I already "make gold with limited time" as it is, but if I had to cease the majority of my operations and limit my AH endeavors to thirty minutes or less a day, this is what I would do. Jewelcrafting! No, not that horrendously time consuming goldmine that is the Obsidium Shuffle, just good old fashion cutting and reselling gems. This is the origin of my gold making back at the end of Wrath, and for someone with limited time, this is one of the easiest ways to make a decent amount of gold. I went from less than 2k to over 10k liquid (and probably in the realm of 20-30k net worth) simply by doing my JC daily, and buying and reselling cut gems on the AH.
But this was before the days of TSM. I absolutely love this addon now, and with its help, it can streamline this process and help you make even more gold with even less effort. So let's go through it, shall we?
First off, you need to have a Jewelcrafter and TradeSkill Master (and preferably Auctionator too. You can get TSM from that link, as for the JC, well, you'll need one to be at least 475 to unlock the dailies, which requires at least level 75. If you don't already have a Jewelcrafter in your arsenal, I highly suggest dropping a profession you never use (*cough*herbalism*cough*) to pick it up. It's a tad expensive to level, but it will more than pay out in the end. If you're just starting out, you will be at a bit of a disadvantage because you're almost two months behind in dailies. However, all you need is one profitable cut to start making some extra gold; more cuts just mean more gold, and they help if one cut suddenly is temporarily unprofitable. Ok, so you have your JC and you have your cut(s), now we just need to set up TSM! (Though if you are just starting out, this won't be as necessary as someone managing 5, 6 or more cuts).
This is the backbone of TSM, and will streamline the posting / canceling process, making your routine take even less time to go through.
(Note: For super awesome and probably more in-depth articles and guides on TSM, go to Trading With Zoxy!)
Type in /tsm, then go over to Auctioning Groups/Addons (middle button on the left side). Then go to Categories/Groups on the left side, then the Create Group/Category tab, and under Add a Group, just type "Gems" or whatever you feel is appropriate. So now on the left hand menu there should be a "Gems" group. Click on it, and now we set up posting times, undercut, thresholds, and fallbacks!
First off, you need to set up posting times and how much you want to undercut by, and that'll look something like this:
To change the settings, just right click and adjust. I prefer a post time of 12hrs. This minimizes the deposit fee, which is very handy if you're canceling and reposting a few times. And 12hrs is usually a good enough window for you to sell. As long as you time it correctly (e.g. post in the evening when most people are raiding / getting gear they need to gem), you shouldn't see too many gems returning. As for "Post cap" this is the maximum amount of gems you want to have up on the AH at a time. I limit it to 5, but as long as it's not below what you want, it's kind of irrelevant as you shouldn't be crafting more than you can sell. Wastes bag space, and locks you in to your choice, which can be bad if a different cut with the same gem becomes more profitable. "Undercut by" is pretty obvious. Keep this low to maximize profit, but don't do 1c. Everyone hates "that guy." "Bid percent" is how much the bid for the gem will be set at. Keep it at 100%. That way, if profit margins are slim, you won't lose money if someone bids. Plus, who bids on gems unless they're way underpriced? You want to sell this stuff fast, not let it sit for a while.
Now for the fun part. Let's look at setting up your threshold and fallback:
Threshold is the absolute lowest you are willing to sell your gem for. If someone has posted lower than this price, you'll automatically post at your fallback. Hopefully this will never be relevant for the fast paced world of gems, but set it up just in case. Fallback is what you post at if there are no other gems of that kind on the AH, if someone has posted below your threshold, or if someone has posted at an outrageous inflation (which you decide based on the "Maximum price" sliding scale). Make sure you set this to something you're comfortable selling at. Also note that this is not a "maximum" that you're willing to sell at, like how threshold is the minimum. If someone's posted above your fallback, you'll simply undercut them! Ok, now that you've set your groups up, it's time to cut and post some gems! But how do you know what's the best?
Choosing the Best Gems to Cut
I'm going to assume you already have a few cuts that you can do. Though even if you only have one, this can still be a bit easier than manually looking it up in the AH. If you don't have a lot of cuts, and want to know which one you should get next, or what to spend your stockpiled tokens on, cross reference WowPopular with the prices in your AH. The simplest thing to do is choose whichever popular cut sells for the most. Even if it's not strictly the most expensive cut, since it's popular you know it'll sell well, and even at slightly lower profit margins you can make up for that by sheer volume of sales.Do note, however, that popular cuts are likely to be known by a lot more people, meaning there will be more competition. So, back to the set up.
First, you are going to want to make TSM display prices based on the current lowest auction. This deals with the grievance Kammler and I had with TSM by default displaying the average price of items, which can lead to poor decisions if the market is currently well below average. To do this, from the /tsm screen go to "Crafting Options" (looks like a gem and is the last button on the right side), and under "Price settings," switch the two "Get Mat / Craft prices from" to "AuctionDB - Minimum Buyout" (you can also change it to use Auctioneer's database if you'd like). That'll look something like this:
This image obscures it, but right underneath that drop down window there's an option for "Profit deduction." Set this to 5% so it'll take the AH fee into account when determining your potential profit. Now that you've got that sorted out, it's time to do a scan of the AH to find the most profitable gems! Go to the AH, and in the upper right corner of the AH window is a button for "TSM." Go to the "AuctionDB - Run Scan" button (the middle one), and if you'd like, deselect all options except for "Jewelcrafting." That way the Scan will only look at JC items and mats, reducing the time the scan takes.
That'll look like this:
Ok, that's about it! Now for the fun of Crafting!
Crafting Your Gems!
Open your JC window, and near the top there should be an option for "Open TradeSkillMaster_Crafting." This will bring up the TSM crafting window, which will have a list of all the gems you can cut, along with how many you have cut in your bags or on the AH, what they're worth, and what your expected profit is! Here's a look at what the window is currently displaying for me:
You can mess around with which gems you want TSM to display by going to the JC settings on the left side of the TSM window, selecting the color gem you want, and checking or un-checking the boxes depending on if you want TSM to recommend or ignore that particular cut. To queue up a gem, simply click on the name of it, queuing up one gem per click. Right click to reduce the amount queued if you went over what you wanted. Then just hit craft next to start cutting those gems!
If you don't have the requisite gems, you can even use TSM to help you buy them! Once you have your queue set up, go back to the AH, pull out the TSM menu, and go to "Shopping - Crafting Mats" (second to last button). This will search the AH for the mats in your queue, and recommend the cheapest priced ones it can find. Just hit "Buy" to buy them, and collect from the mailbox! Now that you have your cut gems, it's time to post them on the AH!
Posting / Canceling
Once you have all the gems cut that you want, go to the AH, pull out the TSM menu, and hit the top button, "Auctioning - Post." TSM will go through your inventory, and queue up items to post at prices based on your threshold, fallback, and current prices. Simply hit the "post" button to start posting your auctions! TSM will show you each item before you post it, so you can skip or cancel if you change your mind. And that's basically it, just wait for your auctions to sell! I do, however, suggest that you occasionally do a cancel search (the button right below "Auctioning - Post"). TSM will scan your current auctions, and tell you if you've been undercut. Hit "cancel" to cancel those posts so you can retrieve them and relist. Again, TSM will show you which items you've been undercut on, so you can choose which ones you want to skip. However, I think it only shows the price your gems are listed for, not by how much you've been undercut, how many are posted below you, and at what price they're posted. That would be an excellent feature if they could work it in, because sometimes you may be deeply undercut by just a couple of items and you'd be better off leaving them up at your current price.
Though a few other blogs have recommended staying away from JC if you have limited time, I honestly believe it's one of your best options. The JC economy might be the simplest to deal with especially if you're using Auctionator, as searching for the raw gem will display the prices of the cut ones as well. There is only one required mat to make a gem: the raw gem. All you need to know is how much the raw gem is selling for, how much the cut gem is selling for, and if the cut gem sells for more than the raw. If that's the case, buy the raw, cut it, sell it, profit. Simple as that. The only time consuming aspect is trying to find the best cut, and making sure you keep up with your dailies. With the help of TSM, you can make buying, crafting, and selling take almost no time at all. Will you make insane amounts doing this? Maybe, but the ease and convenience vastly outweighs the occasional slim profit margins you might experience from buying raw mats. Just be sure to log in every so often to check for undercuts, and cancel/repost as needed. You could do your daily posting in the morning before you head off to class / work, check again when you come back, and again during peak hours / before your raid, with a final relisting / restocking before bed. Crafting what you need for the day should take less than thirty minutes if you follow this outline (the most time consuming part is simply setting up TSM, but that's a one time deal), and canceling / reposting should take well under five minutes.
And that's what I'd do if I had severely limited AH time