You may think that slapping items in the Auction House for a random or ridiculous price is the key to gold-making success, but you'd be wrong.
The advantage that the gold-making community has on the other players is that they keep an eye on information that will be valuable to them in their present and future gold-making opportunities.
Then they take that information and theorize on the best ways to maximize their profits.
They even share their theories with others to test the waters and see if their ship will float.
What information are we talking about here ?
- Patch information: As soon as we get info on the next expansion, next big patch, next PTR info, gold makers are perusing every single detail and trying to find/divine what the needs of the WoW community will be. Ex.: a new achievement to collect 125 pets (stock up on rare, vendored and craftable pets); a glyph has been updated to give a better advantage (stock up on that new glyph); a new arena season is about to begin (stock up on all kinds of gems and enchants PvPers will go for)
- Knowing the game and its items: Drop rates, locations, rarities, levels of items help you make good decisions when you put things on the Auction House. Knowing how the game works helps you make the game work for you. Ex.: that blue pendant may not be worth as much as you'd expect because it drops quite often; the blue jewelcrafter Design that you've found might be worth much more; the Savory Deviate Delight recipes posted for 1g each could actually be bought and resold for a higher price
- Know your server's market: What someone says is selling for 25K on his server may not be true for yours. Okay nobody can stop you from trying to do the same on your server, but you may be stuck with that item for a very long time until you start dropping your price and people on your server will consider coughing up the bucks. Maybe your server's not into the Darkmoon Faire items except the card decks and you've wasted time, mats and money on crafting the items for the ticket turn-ins.
- Peruse the gold blogs: This is where the creative thinking happens. This is also where people report their experiments with their ideas on how to work certain fields of the Auction House, create or dominate markets, what they think on which markets will go up or down and what's best to do before major changes happen in the game.
So to recap:
- Get patch information from MMO Champion; get even earlier information by using the MMO Champion Blue Tracker or use the one on the official WoW forums; mix it up with some site that has a tad more analysis with every announcement and immediate community feedback (WoW Insider works for me)
- Keep Wowhead handy at all times. They have a search engine add-on that you can install on most browsers so you can quick search their database. And remember that they also list PTR and Beta information on a mirror site when it is available. (And do everybody a favor and install the Wowhead Client on your computer to make sure that the information gathered on the site is as accurate as possible.)
- Check the Auction House frequently to see what's popular and what's not, what's loaded with pages upon pages of items to those who have nothing listed. Only you can determine what amount of gold most people have on your server - including gold-makers - and it makes you wiser at guessing how reasonable a price would be for specific items.
- Read a few gold blogs to be ahead of the competition on your server. Sometimes you may be lucky and have a few days' head start on a moneymaker that will give you thousands of gold before most people find out about it, build a competition and reduce prices to a jelly.
You may feel like it is unfair for other players to not know the things that you do know because they should have as much a chance for gold-making as you do.
But that's exactly what this is : you took the time to read all this because you want to make WoW gold, and so you went out of your way to find this information.
Your friend didn't. Most people didn't and still don't.
They have the choice to either farm the items themselves or just walk to the nearest Auction House. If they want items and they are posted on the Auction House and they have the gold to buy them, then it's a winning situation for everybody
Except you were most likely the smartest, with the gold in your pockets and information in your head.