Sunday Blog Post Roundup Vol. 5

What a week — the blog-o-sphere is on fire with good stuff to read.  Hang with me to the very end of this list, they are all excellent.

The Gold Queen posted a tip on how to “shuffle” leather.  It’s actually a type of currency arbitrage, and a good, easy tip.  Check the prices on your server before you jump in.

Croda at marketsforgold had two really good posts — one on how to get a guild bank (which actually points out there are some downsides to it) and one that shows exactly how they evaluate items for flipping potential, step by step.

Jim Younkin from Power Word: Gold posted a list of exactly what money making professions he’d recommend you have depending on how many characters you have to work with.

Mommar from Just My Two Copper didn’t use the words “business process” in his post, but that’s exactly what he was talking about when he posted about keeping a list of daily activities.

Faid from clockworkriot wrote two great inscription related posts.  The first was on preparation for MoP, and the second was on tactics for dealing with competition in the glyph market.

Staying on the topic of dealing with competition for a moment, on Phat Lewt’s Gold Blog, Mr. Lewt’s wrote a simple post about the basic ways gold earners track the activity of other sellers.

On ALT:ernative, The Godmother posted an excellent take on Blizzard’s new guild mentoring program.  I, however, took something else away from the post — her list of questions used when interviewing potential guild members.  I always say when I’m looking for people to work with, the only two really important qualifications are that they are cool and smart — most of the rest you can teach.

Focushot from Hunter Mastery shared a list of 10 gold making tips.  They are specific ideas for products you might not have considered.

Finally last but certainly NOT least, Cold from Cold’s Gold Factory gave his opinion on why the old gold earning cliche “buy low, sell normal” is a joke.  Also make sure to check out all the great posts that were entered into Cold’s Gold Blogging Carnival for July.

 

Marketing: Brought to you by the Letter P

(Well, I just had to make that joke at some point.)

I didn’t finish my college degree until I was a working adult.  When I did go back to finish I selected a program in eBusiness, all the rage at the time.  None of my prior education was business oriented, so I was happy to go back and learn all the basics of business.  However when I saw that every student was required to take a marketing course, I was…. well, concerned.  I didn’t care about advertising.

What I didn’t understand is that marketing does not equal advertising.  Advertising, or promotion, is only one part of marketing.  The definition of marketing that I like is:

The management process through which goods and services move from concept to the customer.

That isn’t part of business, that IS business.  It’s what we do even in WoW when we undertake serious gold earning whether or not we realize it.

The Four Ps

Basic marketing courses break the overall marketing process into four parts, called the four Ps:

  • Product — defining exactly what you wish to sell and how you will produce it.
  • Price — determining the right price, including volume pricing, discounts, terms, etc.
  • Promotion — communicating with potential customers to raise awareness and interest in your product.
  • Place — how or where you will actually perform sales transactions with customers.  (Not the best name, but they needed it to start with P.  Think “distribution”.)

Each of the four Ps is interrelated — for example how you produce the product effects the price, and the price might effect who you want to promote the product to, etc.  Modern formulations try to be more “customer focused” by changing product to customer or service, promotion becomes communication, place becomes convenience, etc.  But for our purposes it’s all the same idea.

When you read about a gold earning idea one way to start to break it down, evaluate and understand it is to identify the four Ps within it.  This is a great way to start creating your business process activities and figuring out if there are any gaps in the plan.  Let’s see how this applies to you in WoW by evaluating the four Ps of one gold earning market people love to recommend and write about: mysterious fortune cards.

Well the first P is easy, right?  The product is mysterious fortune cards: all done.  Not so fast speedy — you need to define exactly how you will obtain the product.  For cards you would have two choices: make them or buy them.  You would then break each of those options down further to evaluate them.  What materials are required to make them, and where would you get the materials?  Where or from whom would you buy cards to resell?  You could even consider if you should sell cards only or make some of them into Fortune Cookies, where buyers would get stat food and a chance to win gold.

Pricing mysterious fortune cards optimally is not as easy as it might seem.  Obviously you need to know how much it will cost you to make or buy them.  But then you need to test or guess what price people would pay that would maximize your profit, because presumably the higher the price, the lower the volume will be.  Also, when you think about price, think about the quantity or quantities you want to sell in.  Do you want to sell single cards or stacks of 200?  Finally of course, what is the competition pricing at?  You’ll probably want to do some test marketing and adjust your prices based on your results.

In some ways there isn’t a lot of promotion in WoW.  A lot of the time the only promotion I do is to list an item on the auction house — that’s promotion, it how I communicate to my buyers.  Many of the fortune card advocate out there suggest that more promotion than that is required to maximize the potential of card selling.  By “barking” in trade channel and either selling directly to players, or just using trade to advertise listings on the auction house, they instill interest in buyers who might not otherwise look for cards.

Finally there is place.  Again, in most cases for me I sell things on the auction house.  But you might find it more effective to deliver fortune cards to players in person.  Or who knows, selling outside the capital cities might be worth doing, especially if you are selling cookies.  Perhaps you could start a COD business — card of the day club anyone?

It’s too bad this concept is so wordy, because it is easier to apply it than it is to explain it.  I hope the wonky-ness of this doesn’t turn you off from trying it mentally the next time you read about a potential new product to sell.  It is a powerful concept that can help you make sure you are getting the most from your gold earning ideas.

 

Auction House Changes Comment Summary

A good while back Robin Torres at WoW Insider posted a breakfast topic that linked to a post of mine and posed the question to their readers “how would you change the auction house?“  I’ve been intending to summarize the comments for awhile, sorry it took so long.

Buy Orders

Simply stated everyone wants them.  Buy orders are the ability to post an offer to buy something at a certain price.  Pretty much the only detail hinted at in the comments is whether or not the system should allow orders to be partially filled.  This point is related to other comments below about how commodities are handled.  I’d say when I set up the buy order I should be able to specify if I want partial fulfillment allowed, but however it would be done it should be consistent with how commodity sell orders are handled.

Options for sorting and filtering auctions

Here’s a list of just some of the numerous sorting and filtering options people would like to see added to the standard UI.

  • Sort by unit price
  • Sort by buy out
  • Search multiple categories at a time like all ranged weapons
  • Exact match check box (ie “Lava Coral” would not return “Reckless Lava Coral”)
  • Filter by expansions (ie Cataclysm herbs… )
  • Cut and uncut gems in separate categories
  • Darkmoon faire artifacts in a category
  • View by stats (gems and gear)
  • View by socket color for gems (ie orange, red and purple for a red socket)
  • Trasmog features, eligible or not, models, colors
  • See more on one screen and summarize multiple listings (“auctionator style”)
  • Search within the filtered list

Make it like the Diablo III auction house, or not

A lot of people love the Diablo III auction house and suggest that WoW should either work exactly the same way or adopt many of its features.  On the other hand a fewer number of people specifically didn’t like aspects of D3.

The main plus seems to be that commodity items in Diablo III are treated more as “fungible” items — in other words if you have 1000 herbs to list you just list them, you don’t package or price them in stacks.  Further when you buy 1000 herbs you are simply presented with the lowest priced 1000 to buy.  I’m neutral about this idea, it would often be convenient but would also take away my ability to package and price items with discounts for volume buys.

Sales information

Most people agree that information is power and we need more!  Pluses sited for getting sales information include that it would help sellers price items, help buyers decide if prices are fair, and hurt those who attempt to take advantage by pricing things in manipulative or deceptive ways.  People suggested that average sales or posting prices should be easily viewable in the posting and buying UI.

Some commenters suggested people just use the undermine journal — I love the undermine journal, but it doesn’t have and can’t get actual sales information, it only know about posted prices.

Other feature and function ideas

  • Buy multiple stacks with one click
  • Buy or sell partial stacks
  • Listing commodities “stackless” like Diablo III
  • Check box to select lines and do something to them all
  • Make the neutral auction house cross server, or add a cross realm/battle group auction house
  • Combine alliance and horde auction houses on the same realm, go all neutral
  • Make it easier to post multiple items by just putting them in a special bag
  • Adjusting auction fees based on reputation or other factors
  • Functions to blacklist or whitelist sellers/buyers
  • Making the mail interface to the auction house better or removing it so that items you buy simply appear in your inventory if you have space, and sales proceeds appear in your gold total without opening mail.
  • Finally I had one new idea while writing this summary — make common vendor items (poisons, reagents, etc) available in the auction house, just as a convenience.

Pricing and selling restrictions

Well all that is already a lot of comments and ideas,  but by far and away the most discussion was had around people’s desire to regulate “bad” behavior via posting or buying restrictions.  These suggestions included:

  • Price caps based on level or numerous other criteria to prevent gouging
  • Limits on the number of auctions you can post at one time
  • Price minimums or restrictions on undercutting existing auctions
  • Limits on buying that would disallow you from buying all of an item in an effort to “corner the market”

I think it’s important to acknowledge the real concerns people have that give rise to these suggestions.  It’s valid to want the market to be useful to players of all experience levels.  It’s valid to want truly new players to be able to level their professions naturally as they level their characters.  And people feel frustrated competing with other players who seem to have vast resources — both gold and time.

That said, numerous commenters pointed out the flaws with these type of restrictions.  While low level characters suffer when low level materials sell for high prices, they also benefit from selling these materials at high prices as they naturally collect them playing in lower level zones.  Concerns about access to materials needed to level professions could be addressed by providing alternative methods to level professions or obtain materials (ie quests or special vendors).  Players who try to “corner the market” quickly discover that if you don’t control the supply, you can’t control the market — while you may not be challenged immediately, anyone can mine ore or make glyphs and disrupt your market at anytime.  More (sales) information and better ways to filter and sort auction listings would help eliminate a lot of the deceptive practices people employ.

Finally regarding undercutting, I’ll quote one of the best comments from rolua89.  (Sorry it’s long but it’s all good stuff — it could be it’s own blog post!)

Here’s the thing about undercutting by a copper: When someone undercuts by a copper, his competitors don’t lose hardly anything by undercutting him back, again by a copper. This means that the most sales will go to the person who has the most time to camp the AH.

Contrast this with undercutting by a large margin: Now, in order to undercut, that player’s competitors must make a non-trivial sacrifice of profit if they want to get ahead in sales. This means that the most sales will go to the player who is most willing to slash his profit margins. It also means that, out of two people equally aggressive with their undercutting, the most profit will go to the one who can produce the item at the lowest cost, since he can make that market unprofitable for his competitors.

If I would rather do something other than camp the AH for hours at a time, I am then motivated to undercut heavily. This immediately gives my competitors a choice: they can undercut me again, and cut their own profits, or they can wait it out and let my auctions get bought out, with theirs next in line. They have a choice between cutting profits or cutting sales volume. Either way they don’t make as much money. Which is exactly what’s supposed to happen when two suppliers compete in a market.

With all this in mind, remember that every sale that is made comes from a player wanting the item and being willing to pay the lowest price listed. If a market has tons of demand, then it doesn’t matter whether your competitors undercut heavily. They’ll get bought out extremely quickly, and then yours will be the lowest auctions up. But if there’s not enough demand to consume the volume being brought in by the suppliers, the price WILL drop, and you will make less money.

But what happens if no one undercuts by much, and the demand drops off? Then you still don’t make much money, because even with all that effort posting and reposting, no one is buying your auctions.

Either way, you still make less money with less demand. But if people undercut heavily, at least you’ll know the market is flooded, instead of posting again and again with no sales.

Heavy undercutting doesn’t ruin a market; low demand ruins a market.

Thanks again to Robin Torres, WoW Insider and all the wonderful commenters!

Is Gold Earning Resume Worthy?

As a new blogger I’m learning that coming up with things to write about that haven’t already been well covered in the extensive WoW fan universe is really difficult.  It’s a “Simpon’s Already Did It” situation.  Whether or not to put WoW experience on your resume is no exception — most recently I heard it discussed on The Instance Podcast in response to a listener question.  But usually the discussions focus on guild leadership skills.  The podcast made me wonder if gold earning skills deserve at least the same level of consideration in this regard.

Forget the resume for a moment.

Do we gain skills or experience gold earning that could make us more effective in an actual job?  In some very niche cases we do for sure — if you modify or write addons for gold earning and want a job as a lua programmer for example.  I’m a bit more skeptical about specific marketing or sales skills however.  The way most gold earners sell in WoW, using the auction house, does not require the same sensibilities that real life sales jobs require.  We do perform market/product evaluations and set prices, but we don’t have to deal with distribution issues or promotion in the same way you do outside the game.

One exception to this might be if you sell items using the trade channel.  If you are persistent and participate in many conversations with “random people” over a long period you will likely learn how to steer a nibble PST conversation into a sale.  It’s hard to learn — my guess is that most people that aren’t born sales people don’t sell this way in WoW.  I generally don’t.

Outside of these specifics, I do think by undertaking serious, goal oriented gold earning you quickly internalize some general market principles that, if recognized, considered and applied, could aid decision making in a real world situation.  For example, you learn the factors to consider in make/buy decisions.  These general principles would likely be best utilized in a real entrepreneurial endeavor as opposed to the more typical situation of working “for the man.”  Play WoW — start a business!

So back to the resume.

Suppose you have learned something while gold earning that would make you better at a job you are applying for.  Should you mention WoW, and if so, how?  The general consensus seems to be that this is difficult and you should proceed carefully.  The biggest barrier is that many or most of the people you need to communicate with will not have a clue about WoW or MMOs in general.  Also gaming and gamers can have a negative reputation with some as violent (at worst), addictive, and worthless (at best).

But don’t forget that putting something on your resume is not the only way to “take credit” for knowledge or experience during the job evaluation process.  Cover letters (which I believe should be one page only please) offer more flexibility.  Usually interviews contain some question about how you spend your leisure time, you can craft a verbal answer to fit there.  You can also talk about your professional values, decision making process, market philosophy and other general knowledge without mentioning WoW.  If they ask you how you developed your philosophy, then you have an opening to discuss it more specifically.

Try this — imagine how you would tell your mother, or her mother, about this skill and why it would make you better at the job in question. Assuming your mother isn’t a gamer, If you can effectively convey the skill and its connection to the job to her, then that method of communication is probably safe to use in a job evaluation process.

One final thought — It’s hard to find a job, believe me, I know.  Sometimes we just need one and we can’t afford to be too terribly picky about it.  But in an ideal world, would you want to work for someone or someplace where you couldn’t discuss your WoW experience?  Even though you apply for jobs and they make offers, don’t forget that you should evaluate the opportunity as carefully as they evaluate you.  Maybe mentioning your gold earning experience in WoW is a good way to test if this is the right job for you.

Learn During the Lull

July’s topic for Cold’s Gold Blogging Carnival is:

“What Do You Recommend Players Do During The Current WoW Lull To Benefit Gold Making In The Future?”

Back in May I wrote about this very topic in the post “Everyone’s Gone! What Should I Do?“  Looking back on my suggestions and considering how things have gone for me since then, I’d emphasize even more strongly what a great time this is to learn and experiment.  Learn how to do new things now so you can profit from them should an opportunity present itself in the future.  For example:

  • Max out professions and hunt for new recipes
  • Learn how to use a new addon, or learn all the advanced features of your existing addons
  • Search the internet for new gold making ideas and experiment — actually try them
  • Adjust your goals, write them down, and optimize your business processes accordingly.
  • Play the MoP Beta and read about upcoming gold making changes in some of the great guides being written.  (Check back, I try to link the good/new ones as they are posted)

There is one caution here — this is not a good time to gather data about market behavior and make final decisions about what markets to play in the future.  Everything will change around the expansion, not the least being that market volumes will fluctuate widely.  Be ready to be as flexible as possible by increasing your gold earning skills now, while you have the time.

Sunday from the Archives: Maintenance Window Tactics

I’m away from home this weekend in real life, so I haven’t kept up with my blog reading.  Instead of a normal blog roundup I offer this — a re-post of the very first Warcraft Street post, about maintenance window tactics.  I’m sure most of you weren’t reading way back then, a whole month ago.

It’s Sunday, so you have time to put this information to use before the Tuesday/Wednesday weekly window. I won’t even make you click — here’s the post in it’s entirety.


Most regular auction house players have a daily routine — Wake up, log in, start a scan, put on some coffee, etc.  However each week we’re faced with a regular maintenance window (Tuesday mornings in North America) which can interrupt this cycle.  So what’s the best way to manage your routine around this scheduled downtime?

  1. Be aware of the schedule.  Recently the server status forum moderators have gotten very good about posting the maintenance plan ahead of time in North America at least.  Some weeks there will be only rolling restarts, meaning each realm will be down for only a few minutes.  Other weeks there may be longer windows starting at 3 am or 5 am and scheduled for up to 8 hours.  Check the service status forum the day before and plan based on the information there.  Sometimes the plans change, but lately the information there has been pretty accurate.  Also, be sure to note the time zone and adjust the schedule in your mind to your local or server time properly.
  2. Know how downtime affects auction times.  The bottom line here is that the clock on auctions keeps ticking during the downtime.  This means that if an auction is posted at 9 pm on Monday for 12 hours and there is maintenance on Tuesday morning until 11 am, when the servers come back up those auctions will be expired.
  3. Adjust your auction postings.  For items where the auction posting fee is a significant factor in your profit margin, consider holding items and posting them after the servers come back up.  After all, why pay a fee for time when no one will be able to buy your items?  However for many items with very low posting fees (glyphs, scrolls, enchanting materials, etc) it may be advantageous to lengthen your post times before the downtime to ensure that when the servers come back up, you have items ready for eager buyers.  Competitor’s items may expire and you’ll be there to grab the business.  Finally, you may want to review auctions with bids pending and make sure you don’t want to cancel them — if your auction expires during the downtime the last bid will win.
  4. Check for bidding opportunities. While the clock may be your enemy where auction house posting fees are concerned, it can be your friend when bidding on items.  If you bid on items, be sure to check for good opportunities on items where the auction time will expire during (or largely be eaten by) the downtime.
  5. Accept when plans change.  It happens — servers may come back up earlier than scheduled or they may be down for much longer than planned.   So if you can keep an eye on the server status, react accordingly.

A lot of what you can do depends on your personal schedule.  Not everyone can be online right before or right after the maintenance window.  But adding some easy planning around the maintenance window to your existing knowledge of your own products, markets, and margins can allow you to find a new way to optimize your profits.

Not Stocking Up: Enchanting Materials and Scrolls

I’ve been following the tide in the blog-o-sphere lately and writing a lot about stocking up for Mists of Pandaria.  It’s almost dishonest of me, because it’s not in line with my normal gold earning philosophy.  So I thought I’d write today about my reasons for not stocking up in general using the example of enchanting materials and scrolls.

Enchanting scrolls have become my main source of gold income lately, not by design really — it just naturally happened after I hit my last gold goal.  I eased back the intensity of my market presence and it just turned out that scrolls took less time to keep doing.  The glyph market on my server goes though periods of heavy competition. I had been shuffling ore but that business suffered from the introduction of epic Cata gems, plus it’s just plain a lot of work to do correctly.

Given that enchanting is a main money making market for me right now, you might think I’d want to stockpile materials or scrolls as a way hedge against anticipated demand driven price spikes.  I have to admit that perhaps I could make money doing this.  But my business process for enchanting is set up as a lean manufacturing operation, and building up inventory is against the basic principles of lean — it is in fact considered one of the “eight wastes“.

I use a pull system with one piece flow for my enchanting process.  To start, I maintain a list of possible scrolls to make.  Once a day or so I scan the auction house and identify the scrolls that will make a minimum profit based on the materials costs and market price.  From this list of potentially profitable scrolls, I plan to make one of each only if I’m currently completely out of stock.  (Make sure there aren’t expired auction scrolls sitting in your mail box when you determine what you are out of.)  This is called a pull signal.  Being out of stock on a profitable scroll “tells” me to make one, otherwise I do nothing.

Based on this production plan, or queue, I purchase the materials I need.  I don’t maintain any inventory of materials beyond the inevitable few leftovers.  I use TSM: Shopping, just like I do for herbs, to get the lowest materials prices.  Often I can get the materials for below my scan-based cost estimate because TSM allows me to find good deals to disenchant, and my guild has the perk bountiful bags.  This creates a profit estimate cushion.

Then I simply make the scrolls and post them at a moderate undercut to the current lowest price.  Of course I also repost any auctions that have expired or have been undercut.  I can increase my profit by restocking and reposting more often.

The frequency of sales determines a natural “heart beat” for each scroll’s pull signal.  To maximize my profit in theory, my process needs to match that “heart beat” as closely as possible.  In reality my process frequency is determined by my time availability and an average market “heart beat”.  You can adjust to a higher stock level to partially compensate for outlying scrolls that sell much faster than most.

I find it hard to anticipate exactly what will happen as we approach and experience the expansion, and this means that stockpiling creates risk.  On the other hand, my process pretty much guarantees I won’t lose money — I’m paying a potential opportunity cost to buy that guarantee.  But mostly my reason for not stockpiling boils down to the fact that I like this process.  It’s fun, it’s easy, and it’s proven over time to make gold.  I’ll be the first to post here when/if I end up regretting my decision to stay on the enchanting stockpiling sidelines.

Quartz Addon for Professions?

I’m sure you could do this with the cast bar addon of your choice, but I just happen to use Quartz.  Purely by accident one day on my scribe I had quartz activated and I noticed that it performed a very useful function.

When I’m making a lot of ink using the “Create All” button, Quartz lets me know how long it will take in total and displays my overall progress along the way.  Simple, and very handy if you are someone who likes to multitask.

Now I’m off to make more ink!

Buying Herbs to Mill using TSM: Shopping

TradeSkillMaster is completely overwhelming at first, and because of that there are plenty of good articles floating around that try to walk you through setting it up initially. (Check out the TradeSkillMaster site, WoW Insider, or just Google it.)

Personally, I found I just had to jump in.  I had used Auctioneer before and was therefore somewhat familiar with the concepts, so your mileage may vary.  But luckily I had one thing in my back pocket that you have too — the business process model.  I didn’t try to use all of TSM, and to this day I still don’t touch half of it.  Instead I poked around to find what TSM had to offer for specific activities.

Along those lines, shopping is a good place to start, specifically buying herbs to use in the production of glyphs.  In order to get the best prices, you need to determine the ink yield you’ll get from each type of herb, then compare different herb prices to each other and to the price of pigments or already made inks people may be selling.  On top of all that, you can trade blackfallow ink for all the other types of common ink, so you only want to make the other inks if they are cheaper to make than blackfallow.

TSM: Shopping knows all of this out of the box.  It has a function called destroying that lets you search for lion’s ink (for example) and all its components and all the alternative means of getting it at the same time.  Then it lists auctions for you in order of the cheapest way to ultimately end up with lion’s ink.  The destroying function of TSM:Shopping also offers searches for enchanting materials (disenchanting) and raw gems (prospecting) that work in much the same way.

To get started, you need to download and install the TSM core addon and TSM: Shopping at a bare minimum.  (Even though we are using the destroying function inside TSM: Shopping, you don’t need TSM: Destroying — that module is for the actual milling or disenchanting processes after you buy materials.)  Then head over to an auction house and open your auction interface.  You’ll notice that there is an additional tab labeled “TSM”.

Depending on what you installed, your screen may have fewer or more tabs or buttons.  However you should see a button on the left for destroying.  After selecting it, select the destroy “mode” for milling by pressing the mill icon near the upper left (the mortar and pestle.)  Then moving to the left across the top, choose common inks and ink of the sea (just for an example) from the drop downs.  Hitting search should then begin a process where the addon scans your auction house and produces a list similar to the one pictured above.  (Note, if you’ve never scanned the auction house before, you won’t have % market values.)

If you get this far you’ve got the addon installed and working.  But we need to think about how to use it in our business process activity “buying herbs for inscription”.  The objective of this activity will be to buy the least costly materials to restock our ink supplies.  Because I make glyphs every day, I keep a small buffer supply of ink on my scribe at all times.

As you can see I have no ink of the sea or ethereal ink.  So after identifying what I’m shopping for, I would use destroying to produce a list like the one above and starting at the top I’d buy materials.  Because I keep amounts on hand and use them often, I don’t bother trying to hit an exact inventory level.  Notice that when I happened to screen shot this scan, the ingredients to make blackfallow ink and trade it for ink of the sea were cheaper than the direct ingredients for ink of the sea.  It’s extremely convenient that these comparisons are made based on yield estimates that might vary for different methods and you don’t have to figure it all out.

Two details to think about:

  1. Set the “Even Stacks” check box as you wish, but think about what makes sense for your process.  If you mill your own herbs on the same character that does all the other activies, you may not have room in your bags or bank for leftover, un-millable small stacks.  And non-standard stack sizes can mess up some milling macros.  However in my case, I send the materials to my business partner to mill.  He has a dedicated toon that manages milling, including all the odds and ends, allowing us to pick up really cheep herbs when they are offered in very small quantities and use them later.
  2. I haven’t figured out a good way to put in bids using this process.  (If someone has, please post it here!!!)  Before TSM I maintained my own lists of herbs to buy per ink produced and when I searched for them I could put in bids on some where the buyout was too high but the bid was a real steal.  I managed to pick up some real bargains that way, but not as many as you’d think.  Overall this process is better despite this “problem”.

It’s important to end by saying don’t be afraid to try this, you really can’t break anything.  You have nothing to lose, and gold to gain.  Try it, and let me know how it goes for you.

Ugh, a Mission Statement. Really?

Anyone who’s spent time in corporate America (guilty) will likely shudder when I bring up the idea of having a WoW gold mission statement.  The idea brings up memories of spending hours in cramped meeting rooms with colleagues arguing over tediously worded statements written on flip chart paper taped to the walls, when you could have been working on an actual product or service for your customers.

Hear me out.  Flip charts are not required here, but I do think you’ll be well served if you determine a few key guidelines to fall back on during your gold making journey.  If you can’t stomach the term “mission statement”, think of them as your personal WoW gold philosophy and strategy.  As an example, here is what works well for me currently:

Frinka’s Current Goal: Start blogging and prepare for MoP. 

Frinka’s Current Gold Making Principles:

  • Have fun.
    • Getting hacked is not fun, so have an authenticator.
    • Getting banned is not fun so, follow the games legal agreements.
    • Getting yelled at or hated on is no fun so be kind to other players, even the jerks.
    • Prioritize game activities appropriately based on my real life values.
    • If something becomes merely a chore, stop doing it.
  • Develop business processes.
    • Break down the steps of what you do to make.
    • Optimize each part — addons, schedule, order, assignments.
  • Go lean.
    • Inventory (in general) is a liability.
    • Make just what you can sell quickly and avoid stockpiling.
    • Undercut competition to move inventory.  If the current auction house lowest price is below your cost, that is already a (unrealized) loss.
    • Target markets with low fees — faction auction houses and low deposit goods.
  • Walmart, not Tiffany’s.
    • Be present on the auction house as consistently as possible.
    • Target markets with high sales volumes.
    • Buy low, sell regular.
    • Don’t count on the big gamble, go for the time tested sure thing.
    • Slow and steady wins the race.

So adapt these, don’t adopt them.  I know people disagree with me about some of this, but it works really well for me.  (More on the details in future blog posts.)  You may adopt a philosophy based completely on arbitrage and using stockpiling like a WoW version of a futures market.  That’s cool.  Not to be too “new agey” but whatever you do, do it mindfully, have a purpose.

Finally, you have to constantly evaluate how things are working.  I’ll write more about how specifically to measure what you do in the future, but know that you may have to change and adapt your strategies as you find out what works and what doesn’t.