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Gold Capped: The basics of selling glyphs


Want to get Gold Capped? Every week, Basil "Euripides" Berntsen takes a short break from building a raiding guild on Drenden (US-A) to write up a guide that will help you make gold. Check out the Call to Auction podcast, and feel free to email Basil any comments, questions or hate mail!

Selling glyphs can be very profitable. It requires a lot of addons to work, and the market reacts to competition differently than other markets. However, a lot of auctioneers got their start with it. I know I did!


Glyph toolbox

To successfully sell glyphs, you need to be able to manage 345 different products, each with their own mix of supply and demand. They also don't share the same mats for creation, and there's no really efficient way to pare down that list without costing yourself money. A lot of people will stick to the "core" glyphs (the proper ones for PvE and PvP for each class), hoping that the increased demand will yield higher profitability, however because there are people who do this, the supply for this subset of all the glyphs in the game is also higher.

Long story short, the default UI is not made for managing auctions in this volume. You absolutely need addons. Let's break this down by task, and look at what the addons do for us.

To mill herbs, you will want Auctioneer. See my post about automation to look at the different ways there are to increase throughput. Also, unless you see a stellar deal on old world mats somewhere, the best herbs to mill are Northrend ones. There are two classes of herbs: those that mill into 6 Ink of the Sea and 1 Snowfall, and those that mill into 5 IotS and half a Snowfall. Calculate the value of Snowfalls based on your ability to sell non-glyph items, and then see which herb is the best deal. Statistically, overall, your best choices are generally Adder's Tongue, Tiger Lily or Talandra's Rose. Do the math yourself on your realm, though.

To make glyphs, you should use the Lilsparky fork of Skillet, as well as Lilsparky's Workshop (if you intend to only make profitable glyphs). The Skillet fork supports a queue and automated buying. You queue up the glyphs you want to make, visit the Dalaran Ink Trader, and click the button to purchase all the lower level inks you will need, and then just make sure you visit the parchment vendor to the left to get all the parchment that you'll need. To queue only the glyphs that have sold since you last crafted, you'll need KTQ, which requires Altoholic. Bear in mind that KTQ can cause weird errors if you try anything fancy with it. Consider turning off all addons but the ones it needs while crafting glyphs.

To sell glyphs, while you can use Auctioneer, it's not recommended. Auctioneer's pricing database is awesome for things like enchant scrolls, however all glyphs have just about the same cost, give or take the difference in parchment cost. You will be much happier once you install and learn QA3. It's the perfect glyph selling addon because you can fit every single glyph in the game into a single group, and have the same pricing rules. Some people like QA3 for other markets too, but I find that managing the huge number of product groups becomes tedious. QA3 also supports two click cancellation of undercut auctions, which is key for glyphs.

Other tools you'll need include bank alts with tons of glyph bags, and possibly a guild bank or two to store mats and glyphs.

The popularity of the glyph market

If there was exactly one person on each server with inscription, and they listed every single glyph for 50g, they would make hundreds of thousands of gold per month. There is huge demand for glyphs, and generally, people will just buy it instead of trying to get the mats and have it made. Of course, there are no servers left without glyph competition, and unlike competition for something where there are only a few different types of items (like belt buckles or enchanting mats), competition in the glyph market has more than one way to reduce your profits.

In another market; say, for example, enchanting mats, increased competition means more undercutting, heavier undercutting, and lower profit margins. The demand is also quite flexible, because as prices go down, there are more buyers of opportunity and more people who can afford better enchants. In the glyph market, however, the demand is quite a bit less flexible. If prices go way down, people are unlikely to "stock up because I'll need a stack of kill shot glyphs eventually." If prices go way up, people are less likely to "wait until tomorrow or have a friend make it for me." There is no such thing as completely inelastic demand, but glyphs are as close to that as it gets in this game.

Competition among glyph sellers is done two ways, and each has its own effect.
  • The more time a glyph seller can spend canceling auctions and re-undercutting their competition, the less glyphs sold by everyone else.
  • The more a glyph seller is willing to undercut their cheapest competitor, the less profit will be made by the next person to list a batch.
The most important one is the first one. If, in a 7 day week, your glyphs are the cheapest for 50% of the time, you'll make 50% of the total potential market. This is the logic that drives people to log in every hour and relist, especially if they are using a low undercut value in QA3. Of course, assuming you're selling every single glyph in the game, the opportunity cost of this type of activity is an enormous amount of time doing repetitive tasks like emptying mail, crafting new glyphs, and re-listing on multiple characters. This leads to an abysmal gold per hour number, yet that doesn't seem to deter people.

Of course, the obvious answer to most reasonable people without hours to spend grinding their "cancel" and "list" buttons into a fine dust is to undercut heavily, reasoning that they can make reduce the profits of the grinders so much that they'll find some other market. Assuming both sides of the competition equation have a lot of stamina to keep with it over the long run, nobody will ever make money.


Don't just listen to my advice, see for yourself

There are subtleties to glyph making and pricing that I've not touched on here -- this article is long enough without deep-diving into concepts like glyph walling, supply attacks, undercutting strategies and mat valuation. The reality is, though, that with this information, you'll have all the tools that the other glyph sellers use.


bringin' sexy back!Being an auctioneer is like being able to print money (or gold, as it were). Wait, that doesn't make sense ... You can print on gold, but you can't print gold. That would be closer to transmutation? I can transmute titanium, but that's only worth it if the price of saronite is low enough to justify the time spent making it. I need some sort of analogy here. ... Whatever, I'll figure it out later. Making gold? Every week, Gold Capped will teach you the tricks of the trade, from setting up your auction addons and user interface, to cross-faction arbitrage, to learning how to use your trade skills.

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