Most people on WoW pick their crafting profession based on the profession bonuses, to learn something new in the game, or to fill a need in their guild for a particular craft. They may craft and sell crafted items occasionally, but making gold is rarely their focus. Furthermore, they generally make gold by spamming trade chat with their services, requiring the buyer to supply materials (mats) and making gold solely on the tips.
When the average player decides they want or need an item, they generally want it right away. They may accumulate mats for the item and ask in trade chat or wait until a crafter advertises their services in trade chat, but most will head straight to the auction house (AH) and pay the extra gold to get the item they want. This is where your opportunity to make gold comes in.
Because of these habits, you can now set up a system to maximize your gold profits. Your target buyers are the ones (and remember, this is most people on WoW) who go to the auction house to spend gold on what they want right away. You can make WoW gold by having the crafters who advertise their services in trade chat craft the items for you, then post them on the AH for the buyers who go straight to the auction house.
First, keep an eye in trade chat for the people ASKING for a particular item to be made. This will most commonly be immediate consumables (potions, flasks) or intermittent consumables (gear, gear enhancements). Make note of those items frequently requested.
Next, check these items on the auction house. Are there many of them available? How much gold do they sell for? Also check prices for items people commonly need or upgrade – for example, bags. Track the pricing for a few days or weeks to get an idea of what the average price is.
Now you’ll need to find out the base materials for these items. You can do this by checking the profession lists of those crafters who advertise in trade chat, or by checking the item on wowhead.com. Make a list of each crafted item that sells well and the mats required to make that item. If you don’t have a crafting profession, you more than likely have a gathering profession. If you don’t, you should. This will maximize your gold profits by reducing the cost of the mats needed to craft the items that sell well. However, you can’t have ALL of the gathering professions and some mats (cloth, for example) don’t require a gathering profession – so you need to check the prices of the base mats for the crafted items on the AH. A great tool for checking prices and listing auctions on the auction house is the add-on, Auctioneer. You can download it at auctioneeraddon.com.
Do some math to figure out if the base materials cost less than the crafted item. They will cost less in most cases. Pick 2-5 crafted items in particular you want to specialize in. You can try to make gold on all the items, but you’ll end up spending a great amount of time searching for base mats if you do. With a handful of profitable items, it should only take a few minutes each day to find and purchase your base mats.
The other factor in pricing is the tipping of the person who ultimately crafts the items for you. You can maximize your gold profit by having a crafter make items in bulk and tipping them less per item than a person asking for a single crafted item. The crafter will ultimately make more gold off of your transaction, so most will do this happily. For example, a player who wants a single gem made will often tip 10 gold for that service. Let’s say you want 20 gems made, and tip 2 gold per gem for a total of 40 gold. It would take the crafter 4 single gem customers to make the same amount of gold from your bulk transaction. I recommend finding a few people with the crafting professions you need, and offering that deal to them. Some will decline, and may be rude about it, but trust me – most will jump at the chance.
When you list your items for sale on the AH, do not list all of your items at once. Depending on demand and the amount of active auctions, only list between 1 and 5 of your item. This will maintain the perception of rarity (which keeps the pricing high) and will prevent the crafters of that item who DO sell them on the AH from getting angry with you for flooding the market.
Another tip to prevent other players from getting angry with you and targeting you in trade chat is to create an alternate toon (alt) to conduct your transactions. This alt can also serve as your personal bank to park your gold and mats you are in the process of accumulating.
Using this system, I make about one thousand gold per week with very little time spent doing so. The biggest time investment will be the research you do before setting up shop, but once that is done, you can easily make several hundred, if not thousands, of gold every week. Good luck!