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Making Gold in World of Warcraft - New and Veteran Player Guide

Updated on December 11, 2012

Making gold in World of Warcraft is a challenging, often mind numbing process that serves primarily to sustain the "fun" we have in other parts of the game. It almost begs the question: If making gold in World of Warcraft isn't "fun", why did Blizzard decide to make gold an integral part of its game? Superficially, they did it to facilitate trade. Realistically, the drudgery of acquiring gold takes *time*, our most precious commodity, and the measuring stick by which Blizzard bills us. Gold is merely another carrot on a stick for us to toil toward. After all, who among us has every truly had enough of it?

This article intends to explore the gold making process in the World of Warcraft and perhaps re-direct mis-spent energy by those who are looking for more satisfaction from the limited amount of time they are able to enjoy the game. This article also assumes that making gold for the sake of making gold is not the way that most individuals prefer to spend their time in World of Warcraft. If you are one of the few individuals who enjoys the in-game economy more than the actual gameplay, you may want to check out Eve Online. The economy is a hundred times the scope and depth of the World of Warcraft economy.


For most of us, adventuring through a dungeon or engaging in PvP is fun.  Looking for mining nodes or endlessly farming a certain area is less fun, and for many of us it is downright tedious.  If you are relatively new to the game, it can be especially daunting to realize just how much gold you will eventually need to be able to enjoy the game and properly contribute to the group or guild objectives that tend to be the most fun and rewarding. 

The most important concept you can enter World of Warcraft knowing, remembering, and taking to heart is that, just like life, time = money.  The number of mistakes you can make with your time in World of Warcraft is astounding.  Everything from taking less-than-optimal quest routes to simple things like not running in as straight a line as possible between point A and point B create time loss, which adds up to gold loss and subsequently having less time for the things that are truly fun in the game.  Every action you take in game can be plugged into the time = money equation, especially if you add a third component next to the equation, that being "fun". Each of the following concepts should be viewed in the context of time equalling gold, and that any activity you choose to pursue in game should always be evaluated against the activity that you could be participating in that would be creating the most gold per hour for you.  Making gold in World of Warcraft can be fun if you treat it as not only another goal, but as a game within a game.


Making Gold in World of Warcraft - 15 ideas

1. Character Level is the most important factor in amassing your in-game fortune. In any play-session where "making gold" is your goal, you should almost always be playing in the most current expansion's content. Though there are a few exceptions to this rule, your earnings per hour will consistently be better the closer you are to the maximum level and the more time you spend in the most recent expansion's game zones. If you are a lower level character, you should never try to make gold for the sake of making gold. It is always more efficient to level as quickly as possible and then, once you've reached the zones of the final expansion, be willing to level at a slower rate in order to make more gold per hour.

But what if you want to stop and smell the roses? The best way take it slow and not feel like you are fighting a complete uphill battle with regard to playing against other players with amazing gear is to level one character quickly in order to reach the final expansion's content, then pass gold back to the character(s) you want to take your time with. PvP is a lot more fun when you are equally geared with your competition, and the reality of WoW is that more lower level characters than not are "alternate" characters or "alts" of high level players.

2. Banking Mules will save an enormous amount of time. A Banking mule is a character of any level who lives in the auction house and handles all of your buying and selling. When you are adventuring on your other characters and find something that would be worth selling on the auction house, you should always just send it to your banking mule. The postage is insignificant and it is very helpful to keep things organized with the overwhelming number of items you'll be picking up in the game. This is a simple, huge time-saver.

3. Bags should be looked at as an investment that will pay for itself over time. Always try to buy the biggest standard bags that you can find. So much time is lost by having to run back to town in order to sell -- time that could be otherwise spent leveling your character and farming more things to sell. It is critical to have as much bag space as possible so that you can minimize these trips.

4. Gathering Skills are much, much better for making gold in World of Warcraft than other tradeskills, especially while leveling your character. Very few tradeskillers actually make a profit with their craft, and those who do tend to have a lot of resources, a lot of time, and a penchant for suffering through the ups and downs of each individual trade skill. All characters that are being leveled should learn skinning plus either mining or herbalism, depending on your preference. This is non-negotiable if you want to be making gold while leveling and have a good, consistent revenue source in the final expansion. Taking on a normal, non-gathering tradeskill is one of the biggest mistakes new players make, and they end up poor and frustrated because of it.

5. Learn to pick up the right things. Say you are far from town doing a quest chain and your bags are full. You could be costing yourself a lot of gold in the "gold = time" matrix if you choose to run back to town to sell off your inventory before you finish your quest line. A better alternative would be to take note of the items that really don't sell for much to a vendor and, when faced with storage issues, not be afraid to destroy them.

6. Learn to sell the right things. Even though you could make a very small profit by sending a lot of things to your banking mule, sometimes it is better to forgo the small profit in favor of being able to quickly sell off your inventory to a vendor. Remember that there are a lot of steps involved in putting something on the Auction house, and all of that time equates to money that you could be making out hunting creatures. Also remember that, especially when levelling your character, you get the added bonus of gaining experience while you are hunting, which eventually equates into being able to hunt in higher level content, which eventually equates to making gold in WoW a lot faster.

7. Use your hearthstone wisely. Every 30 minutes you get an instant teleport back to your local inn. If you have five minutes left on your hearthstone after completing a quest and are ready to turn it in, consider farming nearby monsters for five minutes then using the hearthstone instead of spending most of the time running back. In the big scheme, little minutes saved like these add up to more gold and more fun in the long run, even if the gameplay feels a little clunkier than simply frolicking without regard for optimizing your time. In the end, remember that the goal is to be able to spend the most time doing the things that are most fun: namely pvp and group or raid dungeons.

8. Always be thinking two steps ahead. Even simple things like planning to use the bathroom or fix a snack during a long flight can save a lot of time. It might even help to keep a notepad near your desk so that you can jot down things you need to remember to do when in town or before you leave a city, etc.

9. Pay attention to the market. Some individuals make enormous amounts of gold by simply being observant of trends in the auction house.  Check out this World of Warcraft Gold Blog to see how you can start with literally nothing and turning it into a lot in not much time at all. The more you study, the more places you will see to turn a quick couple hundred gold. Many players have no real concept of what something is worth and many of those players don't want to take the time to learn, so if you are vigilant, you can often find items that can be turned around and sold for double, triple, or even ten times what you paid for it. Don't be afraid to lose a little gold while experimenting. Remember that players in WoW are even more frivolous with their gold than people with their money in real life, and sometimes it only takes a lucky sale to really open your eyes toward the potential of making gold by reselling items at the auction house.

10. Spend gold wisely. You do not need to upgrade your gear every level. This takes too much time for the subsequent tiny boost in stats. Gear quickly becomes outdated when leveling up, plus, if you are following quest chains, you will often be replacing gear with the rewards you get for completing those quests. It's not a bad idea to spend fifteen minutes in the auction house every once and a while and look for items that will be significant upgrades either now or in a few levels. Just don't get obsessed with gear until you are at the highest level. And never put on a rare or epic item unless it was dirt cheap or the result of a quest. Green items work just fine to level up with.

11. Learn the dailies. Daily quests, especially from special events like the Argent Tournament in Icecrown during the Lich King expansion, can be a steady and fun revenue source while also leading toward other goals for your account like aquiring heirloom items or special pets. Once you learn how to do the dailies and have the optimal route mapped out, you can often knock out a lot of them in a very short period of time. One of the nice things about running quests like dailies at max level is that you receive gold as a reward without having to go through the process of selling items to the vendor or on the auction house. Even if your expected gold per hour is a little less, the other benefits of running dailies can often outweigh the cost.

12. Learn how to play your character really, really well. World of warcraft is, at its core, a game of numbers. Many individuals find a lot of satisfaction in developing their tactics in order to maximize kill speed during a given period of time. Even simple things like using the correct skill order rotation can immensely improve your kill speed. One of the best ways to practice your damage rotations is to use the training dummies found in each of the major cities along with a dps-meter add-on. You'll find that once you start practicing the timing of various skills, you damage per second will increase significantly and you will wonder why you never took a little time to practice before now. Not only does this help you make gold in World of Warcraft, but it helps you become a better player in both group and player vs. player situations. There are many forums on the internet devoted to the theory-craft of WoW.

13. Spend money to make money. If you need to get from point A to point B and you don't yet have the fastest flying mount, it is often more efficient to head to a flightpath, assuming there is one nearby, and use it instead of riding directly on your mount. It may cost some silver, but even saving those few minutes (especially if you apply them to a quick household chore) add up in the end.

14. Useful Add-ons save time. There are numerous Add-ons that not only can help you make gold in world of warcraft but make the game more enjoyable by making it easier to play. At the time this article was published, Auctioneer and Questhelper were two of the most popular add-ons, though the popularity and usefulness of add-ons invariably change through time as WoW and other add-on developers continue to refine the game.

15.  Be nice to people.  Maybe it isn't the most straight forward way to make gold in World of Warcraft, but there are a number of stories out there of players leaving other players small fortunes when they retire from the game.  This article has purposely stayed away from some of the more nefarious ways to attain gold in WoW, and this article certainly isn't suggesting that you ought to fake it in order to get on someone's good side, but occasionally we are rewarded for our good acts or charm.  And it doesn't hurt to be a female night-elf if this is the route you may want to take.


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    • Winterfate profile image

      Darrin Perez 

      8 years ago from Puerto Rico

      Great guide Red Anchor! I've never played WoW myself, but you've clearly detailed what needs to be done in order to maximize gold income. :)


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