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Insider Trader: Finding your niche

Insider Trader is your inside line on making, selling, buying and using player-made products.

In the World of Warcraft, just as in real life, your professional duties seem to extend beyond your job title. Perhaps most of your guild can cook, but are they all farming and contributing raid food? Which guildmate is the go-to-person for enchants, and who is donating materials instead of selling them on the Auction House for personal gain?

Don't get me wrong, here. Personal gain is a perfectly legitimate pursuit. We all have to support ourselves, and we all have expenses as well as things that we simply want. Still, there is a difference between someone who has maximized a skill and someone who really works it.

What is your niche? Are you the master of profits, a provider, or someone who brings the goods that no one else can? Today I'll be talking about how we practice our professions, and the roles and styles that we can adopt to enrich our in-game professional experiences.

The Farmer
This role doesn't have to be as boring as it sounds, and no, I'm not about to give you tips about how to get through it. Everyone knows that cranking up the music helps the grind, but why does it have to be a grind?

When people hear the word "farming" in relation to the game, most automatically cringe. Sure, the odd session can be quiet and therapeutic, almost meditative, but when we feel forced to do it, that element leeches right out.

Some players, on the other hand, have the market cornered on farming. They know that grinding is not necessarily the only way to do it. Here are some ideas to add some variety:
  • Many players park an alt that they don't play much in a choice location. The arena in Dire Maul, anyone? Just log on periodically to see if that rare mob you've been seeking has popped yet.
  • Feel like being a big shot? Pick a dungeon you'd like to try soloing. By the end of it, you'll have a stack of disenchantables (or materials, if you can "de" yourself), blues, cloth, money, potions, and a variety of other items to throw into the guild bank.
  • Think rare, semi-rare, or novelty. Go hunt a vanity pet, pick up some Noggenfogger's Elixir, gather materials to hand out Bad Clams or Delicious Chocolate Cake. Farm up a load of alcohol, make some fireworks, or snag a Piccolo.
  • Is there some ingredient that your guild needs, but so far no one has taken the initiative to provide? Maybe no one is out hunting Mammoths, so Great Feasts are in short supply. Perhaps your tanks always forget to bring bandages, but you tend to turn up cloth when you're out and about.
The Provider
This role overlaps with The Farmer in many ways. You enjoy popping up with the things that people need. You feel good inside when you randomly appear with a few stacks of Frostweave Cloth to hand over to a starving Tailor. You love having people refer others to you.

"Does anyone have any Scarlet Rubies?"

"No, I used all mine. Whisper Jane, she'll likely have a bunch, because she's the biggest, badassiest crafter in all the land!"

Here are some ideas:
  • You might be best served to take gathering professions rather than crafting. That way, all of your goods are surplus, and you can sell what you need to, and shower the rest down upon your grateful guildmates.
  • No matter what professions you have taken, cloth, healing and mana potions, and miscellaneous reagents such as Northsea Pearls or animal meat, are all at your fingertips. Hunting down Eternals could take you all over Northrend.
  • If you are a crafter, then craft up a storm! Make up a few stacks of kits, threads, popular cut gems, sought-after enchants on convenient scrolls, key buff foods, repair bots, and the like. Find out what your guild consumes and be there when they run low.
  • Come to dungeons and raids prepared. Bring enchanting materials, herbs, gems, and everything anyone might want, either to modify newly acquired gear, or to buff themselves up for a tough fight.
The City Merchant
Everyone knows their local merchant. Whether the character is found advertising on Trade Channel or working the Auction House, people will get to know you. If you're good at it, you'll make a pile of money and become a "household name." Whether you earn a good reputation or not is up to you.

Rather than simply handing over your goods, you enjoy diving into the marketplace. Sure, you might offer good deals to friends and guildmates, but you love to advertise and haggle. You like talking to people, and you are drawn to the thrill of the unknown. Who will you meet in Trade today, and what sorts of conversations will you have? Will you catch a trolling stalker, or make a new acquaintance?
  • You have to get your name out there. Use it when you advertise, offer your services (and come prepared!) to every member of every PuG in which you enlist, and chat up people in the public channels. Answer calls for goods and services in Trade Chat. Heck, bribe a friend to recommend you!
  • Make up something catchy. The memorable advertisements are witty, with decent grammar, and perhaps a little low on the ego. Don't take yourself too seriously. Get out there and insert your name into the general public, and don't worry if someone wants to make something of it.
Embracing the Niche
This role is similar to that of the Provider, but is somewhat of the opposite. Instead of passing around materials and goods in quantity, you like to target one or two specific areas in which to excel.
  • The key? Be reliable and responsible. If you are the one who brings the mana potions, then bring them every time. Skipping a raid? Mail them ahead of time, or pop them into the vault and send your Raid Leader a note.
  • Choose something you enjoy. In my guild, we have one member who for some reason has about 100 Great Feasts in his bank, and freely pops them up after every wipe when we raid. No one else is out farming the four types of meats involved in any quantity, it saves us from pillaging our personal stashes, and for many characters, the variety of buffs is a huge improvement over any other food.
  • Engineering is a great profession for finding your niche. From the Scrap Bot to MOLL-E to the Field Repair Bot 110G, making and bringing enough of these to always help out your raid makes you very valuable. Many Engineers only bother to make the items that benefit themselves, rather than providing a service, even if it is expensive, to their group.
  • If you're a Rogue, then why not maximize your Lock Picking skill? Many Rogues don't bother, and having one in the guild or on Trade Chat is very helpful. If you're a Warlock, always keep a full stack of Soul Shards. Replace used one diligently, and offer up Healthstones, Soulstones and summons whenever appropriate.
Doing it with Style
Whatever you choose to do, you should do it with style.
  • If you stand on top of Orgrimmar bank all day advertising and chatting up the masses, why not do it in a tuxe, or a silly dress, or as a pirate? Better yet, make up your own costume! Whether you're a Deep Sea Diver, Astronaut, Chef, Mad Scientist, or Crazy Cat Lady, you'll get noticed, and people will enjoy your antics.
  • Why not try your hand at RP? You could be a misunderstood blonde, a drunk Troll, a mildly unsettling Undead chemist, a bootylicious dressmaker, or a stuttering pirate.
  • Hand out a free gift with purchase. Tasty Cupcakes, anyone?
  • Speak using as many well-known movie or advertisement quotes as possible.
Each week, Insider Trader takes you behind the scenes of the bustling sub-culture of professional craftsmen, examining the profitable, the tragically lacking, and the methods behind the madness. Check out the Best of WoW Insider, with highlights from the column's entire run to date.

Filed under: Tips, Economy, Features, Making money, Insider Trader (Professions)

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