Friday, December 3, 2010

Glyphs Are No Easy Money

Inscription is currently the only profession I haven't skilled to max yet, and so it felt natural to go for it when I rerolled my druid. I usually don't bother to skill crafting professions on off-servers, except perhaps alchemy, because it usually requires either alot of money or alot of time spent gathering materials to skill in a decent pace. None of which I have abundances of on any other server than my main. For a long time I didn't bother with inscription since I usually only grab a profession if I feel it can bring my chars something. Having someone who can enchant/disenchant is really handy for example. Same thing goes with having your own jewelcrafter. A little less used is the blacksmith, tailor and leatherworker, but I eventually went on and got those as well. Engineering is never useful but fun to have, and so I have it on one char anyway. And I've got alchemy on my main (and another char). But since Love had inscription I never felt the need to get one of my own. He knew all the glyphs and would get me any as soon as I asked (he better, considering all the gems I've cut and enchants I've made for him). But now Love is giving up on his glyph market business. For a while there he made some real dough on them, but he's now moving on to... well something else. He hasn't decided yet. And that's beside my point anyway!

Love isn't scribe anylonger, so I started skilling one instead. I had never had any doings with the glyph market, but I have been trying on the other markets occasionally. Overall they suck pretty badly when it comes to making an easy buck;

  • Jewelcrafting - Gems are expensive to put on the Auction House. So eventhough you can usually take a pretty nice fee just for cutting a gem when you put it on the auction house, sometimes even up to 100g extra (!), if you don't get your gem sold you've lost several g's just in placement costs. This means you'll have to price your gems very carefully. If one bastard undercuts you, you might lose quite alot. And now that gems are going cheaper and cheaper it's even less worth the hassle than it was before.
  • Alchemy - The thing about potions is that you very rarely get any extra out of the crafting. You can price them just above mats costs, which makes profits relatively low. You'll have to rely on procs to make the real bucks, and I'm just not patient or lucky enough to do that.
  • Enchanting - Sometimes you can take a really nice profit from selling enchants on the auction house. Actually out of all the professions I've tried to make a little "easy" money from on the auction house, enchanting has generally generated the most. The only trouble is finding enough mats at a good price, but on the other hand that is always the trouble. The big trouble with enchanting is that you basically have to rely on the auction house to get mats for your enchants, since there is no good way to grind enchanting mats, as compared to the other professions. You can always farm herbs for alchemy or inscription, or farm mobs for leather/cloth, or farm instances for points to convert to gems, or farm veins for blacksmithing/engineering. But there is no good way to farm enchanting mats. So if the prices on enchanting mats go up, you have to hope the prices on enchants go up as well, or your profit will plummet like a gnome rocket.
  • Blacksmithing/Tailoring/Leatherworking - Each of these have a couple of things where the market seems to find no saturation. So Leg Armors, Belt Buckles and Bags are a couple of items that will always sell. But it's not enough to bother. Most people who care about making money on the auction house don't limit themselves to the few things which are worth crafting, but combine them with one of the more lucrative markets, like enchants, gems or glyphs. I can't be bothered. The stuff that can give you really nice money, like endgame crafted gear, require alot more work. And also there is alot more at stake. Either you farm all the mats yourself to lower your risks, or you buy everything at the Auction House at as low prices as possible. Because if you don't get that item you've just put some thousands of G worth of mats into sold, well you'll be short some thousands of G. That is a risk you have to take with these epics, and it's also one of the reasons you might make really good profits from them. Not to mention they're usually really expensive to put up. I don't like taking big risks like this. I don't love money enough for it.
  • Engineering - I used to be able to make pretty decent money from crafting Arrows. But well... that's not an option anylonger. Thanks alot Blizzard, I only spent some 2000g getting the recipe and finishing my engineering to be able to craft them. Overall I am happy about the arrow change. But it does show how easily you can lose money when playing the Auction House. Because of this Engineering is extra special now, and has always been one profession that is more for the player and not so much because of the awesome things it can craft for the general gaming population. There are the scopes. And that's about it. But this could change in Cataclysm of course. In a sense I hope it won't, I've always enjoyed Engineering somewhat because of it's awkwardness and outsiderishness.

And then we have inscription. Inscription can easily fool you into being the awesome way to make money. And actually it is. But it has one huge flaw. And I'll get to that, but let's check why it's such an awesome way to make money first.
  • The materials are really easy to get. You can either farm them yourselves or buy them cheap of the auction house. Endgame herbs have never been very expensive. This has changed recently, especially since most glyphs now require alot more mats than they used to, making their total mats costs alot higher. The mats are still relatively easy to come by and still relatively cheap.
  • The glyphs are really easy to make. You only need two types of materials for each glyph, some inks and some parchment. The only profession with simpler mats is jewelcrafting.
  • The glyphs are really cheap to post. This is one of the biggest pros for the glyph market. Even if you post your glyph 100 times and don't sell it, you'll only have lost a couple of g. This makes it really difficult to lose money from just posting glyphs. This means you can repost glyphs at a really high rate, and that means you can follow the changes of the market even faster. Which means more profit for you (if you have the time)! You also don't have to be too thoughtful when it comes to pricing. When you're posting a gem and notice no one else has posted that gem you can either post it at a high price and hope it sells before someone undercuts, or post it at the regular price (or even low price) to be ready for the undercut without having to repost. This is not something you have to bother about when posting Glyphs. You can always post them at maximum profit, because if the market changes it will cost you basically nothing to follow.
  • Glyphs are always at a demand. This is less true than before, considering people learn them permanently nowadays. Imagine before when people had to buy a new glyph each time. Imagine the profit possibilites. Some glyphs, like Battle Shout and Horn of Winter and Power Word Shield, aka must-have-glyphs for a class would always sell a bunch each day. But even now people will always need glyphs. There will be new chars all the time, and no one will ever play without the right glyphs. Not all people buy crafted gear from the auction house, or potions or enchants. But everyone buys glyphs.
  • Glyphs are always bought ready made. The vast majority of people get their glyphs from the Auction House. Seriously, when was the last time you saw someone ask for help with getting a glyph crafted in trade? Only if there were none on the auction house, I assure you. But plenty of people collect their own mats for gem cutting, enchants and crafted gear. People buying their glyphs ready made means more crafting fee for you, because generally the crafting fee is always considerably higher on auction house items than something made on the spot with your own materials. You can hope to get 10g for an enchant, and even 100g for a really nice endgame epic crafted gear. But 30-100g crafting fee is standard on auction house glyphs. Take that times the 100 glyphs you easily can put up at any given time, also compared to gems, enchants and crafted gear. This has at least lowered some now that glyphs aren't in such a high demand anylonger, combined with the mats cost of glyphs going up, but there is still alot of profit to be made.

So what is the huge drawback of the glyphing business? Well, because it is so lucrative, the competition is fierce. On my server, which is a relatively small server, we've easily got some 10 really dedicated glyph sellers. To get a foot into that market you'll have to spend alot of time reposting glyphs. Alot of time. You'll be undercut at once by people with way less life than you and alot more funds than you. The glyph market is too good for its own good, so to speak. Because everything about glyphs is so easy and extremely lucrative, everyone wants a piece of the cake and that makes it difficult to make a profit from glyphs unless you have heckloads of time to invest in it.


  1. I do a bit of glyph selling and its pretty profitable but it does take effort to make them all and post them.
    Add-ons like APM make it a lot easier although thats been nerfed a bit with the changes in 4.01 and having to reclick each post.
    The other profitable part for inscription is the Darkmoon cards which you can start making with all the spare inferno ink that you will get from milling herbs.

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