Making Money At Low Levels With One Character, A Guide

Or the - Comprehensive Guide to Making Gold No Matter What Your Level

--> Update: October-18-2010

The original intent of this gold making guide was to help new players accumulate the gold they needed for their first mount at level 40. At that time this first mount was quite expensive when one took into account the meager gold making opportunities available. Most brand new players were genuinely unable to make the money needed on their own within those first 40 levels. It would be several levels later that they were able to accumulate the needed gold. It was a small failure in the larger scheme of things but no less demoralizing for the person involved.

The rules surrounding mount acquisition have changed numerous times since this guide was first written. As of this writing, getting your first mount at level 20 is not that hard, nor is getting the fast ground mount at level 40 very difficult. In fact it's essentially trivial. Even getting your first flying mount in Outland isn't all that hard anymore. The amount of money available to players by the introduction of Northrend game content is just about an order of magnitude larger than what came before, just like Burning Crusade content did before that. All that gold has inflated auction house prices greatly. Because of the expanding money supply, making money at low levels is very very easy. I created a mage on a new server recently. At level 15 he has 375 gold. And I only speculated on one item, a blacksmithing pattern. The rest of the money was made selling low level gatherables like silverleaf and copper ore.

Because of the mount changes and expanding money supply, the genuine need for this guide no longer exists, at least at low levels. The only somewhat difficult purchase players have anymore is getting fast flying, or epic flight. Without the reputation discount it is 5000 gold. Even in Northrend it takes a noticable amount of time to accumulate that much gold, specially if it's your first character to get there.

This guide now hopes to provide the tools any player would need to realize their goals, to give a sense of accomplishment. And hopefully allow them to keep making the gold they need when they need it, to take down at least one barrier to enjoyment of the game.

I edited the guide as a whole rather than issuing another appended update. Hopefully this will be the last whole guide edit needed. You can read the previous updates at the bottom of this guide page.

Lastly I must offer a much belated but no less appreciative thank you to all those readers that left comments below. Again, thank you for the kind words.

Now for the guide proper.


Some people will read the following specific pieces of advice and conclude that following them will destroy the fun of the game. I agree, it can easily do just that. I'm not enough of an obsessive to even attempt to follow all of the advice listed here all of the time. Nonetheless, everyone should know about these things. You can't make the choice if you don't even know the option exists.

First I am going to list the assumptions my advice is based on.

-You started from scratch on your current server.

-You didn't buy any gold.

-You don't have any high level friends on the server that can lend you the money.

-The server is at least old enough to have some established end-game raiding guilds.

-Every server's economy is different. So don't whine about, use it.

-There are some items that sell for good money regardless of server age.

-The advice included here is mostly general in nature. Expecting specific advice on where to go and what to do is asking too much of a guide like this. Go read one of the other guides if you want some specific advice.

-This is only a game, so relax and Play The Game.


Ten Rules of Acquisition.
In summary.

>Guideline 1< Pay attention to how much money you are making for the time spent playing.

>Guideline 2< Everything you loot gets sold.

>Guideline 3< Buy the biggest bags you can afford.

>Guideline 4< Pay attention to what you are looting.

>Guideline 5< Auction house speculation can make you a lot of money.

>Guideline 6< Learn something about basic economics and use it in the game.

>Guideline 7< When auction house speculating it's easier to specialize.

>Guideline 8< Use some prudence when dealing with the auction house.

>Guideline 9< Building professions are money sinks.

>Guideline 10< Neglecting the purchase of class skills or profession upgrades so as to save some money is unnecessary.



Ten Rules of Acquisition.
In Detail

>Guideline number 1
Pay attention to how much money you are making for the time spent playing.

At the lowest levels you shouldn't worry about it too much but it can still apply if you want it to. With that said, it is still possible to think about gold making as a whole other game. A game within a game if you will.

If you are going to dedicate time to simply making money you should definitely consider your hourly gold rate and seek to maximize it.

Some specific examples include,
-Time spent traveling is time spent not making money.

-If you are going to grind for xp or money, at least kill mobs that drop useful loot and lots of it. Some mobs have small loot tables and some have very large loot tables. We want large. Some mobs actually drop nothing a significant amount of time. Certain beast mobs are like that. Kill them when you have to but otherwise do not seek them out. What we want are mobs that drop cloth and money and items, like humanoids, or skinnable beast mobs that also drop a large numbers of other things.

-Kill mobs near large concentrations of harvestable resources.

-Combine tasks that can be done at the same time. If you have to travel on foot make a point of killing every mob between point A and point B. You get xp and gold. That's double plus good. Gathering herbs and metal while traveling on foot is also a good idea. I should tell you that I am the Master of the Obvious.

-Think about how to use your character in ways that kills faster or more mobs at the same time. AoE farming by mages can be pretty profitable if you know what you are doing. Rogues using Blade Flurry can kill two mobs at a time every few minutes. Mo money, mo money, mo money. Killing mobs 2 to 4 levels lower than you speeds up the rate of loot drops as well as speeding up the rate of xp gain.

Being uber and tackling elite mobs five levels higher than you is great and all, but it takes too damn long.


>Guideline 2
Everything you loot gets sold.

There is a customer for everything you loot or harvest. It may only be an NPC vendor but that is still money you didn't have before you sold the item. And skinners will love you for leaving a looted corpse behind. To repeat, don't leave anything behind on any corpse. Loot it all. Then sell it all. I'm not even kidding.


Which leads naturally to,
>Guideline 3
Buy the biggest bags you can afford.

They pay for themselves quickly.
Remember what I said about time spent traveling is time spent not making money?

If you are traveling back to town to sell the loot in your full but tiny bags then you aren't making any money. The smaller your bags the more trips you have to make and the more time you spend not making money.

Being stuck in an instance unable to pick up any more loot because your bags are full can be very annoying. You end up throwing away loot and only keeping the higher priced items.

Throwing away loot is throwing away money. Which is shameful and wasteful and stupidity of the highest order. Please don't do it. Stupid people throw loot away or leave it on the corpse. You don't want to be stupid do you?


>Guideline 4
Pay attention to what you are looting.

Some of the following things may seem obvious. Others may be a surprise.

-Not all grays are vendor fodder.
Some low level grays will sell to other lowbie characters on the AH. I'm not kidding. Specifically, armor between level 4 and level 10 or so will sell if priced correctly. Selling a level 9 grey cloak on the AH for 2s is better than selling it to a NPC vendor for 30copper.

The first shoulder armor most classes can get are grey, don't vendor them, sell them on the auction house. Sometimes it's the same for head armor. You may not be able to get a whole gold from them but 37 silver is still 37 silver.

(Update: The market has changed for low level shoulders. Account bound heirlooms have changed this forever. There are more alt characters than new mains running around now so more and more these low level alts have access to heirlooms bought with emblems.)

-Find out the NPC vendor price for a looted item before deciding to list it on the auction house. It's a starting point for deciding what you are going to sell it for. This is mostly just to get a feel for relative value as perceived by the developers. Don't put too much stock in it being too close to the real value of the item.

(Update: Several patches ago the vendor price was included in the description of every sellable item in the game. Previous to this a player was forced to visit an npc vendor to find out an item's price.)

-Grey stackable crap items will sell to NPC vendors for surprising amounts of gold. Teeth, scales, entrails, fur hides, beaks, eyeballs... it all sells to NPC vendors and the higher level the mob the more money they are worth. 50s for a stack of grey crap is nothing to sneeze at. Remember when I mentioned buying the largest bags you could afford?

-There are also white items that drop off certain mobs. A lot of these white body parts are used in recipes, plans, patterns, or schematics. If the item being built is a good one, the parts used in it's manufacture will sell consistently on the AH. Selling a large fang for 57s on the auction house is better than selling to a NPC vendor for 5.

(Update: Time marches on, many previously white loot items are no longer used in recipes. Most of these have been downgraded to grey. Some of them are still white but not otherwise useful. Be careful with what you put up on the auction house.)

-Once you no longer get first-aid points or tailoring points from looted cloth you should sell all that you loot on the auction house. Same thing could apply to leather, herbs or metal. I know most people have more than one character and send their leftover mats to those lower level characters but we are trying to make money here. Worry about supplying your lowbies with building materials after you've gotten enough money to buy your mount or whatever other financial goal you have set yourself.

-If the quest rewards are things you can't wear, always pick the item worth more money and sell it or disenchant it.

-Never vendor non-soulbound, (BoE), but basically unusable items, (of the Whale). Sell them on the auction house, if you can, or disenchant them and sell the mats. Whale gear is a good example of unusable gear destined to be disenchanted. Nobody wears Whale gear. But it disenchants into the same components as any other green or better item. In these cases rarely will the item sell for more than the enchanting materials. But be careful, sometimes they do.

-A single lucky blue or purple BOE loot drop can make a significant percentage of your mount money in one whack. But don't be a prick by rolling need if someone in your group can use it.


>Guideline 5
Auction house speculation can make you a lot of money.

It takes some work and it takes some use of your brain but that labor does pay off. I mean that literally.

-The kind and magnitude of speculation you are able to do will be dictated by your bankroll size and your character level.

-Using an auction house add-on still doesn't give you the complete picture. Don't put your complete trust in computer code. Do your own research and pay attention to trends, watch the AH everyday. You won't regret the effort.

-It's a good thing to speculate in items that have large markets, things that have more than one purpose and therefore more than one customer type. Cloth is a pretty good example. It's used for faction turn-ins. It's used for tailoring. It's used for first-aid. That's three groups of people wanting what you have to sell. Wool is notorious for being priced high for just this very reason.

-Pay attention to which building profession items are used for quest turn-ins. There are quests that require food as a quest turn-in, some require engineering items, some require blacksmithed items. Learn about these things and use them to your advantage. Pay attention to the number of items required for the quest turn-in, put the same number in your auctions.

-Sniping low priced items is like legalized stealing. Do it as often as possible. Purchasing an extremely low priced item on the auction house before someone else sees it and buys it is what I refer to as sniping.

-Some items aren't worth placing on the auction house but can still command a very high price. Example, a blue level 60 two-handed sword, probably worth about 100gold. To create an auction costs 6 gold for the deposit and you don't get the deposit back if it doesn't sell. Can't do that too many times and expect to make a profit. In these cases you must use the trade channel. But remember, time spent actively selling is not time spent actively creating wealth. You could be mining, or questing or any of several other money making endeavors. Remember what your time is worth.

-Try not to list common vendor-supplied items for more money than the vendor sells them for. A good example of this are bags. Some people sell 8 slot bags for more than 25s on the AH, I don't think they sell but they are listed on the AH anyway. NPC vendors sell 8 slot bags for 25s, or 22s if your faction reputation is high enough. If you knew about the vendor would you buy the more expensive bag on the auction house? I didn't think so.

-Be careful filling out the money amounts in the auction house interface when creating an auction. I've filled out the silver denomination text field thinking I was putting in a gold amount. Yes, I've sold blue armor for 47silver thinking I was offering it for 47gold. Working the auction house interface while sleepy is dangerous.

-Pay attention to the deposit amount for whatever you are listing on the auction house. It in effect tells you how many times you can list an item before you start losing money. Like I said before, if an auction doesn't sell you don't get the deposit back.

-Ores are now worth selling. Thank jewelcrafting. In the old days, the only selling point for ore was that it was good for getting mining skill points through the smelting of those ores. Therefore selling bars instead of raw ore was the smart auction house move. Not any more. Basically, when selling metals, check the market price of ore and for bars. Sell your metal in the form that goes for more money.

-Some markets get glutted with supply from time to time. This depresses prices. This is a good time to buy. Buy what you can of the low priced auctions and bank them. Wait for the demand to pick up. Then place them on the auction house for your price. This activity is called speculation. It happens in the real world all the time. Be careful when speculating, it is possible to lose gold as well as make it.

-When getting expired auctions or auctions won in the mail you don't have to open them immediately. The mailbox can be used as an extension of your bank. The slots only last 30 days but your inventory churn should go faster than that anyway.


>Guideline 6
Learn something about basic economics and use it in the game.

-You knew I would say it eventually, Buy Low, Sell High. By watching your target items on the AH every day you get a real good feel for the prevalent price for that item. Always purchase low priced items and resell them for the current higher "market" price.

-Respect the law of supply and demand.
It is ironclad, it will crush you if you do not operate with it in mind. If you don't know about this law please google it. If you have some more curiosity about economics in general it would do you good to visit You'll learn about an economic theory that actually predicts the future with some reliability, unlike the neo-Keynesian crap most national governments currently use.

-Pay attention to the current "market" price for the items you are attempting to sell. It may seem I am being redudant, well, I am, for a reason. Repetition gets the message across. I determine market price with two mechanisms. Watching current buy-out and bid prices and pushing observed price boundaries with my own auctions periodically. You must push to determine where the real price ceiling is. The prevailing price at the time you start your AH speculation work may not be the actual price ceiling that most people are willing to pay.

-Price is determined by perceived value. Value is completely subjective and differs radically depending on who is doing the determination and what their goals are. There is no such thing as objective value or any kind of purely mechanical method of price determination. You can try but you will fail.

The major implication for this piece of real world truth is that there are no "fair" prices. No matter how much you bitch and moan about a price not being to your liking there isn't a thing you can do about it. You could corner the market yourself, if you dare and have the bankroll and determination.

-Figure out who your market will be. Examples:
Cloth buyers looking to do faction turn-ins are higher level players that can afford much more than a low-level single-character player trying to level up their tailoring. Monkey gear sells for a lot to rogues and druids. Bear gear sells to warriors and paladins. These are just a very few examples.

-Use faction reputation to your advantage.
Buy supplies from vendors you have honored faction with. They will be 10% cheaper if you do so.


>Guideline 7
When auction house speculating it's easier to specialize.

-Don't try to find every under-served market or under-priced market and make money off it. Focus your attention. Searching for good deals takes time. We want to make as good a use of our time and money as possible. Find your niche and stick to it until you find something better.

>Guideline 8
Use some prudence when dealing with the auction house.

Spending your whole bankroll to corner a particular market can make you money in the long run but leaves you high and dry when you need to buy skills, or that sweet BoE purple.

Staying liquid at all times allows you to jump on good deals when they pop up. It's a good idea to only allot a certain percentage of your gold to speculation.


>Guideline 9
Building professions are money sinks.

If you want mount money, make your life easier and take two gathering professions as your primaries when you start your character. Only take up a building profession when you can afford it, after you get your mount.

Fishing is a gathering skill. Think about that for a minute. It's a secondary skill but it's a gathering skill just like some of the primaries. If you can stand watching a bobber and clicking on it at the exact right time than you should find a fishing guide and read up on the finer details of the profession. It can make you money but dang fishing annoys the crap out of me.

(Update: I now have a max level fisherman. I have neither the turtle mount or the sewer rat. Damn you random number generator, dammnn you! Yes, now is the correct time to laugh and enjoy the schadenfreude. But remember, what comes around goes around.)


>Guideline 10
Neglecting the purchase of class skills or profession upgrades so as to save some money is unnecessary.

Making money as you level is very easy right now, patch 4.0.1. Failing to purchase class skills just isn't excusable from a money saving point of view.


I've tried to be as thorough as possible but I probably missed something. So if you have any moneymaking tips not listed here please share them in the comments. Or not. Some tricks only make money if very few people know about them. Wink wink.

After several months away from WoW, I recently restarted on a brand new server, this server opened on January 16, 2009. I wrote the following update to this guide one month after the opening of the server. Right now, 3-25-09, the server economy is starting to normalize. There are now many more folks level 70 and above. But that's now, this update is about a server's economy at the beginning and how that affects the making of money for a new character.

And now for another update.
The server is new, it is the second week being open.

Anyway, young server. Practically everybody is low level. Everybody is scraping together money just to buy their class skills. There is very little auction house speculation. I doubt that there are any twinks being built on the whole server. Very few people have alts that are being played. Nobody is power-leveling a crafting profession. The pool of money available to bid up the prices on the auction house just isn't there. It hasn't been earned yet.

The low level zones are full of people questing and gathering. Competition for quest mobs and resource nodes can be pretty fierce. Luckily the respawn rate in many places is jacked up to insane levels. There were times where even before you finished killing all the mobs in a small area the respawn would happen. The respawns would aggro and off to the races you would go fighting for your toon's life with everything you had. I loved it.

As for money, I'm having to use every money making skill I have just to be able to afford my class skills. I'm keeping up but just barely.

50% of the herb auctions I put up don't sell through, they get returned. With briarthorn the price will fluctuate from 20silver to 1.2gold a stack all within the span of one week. I've seen 350 separate auctions for light leather listed at the same time. Wool 8 slot bags are being sold for 4.5silver. Silver bars are 40silver. A stack of copper ore is 35silver. A stack of stranglekelp is 35silver, the deposit to place this stack on the auction house for 48 hours is 12 silver. These are all average auction prices right now. If you play on a mature server I hope you see how low these prices are.

Bottom line, many things that would normally sell well on the auction house just aren't worth putting up.

For many items it is literally more advantageous to sell to an NPC vendor rather than on the auction house. The chance of losing a deposit to an auction that doesn't sell is too much risk versus the no risk profit of selling to an NPC vendor at a price that isn't all that much lower than what the current auction house price is.

There were even times where the auction house price was lower than the price an NPC vendor was willing to pay for the item, an indicator of true new players.

These kinds of pices have been somewhat shocking to me. I have more than 40 characters, horde and alliance, spread over 8 servers, PvP and PvE. I've seen lots of different servers but never one like this. It isn't hard to make money on this server, it's hard to make enough money. If I wasn't playing a paladin I would be seriously worried about making enough money to buy a mount at level 30.

Maybe that should be the next rule of acquisition.

>Guideline 11< If you're going to play on a brand new server then you should play a warlock or a paladin since the mount is a class skill and therefore cheap.

With that thought in mind playing a hunter, shaman or druid makes sense too since they get a class skill travel speed upgrade at level 20.

--> 3-25-09
The server is just past two months old. People are starting to power-level crafting professions, build twinks and in general there is much more money floating around in the economy. Auction house prices are starting to approach if not surpass normal levels.

My character turned a corner at roughly level 40. It became much easier to make money. The drops got better and the quest rewards got better. The character skills have continued to increase in price but the non-auction house wealth generation has started to overtake the skill purchase money drain.

As of level 55, my character had 500 gold towards the 600 it takes to purchase an elite mount and riding skill. This has been helped along greatly by one piece of good fortune.

I spotted a purple item on the auction house selling for 12 gold. I bought it even though at that time it was more than half my bankroll. I knew the item was worth around 250 gold. I ended up selling it for just that. Minus the auction house cut of a little more than 12 gold I ended up with a bit more than 237 gold. To sell it I had to list it on the auction house at least four times, with an 87 silver deposit each time. So I had invested roughly 16 gold into the item. When all was said and done I made roughly a 221 gold profit.

I did not opt to do the Paladin level 60 elite mount quest chain. That would have been 300 more gold I didn't want to spend. I will do the quest eventually but not now. I have other things I want to spend that money on.

This whole experience has been very enlightening in terms of differences between old and new servers.


Jiyambi's picture

I really appreciate that

I really appreciate that you've come back to edit and update your guide! It's still a bit "wall of text"-y in places, but overall it seems like a pretty high quality guide. Good job!

Best beginner guide I've read

I just started playing WoW a few weeks ago, creating several characters and trying them out (favoring a human mage, a tauren shaman, and a night elf druid). Being poor in WoW sucks. This guide is the best I've seen since I started researching the topic.

In fact, it prompted me to create an account here just so I could post this, that's how good it is.


Awsome Guide

This is probably the most comprehensive and useful guide I have seen on money-making in WOW.

I have always found myself short on cash in the lower levels. When I do have it I find that I am a compulsive spender and buy the latest armor, weapons, potions, ect...

I hate crafting professions. And my two favorite gathering professions are mining/Skinning. Dont care for herbalism all that much but I see the herbs sell well.

What I dont get is why people put grey items on the AH besides lvl 15 shoulders and lvl 20ish helms. People can but white weapons and armor at the same level for much cheaper. And grey animal parts? Who needs to buy grey animal parts. I see them on the AH all the time when im browsing. White animal parts I understand...

Anyhoo...I am starting a Warrior and I am going to put this guide to good use. Thanks so much for the time you put into this.

Deea's picture

I totally loved this guide!

It has everything you need to know at early levels. I can see the amount of work you've put to it and I respect you for it. *cheers*

Just one thing, though, you might wanna write a... um... how should I say this? "Lighter version" for the *ahem* non-intellectuals Laughing out loud

Greens come and go but epics stay soulbound Eye
*Haylie, EU Bronze Dragonflight*


Jawdropping! On my 70 shaman which isnt in my possesion anymore i could get 1800g in about a week playiing no more than 3 hours a day. But i had no idea how to make money at low lvls. When i first read this guide i was like wtf is he talking about it cant make shit. soo i was questing and my auctioneer said that 1 coarse tiger hair (grey item) sells for 1g 50s on AH and i was like no way. so from then on i sold every single grey that had an AH value of more that 40s and ive made 85g over 2 days by just putting those greys on the ah while i lvl. Also another tip is the buy any rare recipes from vendors they only cost like 20s and sell for 3-15g depending on how rare it is. GUIDE WORKS GREAT, TRY IT and as a lvl 28 its pretty hard to make money from scratch any other way (vendor trash is good but sometimes you can get up to 5 times that price on the AH Jawdropping!


This is an absolutley incredible money making guide. 2 bad i discovered it when i was lvl 42 Sad i have a few alts so this guide is still incredibly useful. Smiling

Sentaku's picture

Nice guide! I'll be sure to

Nice guide! I'll be sure to try out some of your suggestions, hopefully it'll help since I've just begun a new character on a new server.

Thanks! Eye

Snowflake's picture

Beautiful guide athor_pel!

Beautiful guide athor_pel! On the frontpage with it Smiling

WoW-Pro Admin

Agreed, excellent guide for

Agreed, excellent guide for lowbies =D

Every little bit of $ helps

Don't just live, thrive

Hosho's picture

Quote:If you have to travel

If you have to travel on foot make a point of killing every mob between point A and point B. You get xp and gold. That's double plus good.

That is the single most important and least adhered to piece of advice anyone has ever given anyone in wow, ever. It is so right, and makes so much sense that it is amazing how few people actually do it.

Excellent guide, there's even a few points in here I didn't think of. Eye

Except that it's wrong. If

Except that it's wrong. If you're not a skinner or getting XP, mobs that don't drop stuff are worthless. Humanoids are almost always worth farming for cloth, especially after lvl 15 or so when dropping greens worth 1g+ on the AH is common.

But I make *so* much more money in my 20 min. AH trading sessions each day than I possibly could by farming that worrying about farming money is stupid. If I'm running somewhere where I don't get significant XP from the mobs and they don't have a good drop list, there is no reason to waste time fighting them.


You said, "Except it's wrong."

Please Mr. Anonymous tell me specifically what is wrong in this guide. I ask this because you didn't point out anything different than what I already wrote.

Here, I'll quote myself,

"If you are going to dedicate time to simply making money you should definitely consider your hourly gold rate and seek to maximize it.

Some specific examples include,
-Time spent traveling is time spent not making money.

-If you are going to grind for xp or money, at least kill mobs that drop useful loot and lots of it."

and more importantly,

">Guideline 5< Auction house speculation can make you a lot of money."

So next time actually read the guide before you post a comment. If you think you can do better, please, oh please write your own guide. Post it here. Setting up an account on this site is free and basically anonymous.

You too can be a published author on the intarwebz.

Double post. Sorry bout

Double post. Sorry bout that.