A guide to making money using the AH and multiple 'toons.
Character info for the writer:
Lvl/Race/Class: 60 Undead Rogue
Guild: Hikari No Senshi
I've been doing this for a while now, and have found it to be a real money-making proposition.
If you are new to World of Warcraft and you need money, here are some tips for you.
First and foremost, start TWO characters.
You're going to have a 'main'. This is the 'toon you enjoy playing the most, and are intending on levelling to 60.
YOUR AH ALT
Your other 'toon you are going to get to level 5, and then run them to your main faction city. You might die on the way, avoid fighting, you just want to get to the main city. You are going to train this 'toon in Enchanting, and get them what is necessary to DISENCHANT things. This 'toon will need 10c to train as an Apprentice Enchanter, and MAYBE another 50c to get a copper rod and enchant it into a Runed Copper Rod.
Don't get too attached to this character. He/she is just an Auction House alt.
You will be sending things you cannot use on your main to this 'toon for them to sell on the Auction House. This keeps your main 'in the field' and earning money while your AH Alt rakes in the proceeds and tries to make the most out of the stuff you find. More on that later.
On your main you have some decisions to make regarding what PROFESSIONS you want to learn. There are lots of guides out there that describe each profession, research them, decide what you want to go with.
However, a point of note: While there are a few exceptions, most of the crafting professions (Leatherworking, Tailoring, Blacksmithing etc) do not pay off in the end game. The stuff you can make invariably ends up being inferior to what you can pick up by raiding high-end instances with other players. There are some specialist items you can make, but the recipes for these items are VERY rare and hard to come by.
Besides, there are OTHERS out there who ARE crafting things, and you can buy their stuff. So what you REALLY want is money, and lots of it.
To that end, forget crafting and get two of the gathering professions. Pick SKINNING plus one of these:
Why Skinning no matter what? Because a LOT of what you kill can be skinned for free leathers. You get your monster loot, PLUS what you get from skinning. Double for nothing. Also, both Herbalism and Mining have a way for you to see on your mini-map when items to mine/pick are close by...but you can't have both running at the same time. It's better to have one up ALL the time, so you don't miss anything. As a personal preference, I would take Herbalism over mining. It's easier to level, and stacks of even low-level herbs go for decent money.
There's one more, called Fishing that is considered a Secondary profession. No matter what, pick this one up, and spend some time levelling it, it's a free slot, like First Aid and Cooking.
THAT'S ENOUGH TO BE GETTING ON WITH
So now you have your main character with Skinning, Herbalism/Mining, and Fishing.
You're off now to adventure!
Essentially, from here on in, EVERY TIME you are near a mailbox you will be sending what you have gathered to your Auction House Alt. Build up full stacks if you can, but if it is even close to a full stack, send it to keep your bags free for new loot. If you took mining, don't forget to smelt the ore into bars first.
Every herb you pick, every skin you have peeled, every node you've mined, and every piece of crap you pick up is now going to start putting gold into your pocket. How?
Now, starting money and bags.
You need bags to put stuff in...there's nothing worse than going to the mailbox and seeing all the stuff your main has sent you, but not having enough room to carry it. Then you have to leave some stuff there, and run back and forth, or dump it in the bank, and run back and forth. Bah, a time waster!
You can get a Small Brown Pouch (6 slot bag) from virtually any bag vendor for 5s to start you off. Fill up on these, and you'll have 40 slots to play with for storage. Not too shabby to start with, considering the absolute most you can have is 88 slots. (4 Bottomless Bags (18 slots each) plus your 16 slot backpack)
You'll pick up larger bags down the line. But you need that 20s to start with...
THE AUCTION HOUSE
We've already taken the first step, by getting an AH Alt set up.
Make the name something simple, you'll be sending a lot of mail to this alt.
Look for some mods for this 'toon.
You'll want CT Mail and Auctioneer as a minimum starting point.
CT Mail lets you send multiple mails, up to 16 in one shot.
Auctioneer is a mod that lets you build up statistics on what the AH has, lets you find bargains, and lets you post your own stuff for sale at the proper price.
Well, you just levelled your AH Alt to lvl5, didn't you? You would have picked up some money and items there. Sell everything on your Alt, including your starting clothes and weapons. Here's a good tip: a stack of 20 Linen cloth sells for about 50s. You get Linen Cloth from most low level humanoid mobs. You may already have some. Hold off on levelling your First Aid for a bit and get a stack of 20 linen cloth to sell on the AH. Bingo, you have the money for your AH alt bags. You may have enough to equip your main with the same setup.
More space on your main means more time "in the field" and less looking for a mailbox.
Ever wonder why there are a lot of low level 'naked toons' running around the main cities? They're AH alts! It's kind of a marker, a way of telling an alt from other 'toons. That doesn't mean you have to leave 'em naked. Later on you can buy them some pants or robes or something, you'll have plenty of money.
Now, MAKING MONEY on the AH takes a bit of time, but is NOT a matter of luck.
There's a market out there, things are worth a certain amount, and your job will be to use Auctioneer to scan the available auctions for bargains, and put up your own items for the right price. You'll just be selling at the beginning, but that's okay. Once you have a bit of seed money you'll be doing a scan and you'll find a good bargain. You'll BUY IT, and then immediatelly repost it for the 'market price'. It will most likely sell, and you've just made 'x amount' of cash just by buying and selling. Your AH alt is actually making a profit now! That's the main way you'll be making cash, buying out bargains on the AH and reposting them for the 'right' price.
Anything magic (green or better) your Main finds that he/she cannot use goes to the AH alt. HOLD ON TO THESE ITEMS FOR NOW. Don't post them immediately. Wait for the weekend, when the server is really busy, and there's lots of people on. Even low level greens WILL sell on the AH if there is someone out there who is 'twinking' their low level character. Twinking is the art of outfitting a new character with the best that money can buy. If you are low level, and supplying the greens for another player, you can make a decent profit.
Some greens won't sell.
Post them AT MOST twice.
If they don't sell by then, DISENCHANT them.
You'll get the results of the disenchanting, which you are then almost guaranteed to sell. There are plenty of Enchanters out there who are levelling their skill who NEED that stuff. It will generally make you less money than you would get from selling the item itself, but at least now it's part of your cash flow instead of just taking up valuable bag space.
Before you log for the day, always try to go on to your AH alt, pick up any mail, and do an Auction scan. You don't have to do any digging for bargains, but the more raw info Auctioneer has, the more accurate your prices will be.
There is a learning curve for using Auctioneer, it is a complex beast, but spending 10 minutes familiarizing yourself with it will pay off HUGE down the road. Read the FAQ for Auctioneer and practice with it. Also, it's "Buyer beware" out there. Watch for scams. Scams, you say? YES!
People will post an item WAY above it's actual cost or price.
Like someone trying to sell a Chicken Wing for 1000g that normally will sell for 1g.
When Auctioneer scans the AH, it sees the item for that price, when it scans again, and finds it for 10g, it flags it as a bargain. If you don't know the market, you think you'll make 990g by buying and selling this item, while in actual fact you'll lose 9g, because you won't be able to sell it for over 1g.
THE NEXT STEP
Now, get your main out there and start gathering herbs, skins, ore, and items.
Try not to BUY anything for your main from your AH Alt, you can quickly use up all your money that way trying to Twink yourself. The one exception is bags. You can buy decent sized (14 slot) bags relatively cheaply, get these to your main as soon as you can.
If you follow these tips, by the time your main is level 40, and you need money for your mount, you'll probably already have a few HUNDRED gold on your AH Alt.
So, the breakdown by Steps:
1) If starting fresh, make two toons.
2) Level your AH alt to lvl5, and train in Enchanting.
3) Run your AH Alt to your main faction city to the Auction House.
4) Buy the cheap 6-slot bags for your AH Alt, until you can afford better.
5) Get CT Mail and Auctioneer.
6) Scan the AH every time before putting anything up for sale or looking for bargains.
7) Save green or better items for the weekend.
8) Post greens at MOST twice before Disenchanting them.
ON YOUR MAIN
1) Get skinning and either mining or herbalism as a profession.
2) Pick up fishing as a secondary profession.
3) Gather everything you can as you adventure, and send it in stacks to your AH Alt.
4) Send anything your main cannot use to your AH alt.
5) Get your Main decent sized bags ASAP, so you can stay out longer.
6) Only mail to the AH alt items that are white, green, or blue. Grey items are "vendor fodder" and only good for selling to a vendor. Don't waste the postage, just sell it from your main.
7) If you run across a blue or purple item that is Bind on Equip, do a happy dance. Most Epic (purple) items sell for hundreds of gold on the AH, Rares (blues) for dozens or more.
Keep an eye on the Trade Channel. Most people posting there are looking for a quick profit, and they will often be asking for less than the item's worth. Check the item for it's value, and if it is worth it to you, talk to the seller and negotiate a price. Then repost it and make a profit. If you go for an outright lowball (offering MUCH less than the item is worth) you will probably get laughed at, and start to earn a bad reputation in the community. There's nothing wrong with making a profit, but do it on the up-and-up.
If you find something RIDICULOUSLY cheap on the AH, and you KNOW it is worth a lot more (like Foror's Compendium for 10g) FOR GOD'S SAKE BUY IT FAST! There's a line between being a gentleman and being stupid. The person posting it MIGHT have made a mistake, and it might be an honest one. Give them a chance. The AH now reports WHO bought an item from you in addition to how much. Hang on to it for a few days, and see if they contact you. If they don't, feel free to sell it for whatever you can get. Otherwise, if they DO contact you, be gracious, and sell it back to them for what it cost you, plus a couple of gold for being a nice person. Reputation can mean everything in this part of the game...if you have a good relationship with people, they will come to YOU first if they have something to sell. That's never a bad thing.
Remember, you're playing with REAL PEOPLE here. Screwing REAL people over for FAKE money is the height of idiocy. Be honest, be patient, and be wary. Over time this system will make you more and more money.
There ARE ways for you to 'play' with the system and make money, like cornering the market on a particular kind of item, allowing you to charge what you want for it. This takes a decent amount of money to pull off though, as new items coming on will inevitably be being posted for less than what you are asking, forcing you to buy those items out to maintain your monopoly. It CAN make you a lot of money, if you find a niche item people need that you can exploit. However, it can be risky, and as you have no control over the 'production' of items, eventually you WILL lose control.
As you get into the higher level/cost items there is much more risk/reward to be had.
Don't pauper yourself. If you spend every gold piece to buy something that could make you twice the gold, you now don't have enough to meet the AH costs and can't post it!
Set yourself some limits.
On my AH alt, I always try to stay above 100g, even if I'm playing with dozens of items in my 'stock' and have multiple items up for bid.
Until you have some big money to play with, play it safe.
Remember, you will always have a flow of items coming in to your Alt from your main.
Keep your Main's wallet separate from your Alt's. Any actual CASH your main gets, keep on your main. That 'toon will need it for repairs and travel expenses.
MONEY sent between your alts arrives instantly. Items are on a one hour timer.
SUGGESTED RACES FOR AN AH ALT
Undead- starts quite far from the main city, AH setup is not the best, furthest from AH to mailbox, but you can always jump down.
Tauren- a bit of a run also, but the best city for ease of access to amenities like the Bank, mailbox and AH and very little lag. Naked AH alts are NOT a bonus here!
Orc- Both start out very close together, and the run to Orgrimmar is not too bad, but as it is the busiest Horde city, lag can be an issue. Mailbox, Bank and AH are pretty close together.
Elf- Never been to Darnassus myself, but it is reputed to be lag free. Not sure about mailbox/AH/bank proximity. Naked AH alts are a bonus!
Human- Stormwind, less lag than Ironforge, the AH, mailbox and Bank are relatively close together. Initial run is not too bad.
Gnome- Ironlag! The busiest of the Alliance cities. Mailbox is midway between the Bank and the AH, not too long of a run for a dwarf, gnomes have it a bit worse, but LAG is the primary issue here.
Good luck and Good hunting.
I've asked myself before, if this system works so well, why doesn't everyone use it?
It's not the most exciting thing is the best answer I can field.
Another question is why people don't post things for what they are worth.
Well, there are a couple of factors that combine to give this system the wiggle-room it needs to be a money maker.
First, there is supply and demand. If you have something rare, you can ask what you like for it, but if there is no DEMAND for it, it still won't sell. Consequently you end up dealing mostly in high volume consumables that are used often. They are constantly being made and used. The 'makers' want money for the items, and generally want the money fast so they can get back to farming. They work the volume end of the spectrum. The Users of the items are all looking for the best deal, so the Makers will often undercut each other in order to sell quickly. What the bargain hunters do is keep an eye on these, and when the margin is enough to turn a profit, buy out the makers' wares and repost them. The maker gets what he wants, the bargain hunter makes a small profit, and the end user pays the 'going rate'.
Runecloth is a great example.
Generally, it goes for about 1.5g per stack.
I have seen farmers post 10 stacks, about 15g worth, for only 1g per stack.
I bought them out and relisted them.
They sold overnight.
2 minutes of work and a profit of 5g.
It all adds up.
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