learned at higher levels. Learn which glyphs are in demand and you may get a nice amount of gold by selling them. Don't assume that a high average price of a glyph means that it is in demand; if nobody is buying it, it doesn't matter what the price is.

You should also further develop your inscription skill through minor and [Northrend Inscription Research]. If you're lucky, you may get a glyph that people want and not every inscriber can make, which can give you more gold. Research them every day to get those high yield recipes faster.

Additionally, you can make tomes held in the off-hand and the Darkmoon cards. These take more materials to make, but the tomes are classified as rare items and can fetch a good price, and even the lower level decks of cards can get you a BoE rare to sell.

Enchanting

Main article: Making money with enchanting
Main article: Disenchanting for profit

While enchanting is generally considered expensive to level, you can make a profit with it as soon as you start disenchanting for profit. It is not unlikely that almost any green item in this case will have a buyout price for a lot less than the materials it disenchants into. Likewise, it is lucrative to check the auction house for green items with unpopular suffixes, such as "of the Gorilla," with low starting bids.

You may want to get a another player or friend to disenchant items for you. Of course offer them some kind of fee or tip for their time, your overall profit will be greater.

Selling enchants can also make some money, but usually only when you have very high level (over 400). Thus, enchanting is isn't really recommended as a good early money making source, particularly because its leveling costs are quite high.

If you use a dedicated banker alt, that does nothing but work the Auction House, have him/her pick up enchanting, so this character can disenchant low-level items.

Secondary Skills

Cooking

Although cooking generally doesn't make money, at the top level you can cook foods which raiders use. These can sell for a few gold each, so if you buy cheap meats on the AH, or farm them youself, you can earn a tidy profit.

Fishing

Fishing goes hand-in-hand with cooking. If you can fish up your own high-end meats, cook them, and sell them, you can make much more profit than just selling the raw fish.

The few exceptions to this rule are low-level fish which are used to level cooking, but you can make money here too. For players who don't have the patience to fish, they will pay a great deal to level their cooking skill quickly via the auction house. So target those common recipes such as:

 [Deviate Fish] is a lucrative fish, which sells well cooked or uncooked.

Archaeology

Although mainly for vanity items, this profession can also be lucrative if you sell any Keystones you acquire.

First Aid

Making a profit with First Aid is unlikely, but possible. Firstly, never vendor any cloth. If you make it into bandages, it sells for a lot more than the basic cloth does. Secondly, a bandage might save your life, and save on repair costs, so stock up!

Class-specific

Lockpicking

Rogues can make fast money from pickpocketing mobs, opening lockboxes and selling items that drop from those on the AH. If you don't have a rogue make one and get him to at least level 16. Rogues can also make some money by picking locks for people and getting tips. Not a great revenue source, but a decent one to supplement multiple strategies for making money. Generally, the usual lockpicking tip is between 50s to 1 gold, the most common being 50 silver. Sometimes, you can get lucky and have someone tip up to 5 gold for lockpicking several (or even just one) boxes. It's always beneficial for a rogue spending time doing repairing, training, etc. in a city to put up a lockpicking advertisement on the trade channel. Just make sure you let the buyers decide the price and that your lockpicking level is high enough.

Summoning or portal opening

These are Warlock- and Mage-only skills which can net you some money. It's not much, but a few gold is worth it. Note that Mages have an easier time with this than Warlocks as Warlocks need to be at the location for the summoning and need an additional person (a 3rd) for the group to help out with the summons. Mages only need the reagent to open the portal. While the Warlock doesn't incur a cost (except the loss of a soul shard), the Mage will typically be more successful at finding employment using this method.

Risky Tactics

Begging

Nothing says "loser" like begging. Everyone (and I mean everyone) hates beggars. Don't do it. If you don't care about etiquette, you can make a small amount of money this way, but it isn't as efficient as the regular (and respectable) ways of making money. You can never tell how an unknown player is going to react, but if you do any amount of begging you will probably earn some dislike.

Promising to pay strangers back if they give you the money is a nice gesture, but is likely to be met with skepticism and cynicism. Better to try this with a friend or a guildmate than with strangers, and always, always keep your word.

If you find yourself coveting your first mount, and with no money to purchase it, try to swallow your frustration and work at earning and saving up so you can buy it honestly. Nothing is more annoying to other players who are working hard to earn their own money than hearing someone begging for gold so that they can buy a mount or fancy piece of gear.

That being said, there are occasions when a little kindness is not unwarranted. A typical example is a new player who just dinged level 20. They are suddenly confronted with a whole set of relatively expensive skills at his or her class trainer, and the cost of mount and riding training, and needs a small amount of money to learn those new skills. Likewise, sometimes one sees a player who, just by the way s/he walks, is clearly a new player. Kindness to non-whiny, well-intentioned, legitimately inquisitive newbies is karmically rewarding, and one should not worry about shelling out an occasional boon to such players. Remember, at that level, a few gold can go a long way. Heck, even a few older bags that you have lying around collecting dust in your vault will often be much appreciated.

Dueling

This is a risky way to make money, and not recommended. Tell a player that if he beats you in a duel you will give him 10 gold, but if you beat him he has to give you 5 gold. This can be very effective if you are skilled in PvP and make the bet with a trustworthy person, or friends. It is a very risky strategy, as you may lose gold, or the other player won't cough up the money anyway. You will also get a bad reputation if you don't cough up the money in the case of defeat.

Treat Your Profession Like A Business

Perhaps the best and most secure way to make money within the game is to apply some basic business practice to your Professions. While some of these tips are common sense and common knowledge, it can't hurt to be reminded of basic principles of trade.

As previously stated, people will only buy your wares if they want it. Do not waste time gathering or producing items that people do not need. Focus on items that will most likely be wanted and bought.

  • Understand what kind of players need what kind of items. For example, Leatherworkers making Leather armor should focus on items with stats that only druids, hunters, rogues, and shamans would want. Demand is mostly built on the need of players.
  • Some recipes produce items with random attributes. While random, it is not necessarily too risky to craft these items in hopes of getting something good.
  • Many players, even the experienced ones, will base the power and worth of an item on its rarity. As such, Rare items are more likely to sell than Uncommons. Focus on trying to put these items together where possible and profitable.
  • Similarly, item sets also quickly attract the eyes of buyers. Even some of the older pre-BC and pre-WotLK items whose bonuses are outclassed by newer items from BC will still find demand simply because most people are natural collectors. Try it when you can.

Profit is only created if you make sure your costs are less than your earnings. This is not so much an issue for gatherers who simply trade in some time and effort to gain their wares, but for production professions, this must be kept in mind. Many high-end items that sell well require materials that cannot be provided by the gathering profession normally paired with your production profession. To craft these items, purchasing the raw material from the AH or another player becomes necessary. You must keep record of how much you spent to obtain these materials, or else you may price the finished product inaccurately, either too low that you sell it at a loss, or too high that you can't sell it all.

Record keeping is thus necessary to ensure profit. Listing expenditures in a notebook or the like will help make sure you sell your items at the right price. This may seem excessive and time consuming, but it will save you a lot of time and effort in your endeavors to earn cash.

For items that you can gather directly, you have the choice of either going out to gather them yourself or to buy them from the AH. The former adds no cost to your item but requires time and effort, while the latter can be quick and hassle-free. Even should you choose to get the materials yourself, don't forget to add them to your cost — your labor and time should be compensated for, even if just a little.

When buying raw materials from the AH, keep an eye out for bargains. Choose only the cheapest items available to keep costs down. Try scanning the whole section of item listings in the AH to check prices; often the prices for stacks of items in the AH are much cheaper than individual pieces (for example, a single  [Thorium Bar] may be priced at 3 Gold.png , but a stack of 10 may actually be priced at only 2 Gold.png per Thorium Bar) — you may spend more to acquire your materials, but you also save more and ensure larger profit in the long run. You can find a lot of terrific bargains this way.

Once you have assembled all the materials required to make the item, you can then refer to your records for how much you spent to acquire those goods in order to come up with your total cost — the price at which you would break even if you sell the item. From there, you can assign a higher selling price that gives your profit.

When assigning a selling price, do not aim for too low a price that would give you too little profit, but certainly do not assign too high a price. Too much greed is never a good thing, and the AH is filled with items that do not sell due to excessive inflation. A very common tactic in the AH is to sell for lower than what another player is offering, and many players make a lot of money that way. Similarly, losing sales thanks to being undercut is never fun. Aim for as low a price you can that will still make you a good profit. If you can keep producing the same item over and over, sell cheaply yet make a good amount of the item, you will reliably make a lot of money by volume. Moving inventory is the best kind of inventory.

Similarly, when earning by volume, do not overload the AH with your items. Basic supply and demand: too much supply will make your wares too common and unwanted. Furthermore, with great demand and a cheaper price, you may end up starting a price war with your competitors, with them actively trying to undercut and outdo you. Moderate the amount of items you're selling on the AH to small batches, refilling them only when sold out.

Once you have your finished product and have a price for it, keep in mind that using either your faction AH or the neutral AH also costs money: if the item does not sell, its deposit is taken by the AH; if it does sell, the deposit is returned, but a cut from the payment it taken by the AH as a commission. You must factor this into your selling price: your faction's AH will take 5% from your sale, while the neutral ones will take 15%. You can factor this into your cost to determine the minimum price at which you need to sell to at least break even:

In factioned Auction Houses:
Break Even price = Cost / 0.95
In the neutral Auction House:
Break Even price = Cost / 0.85

In the event your item does not sell but you still wish to try selling it again in the AH, factor in the deposit you paid for the previous auction.

In factioned Auction Houses:
New price = Item's original price + (deposit / 0.95)
In the neutral Auction House:
New price = Item's original price + (deposit / 0.85)

This is cumulative, as you take into account each failed sale as a loss. In the event too many deposits accumulate, you must decide whether to continue selling the item inflated by too many sales or finding of another way to dispose of it. One final tip: when you find that an item fails to sell in one AH, selling it on the other may finally dispose of it and get you your earnings.

Conclusion

Whatever your approach, if you use some common sense and apply yourself, you can make significant quantities of money in the game. By managing your cashflow, conserving and budgeting where you can, and investing wisely in those activities that make you money, you can become financially solvent relatively early in your career, and remain comfortably well-off (while still buying good gear) at level 80. Good luck!

See also

External links