I just started playing the AH, using my 4 maxed professions, and a few new powerful addons and resources.
1. TSM (TradeSkillMaster)
2. Call2Auction podcast
3. The Consortium site
I'm heading into work now, but might be able to elaborate in a little bit.
One of the better decisions I've made recently was leveling an alt to 85. I'm happy with the decision to take herbing and mining, but just like real life, the real money does NOT come from trading hours for dollars (or gold). There's more to be made if you're willing to take advantage of the market, your individual skills, and tools and training...just like real life. Seeing a trend?
In this case, I'm talking about the potential profit of the AH combined with professions and addons like TSM (TradeSkillMaster) and Auctionator.
Up until today, this was me: Go gather as quickly as possible. Smelt the ore and sell the bars. Use the herbs to make flasks and sell them. Eripedes from Call2Auction makes a great point: at some point, it is completely more profitable to use the AH and your professions versus spending time gathering. For me, that point is undeniably now.
I've been doing hours of research, reading tutorials, and listening to podcasts to start understanding what to actually DO to make gold with the AH. Today I began using TSM, using Eripedes' basic setup tutorial.
Here's what I accomplished today:
I figured out how to automatically queue up alchemy recipes.
I figured out how to set up automatic posting of my flasks.
I figured out how to search for the required gems for my alchemy transmutes.
Here's what I really wish I had:
A jewelcrafter to prospect ore.
A good use for my 525 enchanter.
Proof that the TSM pricing I'm using is actually going to work on my server.
A TSM strategy that will earn at least 2000g each day.
Some good things I've found that are already helping me out:
Automatically posting auctions at a set price below competition allows me to post large quantities of multiple items very quickly, knowing that I am undercutting everyone without posting too low. Also, the answers to all of my questions are out there, and the Consortium guys have put together an awesome community that seems relatively friendly to brand new WoW entrepreneurs.
I am still unsure how TSM determines the cost of the mats, although I'm setting up posts at a threshold of 105% of crafting cost anyways, based on guidance from Eripedes. I have about 5k worth of auctions up right now, so I'll post the results when I finish up at the squadron. Go figure, no WoW on NIPR computers.
There are some great parallels here, though. What you can do using the AH as a platform for profit is conceptually similar to finding a way to take yourself out of the "ditch-digger" categories that the bots and farmers occupy. I've heard many times from my mentors that the main element in success is the way you think. An average man could be a doctor or a janitor, and the difference between the two is simply the way they think. An average player could be gold limited or have an abundance of options, and we all know that everybody starts the game at level 1. Some people have all day to play, and some people have only a few hours each week. The crazy thing is that some of those time-limited players are gold capped. And a whole lot of those people that log 40 or more hours a week are flat broke (probably IRL too). My goal is to set myself up for a profitable strategy that will work on a bare minimum time requirement, because I have a lot of RL priorities that will go above my virtual wallet...such as my wife, my family, business, and my job. I still want to excel at my hobby though, and this is THE best chance at a win-win as I finish my second deployment.