I've spent the last few days levelling some alts, and professions, and generally trying to assemble necessary infrastructure, towards my goal of learning how to (hopefully) generate truly obscene amounts of gold via the Auction House...or at least enough to pay for some crafted purplez and an epic flying mount. ;-)
I have seen advertisements of people offering books and guides as to how they were able to generate hundreds of thousands of gold through the AH, but the precise means as to how they were able to do it has always eluded me.
On thinking about a recent YouTube video that I had seen from another such individual, though, I think I realised something. Every person who is selling on of those guides, nearly always does an introductory video. At first glance, this introductory video is entirely innocent; they're not revealing any of their secrets at all here, other than proving to you that their gold is real.
However, in the process of showing you that their gold is real, they also always do something else which, up to this point I'd overlooked, but which is very important. They show you what the content of their inventory and bank vault looks like. Said inventory and bank vault were inevitably filled with stacks of commodities of all kinds.
This, I came to realise, was a clue, and further reading and consideration led me to believe that it was an extremely important one; possibly the single most important one.
You see, previously I hadn't considered the idea of building up a large repository of mats and other salable items; I had thought that the idea was simply to either flip, or put freshly farmed items on the AH more or less immediately, and keep things moving continually. This document showed me just how incorrect I had been on this score.
I came to realise that a much more appropriate course of action, was to attempt to identify the most highly sought after commodities on my server, at least during a given period of time, and then attempt to fill my bank vault with a broad range of them. (Either from farming, which is the preferred and lower risk method, or buying from the AH during observed low-price points for the given commodity)
The plan is to then place no more than probably one or two stacks at a time of a given commodity on the Auction House, when my monitoring of long term price trends tells me that I am observing high tide for that particular commodity on Saurfang, my server.
Diversification, of course, gives me alternative options, which allows me to generate a consistent stream of income more or less continually. I have observed that Saurfang is currently experiencing a boom in the number of totally new players to the game, and as such, low level materials are actually much more in demand right now than some of the higher level items from Northrend.
Thus, if for example I observe that Borean Leather is moving sluggishly on a given day, (which is actually fairly likely on Saurfang, at least lately) I can either farm for or lean on my supply of Thick Leather instead, and make nearly as much per stack (7-10g, depending on what the market's doing) as the average price of a stack of Borean. (10g)
Some may consider it usurious to the point of cruelty to be charging new players 10g per stack of Thick Leather, but from what I have observed, simple economics dictates that if they weren't able to pay that, they wouldn't. In charging 7-10g, I'm generally making sure I undercut as well, and I also will often break a stack of 20 units up into 10 batches of 2 units each, and post those with a Multi-Auction addon I have, which can also make the price a little more attainable for the truly economically disadvantaged.
As well as making sure that I always undercut, the other thing to consider ethically here is that where commodities are concerned, the Auction House serves as a convenience only.
If a given player is unable to afford 10g per stack of Thick Leather, it does not mean that said player has no other way of obtaining a stack. All it means is that they will need to train Skinning, and then fly out to Tanaris in order to get it themselves, which is exactly what I have to do in order to sell it.
My peak sale time, from what I've been reading, is going to be the weekend. Friday night to Sunday night, server time, is when I'm planning to primarily sell. My time during the week will be spent filling my vault in preparation for the weekend.
This weekend will be my first attempt at doing this, so I am looking forward to seeing how it goes.