The Art of Gentle Goldmaking

My bank alt waves at the AH.



I’m sure you’ve seen at least a handful of blogs that solely focus on how to make gold - they usually have some good tips to capitalize in various timely markets or are just too sketchy to really spend too much time on. I’ve always really avoided those places because while I like making gold, they always seemed to really require a whole lot of time and effort into making as much gold as possible. I feel that having tons of gold is great for the kind of large living like dropping hundreds of thousands on something dreamy, but the kinds of practices these blogs tout make having piles of gold as a sort of endgame in and of itself. What about the rest of us? While I like having enough gold to keep myself in the lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to, a lot of people either do not have time nor inclination to make more gold their goal. I’m not very aggressive or a genius-level market prognosticator.

And that in and of itself is why I called this the art of “gentle” goldmaking: it is making enough gold to comfortably get by without a ton of time spent on it or needing to know tons of math or analysis. More than that really, it is a simple set of tips that help you develop some good habits that will keep money coming your way regularly. All of this stuff is things I’ve picked up over time and are how I do business, and you might find all of this stuff  irrelevant.

Caveat to this advice: I have tried to make this as general as possible. Many servers have wildly different kinds of markets; some support a lot of people, some don’t. The best advice is just to try things out and see what works for you.

1. Get A Bank Alt

One of the easiest ways to get into the groove of making money is to devote one of your characters to this very process. I know that some people are altoholics like I am and might not have room, but having a dedicated bank alt is a real lifesaver. My bank alt is a level 17 that originally started out in Vanilla to be a toon I was going to level with an ex-boyfriend, but once we split, I parked her in Stormwind and cleaned out her bags and she’s been my banker ever since. Any alt can be used for this purpose but ones that either have less playtime than your other ones (so they can stay near an Auction House and mailbox) makes this way easier. If you have an engineer, you can even use the engineering AH in your faction’s Shrine in Pandaria.

The reason bank alts are so gosh darn handy is because storing most of your gold makes buying and selling things very easy, as well as helpful if you’re saving towards something. It also keeps everything you want to buy or sell in one place so you’re not searching all over. Over the years, my bank alt has gotten increasingly bigger bags and even a couple tabs of a bank guild, but that just comes with the territory if you start doing a high volume of auctioning. Mostly it’s just handy that whenever you are done for the day, or want to clear out your bags as you level, that you just send everything to your bank alt. Doing this really gets you into the habit of seeing everything as “sellable” and also frees you up to deal with it later.

The first thing I do whenever I log onto WoW is check my bank alt - whether it be an auction house scan (we’ll talk about that later), collecting gold out of the mail or sticking up some new things onto the AH.

2. Don’t Hoard and Don’t Vendor

Also known as my “sell everything that’s not nailed down” rule.

Here’s probably one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to drill into my guildmate’s heads! Many people I know really don’t want to put in the effort of sticking things up on the auction house so they just vendor them; you lose out on so much more gold this way. The other direction to go in is to save literally everything and overwhelm yourself with things you might not ever need.

Hoarding is a really terrible idea and even I have problems with it sometimes. It’s so easy to think, “Someone is going to need this” and stash it away, only to come back months later with things just hanging out in storage doing nothing. Get into the habit of sending all your stuff to your bank alt or putting it onto the Auction House unless you can honestly say it is earmarked for something specific you can think of. Alt’s engineering powerleveling? Yes, save that ore! Might need that cloth for a rainy day? Ugh, sell it! There’s always some value in putting something up now rather than saving for a nebulous future; very few things that are from a current expansion that sell for more over time. I know that the urge is strong to keep something to potentially use it and save yourself money but it’s often way cheaper to sell it while its price is still high and buy it down the road when it sells for a lot less. Clearing your bank and bags every so once in a while (like once a week or once a month) also gets you out of this cycle of keeping things around that you might never use and puts it into your pockets.

As for vendoring, I know a lot of people say, “Well it’s not going to really sell for much on the auction house, so why bother?” Well, vendoring it for 20s rather than selling it on the auction house for 5G makes no sense to me. And 1G is always more than 0G. Vendor grey items and select few white items, and try to sell everything else. The only time I out and out vendor something I was trying to sell on the AH were things that either a) dropped below vendor price b) really just didn’t sell after months and months of trying.

This idea that something has to sell “reasonably high” is another weird thing I see people talking about; it’s often a lot more profitable to sell a lot of little things for a little bit of money than selling one particular item for a lot of money. Why people don’t want to sell something for 20G boggles me -  that’s 20G more than you had before. It all adds up over time. Every little bit of gold helps.

3. Use Tools Available To You

This is one of the places where I feel a lot of of casual players get scared and shy away from the auction house “game” - the fact of the matter is AHing is really not very easy to do or intuitive unless you use add-ons. And who really wants to have add-ons for selling things? Whether you do or not is really up to personal choice, but I find that it has made it a lot easier to be slightly more competitive than not. It cuts down on the amount of time I spend doing things, allowing me very efficient.

AH Mods

A good auction house mod basically cuts through the pages of listings and organizes them in a way that’s very easy-to-read, and depending on what you use, makes comparing prices for buying and selling a snap. Some people like heavier AH mods that give you deep market history but those also tend to use a lot of resources, so what I use is Auctionator. It gives me lightweight Buy/Sell tabs, and only saves AH data for items I buy or sell unless I specifically tell it to scan the entire market. I tend to scan the market once a day and that seems to serve me well. A good routine for me is getting up in the morning with my coffee and scanning the AH and then getting into listing/checking all my auctions for the day.

Auctionator selling tab.


See how easy that is to look at? It lets you set prices and stacks really fast and it lists them automagically one after the other. This makes adjusting what you are selling a breeze; buying is similar and you can even save shopping lists. But overall, just having that list makes buying the cheapest item very easy to see and it makes you sell things for what they should be selling at, not having to guess.

Organization Mods

A good AH mod is the baseline, but other things that help me get through the process of selling and buying are Postal (a very sturdy mailbox mod) and Altoholic (so I have item data for anything I have in my bags and what characters have what on them). These things are by no means necessary and just for my own purposes. But anything that saves me tons of right-clicking individual mails (I often have 300 auctions going) or wondering if my miner or my engineer has Ghost Iron bars is worth it.

Additional Information

Whether you’re hunting a specific item to buy or need to know what you should be selling items for, I cannot strongly recommend The Undermine Journal enough. It is a very handy WoW site to visit if you aren’t in-game, or even if you are! It lets you see what are top sellers/”hot” items for your server, and gives you consise graphs for best days and prices to sell things.

4. Make Professions Work For You

Do you have any professions on any of your toons? Professions are a pretty easy way to make gold, regardless of what you use them for. While some servers don’t have huge profits in top-end crafted items, selling raw materials from gathering professions or low level craftables works, even if they aren’t huge amounts of gold. I’ve made a bunch of gold on new servers that I have low level alts on just via mining or herbalism and selling whatever I collect. If you have more than one set of professions, you can even work in some synergy. Have an alchemist? Use a miner to farm up some Ghost Iron and transmute it into Trillium Bars. Gather herbs with an herbalist and send it to your scribe to mill - sell inks or glyphs.* A lot of times  people use their professions to help the toon they are attached to but never think about using them for more.

What I like to do is constantly send whatever I get on various characters to their “appropriate” crafters - all cloth goes to my tailor to be made into bolts and sell, or use for daily cooldowns. Ore gets send to jewelcrafter to get prospected, and so on. This is another one of those habits that getting into gets a process going and makes it all streamlined for you if you want to keep consistently making gold. Even just logging on and doing your daily cooldowns can net you cloth, gems, flasks or other things that you can turn around and put up on the Auction House.

*A couple of places where people really get super competitive are the cut gem and specific glyph markets. Tread here carefully and maybe opt to sell inks or uncut gems rather than selling in a heavily trafficked set of items that people make it hard to sell anything.

Diverse items on sale works in making gold.

5. Diversify and Rotate Your Stock

This hinges on that whole “sell everything that’s not nailed down” principle. The easiest way to make sure you sell things is to sell a little bit of everything. A lot of gold making blogs talk about “breaking into a market” or dominating a particular item on your server. Myself? I just sell whatever is in my bags most of the time. I don’t usually stockpile a lot of any one item (we’ll talk about this in the Risk/Reward section) and I just sell one or two things unless I really want to put effort into it.

Mixing it up is basically how I keep myself interested and it also makes it less precarious, particularly if your server (like mine) has a lot of gold barons. Sometimes I sell cooking mats. Sometimes I sell legacy raid drops. Getting in and out of one particular thing that you sell and selling as many different things basically means one person can’t sink your whole operation and you reach many more buyers that way - whether they just need stuff for their raid that night, a particular item for their transmog set or crafting mats for their new alt.

Another way to diversify is to capitalize on short-term buying. This does require a little more effort but doing things like keeping track of holidays and selling items related to them for a short amount of time is a great way to flush your coffers for a week or two. I’m sure you know the great Small Egg debacles around Winter Veil! Again, this requires a little more time/awareness of events in the future, so I don’t suggest it if you just want to do stuff day-to-day.

6. Accept Risk and Yield Rewards

Any attempts to make gold in WoW, no matter how casual, basically is a small level of risk. Increasingly higher risks in-game require a lot more gold in case you fail. Keeping your risk low by selling only what you have and selling it at “safe prices” is a very guaranteed way of never losing any money. Occasionally you will see no one selling what items you have and you can easily attempt to fill that gap and sell for a higher price. This is still low risk, in that if you don’t sell anything, you only lost your fees. Sometimes I see a lot of an item being sold way less than what it usually goes for and I buy it up. Sometimes I manage to sell all of it for a much higher price and sometimes I don’t. This is where risk is really involved. If you want to play it safe, this is a great strategy. But if you feel comfortable with your gold, you can make even a little investment go a long way. Capping yourself (spend only 50 or 100G on buying up items)  is a great way to make a little more money. I’ve lost a bit of gold in some pretty foolish investments, but I still inject a little risk into my daily routine. It’s not re-selling engineering mounts for thousands of golds, but maybe it’s a battle pet for 10G more or a stack of herbs for way more later in the week. Try it!

7.  Patience and Care

I know this is one of the hardest AH rules to master, especially for us gentle auction house users. It is very easy to get discouraged or impatient if something doesn’t sell right away. It’s okay if you take it to the vendor and sell it off. But for me, sometimes it really is worth it if you know you can sell something. You might have to relist it every day for a month but when it finally sells, it makes you feel great. That’s the best part of auction house stuff, that feeling of victory when someone finally buys your items!

Caring about what you’re selling also helps out as well; it feels weird to suggest that, but if you like what you’re throwing up there, it makes the investment worth it. I got into the transmog game pretty early and put a lot more time into it than I really had into a lot of other things prior to. Sometimes you move up from just basic AHing when you find something you legitimately like collecting or watching people and that’s okay. Getting cool stuff to people for money is not a bad goal and it makes you feel like an expert after a while.

8. Tuesdays are Great Days

This is the only non-general rule I have, and I feel that it probably applies to most servers, if not all. A lot of people log on on Tuesdays, especially if your server supports a giant raiding community. Putting your stuff up on Tuesdays means a lot of people are going to be logging on, especially after server downtime, to buy stuff they need for the week. It’s also the time of the week when most of the “weekend warrior” farmer prices have gone back up and you can make a bit more gold with hardly any effort. I like to sell all of my cooking mats and flasks and things that people might need weekly on Tuesdays.

These are just some of my rules for some of you who are looking to just make some gold and have no idea how. Let me know if these things work for you! Hopefully they will and you can buy cute outfits or maybe some new pets or even just manage to pay for your repairs. Like I said before, how much effort you want to put into this is up to you and if you don’t want to follow any of these rules, that’s okay too! But I’ve made a decent amount of gold over my time in WoW, even if it’s not the mega-millions of some people. And I’ve done it at my own pace and with a bare minimum of energy and cutthroat-ness.