Thursday, March 17, 2011

Phuggly's Phinancial Dilemma: A Gold Making Business Plan

I'm submitting this for JMTC's April Carnival......seems right on point for their topic.
Met a player today via trade chat. Super nice guy. He was selling some Primals, which I buy whenever the price is right. They are great for flipping, can be useful in crafting and if nothing else can be turned into Primal Might which sells for around 325g per unit.

Phuggly and I began chatting. ((and he gave permission to use his screen name)). Seems he was trying to raise gold for Cold Weather Flying. He was very candid in describing the challenge he faced in raising enough gold for basic needs. Left with 2g to his name after Cold Weather Flying, his next goal is Artisan Riding for 4,500g. During our conversation I explained how earning gold could be made easier if he were to use some resources, i.e.--blogs, that could help him in this pursuit.

I learned that Phuggly is his highest level character. He has L400 Mining and L281 Blacksmithing. With these limitations I know it will be hard to raise the capital he needs. I couldn't really think of a post that addressed this specific situation--he's not brand new, but he doesn't have a lot of experience or access to professions. I decided that it would be helpful to Phug (and I'm sure other players) to have a guide for this situation.

The result is this post. Read more below the fold
In some ways, Phug is better off than the beginning player when it comes to earning gold. He has a L68 character with two professions somewhat developed. He understands how to run instances, complete quests, and he can fly most everywhere. In other ways he may not be as well off as the starting player. His spending patterns are set, and he has developed habits (good or bad) that may need to be changed.

Therefore, the following plan is designed to capitalize on Phug's strengths and avoid any possible shortfalls. Knowing the limitations is a great asset in this case.

Step One: Prepare for Success

These are the same things I would advise a player at L1.

Set a goal. You can't just say "I want to earn a lot of gold". You need a set goal so you can measure your success day by day. It might be 1,000g, 5,000g or 100,000g. In Phug's case this goal is established already: Artisan Riding is 5,000 base, reduced by faction rep to as low as 4,000g. Let's say for now the goal is 4,500g.

Develop a "gold earning" mindset. For beginning players this might be easier than it is for someone in Phug's position. A gold earning mindset means making sure you don't spend anything unnecessary. Don't buy a new green in the AH or vanity pets or mounts until you reach your goal. Turn on auto loot. Keep selling everything you accumulate that doesn't have any other value--greys, useless whites, BOP quest greens, etc. Eliminate travel to and from SW or any other hub. Keep your farmers in the field, your playing toon in dungeons and use your AH mule as the mail recipient for all the inventory you collect.

If a player's game habits are established already this may come as a major system shock.

Bags, bags and more bags. The amount of gold you can earn at this level is directly proportional to the mobile and static bags space you have available. In talking with Phug, he has max bank slots already, which is good. He also has 14 slot bags for his playing toon and smaller ones in the bank. My advice here would be to collect the materials needed for Imbued Netherweave Bags and Frostweave Bags. Since most of his immediate game play will be in Northrend and Outland, gathering the cloth for these bags should be fairly easy. The Netherweb Spider Silk will be the only item presenting a challenge but using TUJ's alerts will help (more on that later). Infinite Dust will be disenchantable from Northrend greens; same for the Greater Planar Essence from Outland dungeon items.

Assess your skills. In Phug's case we know what skills he has. Mining will be very valuable. The ore he can mine right now all sells well. Blacksmithing is fairly unreliable as a gold earning skill at this point. The cost to level it up may be more than it is worth. Again, more on this later.

Maximize access to professions. This is one of the most important things an aspiring goblin can do. Phug told me he was in a very inactive guild. In fact, he was the highest level player in the guild and seldom was anyone else on line. I invited him to my guild. There are over 375 in my guild, and about eighty L85s. Most guilds will have either a formal policy or an unwritten rule that guildies do not get charged for services.

Remember that ore Phug can mine? Having a guildie prospect it will be huge. Having a Tailor who can craft bags will be wonderful. Gathering up a bag or two full of greens and having an Enchanter DE them for the mats is a super asset. In short, belonging to the right guild, having friends who will help you from time to time--these can make access to professions a reality for a player like Phug.

Install and learn to use helpful addons. Phug told me he uses Auctioneer already. I suggest adding Carbonite, Lightheaded, Skillet and Bagnon. Also, make sure Enchantrix is loaded along with Auctioneer. I prefer Curse Client for updates but some of these are not available from this site.

Step Two: Develop a Business Plan

Your gold earning strategy is nothing more than a business plan. You are starting a business. How you develop the market, use your assets, limit your liabilities and execute your marketing strategies will determine how successful you will be.

Make use of "the Commons". Radio and broadcast TV stations use public airways to distribute their signals. Airlines use domestic airspace for their routes. Rail providers use public domain tracks for their service. Almost without exception there is no charge to these providers when they use these public assets (also known as "the Commons"). The government sets rules of use to protect the public interests.

Earning gold in WoW is very similar. Players have access to the whole of Azeroth and all its dungeons and raids. Players can use the AH, trade chat and the neutral AH to sell wares. Blizz sets the rules for these areas much like the government does for the Commons.

Players have to use everything they can, within the rules, to help them in their pursuit of game play--including gold earning. For Phug, this means using an AH toon and rolling a DK. Since Phug already has a couple of lower level toons one needs to be his mule. Get it to Stormwind and park it by the mailbox in front of the Auction House. This will help eliminate unnecessary travel back and forth to SW.

Rolling a DK is another way to make use of the Commons. Blizz gives us 10 toons and at L58 we are eligible to roll a Death Knight. Since the DK comes out of the starting zone with a full set of 12 slot bags, around 30g and great offensive skills, using one to gather raw materials is a great way to quickly launch a gold earning plan. I suggest Skinning and Herbalism for this DK.

Research the marketplace. This is where The Undermine Journal becomes the goblin's best friend. For Phug and anyone else who doesn't know about TUJ, this site pulls all the sales data from each server in the WoW universe and catalogs the information for use by players. It is very easy to set up. You can also set alerts so that you get an email when some item becomes available in the AH. These alerts can be refined so that you only get notified when the item is available below a certain price. Note: set an alert for Netherweb Spider Silk that can be used in Imbued Netherweave.

Using TUJ for our server, I quickly looked up the sales info for the Ore that Phug has available to mine. Here is what I discovered:

  • Cobalt Ore is trading at 5g ea, or 100g per stack. This price is artificially high according to the Std Deviation. A more realistic price long term is 50g/stack.
  • Khorium Ore is trading at 63g each--that's 1,260 per stack. The price is fairly stable according to the Std Deviation. Figure on sales around 60g each as a good target. (farm in Qul Danas)
  • Saronite Ore is trading at 20g/stack. The price is volatile. 15g/stack is the target here.
  • Fel Iron Ore is trading at 70g/stack. The price is volatile. 60g/stack is the target.
  • Adamantite Ore is trading at 54g/stack. The price is volatile. 45g/stack is the target.
Also using TUJ I noted that the gem values for prospected Ore above are less than the per stack values. Now, let's check on the Enchanting materials from greens.

  • Infinite Dust (Northrend greens) is trading at about 40g/stack. This is very low. A good target is around 80g/stack.
  • Greater Cosmic Essence (Northrend greens) is trading at 16g each. This is high. A good target is 12g each.
  • Greater Planar Essence (Outland greens) is trading at 12g each. This is low. A good target is 18g each.
Since our plan also includes rolling a DK with Skinning and Herbalism I also looked up the various leather and herbs up to Northrend. Without fail, the Outland materials were the most profitable.

Setting priorities in our business plan. Seeing the values above, for Phug, it seems the most profitable ore will be Khorium, followed by Fel Iron, Cobalt, Adamantite and Saronite. Also, disenchanting greens for Enchanting materials would be most profitable for Infinite Dust, then Greater Planar Essence and finally Greater Cosmic Essence.

Since our DK can go straight to Outland I suggest running him through a fast paced profession leveling regimen to get Skinning and Herbalism up to the point where he can maximize these skills in Outland.

Finally, there is an interesting anomaly regarding cloth. Wool to some extent and Frostweave without exception are very high profit. Given the recent change that allows Tailors to get extra cloth drops from random humanoids, I suggest Phug drop Blacksmithing and learn Tailoring. The cost to level the latter is much more reasonable than the former, and will yield a better gold return--especially when leveling in Northrend and getting all that Frostweave. Plus, the added bonus of getting cloth and making his own bags pretty quickly will mean less dependence on guildies and also a new revenue stream.

Articulating the business plan. Based on what we know at this point, our business plan would sound like the following:

"Phug's goal of 4,500g can most quickly be realized by increasing his footprint in profitable professions, making the best use of the AH and eliminating non revenue-positive behavior. By joining a supportive guild, he will find new friends who can help with some crafting professions. By rolling a DK who can Skin and Herb, he will have access to all farming skills. By dropping Blacksmithing in favor of Tailoring he will not only receive additional cloth drops but will also develop Tailoring skills to craft bags for his own use and for sale. Implementing these strategies while also leveling and running dungeons will give Phug the best opportunity to realize his gold goal in less than 5 days of play".

Essentially that is a little more than 400g/hour. But I think its very doable. Maybe even in half the time.

Step Three: Executing the Business Plan

Some of the plan requires non-revenue activity. Other parts require investment upfront. Here is how the plan should be executed.

  • Move the AH mule into position. Equip him with whatever bag inventory is available now. If that is no new bags then so be it. Run a scan every few hours to develop a database of AH stats. This is revenue neutral but easy and quick.
  • Install the addons listed above and make sure Carbonite Nodes has been imported. Easy.
  • Roll a DK. Play the DK through the starting area quests. As soon as he emerges, send him to Ironforge to learn Skinning and Herbalism. After learning class skills and learning the two new profs, send 75% of his gold on-hand to the AH mule. This will take a couple hours or more to play through the quests but does generate a little capital. Not fast but fun and revenue positive.
  • Go to Wow Profession Guides and print the profession leveling guides for Skinning, Mining and Herbalism. This will give maps for where to farm. Fast. Good tool.
  • Follow the profession guides to level the DK's Skinning and Herbalism to current level max. Prolonged. Revenue expended here.
  • The mule should scan in the Trade Goods sections for any items severely undervalued that can be flipped. It might only be a few Primals or a couple stacks of Leather but any positive gold acquisition is beneficial at this point. Fast and free.
  • Either intermixed with leveling the DK profs or immediately after, Phug should send his Mining toon around Hellfire, Zangamarsh and Nagrand to gather all the ore he can find. Set aside a certain amount of time for this--say two hours. Send the acquired ore to the mule for listing in the AH. Developing inventory for sale. Good move.
  • Drop Blacksmithing and learn Tailoring. Quick.
  • By now there should be some additional revenue that has come in for leveling Tailoring to the current level max. If more cloth is needed, farm it in zones or instances. Wool is plentiful in Westfall or in The Stockades. Mageweave can be found in Eastern and Western Plaguelands and Scholomance. Netherweave is an Outland cloth. Long term goal, but worthwhile.
  • Move from Outland to Northrend and begin leveling Phug in that zone. Keep half the Frostweave that drops for personal use and send the rest to AH mule for sale. Keep the BOE greens and sell the BOP greens. Run instances with the guild to make sure you get better drops and gear up for free. Fun and more fun.
  • As DK levels Skinning and Herbalism, move to increasingly harder zones so that the skins and herbs are orange or yellow at worst. As soon as possible get him to Outlands for those herbs. Inventory. Profit.
  • Once you have DK ready to farm Outlands and Phug mining in Northrend, set aside a couple hours per day to pursue farming in those areas. It is a travel nightmare to get from Northrend to Outlands and back but it will be worth the trip if you can get a few stacks of Fel Iron on the trip. Fun and profitable. Gank a lower Hordie if he's flagged when you go by.
  • Rinse and repeat. Craft new bags as you can; sell the ones you don't need. Sell Frostweave cloth. Keep sending ore, skins and herbs for listing in AH. Get a guildie to DE the surplus greens you have and sell the enchanting materials.
Realizing the Goal

It is not unrealistic to expect 500g/hour farming these materials. It might take some down time to level the skills where they need to be. It will also take some investment to learn the new Tailoring patterns. However, check out these potential results:
  • One hour of farming Fel Iron in Outland yesterday produced 12 stacks of Ore for me. I kept the ore for personal use, but at 49g/stack in the AH it would have yielded 588g.
  • One hour of farming herbs in Outland today gave me 6 stacks of Felweed (at 44g/stack, 264g), 3 stacks of Dreaming Glory (at 59g/stack, 177g) and one stack of Terocone (at 110g/stack). That is over 550g. 
So yes, it is very possible to earn the 4,500g needed for Artisan Riding in a very short time.

Add to this the incremental gold from greys and whites, from selling cloth, from AH flipping and well, Phug is well on his way to Goblin status.

I'm sure this quick reference guide is missing some key elements. If any of you fellow bloggers note any errors of omission or areas for improvement please feel free to add them in comments. I'm excited to have the opportunity to help a new player--and I'm sure the blogging community will embrace Phuggly as well.

Let's win this one for the home team.


  1. While I do agree with your advice, I think that it's not quite the way to go in this case (in a way, it might be "too much" for a beginner, and it's definitely not necessary to spoil the fun yet).

    Given that it's Phugglys first and highest character, he should focus on the "fun" aspect of the game first, but create the basis for a future in the gold-making business, if he wants to do so, that is.

    So, what I'm suggesting is this: For the short-team goal (Artisan Flying), double gathering professions is the way to go (Mining/Herbalism, drop Blacksmithing).

    While he's leveling his main character he should then develop what you called "gold earning mindset", for it makes it possible to become a high net worth individual once he's maxed out and ready to start with the crafting process.

    Well, that's how things started for me, always being aware of the possibilities to make gold, but creating a solid financial basis with gathering professions.

    Sooner or later he'll have more characters at his disposal and should distribute various crafting professions among them.

  2. @ Vayaz: You captured the essence of my dilemma--I finally decided to err on the side of too much rather than not enough. If Phug wants to use part of the tips he has lots to choose from. Going minimalist would have left the discussion open to 'gee, you failed to tell him about XXX'. Re-edited this several times to end up with this copy. Thanks for comment--on point, as usual.

  3. It's funny, because I believe it was my "gold earning mindset" that actually prevented me from buying my cold weather flying and epic flying until I had enough of a buffer to feel comfortable dropping that much gold.

    As far as the guide goes, I think that the fact that it is laid out in a step-by-step manner allows a beginner to progress at their own pace. There isn't any need to do everything all at once, just start from step one, and work your way through it. So, I would say that it works as a beginner's guide to gold making. There are some higher-level ideas towards the end, but I think it keeps people pointed in the right direction.

  4. @ Kathroman: same for me. I never spent anything I wasn't absolutely required to spend.

    Thanks for the comment. I tried to set out a set of ideas that could be used independent of each other or as a complete unit. Hope I captured all the possibilities.

  5. Really useful and information-filled post. Is it ok if I point people here who approach me with the same dilemma?

  6. @ Gold Queen: of course you may! Thanks for the support.

  7. I really like the "set a goal" part you mentioned in the beginning. I had never played any MMORPG before WoW, though I had played some old text strategy games that were real heavy on econ building. Probably one of the best tips my friend who introduced me to WoW gave me when I first started was a complete breakdown of how much gold I wanted to strive for, for every milestone level my toon hit, with the ultimate goal of having enough at the end for everything I needed.

    I would be a bit concerned that for a beginner some of the rest might be too much info at once and be very overhwelming though.

    Excellent write up though. I get a lot of whispers for people on this subject so I will definitely be pointing some of the more capable ones to your write-up.

  8. Thanks for the comment Skorpsy! I was frustrated with how mysterious gold earning was and it was so integral to the game--I almost quit early on as a result.

    You are right, some of these tactics are more advanced but I'm hopeful that a player will grow into them.

    Appreciate the kind words. Hope you keep reading!

  9. Dingalot@RavencrestApril 4, 2011 at 4:59 AM

    Especially the words: Turn Autoloot on!
    I have an addon which summarizes my auto-looted greys after vendoring, and also helps me dump lowest value-items when space-shortage is happening.
    The sum on my lvl 85 pala is now around 5000g - all made from vendoring greys.
    Is it too lazy not to bend down when you find a 100 on the street?

  10. I came here via Markco's Carnival.

    Good read! Would be useful for me to 'restart' a gold making regiment.

    I'd like to point out that you said to keep half of the Frostweave to level tailoring and sell the other half. I would suggest to not sell Frostweave cloth until you compare price of selling raw cloth and sell Frostweave bag(and maybe Imbued Frostweave bag). As Phug level tailoring, s/he is bound to be able to craft those bags, so why not hold onto the cloth for a while longer for a bit more profit?(Unless raw Frostweave cloth is worth more. Then sell as much as you can and keep enough only to level tailoring)

    Sorry that was a long comment...

    Keep up the good work! I'll go read your other posts ^_^