Crafting is better than farming for gold making in my opinion. I say this as someone who has made 2 million gold since Legion launched purely by crafting and playing the Auction House.
There are several reasons for this and I will be highlighting them in this post. I will first look into farming and why I dont think it is good unless you enjoy it. I will then look at flipping and crafting, the two main money-making methods that involve the Auction House, and why they are better (from a effort minimizing perspective).
I will add a disclaimer that some of my views are influenced by the fact that I run a second account for all posting and shopping on the auction house,. This means that time spent shopping, posting and canceling does not meaningfully impact my playtime. My argument will be based around the assumption you only have 1 account, but even then I think crafting and flipping will outperform farming massively from a gold per hour point of view.
Farming: 10k-20k gold per hour
Farming has pretty linear returns per effort. What I mean by this is that if you are doing a farmspot or route your return per time spent is fairly constant. The only way to increase your profit is to run the farmspot more. If you look at some popular farming spots on Youtube a good farm spot will yield about 10k-20k gold per hour. If your play time is limited spending your time on farming purely for gold probably wont feel good. Now some people enjoy just mindlessly farming some spot because they like the calmness or for any other reason. If this applies to you, then you should just be happy that you enjoy it, and farm to your hearts content.
There might be more efficient farming methods, including seed raids for herbalists, but they require a larger amount of organizing and time spent.
If you on the other hand don’t enjoy spending your time farming for gold, like me, but prefer spending your time progressing your main or alts, then the Auction House and crafting is for you.
Mass-crafting: 100k+ gold per hour
I’m gonna look at the math of gold per hour from crafting here. On my server i currently make about 600 gold profit on average from crafting enchants. Crafting and selling enchants require you to spend time on four activities:
- Buying materials
- Crafting Enchants
- Posting them on the Auction House
- Collecting sold and expired auctions
I isolated my enchanting operations to figure out how much time I would spend buying materials and posting auctions.
Shopping scan: 25 seconds
Auctioning scan: 16 seconds (5 enchants)
I’m gonna assume that executing the Shopping operations for enough mats to craft 1 of each ring enchant and 1 hidden satyr would take about 30 seconds after running the scan.
Crafting the enchants should take about 2-5 seconds depending on how fast you click.
Lets also assume about 1,2 seconds per auction (50 mails per 60 seconds)
Total time for 5 enchants (5 seconds crafting time per) = 1:42
Total expected profit = 600*5 = 3000g
Expected profit per hour = 105 882g
This absolutely crushes farming. And enchants are the least efficient items to craft, as you have to manually click your vellums each time. For higher margin items or items where you can click create all the math gets even better.
The beauty here is of course the fact that the limiting factor in crafting usually isn’t your time. It’s availability of materials and how often you post (How fast you sell out your stuff). This also means that you can increase your profits without increasing your time spent if you can find cheaper materials or find auctioning operations that give you higher margins.
Flipping and sniping: 10k-250k+ per hour.
Flipping is the act of buying stuff cheap and selling it at a higher price. Running sniper scans can be very profitable. It involves setting up TSM to automatically scan the newest auctions to find underpriced goods. I have personally found items I have resold for 90k more than i bought them for. Sniping does however require you to spend time on your bank-alt or on the Auction House. I personally wouldnt do it if i didnæt have a second account and a second monitor. Running it while doing other stuff on my main account is obviously amazing.
Flipping some known markets is much better. I recently started doing this with Legion BoE Epics and materials. I just timed a scan for my BoE epic search. I spent 4 minutes running the scan and evaluating buy opportunities. I bought 3 items where i estimate my total profit profit to be about 20k gold based on market values and the lowest price of the same Ilvl on the Auction house currently.
We add about 3-4 seconds per item for posting and collecting and the total expected time spent is 4:20.
20 000 gold gives an hourly expected profit from this at 276 925 gold. This is amazing, and I didn’t even get particularily lucky with this scan. I have resold epics with 50k profits before.
This method is obviously very limited in that you can’t just do this all day and expect millions, but running this scan once a day has pretty amazing gold per hour potential.
I also ran my Legion material groups and spent about 1:15 buying Silk that i expect to resell for 200 gold profit. This yields about 10k gold per hour which is on par with farming. This was also a very low yield scan. Monday evenings are not optimal for material scans.
A second account: Even higher gold per hour
If you run a second account for scanning and auctioning, you can take all that time out of the equation. This is because the time spent doing this will now no longer take time away from playing your main. For my crafting example this would place the time spent only on the crafting portion, which is estimated at 25 seconds. This would give the gold per hour at 439 000 gold. Literally nothing will beat this when it comes to decreasing your effort per gold.
I run two accounts and I pay for both using tokens only. Getting a second account should cost you about 5-10 $/€ if you use the RAF system and get the discount. You also get one month free for your main account and a mount if you pay for 2 months on the off account, and you can do this with a token. I would strongly suggest making a second battle.net account to get around the 36 tokens/24 months limit on a single battle.net account.
The limiting factors for flipping and crafting is generally the supply of raw materials and items. You can’t craft away all day or scan the AH for the same items all day at the same efficiency. The good news is that you can reach extremely good levels of efficiency at fairly low levels of effort. Even if you just run the shopping scans once a day you can probably get most of the efficiency. I Mostly play from about 22-24 most evenings, and I get enough materials that I dont run out of stock, and I generally find quite a few epics to flip.
The main way to increase your total profit in crafting and flipping is to add another market, diversifying is the only way to increase profits, as you can’t scale your effort linearily. Crafting and flipping mostly follows the pareto principle where you get about 80% of the benefit for 20% of the effort. Just crafting and posting once a day will be great. Camping the AH will increase your profits, but at a declining rate of profit per hour spent camping.
Crafting and flipping is awesome. Increase your profits by adding a new market. Try a new crafting profession or add a new material to your flipping routine.
A second account will increase your effective gold per hour by ridiculous amounts. Seriously consider getting one, especially if you have two monitors.