Choosing a Profitable Profession

There are many, many ways to make gold in WoW and even more opinions about which methods are the best. The truth of the matter is that, similar to making money in the real world, the best way to generate an income is whatever way you find the most interesting. Surely, one might make the argument that a particular method is ‘more profitable’ than another but the fact of the matter is that even if this were accurate, it wouldn’t hold true for very long if everyone followed that same advice. If everyone decided at once to make money by becoming say, scribes for example, the market for his or her crafted goods and services would quickly crash thus making inscription the least profitable profession. Besides, who would be left to strip in front of the bank for tips?

In fact, you may already be experiencing something similar to this effect if you have fierce competition for your profession’s market on your home server. There are those players who have mathematically calculated their dynamic costs of production and will then undercut you, sometimes even at a loss, just to chase you away from your chosen profession. We hear stories like this all the time. In these cases, you are left with several choices as to how to deal with the competition: A) Become even better at their game attempting to drive them away B) Work around them- Sell when they’re not on or in the secondary markets they may have overlooked or C) Become a supplier to the competitor- underbidding them with the intent that they will buy you out for reprice.

If you’re not having issues like this already than it is possible that the competition is weak or even that you’re already the dominant one on the server. Either way, if this sort of competition appeals to you than by all means have at it. Just bear in mind, however, that all of these strategies involve being better, smarter or faster (or all of the above). If you’re not up to the challenge that’s fine but it is still no reason to sit around and be broke.

Trends

Something to bear in mind with WoW professions is that, similar to other aspects of the game, Blizzard seems to constantly be having issues with balance and equality. Just as there are specs and builds and classes favored by the community at large, there seem to be professions that reap in more gold than others given comparable investment of your time and effort.

As of this writing, the top five gold generating crafting professions appear to be:

  1. Inscription
  2. Jewelcrafting
  3. Enchanting
  4. Tailoring
  5. Alchemy

In the previous expansion pack (The Burning Crusade) the most profitable professions were:

  1. Jewelcrafting
  2. Alchemy
  3. Tailoring
  4. Enchanting
  5. Leatherworking

In ‘vanilla WoW’ the most profitable professions were:

  1. Alchemy
  2. Tailoring
  3. Blacksmithing
  4. Enchanting
  5. Leatherworking

Now you can make all sorts of arguments about the above lists and, of course, many of them would be sound and plausible but bear in mind that the lists are certainly just opinions and based merely on anecdotal evidence. There are as many wealthy blacksmiths as there are poor scribes (who’s favorite argument, incidentally, is that the opportunity has long since passed and competition is now too fierce). The point is, then, not to say any one profession is ‘better’ than another but rather to acknowledge that the winner today is often not the winner tomorrow. Just as Warlocks were long considered the dominant PVP class, then Ret Pallis, then Death Knights and so on, what success really depends on is the person behind the keyboard. So if we can argue (arguably) that certain professions are ‘better’ than others at certain times in the lifecycle of the game, than we should also be able to agree that there are indeed trends.

The trends we note above are that the newest professions seem to be the most successful and that there are a few older professions that seem to be fairly consistent. So either take up a newer profession for profit with the understanding that in a future content release it will no longer be the big bread winner or go with something tried and true and make flasks or bags or similar. Or do something else entirely.

What I suppose we’re saying with these lists is that, feel free to take any issue you want with the above rankings but by doing so you’re missing the point entirely. The point is that things change since this game is an evolving environment. There are trends, techniques and specific professions that produce more gold than others but the winners of today will not necessarily be the winners of tomorrow.

In fact, were you to take only one thing away from your entire WoW gold making endeavors we would hope that it would be that you must learn to be flexible in your efforts. Be willing to become familiar with the markets and fluctuations and adapt as necessary

Gathering

There is, however, one constant to all the fluctuation and turbulance in the long-term gold generation meta-game. Each WoW profession thus far is based the need for raw materials gathered from the land. Thus, if you’re not sure where to start in your WoW gold making endeavors, or even if you’re a seasoned gold making pro looking for an ‘easy way’ to make more dough, you might want to consider dual gathering professions. Dual gathering (or Farming) specification is a fantastic way to get started in gold making for several reasons:

  • You will become familiar with the markets for a wide variety of gathered goods on your server.
  • You will make more gold than the standard gathering + crafting setup that most players use since you will be selling in two markets instead of one with the further benefit of not using up any of the materials you would previously have used for crafting needs.
  • If you build a business alliance and choose your gathering professions wisely, you will always have whatever consumables or crafted items you desire that you could have crafted yourself anyway since you are now a supplier of the raw materials.
  • You will optimize your time spent out questing or farming mobs in the world.
  • You will spend less gold as you are no longer a consumer of raw materials.

Let’s touch on that last point just a bit. The biggest impact you will see from being a dual specced gatherer is that you will spend less gold. No more expensive plans. No more wildly fluctuating materials markets. No more BoE crafted items sold for a loss while you level up. No more BoE crafted items that you replace within your first few weeks of raiding. Not spending cash on any of these activities certainly adds up.

A further, less obvious, benefit is that as a gatherer, switching to a new profession is a lot less painful as you wouldn’t have ever paid for an expensive leveling process or exclusive recipes. When and if the next great hot profession comes out and it is the most profitable and everyone is cashing in and you want to join the gold rush, simply switch out your gathering professions to the new one and move on. Interesting side note: check out the date on that old post from Tobold that we just linked and just note that he eerily called many of the changes we eventually came to see in the game. Just sayin’…

Mains and Alts

If you are going to go dual gathering specs for reasons of profit than we suggest you do so on your main. As your main, by definition, should be out and about in the world more, the chances for gathering should be much greater thereby granting you access to more gold. The exceptions to this are in the event that you want the passive skills gained from certain professions due to your preferential play style or content focus (e.g., many competitive arena players chose alchemy) or for lore reasons (you just love the way your mage looks on a magic carpet). There is also the argument that having a crafting profession on your main can grant you access to high level items as was true in The Burning Crusade expansion pack as the highest tiers of items were Bind on Pickup but in the most recent iteration of the game Blizzard seems to have moved away from this design choice. If you still wish to pursue crafting professions, and the above considerations do not apply, do so on your alts or your bank alt.

The Easiest Professions

Be sure to pursue whatever method of gold generation it is that is profitable AND enjoyable. On Wall Street we’d tell you to follow the profit but even on the street we understand the value of niche markets. There are lots of ways to make gold and the truly easiest way to do so is to experiment and find what you most enjoy doing. It may not be calculating profit margins and scanning auction houses. It might not be flying in circles and farming. What ever you decide make sure it is fun and than you’ll be playing while making money instead of working. Heck, maybe we’ll even toss you a few gold ourselves the next time we see you stripping in front of the bank.

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7 Comments

Filed under WoW Gold Making Tips

7 responses to “Choosing a Profitable Profession

  1. Nice Article, especially in the heat of discussion of Alt and Profession recently.

    A little comment on the Gathering profession though…

    The reason for gathering profession cannot make into the top list is that,
    1. Not require much investment
    2. No “Risk” at all
    3. Time consuming

    People who tends to trade time to money (without thinking) tends to go into this profession. As these people are abundant, these market is almost always flooded most of the server, and thus had a lowest gold/hour.

    It’s good for starter, (Who can’t risk their saving on buying materials). But if any player want to spend their game time for fun, stay away with them as soon as they can. (I still keep my mining and skining in my toons incase I need some material in a rush, but overpriced in AH)

  2. G-Rebel

    Cash Flow: I’ve noticed how Inscription Glyphs have relatively low AH deposit requirements. This, I think, can be of service if you have a second crafting profession because it allows you to utilize a greater amount/percentage of your remaining gold (cash flow) to invest in other raw mats for your other profession, or simply for more mats for your Inscription business.

    Yes, you get your deposits back when you sell your goods, but with inscription it just leaves you with more gold to invest a lot sooner, increasing your abiltiy to meet market demands just a bit faster than you would have been able to otherwise. Or maybe you just take your AH deposit savings and buy something frivolous but just as fun.

  3. Rob

    I’m selling about 50 inscriptions per week; not sure what the profit margin is but it’s pretty high.

    The other point i’d make is customer interaction. With gathering, you dont’ have that, it’s just you and that rock, then you sell that rock to the AH. For crafting profs, you need to figure out the customer, what their needs are, etc. To me that’s more exciting.

    And honestly if i wanted to make gold, i’d be better off doing quests than gathering. However, at least gathering is known and constant. You know you will be able to see your herbs. For how much who knows. But for some price. Thus you are pretty much guaranteed a reward for your efforts.

  4. Hiro

    The suggestion that dual gathering be done on the main isn’t terrible – if your main focus in wow is goldmaking. However, if you are a min/max raider, then this suggestion is poor.
    For plate-wearing dps, JC/BS is the clear choice atm, and other crafting professions have the edge for other classes.
    My dual gatherer is my ‘casual’ resto shammy who I do 10-man content with so I’m not as concerned with min-maxing. If I had a druid, of course it would be the best for gathering.

    I do appreciate the comments on ‘doing what you enjoy’ – something other bloggers like the Greedy Gobby miss out completely on.

  5. One advantage of your main as the gathering toon is epic flying. That is the character you want it on anyway, if he does all the gathering for you its a win win.

  6. Twan

    I go with 2 gathering and rotate in flavor of the expansion tradeskill for 3 months of rape then back to dual gathering.

  7. Pingback: The Best Bank Alt « WoWenomics

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