There comes a time for us all when funding your adventures in Azeroth seems like an uphill battle: you've got alts who demand fast flying, fancy capes with major transmogrification potential, and professions to level on all fronts. Questing and dailies bring in a steady flow of cash- especially out in the wilds of Pandaria- but for serious streams of revenue, the Auction House is your best bet. You look it up on the internets, but the sites you find are dedicated to the hardcore millionaires. You're not interested in conquering the gem market or making millions, you just want to fund your altoholism- and maybe have a bit left over to drop a dime on pure luxury goods (there's no shame in getting that mammoth two xpacs late).
With me so far? Let's get started. You'll need:
- A dedicated banker alt
- At least 20 gold in his or her possession
- Four of the largest bags you can get your grubby mitts on
- The Auctioneer add-on
- The LilSparky's Workshop add-on
- 15 minutes every two days
- Roll your banker alt. Make him or her look as sexy as humanly possible, and consider his or her starting outfit when choosing their class. If you require a sexier shirt or pants, force a friend to roll an alt and make them send you their low-level clothing.
- Send your banker four bags and at least 20 gold. Move your banker to the main city that best matches his or her hair. Auctions houses are located in [Horde] Thunder Bluff, Undercity, Silvermoon, and Orgrimmar / [Alliance] Darnassus, Ironforge, the Exodar, and Stormwind.
- Load the Auctioneer and Lil' Sparky add-ons.
Auctioneer is the only add-on I use for the Auction House, and I only use it to keep track of prices. It has a lot of complex functions that I just can't be assed to figure out, and since this guide is for my fellow idiots, let's assume you, too, cannot be assed.
- Perform a Get All Scan. Speak to an Auctioneer in any major city and go to the top of the Auction House window. You'll have a single triangle button, a couple of greyed-out pause and stop buttons, and a blue double triangle button. Click the double triangle button (you'll have to click it again after a warning pops up).
- Post Using the 'Post' Tab. With Auctioneer installed, you have additional tabs along the bottom of the Auction House window. Click on the one labeled 'Post' and drag your items into the square posting window. Auctioneer will automatically price the auction to either undercut the existing competition by 5%, or will suggest a price based on previous Auction House scans. Just double-check to make sure the price isn't zero, which happens if Auctioneer doesn't have enough information (this usually only happens when you start using Auctioneer, since it hasn't scanned the AH often enough to make an educated guess. It happens less as you scan more).
TEN TIPS FOR MAKING GOLD ON THE AUCTION HOUSE
- Sell Gear: Sell all greens and blues you come across in your travels. After every hour or so of questing, find a mailbox and just ship it all to your banker. Don't bother using it to upgrade yourself- you'll get better stuff as quest rewards- and don't waste your time disenchanting it, unless the market for enchanting materials on your server is truly mind-blowing.
- Sell Crafting Materials: Leveling your professions is a great way to lose money, as any Engineer can tell you. Selling craftable items is a good way to make money back. - If you don't already have a DK on your server, roll one and give them two gathering professions. Check the AH on your server to see if herbs, ore, enchanting materials, or leather sell for the most money. (And do me a favor and think of Enchanting as a gathering profession.) - Look up the prices for second-tier craftable materials to see if they sell better: bolts of cloth instead of cloth scraps, ink instead of herbs, prospected gems instead of ore, and the like.
- Sell Vendor Items: Distant vendors frequently sell rare recipes, particularly for cooking. People will often pay top dollar to pick up a cooking recipe if it means they don't have to schlep all the way out to Blade's Edge Mountains. Whenever you play in a new area, check to see if there are any rare recipes. List of Cooking Recipes
- Perform a Get-All Scan every two days. Before re-posting your auctions, do another Get-All scan of the AH to keep the listed prices current.
- Use the Lil' Sparky Add-on. Lil' Sparky uses auction house data culled from Auctioneer to put an auction price in your crafting tabs, to the right of the name of the item. When leveling up your professions, choose the items with the highest resale price. Crafted items don't sell well as a rule, but at least you can minimize your loss.
- Wait For It: If the bottom suddenly drops out of a market that's been selling very well- bolts of Netherweave, say, drop from 150G a stack to 5G a stack- just put all your Netherweave in your bank and wait. Really. Just wait. If a strong market drops precipitously, chances are good that once a group of people finish leveling that area, prices will rebound to your previous arm-and-a-leg rates.
- Time Your Posting: Always post all of your auctions for 48 hours. Post them all at once, so that they expire in one big group- it's more time efficient to post everything together. Don't get too hung up about timing your posts to coincide with raid times and weekend ups and downs, but do put off re-posting all of your auctions until after the server reset on Tuesday morning, especially if there is a patch scheduled. While the server is down, your auctions are still counting down their 48 hour timers, so you may as well wait until the server comes back up to post.
- Post In Reasonable Quantities. Posting one Blindweed herb fifty times is not only obnoxious for buyers, it's obnoxious for you. Picking up those unsold Blindweeds from your mailbox one by one is not an efficient use of your time. For posting items that stack, post in stacks of 20 or in stacks of 5- or even better, both.
- Learn To Love Low-Level Mats. Nothing seems to sell as reliably as the low-level mats needed to level professions. Price them very high if there are no competitors.
- Craft At Max Level. While crafting materials sell most reliably, high-level crafted items sell for the highest price (not including great, rare BoE drops, but you can't control that). Having at least one main character at max level who can crank out raid-quality gems or gear or enchantments will provide you with a nice nest egg.
- Start a guild on your banker. Advertise in the Trade or General channels that you are willing to pay for guild signatures- the going rate on my servers is about 50 gold per signature- or ask your Battletag friends to help you out. Guild masters are located near guild tabard vendors in all capital cities.
- Kick everyone out of the guild.
- Open a guild bank. Click on the guild bank next to the regular bank location, and a dialogue will pop up to purchase a guild bank. The guild bank costs 100 gold, and guild banks tabs cost 250 gold, 500G, 1000G, 2500G, 5000G, 10000G, and 20000G, respectively. Fill it with raw materials for crafting or overflows that your bags cannot contain.
- Get the Mobile Auction House app. The Mobile AH is free to use these days, and is a great way to relist your auctions on the fly. Be warned that the items in your guild bank will not show up in the Mobile AH, though things from your bags, mail, and personal bank will.
- Have a Nemesis. On Drenden, my nemesis is an unknown entity named 'Groosome'. I hate Groosome. I assume Groosome hates me. We compete in a highly specialized market, undercutting each other by a few copper at a time, neither of us giving more than an inch. Personal feuds and vendettas fuel the fire of the money making game, keep you coming back for more and make the whole process infinitely more amusing. Pay attention to the names you see regularly and consider making a nemesis of your own.
Have an Auction House tip? Leave it in the comments. Enjoy your own Auction House adventures. May fortune smile upon you!
Edit: Several people have mentioned the Postal add-on, which I do use myself- I didn't include it in the original post because I figured auction house millionaires who are only just starting out on their road to riches wouldn't have that many items for sale.
That said, Postal is an absolutely invaluable auction house add-on which empties your mailbox in one click. One click, I say! So if you're serious about your financial endeavors, you can pick it up over on Curse.