"Knowledge is the most democratic source of power." This is indeed true. In this second part of my series "Scientia Potentia Est" I would like to highlight and explain why knowledge in, and of, this portion of gold making in WoW is not only the greatest equalizer of the playing field, but also how you can take advantage of knowledge to advance your own goals, be they so humble as that BOE you wish to purchase, or so lofty as establishing an empire which will stand for raid tiers to come.
This source of knowledge which you should seek to advance is the knowledge of people, especially your competition. Part of what makes WoW different from several other MMOs is the closed server, and faction effect. Unlike, say RuneScape for instance, where anyone can throw something on the Grand Exchange and anyone could potentially buy it, in this World servers are economic islands. Having two factions, with limited trading between the two possible further isolates both potential markets, but also competition. Depending on what you are selling, you may have no competition, one to several people, or overwhelming completion. There are too many variables to deal with those markets which are flooded with sellers, and so besides watching market trends which these sellers follow, we are rather limited in what we can glean, and know about this set.
Thus, we will focus on the sets of competition which include the lower amounts. The first step is to get to know who they are. Are there many people on your server who have a finger in many pies? Do your competitors only focus on a specific market? Learn this. Get to know names. Recognize their posting patterns. How often do they post? How many do they post? When they undercut, do they heavily do this, perhaps in an effort to drive out competition by lowering or eliminating profit margins, or are they simply lazy, or even worse *gasp* noobs, undercutting by 25g when one copper would have done. All this knowledge can be put to use. In the Ebonsteel belt buckle market, I have 4-5 competitors. One of them posts, at most, once a day. The others are more of a concern, posting several each time several times a day. Thankfully, these posters (or at least their addons) are rather smart, undercutting by a copper a time, helping keep the price high. Every so often we will have the person posting 2-3 at half normal price. This is when knowledge again comes to our aid. At times, this is simply a person who was training a skill, and I take the chance to both keep the market price high, and get a few more of these items to flip. However, if it is certain people, I stop undercutting and posting in that market. Why? These people I know as infamous "Trade Trolls". The sole reason they have for posting is to mess with the market. I won't undercut, or buy them out, as they throw more up on the AH, and forget the consequences!
Therefore, knowledge of your competition is very useful, as it helps you make informed decisions as to what road to take in your money making endeavors. Thankfully, you don't have to memorize all this information, adding their names to your friends list, especially if they are alts who simply log on to post, and using http://theunderminejournal.com/ The Undermine Journal to find out their patterns is amazingly effective. A new feature TUJ has added for its members (sign up, its free) will notify you when you have been undercut, a useful tool for those who can utilize it. An example of how I can use this to track is found here. http://theunderminejournal.com/seller.php?realm=H-Shadowsong&seller=Pikamoomoo. This was a random server, and a random person in the glyph market. Looking at the chart, I can see that they tend to post once a day, over a few hours time, four days a week. By checking this out over the course of a few weeks, I can recognize patterns, and know when to post, or repost. Knowledge of your competition helps prevent you from being undercut, and helps you keep your items fresh for the masses to purchase.
But knowledge of your "enemies" is not all that can be useful. Knowledge of friends (You do have some, don't you?!?) can be amazing as well. Not all of us have ever profession, or every specialization of alchemy. Having friends who can help you out is great! I'm not advocating taking advantage of your friends time. Do not send your guild enchanter 500 pieces of jewelry from the obsidium shuffle and expect them to take the time out to DE it all without asking before, and probably giving them a healthy tip too. But friends can help you out in niche areas. I don't have an enchanter yet, but I have at least 4 people who don't mind DEing things for me, and making me scrolls. A good friend of mine, who is an officer in our guild, but not a money making mogul could care less about her alchemy CD, and so lets me have it for free whenever we remember to use it. I know three alchemists who will help me do transmutes, (I only have 1 alchemist) for a small tip everyday, and are willing to go to either Uldum or Vash'jr to do the transmute. I have contacts who will give me first dibs on their ore for a discount, or sell me all their volatiles. And the utility where you can be mutually beneficial, or just help a friend out goes on and on. Remember, not all people are Goblins at heart, and could care less about money.
As well, knowledge of when people post items you need is important. On our server, ore prices tend to be cheapest at night, and on weekends, whilst peaking or being bought out during the day.
In summation, know people. Get to know the other goblins, often you can often help each other out by collaborating in certain venturous, and failing that you can keep from being stymed. Friends can help, whether its by making a few enchant weapon- hurricane for you to throw up on the AH, cutting some gems you don't have the pattern for yet, or giving you a cooldown they don't use, friends are amazing. Knowing contacts to help supply you for cheaper, or in greater bulk then the AH is also invaluable, especially when dealing with lower profit margins.