In this multiple part series, I'm going to go over my thought processes and how I think about concepts in gold making in World of Warcraft, and why I do things the way I do. Today I'm going to spotlight flipping. In the previous post I covered shopping for mats, if you'd like to start from the beginning that post can be found here.
Buy Low, Sell High
This is the phrase you'll see regurgitated again and again throughout the WoW goldmaking universe, and I think there's a lot of misunderstanding of this concept. Yes buying something for cheap and selling it at a high price is a great way to make gold, but how do you define what's cheap? How do you identify if there's a market for it? How do you tell what's a good purchase to flip and what's not?
To me, this can easily vary from person to person, and server to server, which complicates things further. Again, like shopping for mats, when I purchase items to flip, I look for the profit in the purchase. This requires that you know your markets a bit, or have tools to help you. For example, Sterling's Sniper Guide can set you up some really great groups of amazing items to flip, and give you suggested prices to sell at. Or you could use my transmog method and see what I'd suggest you sell things for. The problem with both these methods is that they are good in their own right, but they are not directly catered to your server. You're going to have to do some leg work!
Flipping isn't just one of those markets you can master overnight, read a guide on, or spreadsheet your way through. You really need to learn the markets that you're selling to, and do some research as to what an item will sell for on your server. This involves a great deal of experimentation on your part as well.
Let's look at a Copper Rod. Used by all Enchanters, required to create any enchants whatsoever, obtainable from a vendor for 1s24c. The market value on it's tooltip may suggest it'll sell for 20g normally, but you notice that you are the only one posting the item right now. Why not try it at 50g? Even if you get half the sales at this price, you'll still make 25% more gold! For flipping you want to test out markets to find where these points are, and once you find them, you'll be set.
Where to Start Off
Jumping into a new flipping market as I have done recently with cloth on Earthen Ring, I looked at a few things. What is the market for this? I'm going to use the example of Frostweave Cloth. The market for these comes primarily from 2 sources, leveling Tailors and Frostweave Bags. Knowing your markets is key. For example it takes (according to wow-professions) ~1,200 Frostweave Cloth to level Tailoring, and 60 cloth for each Bag. That's a lot of damn cloth, so even if the demand is spread out, it's over 60 stacks of cloth which may or may not be your entire AH depending on the size of your server.
Profession choke points are great markets to get involved in, but with something like patterns, what's nice is that with TSM we have access to global data prices. Now are these prices necessarily indicative of what you can get on your server? Not exactly. Are they great gauges for pricing? Absolutely. Now depending on the size of your server you may be able to get more (or less) of these global prices. And of course, they aren't the end all be all of pricing, but they do a really good job of estimating demand.
A quick practical example. Last week I was using my transmog list to do a search, and I came across an item that was under my purchasing threshold, but was selling for 3,000g. Now to me that is a LOT to sink into one transmog item, even buying and selling as much volume as I do. Based on in game tooltips I knew the market price was 13,000g - 16,000g, but I wanted to be sure this item was not some weird anomaly and I would not see one on the AH any time soon. The item was Vanguard Breastplate, it has a very low drop rate, and is one of the few BoE platekini's in game. Armed with knowledge, I easily made the decision to purchase this piece to flip. The more you know.
Now for larger markets like transmog, leveling greens, or uber blues, you're going to want to attack them as a whole. Just as an example I've found 2,500g to be an excellent threshold for the 80-84 leveling blues on my server, and post them all at this threshold. On a server that has over twice the population as my main, I know that this price is unrealistic due to competition, and that my returns will be smaller, but on my main server, that 2,500g is almost guaranteed (over time). In this way I prefer to override some sort of pricing setup for a static "I know it'll sell for x" setup. For transmog you could try different percentages of Region Market Value, or try pricing by hand.
What you need to know though that these larger markets primarily rely on selling a small portion of your inventory for gains, while reposting large amounts of items at a time. Your inventory as a whole is what you're selling. A single item within your many may cost you more to repost than you end up making by the time you sell it, but as long as your inventory as a whole is making you profits, there's no need to focus in on one item in particular.
You're Providing a Service
This is the part that I think the people who may whisper you or send you angry mails do not understand. You're providing a service to them. For example I'll use the Bloodscale set, a very popular xmog set. That's something I flip for hundreds of gold per piece, and I probably bought most of it for under 75g. How is this providing a service? If it were in the cheaper prices, levelers would buy it for leveling, vendor it in 4-5 levels, and it would not be available on the AH to moggers when they came along looking for a piece to complete their set. By raising the prices I'm ensuring that the gear (most likely) is not purchased by levelers, and instead those who have more gold (xmoggers). It ensures the gear is more likely to be on the AH when they search for it. Same goes for the leveling greens, I'm keeping it up on the AH for those willing and able to pay. Others don't necessarily see it this way, but it's exactly what you're doing and why you can sell this stuff for a markup.
That about wraps up what I have to say about flipping. If you have any questions feel free to post them in the comments section below, and if you have anything you'd like to see me discuss in future installments of this series, let me know there as well!