“The problem with starting a business,” Waylan said, “is one of startup capital. You don’t have enough funds to buy your own shop, or pay employees, or engage in a lot of deal-making – because you have no liquid capital. It takes money to make money, which is what this is all about.”
“Okay,” I said, sipping my tea. It tasted odd, earthy. Not in the good way. “I can understand that. If you don’t have enough money to buy the tools and materials to practice your trade, you can’t be a craftsman, no matter how skilled you are.”
“Right. So there are lots of ways you can overcome that initial hurdle, some better than others,” she said, warming to her subject. “You could dance half-clothed on mailboxes, which seems to be popular among a certain set but isn’t as profitable as you’d think. You could hang around Northshire or the Stormwind bank and sign guild charters for money, which, actually, can net you a nice bit of startup cash, but is hard to predict.”
“Wait,” I interjected. “How do you know so much about how much income you’d get from mailbox dancing?”
Waylan looked at me, surprised. “Excuse me?” she said, her eyebrows shooting up.
“Nothing,” I said lightly, smiling.
“Hrumph,” she said. “Well. Hmmmm.” She took a drink. “What was I talking about?”
“Startup capital,” I supplied helpfully.
“Right, startup capital,” Waylan said. “Something that is not gained by mailbox dancing. Let’s talk about making money when you have none.”
“There are two different kinds of professions,” she said, “gathering and crafting.”
- Gathering professions allow you to pick up resources other characters can’t, like herbs or ore. Herbalism, Mining, Skinning, and Fishing are all gathering professions.
- Crafting professions take resources and make them into usable things. Cooking, Blacksmithing, Tailoring, Jewelcrafting, Alchemy, Inscription, Leatherworking, and Engineering are all crafting professions.
- Enchanting is a crafting profession that also works like a gathering profession through the disenchant ability. Disenchanting allows you to take magic items and convert them into materials used by other professions (mostly for enchanting, though.)
“Now, keep in mind that most of the areas around capital cities are rich in the basic materials used by all the crafting professions.”
“Like copper ore,” I added.
“Yes, exactly, like copper ore,” Waylan agreed. “Now, who needs copper ore?”
I thought for a moment. “Well, let’s see. The ore itself isn’t very useful to a lot of folks; miners can practice smelting it to improve their skill, and jewelcrafters can prospect it. But if I smelt it down into copper bars, blacksmiths can make armor and weapons out of it, and engineers can make a lot of devices from it.”
“Very good,” Waylan said. “So which has more value, the ore or the bars?”
“Huh,” I said, sipping some more of the tea. It still wasn’t very good. “The bars are more useful to crafters, but the ore has more potential value, if that makes any sense?”
Waylan nodded, sipping her wine.
“So if I was in a hurry and didn’t have the ability to smelt the ore into bars, the bars would be more valuable. But the ore has more potential buyers, because once you turn it into a bar it’s worthless to jewelers and miners.” I thought about that for a moment. “So I guess it comes down to who wants it more, jewelers and miners or blacksmiths and engineers.”
“You’re right,” Waylan said, “but you’re not answering the question.”
“No, I’m not. I don’t know which will be higher.”
“The answer,” she said, smiling again, “is that it depends.” I rolled my eyes and she laughed. “No, really! It depends on a lot of things, like the value of the gems prospected out of the ore, and how rare the ore is to begin with. But generally, the bars will sell for more than the ore because you have added value to them.”
“Technically, I removed impurities from them.”
“Well, that’s of value to a blacksmith or a fellow engineer, isn’t it?”
“True. But what does this have to do with startup capital?”
“Aha!” Waylan exclaimed. “I’m so glad you asked that. In the copper market, who’s the seller?”
“The original miner,” I answered.
“Right. And who’s the buyer?”
“Er, someone who needs the copper for their profession.”
“And those professions are…?”
“… all ones that use a hammer?” I guessed.
Waylan’s face fell. “No, you ninny! They’re all crafting professions! Well, except for mining, but that doesn’t count!”
“Mining doesn’t count now?” I said, smiling at the outburst.
“No! Well, yes, since there are plenty of miners who learn just through smelting. But my point,” Waylan said, shaking her finger at me, “which you are trying to derail will all your talk of hammers, is that if you have a gathering profession, people with crafting professions will want what you gather. And if you have no money, your best way to get some is to go out there and pick up those things that crafters want. All it costs you to make money — is time.”
I sipped my tea again. The taste momentarily distracted me from what Walyan was saying, since it had become bitter as it cooled. Why was I still drinking this stuff?
“Okay, my bright-eyed apprentice,” Waylan said, noticing my attention had wandered. “With that in mind, what can you gather that crafters will want?”
“Well,” I began, “Copper ore can be found around most of the capital cities. We’ve already talked about them. Peacebloom, Silverleaf and Earthroot are plentiful as well. My sister remarked that Teldrassil seemed to be a great place to go herbing. And you can skin most of the animals around here for Light Leather.”
“Don’t forget cooking,” Waylan reminded me.
“Oh, right. Cooking. Well, there’s boars around Ironforge and wolves around Stormwind, so that will give you your Boar Meat and Wolf Meat to get started with cooking. I don’t think there are any Small Eggs in Elywnn, though,” I said.
“Eversong Woods,” said Waylan, knowledgeably.
I raised an eyebrow. “Eversong Woods, outside of Silvermoon?” I said, surprised she’d ventured deep into Horde territory for eggs.
“Trust me,” she said.
“How do you get them?” I asked politely.
“I send your sister off to kill Dragonhawks for me,” she admitted. “Otherwise, the Timberstriders around The Exodar are your best bet.”
I laughed. “How do you know so much about eggs?” I asked.
“Eggs are very profitable,” Waylan replied, sipping her wine again. “Beginning cooks need a lot of eggs. I’ll deal in anything that gives me a profit, Cynwulf,” she said, looking at me directly. “And if you’re poor and in desperate need of some funds to get started, you’ll deal with eggs, too.”
Waylan drained the rest of the wine and stood up, placing a gold coin on the table.
“Let’s go back to Stormwind, hammer-boy,” she said. “It’s time to turn copper into gold.”