First of all, any prospective seller must be able to progress and farm in Inferno Mode. The ability to buy gold from other players has created a consistent exchange rate for dollars to gold, typically between $0.25–$0.35 per 100k gold. Factoring in the minimum bid requirement of $1.25, a savvy player will never buy anything for real money worth less than 350-500k in gold. Items of such worth only exist in inferno mode.
If someone proves capable of collecting the appropriate inventory from inferno mode, the next question becomes: “What are my selling goals?” Is the money going to the Battle.net account to pay off the player’s World of Warcraft subscription, or will it get reinvested to pay for Real Money Auction House purchases, or will it go towards a Paypal account and purchases outside of the world of Blizzard games? In the former two cases, prospective sellers can begin selling right away with no additional work. In the latter case, the player must link a Paypal account to their Battle.net account. For those without Paypal accounts already, it requires a bank account and several days of waiting to get the account verified before it becomes active and ready to link to Battle.net. Another reason to consider selling goals lies in the fees. Funds going to Paypal have a flat $1.00 charge deducted from each successful sale in addition to the 15% fee deducted for all RMAH sales. Thus, someone only planning to reinvest money from the RMAH into Blizzard products and services will have a higher profit margin and would only waste time and money by using Paypal.
Having determined selling goals, the seller must now ask: “What should I sell and for how much?” As mentioned before, only inferno gear will have a high enough value for people to reliably pay real money for it. Also, unlike other online marketplaces such as eBay or Amazon, a seller cannot do anything to differentiate themselves from every other. An eBay seller with extraordinarily high positive feedback, flexible and cheap (or free) shipping, and that donates portions of the proceeds to charity can expect higher sale rates and prices than some random person that opened an account yesterday. No such features exist in the Diablo 3 RMAH. The sole determiner of price is quality. Thousands upon thousands of people farming gear post on the auction house, guaranteeing a constant supply of items with ideal stat distributions. If your sword has ideal barbarian stats with the exception of bonus healing per health globe and another has life on hit instead, buyers will pass over your weapon every time. Naturally, this fact means that any seller needs to keep track of what stats endgame players need and which builds are currently trending. The slightly less-than-ideal gear can go towards the seller’s own characters, get salvaged or vendored, or go to the gold auction house.
Gems and crafting materials offer another method to obtain money now that commodity auctions are available. The absolute highest quality gems have list prices between $30-$50, depending on color. That said, upgrading gems takes lots of gold and tomes of secrets, each of which can also be sold for real money. The investment certainly can pay off, but sellers need to keep in mind that every door they open closes another.
Speaking of which, the auction limit of ten postings poses more issues for sellers. Items stay posted for several days unless someone pays the buyout price with no way to cancel the auction prematurely (except in the cases of commodity auctions). Unless a player farms consistently every day, that ten auction limit does not feel prohibitive. In an effort to maximize sale potential, a savvy player could choose to fill out the remaining slots with some of the commodity auctions that sell less reliably, such as lower-level crafting materials or gems. Should a perfectly rolled Stormshield pop up within the next day, the seller could replace one of those commodity auctions easily.
The question at the back of many players’ minds is: “Can I work the RMAH instead of having a job?” Frankly, such a goal just does not seem feasible for all but the most dedicated and skilled players. Perhaps once the market stabilizes for an extended period a successful group of speculators and item-flippers will emerge, but here we will not recommend any such risky ventures yet. The lack of a “completed listings” search means that even browsing current auctions will not necessarily give players an accurate idea of how much items will actually sell for. The average person can probably make a few extra bucks here and there, and the extraordinarily lucky may get a couple hundred from an amazing drop, but nobody should quit their day job.