To be clear from the start, while it is possible to amass the ungodly amounts of gold an hour, as touted by many gold-farming guides, that is not the purpose of this guide. This guide is intended to show you how, from level 1, to start good practices that will make the purchase of your mounts less of a burden, acquiring materials for power-leveling profession a breeze, and generally ease the monetary struggle that most new players feel.
There are two schools of thought when it comes to money making: Speed and Quantity. Most players use a mixture of both styles throughout their time in Azeroth. Neither is good nor bad, just different approaches to the same problem. The path you choose most often will normally depend on the amount of time you have to invest.
The Speed style focuses more on getting your gold from items sold on the Auction House and spending as little time as possible on your bank toon ( To be discussed a little further on). Speed is what will be discussed primarily in this guide as it is the easiest form to start with for a new player. The Speed player is generally a casual player who has less than 10-15 hours a week to spend on World of Warcraft.
The Quantity players can turn a copper on anything. These players know where to look for bargain-priced items and will travel the extra distance daily to pick them up and resell them. They know all the tricks ( Such as buying cloth cheap on the Auction House, turning it into bandages and then selling the bandages to a vendor for a profit.) The Quantity style is intended for the players who have 20+ hours to spend playing World of Warcraft and do not mind that 1/4 of that time will easily be spent on their bank toon.
There is only one add-on that you truly need to be profitable in WoW and that is Auctioneer. It will take some time to get your Auctioneer database to a point where it is actually useful, but you have to start somewhere. Once you have it installed, you should run a scan ( There is a small button at the bottom of your Auction House window now that says "Scan") at least once per gaming session. Twice is optimal; once when you log on and again when you log off for the day. These scans serve to help Auctioneer find the market value for items on the Auction House. After about 1 week (2 if you scan once a day) of scanning the Auction House daily you should have a nice idea as to the value of your items.
While this can be done at any time during your adventure in Azeroth, I am going to start at the beginning: Character Creation. After you have created your main character ( The one you will level-up and use for all your wild and zany escapades.), go back and make another character. This one should be anything but a Night Elf for the Alliance or an Undead for the Horde. Both of those races have a long run to a capital city and have capital cities where the Auction House, Mailbox, and Bank are poorly lined up for quick movement. The two top choices are Trolls and Orcs for the Horde and Draenei for the Alliance, but any of the others will do nicely as well.
This character needs to have a personable name. The tendency is for players to type random letters ( Like akdsfsdk) for their bank toon's name and the result is that people view that character as a gold farmer. You do not want that stigma. Instead, make it something funny or witty so that people will want to talk to you. Do not aim to be offensive as your goal is to get people to like this character. If offending people is part of your personality, do it with your main, but make your bank toon the life of the party. You want people to know your toon's name and to like him so that when they see his name in the Auction House they have nothing but pleasant thoughts. It's marketing and it works just as much in WoW as it does in real life.
Before you start playing your main, run your newly-made bank toon all the way to the nearest capital city and position him next to the mailbox. His job will be to take whatever you mail him and sell it on the Auction House. Obviously, he will need a little scratch to pay the deposits on these items so be sure you send him some silver along with your items until he starts rolling in the gold on his own. Don't worry about not having a ton of money on your main. In fact, your main should be broke most of the time, with only enough gold to buy necessities like food, water, reagents and so forth. Let your bank toon hold the gold until you actually need it. This helps reduce the "impulse purchase" that comes with having money. If it isn't accessible, you won't spend it.
This is where your personality will dictate what you do next. If you want to go the Quantity route, I suggest reading up on multiple money making ideas from forums and such. One key thing to do, level your bank toon up so that he can get the Enchanting profession as well as Cooking and First Aid. These 3 skills will be invaluable for making the most out of your materials.
For the rest of us, your bank toon will not do much more than run back and forth from the Auction House and Mailbox. And occasionally he will visit the Bank as well. Other than that, this toon will make no progression as far as experience or skills go.
This character's job is easy. All you have to do with him is play the game. Have fun. Quest. Grind. Do instances. Whatever makes you happy, this is the guy to do it with. At times, you may use him for some money-gathering techniques, but on the whole his job is just to enjoy life.
One quick rule about your main character: Take two gathering professions. This will be a major source of income for you as you level up in the game. The natural tendency is to take a gathering and a crafting profession that compliment each other. Resist this urge. You will have plenty of time (And gold.) to level up a crafting profession later on down the road. Right now, make some money.
The three basic choices are Mining, Herbalism, and Skinning. Enchanting does have the Disenchanting ability which can make you money in the early stages however, later on you will have to level it up by doing Enchants and that can get expensive so avoid it unless you are willing to pay the price. Your best bet is to take Skinning and either Herbalism or Mining. The reason behind this is that Skinning is a breeze and nearly every area you go to has something you can skin. Herbalism and Mining both have tracking abilities to help you locate herbs or nodes but, only one can be on at a time. I have found that ore and bars sell better than herbs due to the fact that more professions need metals more than they do herbs. The choice, is really up to you.
UPDATE: Now that Inscription exists, herbs are a hot commodity and rival ore and bars on most servers. I see little to no difference between the two professions anymore. On a few servers I have even found that herbs are astronomically over-priced. If your server is like this, take herbalism.
Avoid these. I know it sounds like I go against the grain here but, trust me. Unless you are going the Quantity route, these will do nothing but slow you down and be costly. You can get them and power-level them when you have bought your Epic Flying Mount. The mats you use for these secondary skills can normally be sold for more than the crafted product. The only exception is fish, which can sometimes be sold as food from Cooking for more, but I have yet to see the need for all the effort just to make a little bit more. So for now, if you are going speed, do not get any Secondary Professions. Sell the materials instead.
The is the heart of the matter, isn't it? How does all this work and sacrifice pay off for me? Easy. As your main character goes through the world he will mail back unwanted items to the bank toon. Mail any white or better item. All greys can be sold to vendor and that money is what you use to keep your main character out of the poor house. At the beginning and end of each gaming session, visit your bank toon and post the items he has received in the mail on the Auction House. That is the simple explanation. Now for a more detailed approach:
This will become your second home. You need to learn your server's economy: What sells? What doesn't? Do certain items sell better during the week or during the weekend? Generally speaking, your Rares and Epics will sell better during the weekend when there is higher traffic and your profession mats, like skins and ores will sell better during the week because that is when the power-levelers are on buying what they need. However, each server is different and you need to be mindful of what works for you so that you don't get stuck trying sell items that no one wants. The truest statement about Capitalism is "An item is only worth what the buyer will pay." Your job is to find the maximum amount someone will pay and milk them for all they are worth.
First and foremost, Auctioneer should never replace good judgement. It is only a guide by which you determine what to price something. If it says an item is worth 5 gold but you know it only sells for 3 gold, then sell it for 3 gold. When you go to the Auction House you will notice multiple tabs on the bottom of your interface. There are really only 3 you need to be concerned with: Browse, Search Auctions, and Appraiser. While the others have interesting features, they waste too much time for me so I do not use them.
Browse is a basic, Blizzard function. It allows to search through all the auctions. You will use this to see other people's auctions and search for items you may want to buy.
--Side Note: Do not shop on the Auction House for equipment. This is where people come to get fleeced. You do not want to be the next target. You want to be the one holding the gun. There are only 3 times when you should buy from the Auction House:
The Search Auctions tab has multiple functions that will help you find exactly what you are looking for in the Auction House. The first pull down bar is for the type of auction. Most of the time you will want this set to Buyout.
The next option is for the minimum amount of profit that could be made reselling the item. Here is a guideline as to what you should set this to based on your current gold status:
The next section is the Minimum Percent Less and Minimum Bid Percentage. Unless you start shopping for bid-only items, you will not use the Minimum Bid Percentage box. The Minimum Percent Less box however, is the percentage of profit you can expect to make reselling an item. My recommendation is to leave this at 30% throughout your time in Azeroth as this gives you a decent pull of items each time.
Next up is the Maximum Time Left pull down menu. This defines how much time is left on the auction. Since you should be searching for buyouts, this menu needs to be at Very Long so that you get as many auctions as possible.
Category Restriction is used to refine your search to specific items, say Armor or Trade Goods. This is helpful if you have decided to specialize in a specific market, but otherwise should be left alone.
The Minimum Quality pull down needs to be at Common or better at all times. You should not be buying Poor quality items as these are vendor trash and have nearly no resell value on the Auction House except to people who do not know any better.
At the very bottom is a Search button. After all of your settings are set to your desired specifications, hit Search. (Be sure that you have run a Scan within the last half hour or so as the results are based on your last Scan. If you have not done a Scan within the last 24 hours, no results will be displayed) You can organize the results by clicking on the Quantity, Name, Time Left, or Percent tabs along the top or by using the Bid or Profit pull down menus.
As you look through the auctions, use good judgement in what you buy to resell. Here are my personal guidelines:
Now these are just guidelines. Feel free to adjust them or ignore them as necessary for your economy. The key here is to find out what works on your server and exploit it.
I saved the Appraiser tab for last because it has a lot to be discussed. First, you only have Appraiser if you downloaded Auctioneer Advanced. If you downloaded Auctioneer Classic then you do not have an Appraiser tab. Appraiser is a very powerful tool that can be confusing until you get the hang of it. It will make posting your auctions incredibly easy, though. So I highly recommend you learn how to use it.
On the far left is a list of the items you have in your bags that can be auctioned. If you have equipment that is damaged in your bags, it will not show up on the list until you repair it. The first time you use Appraiser many items you do not want to sell will be on the list. Highlight those items by single-clicking on them and then mark the check box on the right for Hide This Item.
Now that you are looking only at the items you want to sell you should see the name of the item and then a series of colored numbers below it and another number on the right. The number on the right is the amount of that item you have to auction. The colored numbers are the auctions already posted of the same item. This amount is based on your last scan however, you can update items without doing an entire scan from the Appraiser window. All you have to do is click the Refresh button at the bottom of the screen. This only refresh the item you are looking at, but it is much faster than scanning the entire Auction House again.
The colors of the numbers are significant in that they define the pricing of the other auctions. Blue means that the item is way underpriced, green means that it is within the median market value, yellow means that it is just above the median market value, and red means it is way overpriced. Yes, there are exact percentages that Auctioneer uses to figure these out but, I am trying to keep things simple (Too late).
Moving over to the top right window you will see two slider bars. These are used for stackable items, like cloth. You can set how many per auction and the total number of stacks you wish to sell.
Below that is the duration bar. I recommend 48 hours, but you can set it to however long or short you wish. The pull down menu sets the Pricing Model. You should set this to Market Value and then check the box for Enable Price Matching. This will set your auction price per item based on the current Market Value, using a 10% undercut in price if necessary.
Finally, there is the Bid Price/Item and Buy Price/Item boxes. If you are using the Market Value setting, these will already be pre-filled for you. However, if Auctioneer has never seen the item before they will be blank and you will need to fill them in yourself. Use your good judgement here and base the price on items similar to the one you are selling. Always put a Buyout price. Always. People go to the Auction House because they want stuff NOW, so let them buy it now.
Below this window is a list of all current auctions on the item you are looking at. The colors mean the same thing that they meant in the previous window. Remember, all prices are based on per item, not the total price of the auction. To see the total auction price, click on an item and the Buy and Bid buttons at the bottom will light up and list the current Bid price and the Buyout price. You are looking for auctions that are listed with a Buyout price under what you item's price is. There is a sidebar on the right that tells you if you have the lowest auction or if you cannot match the lowest price. I will discuss when to Buyout auctions in the next section but, for now know that you can buy items directly from this window by clicking the Buy button.
Once you have everything set the way you want it, click Post Items to put your items up in the Auction House. Your auctions are now listed and awaiting purchase.
This is arguably the most debated topic in Auction House trading: When is it appropriate to buyout your competition and when is it better to sit and wait? The easy answer is to say it is a personal decision. I will try to outline a few rules I follow and I recommend you tailor your approach based on what you feel comfortable with doing.
After those three rules, the only other thing I do is avoid items I do not feel I know enough about to be sure I can sell them. If you do not feel comfortable, don't buy it.
Above all else, you should have fun. If you aren't enjoying the game, no amount of gold will make it better. I hope these guidelines help you make tons of gold and remember, they are just guidelines. This should be a tool that you use, but it should never replace your good common sense. Also, for more information on making money, check out OzoneSSX's guide Moneymaking 101 for new players. I also owe a big thanks to Ozone for kick starting this and making me want to do a Wiki and to Wordaen and Azuarc for pointing me in the right direction. FInally, thanks to Bludwyng for making all those helpful Wiki guides. Most of all, thanks to my wife who tolerates the extensive amount of time I play a video game.