When Cataclysm launched, it brought with it a new design for low-level crafting alts. In order to progress to the most desirable items, players had to get access to a "trader" NPC located in a phased area of the Twilight Highlands. This could not be done until level 84. A lot of auctioneers leveled a lot of alts they otherwise wouldn't have just so they could max out professions. I, however, was not one of them. And my laziness (or prescience?) seems to have paid off, because as of patch 4.1, all the previously locked profession content is now available from your friendly local profession trainers!
Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow
This is one of those rare situations where my procrastination really paid off in spades. Anyway, I've been holding off playing my enchanter DK because I can't stand DKs and have trouble keeping all my existing trade skills properly utilized with the time I have.
That said, now that the Runed Elementium Rod is no longer locked away to only those above level 84, I'm going to finish leveling my enchanting. Also, now that I only need to get to level 75 to max out a profession, I'm considering bringing one last alt to that level so I could get tailoring and leatherworking capped.
What does it mean?
This change means that one of the barriers to entry for competition in the crafted goods markets has been removed. You can expect to see new competition in your favorite markets in a couple of days, and the only way to deal with it is going to be to branch out and use the change to get your fingers into more pies.
The type of new competitor you'll see are the ones who were locked out of some professions that are profitable, but not profitable enough to justify leveling another character -- in other words, people who track their gold per hour and probably don't level characters for fun. They likely have their UI set up in such a way that they don't waste time crafting unprofitable items and can generally be counted on to cut into your margins.
- Enchanting Jessica Cordell and Kithas now have all the recipes Senthii and Agatian Fallanos had a monopoly on.
- Blacksmithing Kaita Deepforge and Punra now have all the recipes Brundall Chiselgut and Kuldar Steeltooth have.
- Leatherworking Jillian Tanner and Tamar now sell everything Misty Merriweather and Threm Blackscalp did.
- Tailoring Alexandra Bolero and Borya now sell everything Sal Ferraga and Aristaleon Sunweaver did.
The crafted epics require Chaos Orbs, which are currently bind on pickup. This means that the only people crafting these are already level 85 and doing heroics, so there will be no increase in the supply of this market unless Chaos Orbs somehow became tradable. The demand for these epics has likely already hit its peak, even though some of the items are now best in slot. When the next tier of gear comes out, whether orbs are tradable or not, iLvl 359 gear is going to be much more quickly replaced.
The crafted PvP gear market is already pretty well saturated on many realms. The demand is quite strong, however, so if that equates to decent margins and volume on your server (like it does on mine), prepare for an influx of new crafters. Like crafted epics, I expect the demand for this gear to greatly reduce when you can buy the current tier of epic PvP gear with honor. Cold reports that Blizzard will be rolling out new PvP craftables when the new season launches, so maybe this will be the trend: At some point in each patch, the previous level of crafted PvP gear will become craftable by low-level crafting alts, and the good stuff will continue to only be craftable by max-level characters.
The best in slot enchants and item enhancements will likely retain their demand as new raids and better gear opens up. In fact, every time a new patch launches a new tier of gear, demand for these skyrockets. I'd bet that the high margins we see on this type of crafted good (especially enchanting scrolls) are part of the reason Blizzard decided to unlock the vendor bought recipes.
The odds and ends (like pets, bags, and Pristine Hide trade-ins) will likely keep their same demand, and this increase in availability (and supply) will do nothing but reduce margins.
How to deal with it
This has already happened. Every time someone enters a new market that had been locked out for them, you will find your auctions undercut more heavily. If you do nothing, this means you'll do a little less work and get less profit. When auctions come back unsold, you don't have to buy mats or craft. The best way to deal with this loss is to become the source of someone else's loss and get into a market that you had been locked out of. It'll take a bit of time, but since you're already spending less time on your existing markets, you can probably afford it.
If you're one of those folks who already has all the max-level characters you need, then you are flat out of luck. Remember to take a long-term approach to your markets, and be agile. If you find, for example, that belt buckles are no longer profitable for you, spend less time on them and try to break into another market. If the prices ever rebound, you'll be there.
Maximize your profits with more advice from Gold Capped as well as the author's Call to Auction podcast. Do you have questions about selling, reselling and building your financial empire on the auction house? Basil is taking your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.