Microfinances x multitude > few expensive sales.
Profiting in a long tail economy depends on your shelf space, your “factory floor” available, and your ability to implement just in time principles.

Pareto’s 80/20 rule says that 20% of a population holds 80% of its wealth. In the last article I touched on how it was a natural rule of human nature. I spend 80% of my shoe-buying fund on ridiculously cute shoes that I will never wear. I wear battered old trainers most of the time, instead.

The 80/20 rule is also known on the internet as the 80/19/1 law. For example, on a bulletin board, 80% don’t use it, 19% read it, and 1% dominate the posts on it.


Unfair? Very. Natural? Very.

I’m going to venture a guess that given a large enough cross section of WoW accounts, 80% will be casual, 19% raiders and 1% hardcore raiders. I’m also going to venture that Blizz, by catering more and more for the casual players are alienating and losing their top 20% and this is backed up by the shocking statistics showing the straight decline of WoW-related searches recorded by Google since 2006. The release of Cataclysm barely amounting to a month-long blip.
To partake in the top wealth, you need to be the top seller. The second best gets much less than the 1st, and after a certain small percentage, your wealth, your profits, descend to peanuts quickly.
Peanuts aka microfinances.

On a smaller server, with lower competition, it’s easier to be the top cat, which was my situation on my RP server before I started concentrating on the larger PVE server. With a larger population, you need to fight. If you want to capture your market, you are going to need add-ons that you can use to develop just in time methods and minimise your overheads and expenses.

Let’s take a diverse amazon-style sample: With 1 item @ 5k, 2 @100g, + 800 @10g, you’re going to make 5k + 200g + 8k. That’s if your 5k item sells. Mr Big is going to undercut your 5k sale, you can just feel it. It’s not so much of a tragedy if Mr Small undercuts 5 of your 10g sales.


Just in Time means that when 100 of your 10g items sell, your addon can pinpoint and notify you to immediately restock. You keep very few in your bank, and make and list them only when they are pulled by market forces. This is opposed to you pushing 10 of every item on a regular basis, regardless of sales volume, requiring you to adjust prices depending on availability.

Some Long Tail items to research:

  • prairie dog
  • wool cloth
  • purple lotus
  • mithril ore
  • aquamarine
Just in Time is a japanese business model but built on the most ancient of principles: discover your customers need, and fulfill it. Finding those gaps in the market is your greatest challenge, and the reason that all these gold guides and free blogs exist: to help you spot those small gaps. You have to be smart, adaptable and persistent if you want to cover the long profitable tail of the WoW market. You need all the technology (addons) and advice you can get.

This is a follow up to Levering the World of Warcraft Long Tail Economy with Addons.

Next in this series: Finding these resourses

TL;DR You can’t be top dog, I’m already top dog. You’re going to have to be clever and diversify instead.

twitpiAbout the Author

The Gold Queen is written by Alyzande. With many level 100s, 9 years expertise in making gold, 10 garrisons, 16k achievements, 1505 days played, and over 18m gold earned. The Gold Queen blog teaches you how to make gold playing World of Warcraft using ethical trading, auction house flipping, crafting, reselling snatch lists, and farming gold making.

5 replies
  1. The Gold Queen
    The Gold Queen says:

    Hi Moravec

    Whilst it's true that lower price items have been around for a long time, the addons needed to post these in huge numbers are only recently becoming easy to use for the average gold-maker. Before TSM enabled a restocking option, you needed skillet, or a combo of QA and leet clicking skills to queue them up. I used to queue my high-priced gems with Quick Auctions (RIP) Then I got into queuing the scrolls with Scroll Master, which got eaten by TSM.

    We now have addons that can check stock for craftable items.

    I believe it is Altoholic (although you may correct me here?) that can allow you to mouseover other items, such as trade items: cloth, raw mats, patterns, little bits and pieces; and list the number of those items held by alt/banks/in AH/bags.

    What we don't have yet, and again feel free to correct me, is an addon that can list every single item on the server, and whether there is a gap in that market. I do know someone who is working on writing something very similar to this, and putting it through beta testing right now.

    Whilst JIT works for bulk items like gems, scrolls, glyphs, the long tail of the mature WoW market is going to be crappy little items like linen cloth, copper bolts, briarthorn, felcloth, all those odd and unloved items that the Big Boys are not looking at.

    • Moravec
      Moravec says:

      Aha, I see now 🙂

      For a long time I used KTQ (although I had to make a few modifications to the code to get it to restock what I wanted it to). Then came the wonder of Inventorium which I’m still using to this day, having not jumped on the TSM bandwagon yet – I’m still using ScrollMaster.

      I say still – I’m not playing at the moment, but like to keep up with it all.

      It is datastore (included as part of altoholic) which allows for those tooltips.

      Briarthorn is an amazing thing to sell. It’s such a bottleneck item for alchemy levelling. I’v sold hundreds for over 5g a piece, having picked them up for silvers.

      Keep up the good work.

  2. Moravec
    Moravec says:

    What's new about high volume/lower margin sales (or as you describe them as "microfinances"?

    Glyphs (although not so high volume nowadays) are probably the most familiar example of this type of commodity in the game and have been around going on 2.5 years now.

    Whilst I agree with the crux of the last article (needing both ends of the economy) I don't really see what you are trying to get at here.

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