Thursday, March 3, 2011

From Rags to Riches: My Adventures In Auctioneering

Today's post is an entry for Cold's Gold Factory Blogging Carnival. This month's prompt is, when and what was that "light bulb" moment that made you into the greedy goblin you are today?

First off, I'd like to say how awesome I think this topic is. Sometimes, amid our piles and piles of gold, it's easy to forget our humble beginnings, when scraping together enough gold for riding training, a mount, or even the repair bill was a grueling process. Though I shudder to think of those days, reflecting on your roots can be quite enlightening. I hope that this carnival will inspire any would-be goblins that may be discouraged by seemingly futile efforts to earn gold when compared to those of us who blog about it. I have heard many times that some think we're just preaching to the choir, that our advice only works if you're already established, have capital to work with, and an army of alts at your service. Well, we were there too at one point, struggling with gold, and hopefully insight into our journeys will prove useful to anyone in a similar position.

Without further ado, I present to the tale of Slyvaliss, the undead female rogue, who started with naught but some tattered rags and a lone dagger...

Sly was the first toon I had that I actually wanted to play past the trial period. Off and on, I had messed around with the free 10 day trials, but never really found a character that I enjoyed playing. Until I tried a rogue. Rogues are awesome. Super, super awesome. So I bought the full version (this was shortly after the launch of Wrath), and started my journey to level 80! There's not much to note about making gold for the first 70 levels-ish, so I'll spare you the details of that. I did, however, make my first gold at around level 15, I think, and oh how proud I was of that gold piece! I thought the world had opened up to me, I could buy whatever I wanted! I can't remember how quickly that dream was crushed, but I imagine the elation didn't last very long. I also make the rookie "mistake" of getting Skinning and Leatherworking, thinking I'd be able to make all my gear as I leveled and never having to worry about needing an upgrade. Brilliant in theory, but it didn't take long for me to figure out that you don't get nearly enough materials in the normal course of leveling to keep LW current (I assume that's the same for Tailoring and Blacksmithing). I'm fairly certain I vendored most everything I gathered, seeing as how I didn't know much about the auction house, or even that it really existed.

So I went on my merry way, stealthing around, destroying every creature (and often every player) I could, generally not concerned with how much gold I had. Though I believe I was a few levels behind on getting riding, it didn't bother me that much. I didn't have enough for flying when I hit 70, I know that much, but it didn't matter since at the time you couldn't get Cold Weather Flying until you were 77 anyway. When I had saved up enough for regular flying (gold gained through vendor items, questing, and auctioning off the proceeds from skinning), I quickly bought it, flew around Outlands for a bit, and then back to questing through Northrend! I believe I had enough gold at 77 to get Cold Weather Flying, maybe it was 78, but at any rate, I certainly did not have nearly enough at 80 for epic flying. And that sucked. It didn't bother me too much at first, but it quickly became apparent that not having it made life so much harder (also keep in mind that at this point, regular flying only gave 60% boost to flying speed). I started raiding with a guild, and having to slowly fly my scrub-ass up to Naxx was awful, not to mention the pain in trying to get to Gundrak if I wanted to run a heroic there. I hadn't discovered the close flight path either, also because it was such a pain to scour the area on my slow flying mount.

My main source of income at this point was farming leather off Shoveltusks outside of New Agamand in Howling Fjord. Even back then when I thought farming was the #1 way to earn gold, I at least had the good sense to farm smartly. The shoveltusks roamed in small packs, had low health, and were neutral, meaning I could ride up to them, stealth, and spam Fan of Knives until they were dead. This was a fairly acceptable source of income, as the greys vendored for a decent amount, and I could get a fair share of Borean Leather this way. I also slowly started to learn the ways of the AH, and began attempting to sell epic cloaks and leg enchants, and even some PvP armor. I'm fairly certain I never fell into the "I farmed it so it's free" mentality, but I believe that may have been what ended up dissuading me from really pursuing these markets. I'd spend a decent amount of time and effort getting the materials, crafting the item, putting it on the AH, only to be undercut shortly thereafter. And this was at a time when those 1-2g deposit fees really hurt the wallet. As much as I wanted to, I just couldn't cancel and repost often enough to stay on top of the market, and frequently people would post stuff to the point where I'd be losing gold if anything sold. At one point, I also sunk a large amount of gold into making a PvP leather set that never sold (this was over two years ago, and I think I finally sold off the last piece of that set about a month ago). The deposit fees were just too much to bear.

So I went back to farming. It was slow gold, but it was reliable. Eventually, Dual Spec came out and I opted to purchase that over Epic Flying, even though I was only a few hundred gold short at the time. Sigh, back to the grind for me. Some time later, I finally had my epic flying, and the Bronze Drake to go with it! But what I didn't have was gold for repairs, or much of anything else! I wish I could say this story had a happy ending for Sly, but it really didn't at the time. I eventually stopped raiding and stopped playing for a bit, and ended up ignoring Slyvaliss in favor of...

WUKAM! The name-sake of my blog and the savior of my wallet! Armed with the lessons I had learned  from leveling Sly, along with the help of some BoAs obtained with extra Emblems of Heroism, I set out to level a new alt! My friends and I had decided to level together starting on all new toons, and I decided to roll a shaman because Chain Heal was just so cool. Well, that was a short lived-stint, as I eventually found out how awesome Enhancement is. Awesome awesome awesome awesome x 10. At some point, I had come across a little addon called "Auctioneer" that revolutionized my life. I also realized the folly of my ways in getting a crafting profession to start (plus, I had no interest in two leatherworkers), so I picked up mining and herbalism. As you couldn't track both at the same time back then, I ended up largely ignoring herbalism, and just focused on keeping mining current. That plus regular scans of the AH with auctioneer meant I always knew what was worth vendoring, and what was worth auctioning. I also learned the very handy trick of always getting the quest item that vendored for the most, if you didn't need one of the options. Those three things combined - keeping current with a gathering profession, knowing what drops to vendor and what to AH, getting and selling the most expensive quest item - revolutionized my leveling experience. I always had enough gold for my mounts, got flying right at 60 (they had changed the requirements at that point), got Cold Weather Flying at 68, and had enough for Epic Flying by 73. Knowing my way around the AH also helped, as I could quickly figure out what ore was selling for the most and just go out and farm that. Adamantite Ore in Nagrand helped me get my epic flying in no time flat.

You could say that leveling a new toon was a mini "light-bulb" moment in my gold making adventure. Having the previous experience let me know what to do, and what not to do. But that wasn't my true light-bulb moment. That is still to come.

I joined another raiding guild, ran with them, and had good times all around. I started to farm Saronite Ore in between queueing for heroics, and I became pretty good at that. Had an awesome route around Icecrown down pat, and was able to net a few hundred gold per hour doing that. But it wasn't really enough. I eventually got around to dropping herbalism, and picked up Jewelcrafting as I had heard it was decent for making money. "Ding..." that was the first true light-bulb moment for me, shortly followed by another "Ding" when I learned about prospecting. Looking at the various ores, I found that Adamantite Ore always prosepected in to Adamantite Powder, and this could almost always cover the cost of the ore. So I started doing that when I could; "Ding!" Then I took to prospecting Saronite Ore for the Rare Gems, cut those, and sold them. A little bit of math and some help from wowhead let me figure out a good baseline on what I could buy them for given how much I could sell the rares for; "Ding ding!" And then, I discovered Epic Gems. I knew these sold well and for a good amount of gold, seeing as how I had bought a few to gem my own gear, but what I couldn't really figure out was how to get them. I knew they were prospectable from Titanium Ore, but the price of that was usually cost-prohibitive. I was better off just selling the Ore I farmed. I attempted a few times to prospect Titanium for the Dust, as that usually sold alright, but the margins were so thin that if the RNG was against me, I stood to lose a lot of money. So I was at a loss on what to do. I wanted to sell Epic Gem cuts, but how was I to get a steady, reliable supply? I had Auctionator for some time, and one day while using it to looking at some epic gems, it hit me. Hey, the raw gem is listed here among the cuts. And what's this? The raw gem is selling for 80g, but the cut is selling for 160g? Hey, maybe I could just buy the raw gem, cut it, and sell it right back! "DINGDINGDINGDINGDING!" And thus a goblin was born.

Even after this epiphany I didn't start raking in gold hand over fist. I was still a little intimidated by the cost of the raw gems, and the fear of low profit margins. But it's something I stuck with for some time, and it eventually paid off big. Buying and listing one to two gems at a time gave me enough gold to start listing 3 - 4, then 5 - 6, and eventually two or more of every cut I knew. I kept up with my dailies, got new cuts by going to WoW-Popular and figuring out what was popular (aka what sold well), cut and sold that, and slowly my wealth began to accumulate. And the rest is pretty much history. I discovered gold blogs, leveled another alt to be an xmute alchemist for meta gems (didn't pay off as much at the end of wrath as I had hoped, but wow does it work now!), dropped mining for engineering, made bank off of Epic Arrows (in stacks of 1000, I'm not that much of a dirty goblin), then dropped eng for Enchanting, and started raking in even more with scrolls! Perhaps one of my proudest gold-making moments came near the end of Wrath, when the gold-making community was abuzz with talk of stockpiling for the expansion. I created a bank alt, made a guild, bought tabs for the guild bank and set about piling it up with whatever seemed reasonable. Volatiles, rare gems bought for ~3g (so I could still cut and vendor for profit), twink weapons, Argent tourney pets, stacks and stacks of Saronite Ore, etc. What I was so proud of was that despite spending a good amount stockpiling, my gold kept increasing! It even got frustrating at one point, as I actually wanted to "lose" some of that extra gold!

So that's my story. I started off as a constantly broke rogue, and I'm now closing in on 500k (FINALLY finding someone to sell me Claws of Torment set me back a bit, but it's totally worth it). Making tons of gold really isn't hard, you just have to start somewhere. And if making gold on your main just isn't working out, look in to rolling an alt. Sometimes a fresh start is just what you need to jump-start your gold making career, and plus, more alts mean more professions, and more professions means more gold!

P.S. If anyone's curious, the tale of Slyvaliss the Broke now has a happy ending, or rather, a new happy beginning. She's now my leatherworker and pulls in quite a decent amount of gold from bags, leg armor enchants, and PvP gear!

1 comment:

  1. Excellent addition to the Gold Blogging Carnival. You are right and I too hope that this carnival helps to open the eyes of any fledgling gold makers who are scared to get started making gold in World of Warcraft.