First off, let me just say the preparing for new patches is not my strongest point! I tend to absorb information from my Twitter feed by reading tweets & following links people post there. This is not best practice although it works ok to a certain extent. It all boils down to how serious you are about your gold making! If you've been reading here a while, you'll know I'm not one of the really serious gold makers, I've even described myself as a lazy or laid back goldmaker on several occasions! But my style suits me and if time is your weak point, being more relaxed about it can lessen the pressure you put on yourself with limited playtime, especially if you actually do other in-game stuff too!
OK so, with that disclaimer out of the way - how would I go about preparing for a patch if I was really serious about making shedloads of gold with each new patch?
Read the Patch Notes!This may seem really obvious but I am always amazed by some of the comments in trade chat when a new patch hits. Stuff that has been talked about on Twitter, in blogs & forums, on live streams & podcasts for ages before a patch goes live always catches a lot of people out! Silly questions like 'why have my talents reset?' or 'where's the 'Have group, Will Travel' button gone?' after they were changed in earlier patches.
I'm concentrating on the gold making stuff here but it's worth reading the class changes too - especially for a class you play & know well - you will possibly find a class change that affects which gem or glyph will be best for that class & that will create some demand when the patch goes live.
Read, Watch or Listen to Blogs, Podcasts, Livestreams or You-TubersIf you're not already on Twitter, I'd highly recommend it. Other than being a nice way to meet fellow WoW players, there is a wealth of information regularly being discussed by players who are happy to share their experience via all sorts of social platforms. Links to blog posts or podcasts are a great way to follow up areas of interest to you as a gold maker. The chances are that if something caught your eye in the patch notes, it probably caught the eye of other gold makers too and they will be discussing it somewhere! My blog roll in the sidebar has most of the currently active blogs in it for an easy start point!
Try To Think Ahead To How The Patch Notes Will Affect Your ProfessionsAre there going to be new patterns/recipes for you to learn? Where will you find them? What are the materials for them? Are there new materials coming too? How will changes affect existing markets? These are all questions you should think about as well as how you can profit from them. You may not have all the professions available to you but if you can see what is likely to happen to demand for a certain material, you can snag some bargains now & sell for a higher price when the demand shoots up! As an example - if you don't have a Leatherworker, you have no need for Exotic Leather but you can still watch the market & snatch up bargains to flip to the Leatherworkers who didn't stock up beforehand!
Look For Smaller, Less Obvious OpportunitiesMost experienced gold makers will spot the biggest money earners very quickly in any set of patch notes but the really good ones will spot the smaller items and make that a nice little niche market. Are there changes to existing recipes or professions that make a good item even cheaper to craft or buy? Look at how you might be able to profit from it.
Is there an item being introduced that has a relatively low cost but disenchants into a high demand or high priced material? I'm thinking of the Alchemist Trinket at the start of Cataclysm - it disenchanted into the very expensive, top level enchanting material and the materials to make it were relatively cheap so Alchemists who spotted this were making them as fast as they could! Blizzard spotted this & changed it fairly early on but canny gold making Alchemists had already made a killing on the Auction House!
Use Your Own KnowledgeThis may sound a bit obvious too but don't forget that your own knowledge & in-game experiences give you the information you need to take advantage of certain markets. If you are a raider, you will know & understand raiding requirements much better than I do. You will know which items are likely to be in demand for raiders to stay at their best, whether that be gems, leg armors, flasks, buff foods or enchants for example. If you PvP then you will have knowledge of those related markets that I don't have & you can use them to your advantage over someone like me.
Of course, I know my Auction House & markets but I'll always be playing catch-up in those markets unless I listen to my own advice & read everything I can beforehand! I do read a lot of blogs & forums but I don't always process the information efficiently. Sometimes it takes a while for it to sink in & that's when your knowledge beats me to the early gold!
Physical Preparation - To Stockpile or Not To Stockpile?This is one of those areas that is down to your personal preference, your existing gold balance & how much space you have in guild banks or bags! The earlier you read the patch notes and spot the raw materials that are likely to be in high demand post-patch, the cheaper you can snatch them up. As the patch gets closer to going live, those materials are likely to start increasing in price as latecomers or last minute panickers start to buy up stocks too.
I don't tend to specifically stockpile too much stuff as I buy plenty of cheap materials all the time and that gives me a natural nest egg of cheap-ish materials for heavy duty crafting as soon as possible. I also leave the materials in as raw a state as possible to give me room to maneuvre if necessary so ores stay as ores, herbs as herbs but I do convert cloth to bolts, it just saves on space!
The only exception to the raw state is stuff that is on a cooldown like Magnificent Hides & Living Steel - my crafters are in full production on those right now, with only 1 a day possible, it takes a long while to build up a stock. Yes, I know I can craft Magnificent Hides off cooldown but at 2.5 times the cost, it's not cost effective now that I've used up all my very cheap Exotic Leather!
ConclusionIf you've made it this far, thank you for sticking with me! I tried to make this bullet points but felt they needed more explanation & then it all got a bit lengthy! To my experienced gold making friends - do you have any other advice to give? I'm sure I've missed things!
With patch 5.4 looming on the horizon, maybe 2 weeks, maybe a month away, it's not too late to start preparing now but if you want to make some serious gold, I wouldn't hang about too much longer! Good Luck & Have Fun!
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