Identifying Markets

I will begin by introducing myself as carefully as possible without giving too much away of course, I began playing WOW almost 5 years ago and I spent the first 4 years of that time with very little gold to fund repairs and raiding mats, after a short break during the launch of WOTLK I returned but this time with gold on my mind.

Now the aim of this guide is not to give pro auctioneer’s tips which they may have missed, instead I would like to help new players to find their feet in the gold making game. Now the only real requirement for my guide to be a success is a level 75 character with at least one profession, ideally two but that’s not as important just yet.

So without any further procrastination let’s begin. Take a deep breath and take a long hard look at your profession/s. We first need to identify markets on your server where you can buy/farm mats and easily flip a profit. This is far easier to do with some professions that others, and in my opinion Inscription is one of the better options right now (this won’t last but it does make a great example). There are a range of addons out there that will allow you to scan the AH and display the cost of the mats alongside the cost of the finished product, but this is outside the scope of my guide. I would seriously suggest you take some time to research the addons available out there, automation is brilliant and anything that can stop you from having to do something manually, like posting or canceling, will save you time and increase your gold per hour!

However rather than delve too deeply into addons I’ll keep it simple, I have inscription, I have a herbalist, I know I can go out and grind herbs for an hour and make around 1000 gold selling the goods on the AH, most people would be very happy about this, but instead I look at how I can actually make use of this product and ADD VALUE! This is a key idea which you must remember in order to make the most out of the items you sell.

It’s a really simple idea which may seem really obvious at first but the more you look the better the idea gets! Take Whiptail for example, it can be farmed easily in the rivers of Uldum and on my AH sells for around 5g each. In an hour I can farm say 200, which means I can easily sell them for 1000g. Great 1000g an hour that seems really good, in ten hours I can be 10,000g up, however think about it for a little longer, why do these herbs sell so well and for so much?

Production of Secondary Trade Goods

This is where we need to look at some key ideas. In Warcraft, like most real life situations, we require raw materials in order to create retail products. The raw material comes from just one place, farming herbs from high level areas. People go out and farm the herbs and sell them for profit on the Auction House or in Trade. This creates a supply line of herbs which crafters can use to create sellable, in demand products. This single supply line feeds various production lines, in the case of whiptail it can be milled for inscription and it is also used for producing flasks, transmutes and potions. Researching information on supply lines can be a massive help when your managing multiple professions but for now you just need to worry about the ones which will effect your products.

This where Inscription comes in, in my opinion the money making daddy of the professions right now, it’s a little late to take advantage of Glyphs but there are two new cataclysm recipes which promise a massive return for your time. So I take my 200 whiptail and mill it down into pigments, convert these into inks and instantly the price has increased. During this process we have turned primary trade goods into secondary trade goods, and people will buy the inks your have milled and converted simply to keep their time costs down, however whilst your not mass producing it isn’t worth selling secondary products, you will simply be feeding your competition a steady supply of valuable inks put simply your selling yourself short. So from 200 herbs you can expect to have approximately 40 Blackfallow Ink (This is literally the bare minimum amount you should expect to get more in all honesty) and if you lucky 10 inferno inks. The next stage is to use your professions to add yet more VALUE!

Production of a Retail Product

Right now there is only one major product which I use my Blackfallow ink to create and this is not based on anything more than I know I can literally sell 200 of this item in an hour. What is this mystical item I hear you cry, simple it’s a Mysterious Fortune Card, the card you flip for the chance to win 5000g, I will use my 40 common inks to craft 40 fortune cards and using the inferno ink I will create a random Darkmoon Card of Destruction.

So from my original 1000g worth of herbs (which took an hour to farm) I have created 40 Mysterious Fortune Cards and A Darkmoon Card. If I base this on my current server price, see the screenshots if you don’t believe this (trust me I didn’t at first) The fortune cards sell really well over weekends, for around 79g each (this can change wildly at really busy times depending on demand and competition) but I am confident that this works so 40 x 79g = 3160g and the Darkmoon cards are selling for around the 2000g mark, again for some reason aces sell for more (I presume due to the lower drop rates from times gone by) and if you’re the only one selling you can pretty much name your price. You can also choose to collect full sets and convert them to decks and then into trinkets and get a lot more for those but let just leave it at 2000g each for now. It’s worth noting these always sell better during times where the fair is in town.

So our herbs which we almost sold for 1000g just 30 minutes ago are now sat in our bags in the form of a finished product which once sold will net us 3160g (fortune cards) + 2000g (Fair Cards) see what happened there? I spend an hour grinding mats which are now worth 5160g and took just one hour to grind!

The last stage of the production process converted Secondary Trade Goods into a Retail Product, again we added yet more value to the product and we have converted it into a product which will sell to the masses. Just think about that for a second inks sell very well and for a reasonable profit but your market is limited, the only people you can aim that product at is lazy, (or busy) scribes and people who require a glyph which is not already for sale in the AH.

Now don’t get my wrong this particular craft is not something you can repeat for weeks and weeks and it really does depend on the server price of herbs and the number of active scribes plus the prices of the cards will inevitably drop as better gear is released and once the gamblers have spend their share the fortune cards will follow suit. These are things which we should consider for later down the road, there are often things which will influence your market and the earlier you can spot these the better, but am side tracking a little here, put simply we have easily collected and converted basic trade goods into a product which people will buy!

Marketing Basics

The sale of your items is the next thing you need to think about, the fortune cards again are a great example of how products vary when it comes to marketing. If you dump 200 on the AH you will be undercut, and you will end up ruining the market. By listing 200 at 50g then walking away your capping the price of this item until all 200 have sold. Doing this limits your market and will annoy fellow scribes, which can lead to some nasty undercutting wars which will cost both of your massive profits. My preferred method is simply to post 10 – 20 in single stacks and advertise. Once these 10 – 20 have sold through I will list more. By simply letting people know what the cards are potentially worth you generate interest and discussion which almost always leads to sales.

The Darkmoon cards are slightly different, I will only sell duplicate cards as single cards, collecting the rest to create full decks. This is because I feel that fewer people understand how Darkmoon cards work, and therefore they will be less inclined to invest 2000g, where as if I convert them into decks and claim the trinkets from the fair and then sell these the following month they will appeal to more people and therefore they are more likely to fork out their hard earned gold in return for an epic.

[CENTER]Summary of the Steps involved F 1 M 6 Z . gif <-- I am unable to post this image as my account has less than 10 posts.
The graphic above shows the production line for the two products I have discussed.

To sum up we farmed for an hour and made aproximatly 5000 gold, a great result for any auctioneer, but we still had to go out and farm our herbs which took the largest amount of time out of all the steps in this guide. So how can we cut this down to allow us to increase what we earn, well this is the next step and believe me it’s a huge step! Stop farming! Put down your tools, crack open an ale from the nearest inn and park yourself at an Auction House.

On my server I can buy 200 whiptail’s in 1 minute, for 5g each, remember the same price we used to value our grinding mats in our earlier example. I can still go on to turn these herbs into products worth 5000g but the major difference is I didn’t spend an hour of my precious gaming time farming them. Also because it only takes a few minutes to buy them I can buy 2000 instead of 200, so once you have milled it and crafted your cards (say that takes the remaining 55 minutes of your hour) your gold per hour rockets!!

Buying 2000 herbs would produce 400 Blackfallow inks (400 fortune cards) and 100 Inferno inks. 50g profit on each card and deck cards selling for 2k gold each means your bringing in 40,000g from this, don’t get me wrong the herbs are not free, nor are the volatile life used to create the Darkmoon cards (around 3000g for the required amount) but they never are free they always cost either your time or gold so in total we spent 13,000g and brought in 40,000g so 27,000g profit in an hour isn’t bad at all is it! Please note when I say an hour I don’t mean you should expect to sell everything and walk away in this time I simply mean it took you an hour to craft the items which will sell over time.

This profit can be increased further if we can find ourselves a herb farmer, this approach has multiple advantages including a consistent price, we agree the fee with the farmer in advance for say 10,000 herbs, he will go out each day farming and then send you the herbs via cash on delivery every day. This provides a far more secure supply line than the Auction House, your paying a set price (usually not a bad price) and your guaranteed to have a supply even when your competition is staring at an empty auction house, plus removing the herb farmers goods from the Auction house will usually increase the price the competition pay for their herbs which in turn increases the price of their retail product.

On smaller server this can work really well once you have a couple of herb farmers, if your competition find the primary trade goods are too expensive they are more likely to give up on the market altogether which means you will face far less competition going forward.

There are a few things that you need to consider once you reach this level, and a key idea to think about at this point is diversity. In our original example we created 40 fortune cards which will sell quickly. However if you purchased 10,000 herbs that would leave us with 2000 fortune cards plus a few hundred inferno inks, in theory 2000 cards should take aproximatly 50 times longer to sell through than 40 cards. However herbs can be converted into many end products not just the first two we looked at in the example, and so we need to take advantage of these.

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The above image shows the conversion of a product from a primary trade good to a secondary trade good and finally into a retail product.

Diversifying into more markets means your providing retail products to a much bigger market, we can use our inks to produce off hands, relics, glyphs and dusts of disappearance, these are all items which will sell themselves, very little marketing is required we simply need to list them and check for undercutting on a regular basis. The more retail products you turn your inks into the more you will sell. You will soon learn what sells well and what to avoid but this comes in time, I can’t tell you what will work on your server and what won’t. Addons are available to track your sales and after a week or so they will show you which markets are the most profitable and which ones you should concentrate your time in.

Now so far we have only taken advantage of one profession, we made some good profit but if you have a second profession which uses the same supply line, in this case herbs, then the diversity does not end here. Look at all the flasks, elixirs and potions which make use of herbs and decide what you think will sell best, again this is a new market, high end raiders will pay for progress, flasks and elixirs help you progress and this is a market which is unlikely to drop, if anything as more people raid the market will grow.

Of course this guide does not just apply to inscription and alchemy, all the professions in game involve a supply pipeline of primary trade goods, and most require conversion into a secondary trade good before they can be crafted into a retail product. In case this isn’t clear yet allow me sum this up for a different profession.

Blacksmithing requires you to deal with both primary and secondary trade goods. We begin with an ore, it isn’t important which ore, this is our primary trade good. We then convert ores into bars. Bars are a secondary trade good which is then used in blacksmithing to produce an end product, for example an Axe.

There is profit to be made at all levels of the production chain, farming the materials will bring in the least profit per hour however some people prefer this to crafting and selling and if your happy to settle for that then fair enough.

There is also profit to be had selling secondary trade goods, this market can however be quite volatile. Inks and bars generally sell to other crafters and the lazy or really busy crafter will purchase these goods for use in their production chains. They also sell quite well to the players who are careful about what they spend, often people will buy their own mats and simply tip a crafter for their time. You can’t expect massive profits from this but it does require far less time.

The largest profit is most defiantly at the end of the chain, the retail products sell for a lot more, the simple reason for this is convenience, if someone buys this from you they can use it straight away without every having to even type in trade and without spending an extra penny.

You need to decide at which stage in the chain you wish to enter and at what point you wish to leave. Personally I choose to purchase primary trade goods, convert these into secondary trade goods myself and then finally into a retail product. However if time is an issue then I may occasionally jump into the chain at the secondary trade goods point, for example I will simply buy the inks directly and convert them into a final product. This saves a lot of time and effort but slashes my profits.

My final consideration on leaving the production chain before the final product occurs when I am unable to use the secondary product with one of my own professions. For example in the earlier days of warcraft alchemists produced an oil which was used in another profession, I believe blacksmithing, at the time I had no use for this item but it does sell very well because this item was required by blacksmiths for their own production chains, again this doesn’t happen very often but it is a good example where a secondary trade good is very valuable.

Make Use of These Ideas in Other Markets

This guide can of course we used for all the professions in game. I don’t have the time or to be honest the knowledge to cover each profession in detail but here is a quick snapshot of the professions and their supply lines.

Blacksmithing, Engineering and Jewelcrafting – The ore supply line. The main primary trade goods are ores and the secondary trade goods are bars for blacksmithing, uncut gems for jewelcrafting and “nuts and bolts” for engineering. The best retail products to sell include cut gems, non-combat pets and mounts and the new heroic level gear and items.

Alchemy and Inscription – The herb supply line, already covered in great detail but to sum up, primary trade goods are herbs and occasionally fish. Secondary trade good include oils and inks and final products include glyphs, cards, flasks and elixirs.

Leatherworking – The leather supply line, this is slightly different than other supply lines because there is no limit to how many pieces of leather can be gathered from the world. Again leather is your most basic primary trade goods, which are converted into secondary trade goods and finally into a finished product.

Tailoring – The cloth supply line. Again quite similar to leatherworking with the exception of items such as dreamcloth which can only be created using a cooldown. Your cooldown is valuable use it and then sell the secondary trade goods or collect these and sell them as a retail product for more profit. A rush to level things like first aid can also affect these markets.

Enchanting - This is tottally different and really you should look at a specific guide for detailed info.


I hope this guide has given you a small insight into the supply lines of Warcraft and I hope that going forward you will understand the principles more clearly. I’m not a huge fan of pen and paper research but it certainly helps massively knowing your market and this really is the key to success.

So I would suggest you go away and answer the following questions for yourself, I would suggest you look at one profession at a time to keep things simple? I have provided answers as example but these will NOT always apply to your server/profession etc.

Which profession are you working with?


> It’s important not to overwhelm yourself at first, pick one which is already quite high and make sure you can afford to buy into it, if your struggling for gold to begin with start as small as possible.

What is the major supply line for this profession?

The herb supply line

>You need to consider looking at the best way to buy from this supply line, to begin with don’t worry too much about a farmer or just ask for a small amount to begin with. Just buy what you require from the AH and keep track of the price of this item, as your spend increases the retail price of the end product also increases, but remember prices vary, your competition may have purchased a bulk supply of herbs really cheap therefore their costs will be much lower than yours.

What limits to does this profession have in cataclysm?

Items required for crafting off hands can only be purchased from vendors upon reaching level 84 with at least one character. Glyphs are now learned only once and so the market is shrinking. Mysterious fortune cards are selling really well but this may not last.

> This is a new consideration but hopefully for most this won’t be an issue as I am sure a lot of you now have at least one 85. There are more professions which are limited by the fact that you must be 84 yourself in order to train you should know if yours is affected already.

How much time do you have to commit to this profession?

Around an hour a day crafting and purchasing time.

>This is down to you, your play style and habits but it’s worth considering that if you go out at buy 10,000 herbs you will need to spend a long time milling and converting these into inks. Be realistic about what you can do and unless the price is good don’t overstock yourself with herbs.

What will your end product be and at the current market price what will my profit per item be?

Mysterious fortune cards and Darkmoon cards, they cost 20g and 400g to produce and will sell for 79g and 2000g therefore my profit is 50g and 1600g minus the 5% cut from the AH.

>Profit is your end game, if an item isn’t going to make you a large enough profit for the time it takes drop it until the market price increases. Don’t just sell an item for the sake of selling it, it must be profitable for your to succeed in this game. I can’t overstate enough how important it is to diversify once you have setup one or two products keep looking for other products which you can also produce from the same supply line which will allow you to target other markets. Raiders, Casuals, PVPers should all be considered.

What mods will you use to make your life easier?

Auctioneer and Postal are essentials.

> This guide was not designed to cover all the options for automating crafting and selling but they are very important and a little research will save you massive man hours later on the game. There are a couple of articles I have read over the past 12 months which have help massively, however I wasn’t too sure how people would feel about links directly from my guide and so I will simply suggest you go to google and search for something along the lines of “Warcraft Auctioning Automation” and “Warcraft Crafting Que Production” There is loads of info out there if you just take some time to find it.