What were the first techniques/tricks/tips you used when starting out?
When I started, like everyone else I was just selling stuff at auction that I'd found while questing and that I'd no room for in my bank. But I started reading of warcraft economy blogs. It was on one such blog that I came upon a tip that revolutionised my gold-making. It was at a time when I had just enough money to buy a few netherweave bags for myself, and no more. The tip itself was not a huge moneyspinner, but it gave me an insight into buyers. It was simple, and suited me well as a low level character. I can't find a link to the tip now, but it was this:
The Green Hills of Stranglethorn was a now-defunct level 25 quest that required you to find several missing pages from Hemet Nesingwary's manuscript. They were scattered all over Stranglethorn Vale (the zone which is now Northern Stranglethorn and the Cape of Stranglethorn). People who could hand in all the missing pages would complete the quest. The tip was simply to collect a complete set and sell it as a bundle. The pages themselves could be had for a few silver each, and the collection could be sold for 30g, according to the tipster.
But the tip included an eye-opening discussion of who would buy 2g worth of pages for 30g, and it wasn't level 25 adventurers wanting to complete the quest! As a level 19 adventurer myself, I could hardly afford to buy the bag and the bank bag-slot to hold the pages (in fact for my first sale, I bought the pages I needed off the AH, but hadn't a bag to put them in). No. Level 25 adventurers couldn't afford this. The buyers were all level-capped achievement hunters, who only needed to complete the quest to complete achievement the Green Hills of Stranglethorn, which was part of a bigger achievement, Hemet Nesingwary: The Collected Quests.
This was my first insight: most prices are set by rich level-capped adventurers (level 80, back then), not by poor levellers. Rich people pay for the convenience of having the quest items delivered to their mailbox. Poor people will not pay for that, and will not even buy the pages at any price. They'll get them the hard way, by killing every mob in Stranglethorn Vale until they have them. This was an important lesson for me: sell the luxuries that rich people want, and ignore the essentials that only poor people need.
Which reminds me of another set of items that I sold for great money at the time, the Spidersilk Drape and Boots, which were bought by rich adventurers for their level 19 PvP twinks.
The second insight was the importance of "secret" knowledge. Most people doing this quest had no idea how many pages needed to be collected, and what they were. The quest text just said to collect missing pages from four chapters. You had to go to wowhead (which most people didn't) to find out what pages were missing from each chapter. In fact, many people didn't even read the quest text correctly, and thought they had to get all pages from these four chapters, and so were hunting high and low over Stranglethorn Vale for page 2, for instance, unaware that it would never drop. I quickly learned to accompany each sale (almost all my sales were by COD) with a letter explaining what pages were missing, and assuring the buyer that they now had the complete set. One mistrusting purchaser actually insisted that I accompany him to Nesingwary's camp while he handed the quest in! The important thing was that I wasn't selling pages, I was selling a solution to the problem of completing the Nesingwary achievements.
The third and last insight this tip gave me was that the auction house wasn't the only way to sell stuff. In fact, you couldn't sell this bundle on the AH at all, because most of the value lay in the secret knowledge of what constituted a complete collection, and selling the pages individually on the AH only netted a few silver each. So I barked in trade, shouting out that I had a complete set of all missing pages, for the price of 30g. I loved scrubs laughing at me in trade chat or telling me how the pages could be bought for a few silver, and what a rip off it was to sell them for 30g. Every time they did this, it would give me the chance to talk about what I was selling without spamming trade-chat. This has later been absolutely invaluable in sales of really expensive, rare items such as Recipe: Dirge's Kickin' Chimaerok Chops. In fact I tailor my messages in trade to elicit the most incredulity, guffaws and ridicule from the trade scrubs as possible, and I do as much as I can to annoy them (such as telling them that if they don't understand why the price is so high, the item is not for them; or even that they should keep quiet so as to avoid exposing their ignorance) so that they keep on advertising on my behalf!
I'm sure I sold about 100 sets of STV pages until the quest was made obsolete and replaced by a simpler one.
Part of the 20 days of Gold Making series