Wednesday, March 12, 2014

How to Compete in Glyphs

I was hanging out on Jim's stream the other night and got into a chitchat with a few people about glyphs. Another viewer contacted me via message and asked for some general advice on how to make gold with glyphs. Different people will have different strategies but I laid out my general set-up to gaining a glyph foothold and it occurred to me I don't think I've ever laid it out in this kind of way. I'm not really interested in writing a lot of how-tos but I basically wrote the whole thing for this guy so, hey, why not just make some edits and turn it into a post.


So You Want to Enter the Glyph Market . . .

There are many ways that people choose to compete in the glyph market. Some people choose to only craft the most profitable glyphs, some people craft all of them. Some only keep in stock exactly the amount they post, some manage an impressive backstock. I can't say which one is the best way to approach it but I can tell you what I would recommend and why.

You don't win by sale. You win by scale.
There are probalby some exceptions out there but time and time again I notice two familiar trends: People who don't like glyphs do not have a large infrastructure built for glyph selling. People who do enjoy glyphs do have this infrastructure.

"Well, Faid, if they like it of course they'd build an infrastructure. Duh. Are you stupid?"

But what if, rather than the infrastructure coming from a love of glyphs, their love of glyphs is present because of the infrastructure? By having a streamlined process of crafting and selling glyphs you are poised to love the market: You will spend a very small amount of time and will see profit from even minutes per day invested; something that can't be guaranteed if your glyph process involves scanning the AH, figuring out what's selling that day, buying herbs, milling, crafting, and posting. Take all of that out of the equation, though, and glyphs are fast and profitable, allowing a player to not feel bogged down, leading to the resentment I've seen time and time again from glyph sellers.

And so my advice to you is this: Do not half-ass your entry into glyphs. If you are going to sell glyphs be prepared to sell very nearly all of them. (If you want to save some inventory space then don't do the shitty ones like Voidwalker and Sap, but do almost everything you can.) Craft in bulk, store in bulk, always have your glyphs on the AH. The sales will come.

As I mentioned, I was only Jim's stream and he was doing some glyph management. He doesn't have a solid glyph infrastructure set up because it's not one of his preferred markets and so he actually spent twice as much time managing a significantly smaller, less profitable inventory than I spend managing an inventory of nearly every glyph possible. While a larger inventory seems like it should mean more work the fact of the matter is it takes the chores out of the glyph market. You no longer need to worry about what to craft or if you have enough of something in stock. When you're stocking a shit ton of everything then nothing's ever going to be out of stock and you'll always be able to sell whatever's profitable, turning glyph inventory maintenance from constant crafting to infrequent restocking.

Think of it like this: An organic grocer must sell their merchandise and restock it several times a week because of seasonal changes, selling out of popular products, etc. On the other hand, Faid's Trail Mix and Pickled Food Emporium doesn't suffer from that problem. I can literally order a year's worth of stock at once because it won't go bad. This means I don't have to deal with the ordering place, delivery trucks, shelf-stocking, or restocking when my stuff runs out: It just doesn't run out! So my store largely takes care of itself except for the yearly big order and the occasional mopping up when some brat breaks a jar of pickled okra all over aisle three. Meanwhile Mr. Organic Grocer must deal with all of this nearly daily. Of course he's going to burn out while I'm off living on my trail mix fortune. (THE SECRET IS M&M'S)


Fine. I'll post everything. So now what?

Step 1: Testing the Waters
After you've maxed your scribe you'll still be missing a lot of glyphs. During the time you're researching these you should be selling what you do know and keeping an eye on the markets. You don't need to know exaclty when Competitor A goes afk for a snack but you should take this time to identify major players in the glyph market. Are there bots? Report them. Are there super-zealous competitors? Poke them with sticks, and by that I mean play with undercuts to see if you can figure out their thresholds, veracity, undercut habits, etc. for future knowledge.

You should be getting some sales here. If you're happy with the sales you're getting just keep with this step. Selling everything and playing nice with others is totally fine if you're okay with it and seeing thenumbers you'd like. Just continue to keep your stock up and post your glyphs. If you're happy there's no reason to move on to Step 2.

Step 2: The Hammer Drop
If you are not happy with your numbers you'll need to make some changes.  You've already got your glyphs learned and your infrastructure set up by this time so the main problem you're likely running into is competition, and that means it's time to drop the hammer.

With your large backstock commence walling the glyph market. Your competitors may try to buy you out. That's fine; if walling correctly you're still making profit. Keep posting, keep restocking. Determine how many of each glyph you need to post to have your glyphs on the AH constantly. During this phase the AH is very hands-off; post for 48 hours and cycle them to keep them up constantly. Enjoy all your free time. Try out that new trail mix and pickle place everyone's been raving about.

I cannot stress this side-point enough: Your profit doesn't matter at this point. You aren't supposed to get rich now. I've known people who start walls and are whining within days that they're not making gold. That's how walls work. You're not making a lot of gold but neither is anyone else. The point is to discourage them. Don't let yourself become discouraged in the process. It will all come to fruition in time. How much time? That's for you to determine.

Step 1 Redux: Six More Weeks of Winter?
After some time walling, usually a few weeks to a few months, lift the wall. If the wall was successful most of the fair-weather scribes are now gone, leaving a much less-competitive glyph market, allowing you to reap much higher profits per sale. Enjoy your delicious profit margins. If competition returns very quickly (within a day or so) then repeat step 2.

You'll alternate between long periods of walls and short periods of higher prices until all your most problematic competitors are thoroughly discouraged. Repeat as necessary for new scribes that start getting a foolish notion they can compete in your market. Whether due to the frequent rock-bottom prices or just the general volatility of the market most competitors will be discouraged in time. Some you may never fully dissuade but shaking the glyph market up and getting several scribes to fall out is better than nothing.

If you're a low-risk person like myself feel free to stick with Step 1 forever, there's nothing wrong with it, but if you have a high-risk/high-reward seeking attitude then try Step 2 a few times. Step 2 is largely meant for markets where you are unable to get a satisfactory amount of sales: If you're satisfied in Step 1 I'd recommend not rocking the boat, but that's just me.


So there you go. If you've done this entire process and still don't like the glyph market then, yes, maybe glyphs aren't your style. But I believe that most people, if they handled glyphs in this way, would enjoy them much more than they would if they stick to a Just in Time setup.


  1. By the way when you saw me making glyphs I was making them as a favor to another player. The ones I posted are just left over glyphs from a Scribe I leveled a few months ago. Innjust posting them while the boosted 90s are around.

    I've run full on glyph markets in the past but as you say I don't do it these days.

    I might have some fun and start it up again as I'm kinda short of fun markets to be in.

    I'll be using your advice to do so.

  2. As a long long time glyph seller I just dont see myself doing glyphs how you mention. It really does depend on the server that you are on what works best. Small dead servers can be extremely profitable for the time spent. More active servers just require an understanding of when is the best time to post/repost. I have sold glyphs since inscription started. Total idea but I have many millions in liquid gold due mostly to glyphs. I am now on a merged server and am selling anywhere from 30-60 glyphs a day with one or two postings done each day. I stockpile anywhere from 1-3 of each glyph. Given my recent change to a more active server I may change what I do....not sure yet. The activity level of the server is greater but the number of people is still not huge.

    But to do bulk crafting to get started the time sink is large. To do all your crafting on one day based on my numbers would be 300-400 glyphs. When are you doing your buying? Most of my profit really comes from my buying patterns and has little do with the sales. If you do bulk crafting your buying if done all at once may result in overpaying on supplies.

    I will say the bottom quarter of the market is just not worth dealing with. Earning a small amount on each glyph isnt worth the time when you can deal with the rest of the market and make anywhere from 30-300g on a glyph. Average glyph sale is 130g. Herbs are only bought at 20g a stack or less.
    Daily activity to do this is a small time commitment and in my view is easier to handle with one character being the seller and the your scribe just dealing with supplies and crafting. I really prefer to keep the bulk of my stock on the AH and not in my bank. That is my approach. There are many more nuances to a successful operation. The main item is most people do not stay on the AH for the long term. Not hard to get rid of people who put up walls etc. It tends to be a simple function of time. If you spend all that time doing walls....I just ensure I keep you low. I dont even want to sell I want to ensure you know I am not leaving...and I havent yet in all the years. I see them all come and go. Big stamina. Stick around long me up....whitelist...create oligopoly....make lots of gold.

  3. I enjoy reading your ideas, and listening to you and Jim Younkin the other night. The concept of "walling" isn't alien to me, since I was performing the same actions in the transmogrification market on Ner'zhul, quite some time ago.

    I have since moved away from walling that market on my home server. Since supply is generally based on the number of players levelling through old content, I basically don't have competition to speak of. I do work in concert with Mogoholic ( who is on Ner'zhul Horde, mostly by making sure I keep the AH scanning time down by whitelisting her. That keeps around 400 items of mine off the AH, and boosts her sales considerably. Scan times really bog down once my ~800 auctions are up there, even with the whitelist enabled.

    Anyway, I'm rambling. Great article, great show, carry on. :p

  4. Oh and don't forget. If you have a trusted friend willing to sit around and make inks for half a day, it can cut your time invested in half. I pay a guy 1g an ink to spend the few hours doing my inking so that I can instead spend that time doing something else. :)

  5. Should I be 90 to do this or can I learn all the glyphs at 84?

    1. With the patterns that drop only in the pandaria zones, without having a second account to farm for the first you will need to level.