Making a Buck While Leveling Alt No. 2349

Cold is running his monthly festival, and this month it’s all about alts. Since I’ve spent the past week being rather blustery about the wonders of alts, because I really do think they’re a great thing to have around, I thought I’d take part in this particular shared topic. Since Cold is all about making cash, it will be primarily slanted towards making money. However, this alt isn’t for those who are looking to create the perfect complement of max level toons to build their gold-making empire. These are basic tips & tricks that anyone looking to level just for the fun of it can use to squeeze a bit of extra cash out of a disposable character.

Before You Get Started

This is not the best or easiest way to make gold for a leveling character. This is a method that is meant to maximize the fun part of the alt process (leveling/exploration) while minimizing things I do not consider fun. Because of that, it is a highly self-reliant character, and can be a great choice for those starting characters on new servers without a support network, or for those wanting a “throwaway” alt.

There are a number of assumptions I’m making about your character as I write this.

  • This is a solo character.
  • You don’t know if you’ll ever touch this character again past xx level.
  • You won’t cry if you have to delete it.
  • You enjoy questing/grinding. (Or you don’t have to run the dungeon finder to level).
  • You are willing to utilize the AH at a basic level.

The advantages of this system:

  • It will work for any class/specialization that you choose.
  • It can be done at your own pace.
  • AH interaction is minimal.

The disadvantages are:

  • If you decide to keep the character at max level you’ll probably want different/more professions.
  • It doesn’t work as well when partnering for leveling.
  • It doesn’t work as well for healers since most leveling occurs outside of dungeons.

The Basics

  1. Roll a character
  2. Start questing
  3. Pick up everything (characters on established servers can exclude things like fish oil and light feathers… but if you’re being truly self-sufficient, what’s the harm?)
  4. At the appropriate level, pick up two primary gathering professions.
  5. Vendor everything but cloth and profession related materials (this includes greens/blues that you acquire while questing).
  6. Auction all cloth and profession-related materials.
  7. Purchase basic riding/flying and appropriate level flying as needed (Azeroth/Northrend).

That’s it! Characters generally rack up between 15-20k or more during the course of their adventures in from 1-85. If you keep your investments on your alt minimal, that’s a pretty penny for your main (or your hoard) if you were planning on playing the character anyway. For alts on established servers that have minimal gearing needs because of heirlooms, the profits tend to be better since all quest rewards can be acquired solely on their sale price and then vendored away. Now, while all this is really easy, there are some tricks that I’ve picked up utilizing this method over the years.

Tips & Tricks

Character Choice

While I don’t advocate choosing an alt based on this particular “gold-making” enterprise, some characters will do a bit better than others.

  • If you’re not using heirlooms, plate wearers make the best money. Plate quest rewards are almost always the most valuable vendor item.
  • Healing isn’t generally a fun past time when trying to take down angry quest mobs. If you don’t want to level a DPS or tank spec, then stick to those dungeons and make a bit less coin.
  • Tanks and strong AoE classes are great for the secret grind lover. Large groups of mobs, or low-level dungeons can greatly supplement your gold supply.
  • If you want to spend most of your time gathering, druids with flight form are the best!

Profession Choice

Whatever you do, don’t craft. Crafting professions lose money until you reach max level and can sell high-end items to an end-game crowd. If you hit end-game and decide you want to keep your character, then by all means, change to crafting professions, but until then, stick to gathering. (If it works for noobs, it’ll work for you.)

  • Mining and Herbalism garner you experience when you gather. They also require you to go to the resource. If you don’t like traipsing around the map chasing sparklies, then only take one.
  • For most servers, raw ore and herbs are the best-selling raw material.
  • Skinning relies on killing beasties. If you don’t relish standing around skinning a pile of dead dogs, don’t take it.
  • On most servers, skins have widely fluctuating profit levels from different types of materials. While it is profitable, in my experience it’s a less steady source of income.

But what about inscription and enchanting?

  • For an experienced Auctioneer who enjoys the process, these professions can earn you cash while you level. However, they require more time devoted to the process of making money than leveling your alt, which is why I don’t suggest them.

What about secondary professions?

  • If you really enjoy cooking and fishing, then feel free to work on these as you go. They take minimally from your cash base and end-product cooked goods vendor for more than their uncooked brethren. However, if you don’t like it, don’t do it! You can level these professions just as easily at max level if you decide to keep your character.
  • First Aid, however, is a no-no. While it feels very weird to say that (as I have always encouraged everyone to take it) in the current leveling environment, it’s not really necessary. Cloth will be your primary money-making machine, so don’t waste it! You can always quickly level up first aid by clearing dungeons for cloth at a later date.


Purchases should be minimized at all points. However, sometimes you’ve just gotta have:

  • Skills: If you’re really discerning you can cherry pick abilities you never plan to use such as Devouring Plague when you’re leveling disc, but I play it safe and buy everything.
  • Professions: This is your prime money-making tool, so you need to keep up your gathering professions to match the area you’re currently exploring. It’s no fun having to back-track to an area you’ve completed to catch up your mining.
  • Riding/Flying: Basic riding and flying can really speed up your leveling process and frankly, make it more fun. You’ll definitely want Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert, Cold Weather Flying and your Flight Master’s License, but I would forgo Artisan and Master riding unless you have another character bank-roll the purchase.
  • Bags: My bag of choice is Netherweave Bags. This is the first and only AH purchase I make. For the size (16-slots) and price, they are generally the most affordable option. If you want to invest a little more in Frostweave, feel free, but you probably don’t need that much room until you hit max level and begin carrying around multiple sets of gear.

What you should never, ever do is buy yourself gear from the Auction House. If you haven’t been gifted with heirlooms and blues from a previous explorer, don’t worry–you’ll survive.

The Vendor & AH

Let’s face it, if you’re not an (RP) server, most low-level items are hard to sell on the AH. While you want to maximize your profits, you also want to minimize activities that aren’t a ton of fun, and re-listing auctions over and over again definitely ranks up there on my list! Below is a short-list of things that should definitely be vendored, definitely be auctioned, and things that depend on your server and your personal persistence.

I’d also like to take a moment to highly suggest a bank alt. I hate going to town unless I really need something (like skills!) so being forced to return to a capital city when my bags are full is torture for me. By having a level one character standing in a capital city, you can mail yourself auction-able goods from anywhere in Azeroth. Just don’t forget to log into the poor thing now and again to put up new auctions and pull off your lovely profits!

Things to Vendor

  • Gear: Anything green quality or below. Most green quality pieces are allotted random stats which may or may not be desirable to discerning buyers. With the advent of heirlooms (and armies of alts), many players can keep their own alts in style without relying on the AH for gear, so don’t waste a lot of time (and money) constantly relisting. Just scrap these as soon as you find them.
  • Grey Items: Pick up a handy add-on like TekJunkSeller that will automatically trash these as soon as you open dialogue with a vendor.
  • White Items: You’ll have to sell these by hand. This can be anything from feathers to scales, and there are all a total pain in the rumpus to sell on the AH. With the advent of glyphs for reagents like Light Feathers, there’s even less reason to keep your hands on them.
  • If you’re skinning, Ruined Leather Scraps.
  • If you’re mining, Rough Stone. Stone after that level is debatable depending on server.

Things to Auction

  • Cloth! Linen is the only questionable sale here, as it sometimes moves quite slowly, but from Wool on all cloth should hit the auction house.
  • Whatever you gather from gathering professions. This includes ore, herbs, skins, gems, motes and crystallized whatever.
  • Motes should always be sold in singles. Once combined they cannot be broken down and can take longer to sell.

But What About?

  • Food Items: I personally throw these in my bank as I get them to make cooking easier in batches. However, if you never plan on cooking, or are unsure, just vendor the raw stuff. Most raw food products sell poorly unless it’s a seasonal item (like Small Eggs).
  • Reputation Items: These generally can’t be vendored, but can be auctioned. If you don’t know/want to work on reputation gains, these can be a good AH item. However, they generally require re-listing depending on the number you have, so if you don’t feel up to it, bank or trash them.

Random Dungeons

Despite the great experience you can nab from running random dungeons, they suck for making reliable cash. This does not mean you never could, would, or should run them however, as there are several advantages to running dungeons selectively.

  • Gear: The little bag of goodies can help you gear up your character without costing you anything. From 1-60 I believe that you can get 2 new items every 10 levels. (i.e. you’ll only get a neck and leg slot for a few levels, then you’ll get the chest and back the next few). Once you pass into Outlands/Northrend and beyond, you’re more likely to get sizeable upgrades directly from boss kills. Getting in to get a huge upgrade can be a good strategy so long as it’s a long term piece of gear.
  • Quests: You can get some gold and goodies once per dungeon by doing the dungeon quests.
  • Break up the grind: Sometimes, you just want to do something different, and I’m not going to tell you that you can’t. Just don’t whine to me when you’re party dies and you spend more money on repairs than you gain in cloth/gold 😛

So if you’re looking to make some extra cash as you level your latest alt from 1-85, vendor heavily, auction sparingly, and don’t spend a dime you don’t have to!

6 thoughts on “Making a Buck While Leveling Alt No. 2349

  1. This is a great article, and it's a fun thing to do as a sort of mindless grind! I leveled a druid this way sometime after Cataclysm launched (originally intended to be a Worgen, she ended up another Night Elf…) I enjoyed zipping around herbing and mining and questing and she didn't cost me any money, she only made it.

    I read a bit of your discussion with Syl on the linked post! You know you DO have at least one 'known' out of guild server connection. 😉 I'm usually pugging anyhow so I'm often game to queue up with someone. I found it took me a long while to make connections on MR (the dungeon finder launched just after we server-transferred there) but I've managed to do it slowly and gradually. It definitely takes a concerted effort now, whereas before LFD it just seemed to kind of happen naturally. 😦
    My recent post Healing Questionnaire: Pally Edition

    • To be 100% honest, this usually isn't advice I follow because I actually enjoy crafting professions. However, even I get tired of the money-sink and sometimes choose to do something a bit different, and for me this is a much more enjoyable way to build up some extra cash than standing in a city re-listing items.

      I'm actually quite horrible about asking people to random with me and should be more annoying about it ❤

  2. Here is a little macro script I use for selling grey crap to a vendor. Talk to a vendor, click the macro and you’re done. It also informs you what sold and the gold received.

    ====Code ====
    /run local p,N,c,n=0 for b=0,4 do for s=1,GetContainerNumSlots(b) do n=GetContainerItemLink(b,s) if n and string.find(n,"9d9d9d") then N={GetItemInfo(n)} c=GetItemCount(n) p=p+(N[11]*c)UseContainerItem(b,s) print(n) end end end print(GetCoinText(p))
    ====End Code====

  3. My alt bags of choice are the under appreciated Mooncloth Bags. They are typically more expensive than Netherweave Bags, but their mats are cheaper. But most importantly they do not bind when used. You might decide you don’t want to play your alt anymore, or you might decide you love your alt and want to gear the crap out of them. Either way you are covered with Mooncloth Bags. (Same thing applies to the Traveler’s Backpack.)

    Just sell the bags when you are done with them for whatever you paid and the bags effectively become free. Odds are if you were willing to pay X for it, someone else will be too.

  4. Really good read.

    Regarding vendoring the Ruined leather scraps. Three scraps vendor for a total of 21c(72c each).
    Three scraps can be turned into 1 light leather by a leatherworker at skill level 1. The light leathers sell for 75s each on our servers AH. Thats a ridiculous 37500% improvement on the gold you get from a vendor, although admittidly its all relative and not an insane amount of gold. Still every bit adds up.

    The US Average for light leather is over 1g for Alliance and 2g for Horde so by all means convert those leathers and AH them for a couple gold. Unless you don't have acess to a lowbie leatherworker of course 🙂

    • That's a good point. I'm so used to using this strategy on "stranded" characters that I rarely consider the services of a leatherworker accessible 🙂 I've been trying to get some ore prospected for the last week on one of my alts because I don't have access to a jewelcrafter and it's driving me batty! (But I really want that flying carpet…).

      I'd also point out that all Auctioneering is relative and highly dependent on your server. When I was on Scarlet Crusade the first thing I did was view items in the dressing room. If it looked cool, I auctioned it because roleplayers often care much more about appearance than stats!

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