Thursday, May 2, 2013

In Defense of Glyphs

Readers may remember that I began gold-making entirely with selling glyphs. For the better part of a year my only income was through glyphs. Over time I've developed a love-hate relationship with glyphs. Sometimes I've felt it wasn't worth the effort, other times I felt that Inscription was touched by the Gods, given unto us to bring in great fortunes.

I rarely see people on the fence about glyphs. There are bloggers that seem to love them and do great things with glyphs (check out Twitchie if you're interested in a glyph-centric blogger!) and there are those that wouldn't touch the things with a ten foot pole.

There have been times I've recommended against glyphs for beginners. I thought back to my early days learning the ropes and how difficult and, at times, boring it was. In hindsight I thought "Glyphs were a terrible way to start. If I'd started with, say, Enchanting everything would have been better. It was only a slow start because glyphs are a bad starter market."

But that's not true. I've only really scratched the surface of glyph selling on Illidan but it's bringing back old memories. Having only Inscription at my disposal (I could do enchanting, but meh, not interested at the moment) and knowing none of the competitors it's like starting all over again. And it's great.

As I was mulling over my thoughts on the glyph market Power Word Gold posted a fairly anti-glyph market post which I found an interesting read. Now, this isn't "I'm right and he's wrong" and at the end of the day everyone should play the way they enjoy the most. But I wanted to write this post to assuage the fears new gold makers might have from anti-glyph sentiments that sometimes crop up in the blogging community.

The Weakness of Glyphs is Their Strength
Many people are frightened by the amount of inventory a successful glyph business entails. While you can make good profit with fewer items many big glyph sellers sell all, or nearly all, glyphs in the game.

To research all of the glyphs takes an extraordinary amount of time. Luckily not a lot of effort, but plenty of time. While we are starting to see the research method enter other crafting professions as well no profession requires as much start-up time as glyphs.

And so would-be glyph sellers look at their new scribe and see hundreds of glyphs missing, which they will grab a few of each day. They see their inventory slowly begin to fill while all the glyphs they can't yet make are selling like hotcakes. Sucks, huh?

No. It's amazing. If you wish to be an amazing PvPer you need to spend time developing your skills and no matter how much you try, some day you may just find you're not good enough. If you want to be in a top raiding guild you need to get the gear, the skill, and they may still deny your application.

But not with glyphs. Anyone who puts in the time to learn the glyphs will find themselves with all the tools they need to succeed. The barrier to entry in glyphs is the most easily overcome barrier of all, all you need is patience.

Fortunately for us many players do not possess such patience. They want gold now, not in four months, and so they pick up enchanting instead. This is one factor that keeps many people out of the glyph market, and if you don't let it keep you away as well you can succeed.

Why Selling Glyphs is Amazing and Easy
The only actual issue I took with Jim's post was his section called Why Selling Glyphs is a Pain in the Ass. If he doesn't like selling glyphs that's totally 100% fine, not everyone will like it. But I didn't like that he presented several of his experiences as facts and inevitabilities for other players, or that these things should necessarily discredit glyph selling as a fun way to make gold.

  • You will be undercut multiple times a day, sometimes withing an hour, sometimes immediately.
    Anyone who competes in a crafting market will deal with having been undercut. There are a few markets that are not susceptible to rampant undercutting (transmog, niche markets, low level greens) but for anyone who crafts for their gold undercutting is going to happen no matter what market you are in.

    Sometimes glyph sellers are particularly ruthless with their undercuts. But remember: Everyone has to sleep sometime. A glyph which has undercut yours will sell out eventually. Someone will buy your glyphs. They may not buy all your glyphs. They're not supposed to. When you sell glyphs you are playing the long game. It's not about selling the bulk of your inventory; it's about consistent income over a long period of time.

  • If you're not cancelling and reposting often almost none of your glyphs will sell.

    First off, remember the last little point. Not all of your glyphs are supposed to sell. Other than Glyphmas I can't think of a single time where I sold more than, say, 10% of my postings on a given day. So "almost none of your glyphs selling" is really pretty normal on most servers. But that doesn't mean its a bad market, it means you sell about thirty different items for any given class and not every one will always be purchased. But because you sell so many you'll sell some, and that is where the gold is.

    The beauty of glyphs is that you get out of it what you put into it. If you want to sit and camp the auction house for 20 hours a day you can, and you will make a good amount of gold. If you'd like to do what I currently do and post once a day and don't check back you'll still likely get enough sales to make it worth it. I post once a day and pull in about 10k. (And that's after a 2 month hiatus where any market grooming has ceased to exist.) Glyphs are always profitable. The question is not will you make anything, but how much you wish to make.

    Someone who sells glyphs 20 minutes a day will not make as much as someone who sells them for 20 hours. But in gold making you don't lose if your competitor makes gold. You lose if you cost yourself a sale by giving up on the market.

  • There are entrenched glyph sellers what will pull every trick in the book to force you out of the market.

    I gotta stop spending so much time on Tumblr before I get hooked on reaction gifs . . . anyways.

    This one is not a constant, but it's also not too far off-base in many situations. I've done some, uh, market grooming in the past myself. 30g Glyph Ceilings to drive out fair-weather competitors, alliances with other scribes to be sure we could make all the new glyphs faster than anyone else, etc.

    I won't pretend this won't happen to a new glyph seller. It might. In fact, at some point in time, if you stay in the market long enough, it probably will. But why be defeatist about it? No matter where you go, if the market is profitable it will attract competitors. Some of these competitors will be fickle and will leave the market when a challenger appears. Others will dig in and attempt to push the challenger out.

    But remember: Glyph selling is not a zero sum game, as much as some competitors seem to think it is. They may get 80% of the sales on the server but if you pop on at night, after they've logged off, and post them up you may snag that other 20%. You're not going to drive him out of course, but there's enough profit in the glyph market for you, too, if you're willing to stick to it.

  • You can spend lots of time, materials and gold and end up with nearly zero profit.

    Yeah. You can spend lots of time, materials, and gold in any market and end up with nothing if you make bad decisions. I hold that it is impossible to lose gold on glyphs if you make the right choices.

    Glyphs are not a vanity item. Sure, there are some cosmetic glyphs, but generally glyphs are considered a necessity for a character. Thus, as long as people are still playing, someone needs to buy a glyph. There are buyers.

    Glyph materials are some of the cheapest materials in the game. First and foremost, it's the only profession I can think of where some of the most profitable, end-game-relevant craftables are crafted with materials gathered by leveling lowbies. Many of the most profitable glyphs are crafted using things like Midnight Ink, Ink of the Sea, and Lion's Ink; all of which come from non-endgame sources which usually means that the prices are lower. If the prices aren't lower? You have the option of using endgame ink to trade so you can always get the best deal on your inks.

    Fool's Cap right now, across Alliance US servers, averages about 12g less per stack than a stack of Ghost Iron.

    I can think of no profession with such abundant, cheap materials as Inscription and so if you are spending too much on materials to make a profit you are probably failing to set your thresholds properly, or are just buying your herbs in one fell swoop, which is not recommended. Add herbs you use to your Dealfinding/Snatch lists and pick up herbs over time. Your profit margins will thank you.

    Time is another story altogether and the time investment will vary drastically by the seller. On Argent Dawn I spend roughly an hour every weekend crafting, and then about 10 minutes a day posting. So I wouldn't say I have a large time investment. On a more active server, or someone who camps more diligently, they may have to craft more often and thus invest more time. But their time should pay off. As I stated earlier, you get out of glyphs what you put into them. People who are putting in vast amounts of time and gold should also be seeing a very large gold return. If they are not they are making bad decisions and not doing it properly, plain and simple.

  • You are susceptible to people (often pissed off by the stress of selling trying to sell glyphs) crashing the prices in glyph markets on a whim.

    Any market is susceptible to manipulation. Glyphs only see it more because the materials are so easy to come by and the items so cheap to make (see previous point) that it's a lot easier to toy around with the markets than it is to toy around with, say, crafted epic weapons.

    I've been that person, crashing glyph markets for fun and profit. It's a valid tactic for market grooming and is also just a fun way to learn more about markets, your competition, addons, etc. But if someone else trying to mess with your profit margins is upsetting to the point it will drive you out of the market you should probably stick to dailies and not worry too much about the Auction House.

    My advice if someone does crash your market: Ride it out. Real players will eventually become bored or want more gold and the numbers will rise. Bots will eventually be reported and banned. No glyph market stays shitty forever.

  • Effective selling of glyphs requires large amounts of storage, crafting time and often an alt devoted specifically to the task.

    I guess different people will define effective different ways. I define effective as giving a good return on time and gold invested and as a result you can run an effective glyph operation selling the 20 most profitable glyphs off of your main, if you really wanted to.

    But let's assume that "effective" here means all-encompassing. Selling every glyph in the game. It seems like it takes an awful lotta space when you look at the glyphs. But it actually doesn't. You need one character with 11 Royal Scribe Satchels and you will be able to hold a stack of every glyph in the game between your bags and bank. No guild bank, no multiple alts required.

    This particular setup also drastically reduces the amount of time spent actually posting, cancelling, storing, etc. because you don't need to pull anything from anywhere, it's all right there at your fingertips.

    If you're wondering more about how this works out check out my video about how I manage my glyph inventory using one character and no guild bank. While this video was made before Monk glyphs were added to the game I continue to use this setup and all Monk glyphs fit as well. (Be sure to check the About section on YouTube for a swapping Macro to make it even faster.)

    Now you don't have to do it this way. You can sell from your main using a guild bank. You can use a mailbox as storage and sell everything ever made on one character. But setting a character up like this will greatly reduce the amount of time you spend managing inventory and let's face it, if "needing a separate character to sell your stuff" is a problem the gold game probably isn't for you.

  • Once you are entrenched in selling glyphs you have to constantly defend your "turf" from competitors new and old.

    Once again, this is personal preference. I haven't sold glyphs for two months and came back to decent profits on all sellers. Hell, my Horde competitor, who used to watch me like a hawk, stopped caring about me and upon returning I had three blissful weeks of amazing sales numbers since he didn't think to log on after I logged off.

    Glyphs are really not as serious as many people, myself included, have made them out to be. It's a market, just like any other. If you've got some to sell, post it up. If they don't sell, keep posting them. There's no magic formula or militaristic market training successful glyph sellers have: They just don't give up.

  • Glyphs can be one of the most complicated gold-making markets requiring knowledge of how to set up and utilize complex addons to run the market effectively.

    I'll leave aside the fact you don't have to "run a market" to be successful in it.

    Assuming you know how to use TSM there is no profession easier to set up than glyphs.

    1. Make a TSM group called Glyphs.
    2. Set Ignore Stacks Over to 1
    3. Enter "glyph of" into Common Search Term.
    4. Change your Post Time and Post Cap to what you want.
    5. Set your threshold to whatever you want. I set it to 50g.
    6. Set your fallback to whatever your server will accept. I do 280g.
    7. Hit Add/Remove items at the top.
    8. In "Select Matches" type "glyph of". Add every glyph.
    9. Make gold.

    Because glyphs are more than likely going to sell for many times their crafting cost basing the value of the glyph on crafting cost is usually not necessary to keep yourself getting sales and making profit. This allows you to just use one group for pricing settings instead of having to separate them by materials required.

    I pay no more than 18g/glyph so when I sell a glyph at 50 I know I'm more than doubling my gold. Then your threshold should be the highest you think you can get away with.

    Bam. One huge group, took about 10 seconds. Not too complicated.

Glyphs are Fun, Easy, and Profitable
At the end of all of this, if Jim really hates the glyph market then that's fine. I hate flipping greens. To each their own and if someone's having fun there's nothing wrong with the way they play.

I just wanted to speak up for the poor, misunderstood glyphs in case anyone out there was considering them. Glyphs are an amazing market for beginners and veterans alike. You can throttle how much you get out of them by choosing just how much you'll dedicate yourself to the market. You can make spreadsheets and look at graphs and stalk competitors or you can log on once a day, post your round and log off.

At the end of the day you will get from it what you put into it, and the only way to lose is to not play.


  1. Yes, consistency is the key. Always be a part of the market. Ride the good waves and bad waves.

    Glyphs are my baby. I've been doing it on my server since they were implemented, and I always will do it so long as I play WoW.

  2. Agree to disagree; I feel that glyphs are inherently inferior to the shuffle in terms of inventory space, sale frequency (and therefore actual profit), and just about every way besides maybe raw profit per item (which can be high on glyphs).

    I feel that the profit per time spent with daily glyph posting is just far too low when you can spend 1/3 of the effort with the shuffle and make double the money.

    The only time I really would recommend glyphs is if you are wanting a market that you post only once a day because undercutting with the shuffle markets is far easier and more profitable.

    I dunno; it clearly works for some people, but it is just such an enormous amount of busywork for crafting, posting, cancelling, and storing nearly 500 separate items and you have other markets where the items sell much much faster (netting you far more profit/day if you undercut/repost a couple times).

    1. If it's inferior, it's only because you're thinking about either or. Why not do the shuffle AND glyphs?

      It is such an automated market, so much more than the shuffle / gems. No one ever need cancel if they have their inventory set up correctly.

  3. Thanks for the write up. I've accepted that on the lesser faction on a medium pop server, my glyphs will sell erratically. My biggest problem has been the sheer amount of time it was taking to post glyphs (at one point I had 400 items including other Inscription stuff like Inscriptions, Kites, and Cards). After six months I just stopped restocking, spent a couple weeks cutting prices on the ones that weren't selling, and finally sending the remaining one to alts that needed them still. After that I used TSM to figure out what glyphs I sold more than 5 copies of since MoP and only restocked those as the herbs became available at the right price. I've got it down to 100 odd auctions, so only a few trips to the mailbox. I'll have to check out your tips on list and following steps 2 & 3 for setting up TSM groups. If I can list faster, it would make things a lot more bearable.
    I'll also have to figure out how to macro "Post" to my mouse wheel. Right now I just left click like a freak.
    I used to have problems with the heavy duty undercutters/posters, but I've learned to just post, get on with my life, and just take what I get when I log in 12/24 hours laters.

    1. TSM has a section to set up a scroll wheel posting macro. Definitely do it.

  4. Your post just highlights that it works on your server. This market is the worse market in the game for the time spent and inventory space used. I cant believe your trying to get people to go back into this market. My advice is to try other markets than waste your time here.

    Yes this market sucks. For those that kept reading everything I said previously is wrong. This market is so bad that I have likely made more than half of all my gold just due to glyphs....and I only have over 4 million gold not counting all the stuff I have bought over time. Do I camp the markets? Nope? Presently I can list once a day. Ever so often I do have an undercutter come into the market but they dont last long. How is this possible? I whitelist with 2 other major sellers. Thus new person comes in they will get undercut by one of us. They cancel and repost and another one of us posts again. This just discourages new people from coming in. It also in the long run allows less posting and glyphs up in some cases for 48 hours. I generate 3-5k per day with 10-15 minutes at most of posting and recrafting. What about the huge inventory space needed? Well....I use one toon. 90% of my stock is up on the AH. I craft as needed from another toon but that takes a couple minutes a day. Its all about learning how to manage huge stock which really is keep it on the ah and not in your bags.

    Why does this strat work...because I dont try to own the market but share it with other constant posters.

    I post in most markets. Some I stay in all the time like glyphs, enchants and gems. Others I go in and out of. Sure in MOP glyphs is not the same market as gems but it is still a very viable market. I prefer people to think they are wasting their time in this market. Just makes it better for me and easier to have average selling prices of 150-200g for glyphs.

  5. To reply to Simca:

    The more markets that you are in the more gold you will make. Yes the ghost iron ore shuffle...etc makes lots of gold but their is a limit to any one market. Being in multiple markets allows you to make even more gold. Learning how to manage it effectively means you dont have to camp the market.

    I will take a steady 3-5k per day....say 25k per week, 100k per month, 1.2 million for the year market. Yes that is my current glyph market. Likely more in revenue then I indicate but I just like to show the low end numbers do add up to big numbers. Buying cheap mats is easy in this maket so your cost to make is very minimal vs the price you sell at. Presently most items run 10-15g to make and sell at 150-200g. Yes the other markets are bigger but from a time perspective....I can make more in other markets but they do take as much or more time.

  6. Fantastic post Faid, I couldn't have said it better myself. Glyphs is a most misunderstood market.

    I was about to write something along these lines myself, in response to another glyph malinger, Euripides, with his anecdotal evidence collected from the downtrodden.

    No longer do I need to demand satisfaction on A Call To Auction, you've stated our case quite clearly.

    I spend a pitiful amount of time on glyphs. If you can AFK while collecting mail, and before and after post scans, there really isn't a lot of time in posting.

    TSM makes maintaining a stockpile a breeze, and milling can also be done AFK while watching a movie (significant other allowing).

    I've seen the 10% of glyphs posted / sold bandied about before, but I'm pretty excited to share my results from the last month of glyphing. The most significant finding of which is that I don't even bother to post glyphs on average once per day. It's less!

    Glyphs is a fantastic market, once set up, can be run like clockwork with almost no thought or intervention. With the introduction of shoulder enchants, inscription is golden in pandaria.

  7. Downton Abbey reference, have an internet :)

  8. Here's the problem on my realm. We have a player that literally camps at the ah playing tha glyph market about 20hrs per day. I've chatted with others and they said he has two accounts. This has been going on for about two years. It's crazy. Any ideas?

    1. Report him for botting and tell them everything you know? He may not even be a bot, but I was able to get rid of a very hardcore camper that way. I reported my guy a few times and a few weeks later he just vanished.