There are a few rules of thumb to consider if you want to make money with your mats. Let’s start with mats from the current expansion. They generally lose their value greatly when a new expansion is pending release. And though it will equalize with time, unless you are planning on holding on to the mats for a couple months, it might be good to ditch them now while they are still worth some good gold.
Lowbie mats (level 1 — 20 drops), are going to be worth a fortune when Cataclysm is released. This spike in price will be caused by people creating new Goblins or Worgens, and not wanting to farm mats for the professions they choose themselves. Often funded by level 80 mains who act like sugar daddies, these characters will not bat at an eye at the inflated prices that occur, to them gold is less valuable then time. Take advantage of this. Save all your linen and copper ore and sell them at high prices. Those upcoming tailors and blacksmiths will pay for it, and pay very well. Bottom line, you might want to hang onto these until Cataclysm then sell, sell, sell!
The same is true for mid level mats (20-40), though you may want to wait a couple weeks or so after the expansions release before you put these on the market. The sweet spot is to have your mats hit the markets at about the same time that all these new crafters need them. Of course, this will vary from server to server, player to player, but keep an eye out and test the waters to see when the best time is to post these auctions is. Once you know that it is the time to sell, hike the prices and rake in the gold.
Rinse and repeat as needed for the 40-60 then 60-80 mats. Honestly, the level 80 mats might be best served to be sold before the expansion, however there is some merit in hanging on to them and selling later on. It really is up to you.
If you happen to be a gatherer, you might want to start farming some of the lowbie mats, as well as considering farming the new mats upon release as soon as possible. Like we discussed about how a race to crafting cap can be very lucrative, and how you may wish to buy the mats to do it. Well, you can be the person supplying these mats to the crafters racing for the new patterns, making a tidy sum along the way.
Go through your bank and take a look to see what you have in there, what you should sell. Chances are pretty good that those stacks of Mageroyal are just going to continue to sit there, so why not make a little money while you clear out some bank space. Be mindful of the alts you plan on making come the Cataclysm and the mats you may need then. There is no point in selling mats that you will end up ether farming for again, or paying someone else absurd prices later. Again, it is up to you, but if you plan it out carefully and think about what you may need and hang on to it, you will find yourself a head of the game.
There is no hard and fast rule on how to do this, and it varies from server to server, but if you are cognoscente of the way your servers auction house works, you can make barrels of gold for yourself during the World of Warcraft: Cataclysm expansion.
Go forth Ranters and farm! Tell us of all your successes, and failures, as well as let us know what you think about using the auction house to take advantage of Cataclysm’s release. We want to hear all about it!