There was a time before that infamous mmo-champion article (I won't even link to it :) that scribes were making a very decent living from Inscription. I would easily pull 1000 gold a day without stressing too much. Glyphs would sell for anywhere up to 50 gold or even more but I usually didn't bother with anything less than 15 gold. I would undercut for a few silver and probably relist once or twice a night. I would also craft a maximum of 2 of each glyph and post only 1 at a time. Noobish, what can I say.
Today, things have changed. Although my server was slower to catch up to the new-found knowledge, it eventually did and all of a sudden 5-6 major competitors came out of the woodwork and started undercutting each other. I continued undercutting them but dropped my undercutting to 1 copper. The new strategy worked for a while until I realized that there were simply too many competitors and a few of them were AH campers and I had no chance against them because the moment I logged off, they would undercut me.
By this point I had moved up, from 2 glyphs to 6 glyphs. I didn't dare craft more because certain glyphs simply reached such low prices that they weren't worth crafting. The campers were still at it and it had become stressful to watch the AH like a hawk for hours on end.
During this period I did some more research, particularly on Gevlon's and Markco's sites. These two guys are real goblins, in the sense that they truly live for profits and also have vast knowledge to back it up. I admit that in comparison to them I was clueless about handling such competitors, particularly in the glyph business.
You see, the glyph business is unlike any other. Sure, there are similarities but Inscription has certain particularities that will allow a knowledgeable player to make massive amounts of gold. I've stated time and time again that Inscription has been the single biggest money-maker for me in WotLK, by far. I would estimate it has earned me at least 60K gold. My only regret is that I didn't learn these tactics sooner. Little did I know back then. I'm far from being an expert now but my knowledge has increased and I am better equipped to profit from Inscription as well as from my other professions.
Getting back to why Inscription is so special, the basic idea is this: you can make a profit from selling a glyph no matter how low your price is. You can go as low as 40 silver (the price of Resilient Parchment at Exalted) and you would break even. Anything above this amount is pure profit. I'm not counting the price of Ink of the Sea because... it's free. How so? Once you get into this mindset, you will become free of prejudice and start seeing the reality.
To ensure that your glyph manufacturing costs are almost zero you should start from a very cheap supply of herbs. There are only 3 types of herbs worth considering and out of those you will only actually purchase 1 or 2. I'm talking, of course, about Lichbloom, Icethorn and Adder's Tongue. Out of these 3, I'll never buy Lichbloom for milling. If I ever find it at a low price, I would rather flip it than mill it. Lichbloom is the rarest of these herbs and also has the highest level. The second rarest, but a lot more common, is Icethorn. Adder's Tongue is the most abundant. The beauty of these 3 types is that they all yield the same amount of inks when milled, meaning that in terms of obtaining the best returns, you should always go for the cheapest herb, whether it's Icethorn or Adder's Tongue.
Milling a stack of 20 herbs yields on average 6 Inks of the Sea and 2 Snowfall Inks. The Snowfall Inks are the key. Using prices from my server, I will typically buy a stack of herbs for 10-15 gold (50s - 75s apiece). Snowfall Inks currently sell for about 13 gold each on the Auction House but they used to sell for a lot more, over 20 gold. At any rate, even if I were to simply sell the Snowfall Inks for 13 gold each, I would earn 26 gold from each stack of herbs, meaning a profit of anywhere between 11-16 gold per stack. After all this, I'm still left with a shitload of Inks of the Sea. And that's where I get my "free" Inks of the Sea.
I won't typically sell Snowfall Inks but instead I will craft other things from them, thus moving down the manufacturing chain and increasing profits by selling a product with a higher added value. Such examples are off-hand items and Darkmoon cards.
Having become tired of camping the AH and undercutting by 1c, I decided to try some new tactics.
For a day or so I posted all my glyphs with a massive undercut of 10 gold and a threshold of 50 silver, meaning that I wouldn't go lower than that. The plan backfired because by this point there were already very few glyps on the AH that were selling for more than 20 gold.
The next day I lowered my undercut to 5 gold and increased my threshold at 99 silver. I kept posting as usual, for 12 hours. Things started going slightly better. I posted 6 glyphs at a time but in spite of all this I was still undercut. I felt ok because even if the days of 1000+ gold per day were gone, I was still making 300 gold or so, without too much stress.
What brought me greater satisfaction was the fact that my competitors were starting to notice the effect of my undercutting. One guy in particular buys all my glyphs around 1 gold, to repost them, no doubt. Which is great for me because I can just make more of them and force him to buy greater and greater amounts. Furthermore, an added benefit is that my competition is kept busy trying to manage their competition, essentially wasting their time, while I am simply ignoring them and posting at my leisure.
I had also read that Gevlon was undercutting by 40 silver in an attempt to drive the competition out of the market. I'm now trying a similar tactic. I dropped my undercutting to 50 silver and I'm watching how things are going.
Currently I'm not even selling glyps for profit. I'm just doing it for fun and to piss off my competition. I have more than enough inks in stock (and funds to boot, as well as other sources of income) that I can afford to sell even at a loss. Good times ahead. My plan, no matter how evil it may seem, is to drive all these guys out of the market. Yep, I'm becoming a real goblin, following closely in Gevlon's footsteps.
If you are in the business of selling glyphs and suddenly come across someone who undercuts massively and daily, my word of advice is don't get mad. He's either a clueless noob, in which case his stock will quickly dry up and he will exit the market on his own, or he's a seasoned seller with massive funds that doesn't give a crap for how much his glyphs sell and his only purpose is to become the sole vendor of glphs on that server. If it's the second case, you might as well try other means to make gold if you don't have the funds to match. Don't embarrass yourself by sending the guy reproachful mails.
Personally I would really enjoy some "carpet bombing". This is another of those terms that I love so much. In case you're not aware what carpet bombing means, it refers to flooding the AH with goods that undercut everyone else at a very low price, causing competitors to either leave the market in disgust or else attempt to buy the low priced products and repost them at the "normal" price. Of course, if you try to flip them the seller will simply post more. It's a dirty trick but almost guaranteed to work. Unfortunately I don't have the time to craft dozens of glyphs because I would do this in a heartbeat.
I hope that this article hasn't created more problems than it has solved and I hope you glyph sellers who are reading this won't hate me too much for my "dirty tactics". Even if you do, that's life, kill or be killed. I won't lose any sleep over it, you can be sure of that.
Patch 1.0.5 commentary
6 months ago