Guild Wars 2: 5 tips for making money on the trading post

by manylaughs on December 2, 2012

(This article was originally posted as a series of posts. It is reposted, here, as a single post for ease of reading.)

Introduction

By most MMO standards, Guild Wars 2 is a gold-intensive game. Do you need to get to the other side of Tyria? The teleport fee’s going to cost ya’. Need some lumber for that pretty bow you want to craft? You’ll need a special axe to cut down the trees for that lumber, a nice, shiny orichalcum axe, and it ain’t cheap, buster. Oh, you died? Too bad. Cough up some coin to pay for those armor repairs.

Nope, no doubt: Life in Tyria can get expensive. Sure you get a little coin from drops, quests and events, but if you’re not prudent with your coin, you can find yourself short of funds before you know it. GW2 kinda quietly chips away at your gold until all you have left is a handful of copper.

But that’s not even the worse of it. What if you want something from the gem exchange, let’s say the pirate captain’s outfit? It looks like fun. It’s also 700 gems. If you don’t have the real life cash for that, you can get it with gold from the game. Let’s see… Depending on the current rate of exchange, 80 silver is the typical price for a 100 gems. So you would need 5 gold 60 silver to get 700 gems. Yeah, that’s a lot of gold, isn’t it?

Who doesn’t want to be a pirate?

And have you looked at gear like the cultural armor and weapons? Yeah, it’s awfully sweet, but it’s also awfully expensive: Over 100 gold for a full set of tier 3 armor.

Too expensive, you say? No one can afford that, of course. You’ll just get something off the trading post, right? Sure, let’s look there. Depending on what you’re willing to settle for, a nice piece of exotic armor costs between 1 and 10 gold, and sometimes even more. That’s cheaper than cultural gear, but it’s still going to cost you some gold.

Yep, no doubt about it. If you want to get the sweet gear and the fun stuff, it’s nice to have some gold in your pocket. Sure, there’s nice gear you can buy with karma and you can get gear by grinding dungeons, but you’re still going to need gold, especially for the special stuff you can’t get any other way except to buy it.

So how do you go about getting gold?

You can farm for it, but that’s time consuming and you’re relying on drops: Sometimes you get lucky and get an awesome drop, but more often than not, you don’t. Plus, it just gets tedious. You can also run dungeons for gold, but they’re time consuming, too, and if you get in with a bad group or just have an off night, you might spend all your loot cash on armor repairs.

Neither farming nor grinding dungeons are dependable methods of making money. The best, most reliable method of making gold  is playing the trading post. If you do it right, there’s little risk, plus it doesn’t take too much time and the rewards are very consistent.

Here are 5 tips that will help you learn how to make money on Guild Wars 2′s auction house, the Black Lion Trading Company (BLTC).

 

Tip 1: Learn a craft and max it out

Learn a craft and max it out.

Maybe that seems obvious. You craft and you sell the gear you craft. Pretty straight forward, right? But selling that gear you’re crafting gives you something invaluable for making money on Guild Wars 2’s trading post. You see,  it’s actually possible to make money on the trading post without crafting. By exercising the time-honored principle of buying low and selling high, you could get by without a craft. For instance, you could buy orichalcum ore when it’s price is too low and you could resell it when the price rises.

 

But how do you know when the price is too low?

Buying low means you have to know the market, you have to know what’s a good price and what’s not. You have to develop an understanding of the prices on the Black Lion Trading Company (BLTC), and the best way to develop that understanding is to start crafting and reselling what you make on the trading post. The more you buy and sell from the trading post, the more knowledgeable you’ll get about those prices.

The nice thing about crafting in GW2 is you can make money from all the crafting disciplines. There are eight crafting disciplines: armorsmith, artificer, chef, huntsman, jeweler, leatherworker, tailor and weaponsmith. While all of the disciplines can make you money, don’t begin as a chef, especially if you’re new to crafting. Cooking can be profitable, but it’s probably harder to level than any of the other professions, plus the food you cook isn’t usually as profitable as selling gear. All of the other disciplines make things that sell well, so choose whichever craft might complement you characters.

Once you’ve chosen a craft, focus on maxing it out. You need to be a 400 level, max level, crafter to make endgame gear. Not only does endgame gear sell well, as a rule, but it also commands a higher price. Higher prices typically translate into higher profits and thus more money for you.

Depending on how much gathering you’ve done, maxing out a craft will cost you between 1 and 3 gold. If you don’t have the mats, don’t bother gathering – just buy them from the trading post, if you can afford it. Gathering all the mats you need to level your craft will just take too long.

If you focus almost exclusively on crafting (Also a great way to level, by the way, because crafting is worth lots of XP.), you should be able to max out your craft in 2 or 3 days. Even if you don’t focus on it, you should be able to do it in a less than a week.

[Tip: Check the BLTC price of anything you make while you’re leveling your craft. You’ll be surprised what you can sell for a profit, plus you’ll start learning those market prices, right away.]

Tip 2: Know your costs

Before you start selling, you need to know how much the item you’re selling costs you. No, that doesn’t mean finding the same item you’ve made on the Black Lion Trading Company (BLTC) and presuming you’ll make a profit if you sell your crafted stuff at about the same price. That’s a good way to lose money. If you want to make money consistently, potentially a lot of money, you have to know your costs.

How do you determine your costs?

Let’s look at a simple example. Let’s say you’re just starting leatherworking and you’ve decided to sell 8-slot  Rawhide Leather Packs. You’re thinking, bags are always easy to sell in MMOs. Everyone wants extra storage room, right? So bags should be a good thing to sell.

First thing you should do is check the current price of 8-slot  Rawhide Leather Packs on the trading post. You’ll discover an 8-slot pack goes for about 40 copper. That’s not much, but it’s something, right? You’ll make yourself some bags and sell them. After all, 40 copper is 40 copper more than you had.

[Hint: Before you make anything for sale on the trading post, check its going sale price, first.]

Before you do that, though, determine your costs. What’s required to make an 8-slot  Rawhide Leather Pack? You need 10 Stretched Rawhide Leather Squares to make one pack, and you need two Rawhide Leather Sections to make one Stretched Rawhide Leather Square. That means your 8-slot Rawhide Leather Pack will cost you 20 Rawhide Leather Sections. A quick look at the trading post shows the cost of one Rawhide Leather Section is 7 copper, so your 8-slot Rawhide Leather Pack costs you 140 copper to make. That’s your cost.

Even if you gathered all your mats, determine the cost of your crafted item by how much it would cost you to buy all the mats from the trading post.


In this case, it’s not worthwhile making and selling the 8-slot bag. You’ll make more money by selling the Rawhide Leather Sections.  But wait. Let’s look at the trading post, again. What’s the going price of those Stretched Rawhide Leather Squares. Hmmm. There’s a market distortion, it seems: Stretched Rawhide Leather Squares are going for 18 copper. They should be selling for 14 copper – the price of 2 Rawhide Leather Section. Heck, craft yourself some Stretched Rawhide Leather Squares.

By spotting market distortions like the squares, i.e. items selling for more or less than they should, you’ll make yourself some easy money.

Tip 3: Don’t forget the Black Lion Trading Company gets a cut

Don’t forget the BLTC fees: %5 for the listing and 10% for the sale.

So you’ve added up the cost of all your mats and you know the cost of the item you’re going to sell. Good for you. Maybe you’re thinking you’ll just sell it for 10% more than it costs you to make it. If you are, you’ll lose money.

Why? Because you still need to factor in the 15% cut the Black Lion Trading Company (BLTC) takes.

Just like the taxman, the BLTC takes a percentage of anything you list. The BLTC charges 5% of the sales price for listing your item, plus another 10% of the price once your item sells. If you sell your item for less than your costs plus the BLTC 15% commission, you’ll lose money.

Here’s a simple formula for calculating your break-even price, the price you have to sell your product for just to break even.

BEP = Cost + .15 x BEP
(Cost is the total cost of your item, as determined by adding up the cost of the mats needed to craft the item. BEP is the break-even price. You have to set a price higher than the BEP to make a profit.)

Skipping a little math…
BEP = 1.18 x Cost

All you need to know is if you list your product for 1.18 times the cost of your product you’ll at least break even. Anything more is profit.

Tip 4: Stick with what you know

Most MMOs usually only provide just a few avenues to profits. Sometimes it’s potions, sometimes armor upgrades and sometimes it’s just selling mats. Fortunately, Guild Wars 2 provides the aspiring profiteer with lots opportunities to make some extra cash. A whole lot.

You can sell armor or weapons or jewelry. You can sell runes (armor upgrades) or sigils (weapon upgrades). You can sell crafting components – items crafted from mats, such as the Stretched Rawhide Leather Squares mentioned in Tip 2. You can even simply buy mats in bulk at a low price and resell them again when the price rises, again, and never craft a thing.

It’s up to you, but whatever you decide to sell, stick with it. Don’t let yourself get distracted.

Once you know the market for your item or items, whether it’s runes or armor or weapons, then you can branch out a little. But you should always spend most of your trading post time focused on what you know, because that’s the stuff you know will sell. The moment you branch out into something else you’re learning a whole new market. Since you don’t have experience with it you’re just making an educated guess you’ll be able to make a profit.

Knowing what sells and at what price is an advantage: It makes you money. Don’t ignore  the market you’ve spent time learning. It’s your moneymaker.

 

Tip 5: Don’t gamble

Did you know if you put 4 blue weapons in the Mystic Forge there’s a chance you’ll get a green item? Did you know if you put 4 green items in you might get a rare yellow weapon? And 4 rares might yield an exotic or even a precursor? How ’bout runes? Did you know if you put 4 major runes in you might get a superior rune back?

You can upgrade stuff, too. For instance, 250 mithril ore + 1 orichalcum ore + 10 piles of incandescent dust + a philosopher stone = a random amount of orichalcum.

Isn’t that awesome?! Don’t do it.

Just think of the Mystic Forge as a giant slot machine, because that’s what it is. It works on the same principle. It only pays out enough to keep you interested. Maybe one time in ten you’ll get a little payback, the rest of the time you’re losing money.

For instance, let’s say your odds of getting a superior rune from 4 major runes is really one in seven. That’s being generous, but just for the sake of argument let’s use those odds. The first time you use the forge it needs four major runes and it returns one. Each subsequent time you’ll only need 3 more major runes, because the Forge has returned one major rune for the four you gave it (Yeah, not much of a deal, is it?). If you have to use the Forge seven times to get a superior rune, it will cost you a total of 22 major runes. Each major rune is worth about 5 silver – depending on the rune, of course – but on average around 5 silver (That’s on the low side, by the way. Major runes are expensive, because people like to gamble.). So you’ve spent, on average, 1 gold 10 silver to get a superior rune out of the forge. And there’s no guarantee you’ll get one you want or even one you can sell: Sometimes you get soulbound superior runes which can only be vendored for a few silver. You’d have been better off spending that gold to buy a rune you wanted, instead of some random rune. You might even have saved yourself some money.

Whether it’s runes or ore or armor or whatever, almost everything you put in the Forge that yields a random return is a sucker’s bet. Don’t be a sucker. The Mystic Forge does what every good slot machine does: It favors the house. Sometimes you’ll win big, but most of the time you’ll keep losing.

If you want to conserve your funds, don’t play the Mystic Forge.

It looks like the Mystic Forge, but it’s really a slot machine.

 

 

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