(Original Guide by Padashar on the Tradeskill Forum)

The Three Keys to Success
The three keys to success are:
  • Planning
  • Trading
  • Marketing
It will always be great judgment and termed insightful for those folks that use good planning skills. Planning and Preparation are perhaps the most crucial points to successfully establishing yourself as an Artisan. Without them, you will feel lost in the wilderness with only a spoon, a cracked bowl, and the only thing to eat will be the rain that falls from the sky. So, we don't want to get to this point do we? Now then, let's figure out what is important in planning and preparation.
Harvest your own ingredients and make sure that you collect as much of everything as possible. There is a reason to the madness. The main reason is that by harvesting resources, the resources you need the most will begin to surface in the resource pools of the area you are harvesting in. The second reason is that other artisans need different resources than you need and you can use them for trading. I will get to trading later. So, for now, harvest everything you need to and can. Try to make at least one harvesting run for a minimum of 3 hours during the course of a weeks time. By doing this, you increase your chances of finding rare resources so the merits of that alone are worth the extra effort. I personally harvest 3 times a week and sometimes 4 times a week for periods of 1 - 4 hours.
A mentionable note worth looking at.
If you have the skills necessary to harvest nodes, harvest them! If you don't have the skills necessary to harvest nodes, read this paragraph fully so you know what not to do. For those of you who fall into both of these categories who harvest for up to 4 hours, you are depopulating variety in nodes and creating havoc in the tier areas. I've come across at least three harvesting days where the first 30 nodes I looked at were all of one type (either shrubs, dens, or wood). And, I'm not talking about all three types at once, I'm talking about 30 nodes of logs or 30 nodes of shrubs or 30 nodes of dens. All of these stacked up for the weary harvester that has to now depopulate the common node to make the variety nodes appear. If you do this, don't be upset when someone gets angry at you or is frustrated because they have to work behind you. This type of event can only occur if multiple harvesters or single harvesters are staying in the same area for long hours (4 or more) and skipping the nodes when they form. This is IMHO, one of the worst things to do and it will make your name an unlikable one if folks see you do it. So, if you can't get the skills up to help counter this, leave the area after 2 hours maximum. If you stay for longer than this, expect folks to find and learn who you are.
Inventory Control
My current bank has 12 (12-slot) trunks sitting in it and my inventory has 8-slot bags. All of these I will need to upgrade soon at some point when I find the time to do so. Make sure that you have ample room in your bank and inventory to make stacks of raw materials and alchemy components.
My current bank has 12 stacks of Ash wood, 12 stacks of Bella Roots, 6 Stacks of carbonite, 3 Stacks of Gold Clusters, and 3 Stacks of Agate Gems. This is what I call my stack preparation limit. If any of these fall below this, I bring them back up to the required amounts. In addition, I have 12 stacks of Thylakoid Resin, 12 Stacks of Thylakoid Oils, 12 Stacks of Neolith Tempers, and 3 Stacks of Thylakoid Wash in my bank. Again, if I go under this limit, I bring it back up to full as quickly as I can. Now you may think this is going a little overboard, but it really isn't.
The key note to remember about stacking is that by preparing in advance, I can meet any order in advance and I can become self-sufficient if I need to if say, one of the three alchemists I deal with directly decide not to make anymore supplies because they don't earn experience anymore for making them. While I could find more contacts, I like the idea of 3 and it's easier to manage for me. Stacking gives you a feeling of preparedness and once you get to the point I stated above, as I have done, you won't ever worry about what you need to accomplish.
Component Combines
Another thing I do is create component combines that are stackable in advance. I work with the lower end (dumbed down in quality) items first. So, I make all of my non-primary ingredients in manageable crude quality stacks. I have stacks of crude quality carbonite bars, gold bars, agate gems. I have stacks of crude quality carbonite studs, chain links, buckles, and stacks of gold ornaments, settings. I then make pristine quality stacks of gold sheets and faceted agate which are the primary components necessary in my recipes that affect jewelry quality. By doing all of this in advance, and maintaining stack counts, when it comes time to market my wares, I can produce large quantities at once. We'll get to that later on though. The important thing to remember is to keep your own non-primary ingredient stacks of crude quality and your pristine stacks of primary ingredients managed at all times. Crude quality stacks also cut crafting time by more than half, but reduces the amount of experience gain you achieve. This tactic is best used at higher levels within your current tier.
So, to reiterate, Harvesting, Inventory Control, Stacking, and Component Combines are areas that will give you the greatest effect for advanced preparation.
Trading is the second important key to success. It involves making and communicating with contacts, understanding interdependency fully, and coming up with a good system of barter and exchange to offset expenditures in cost of production.
Making Contacts
The first thing you need to do is make contacts. This can be done on the crafting channels, while you are out harvesting, or just by talking with people that you meet while adventuring. The most important contact for me is an Alchemist. I also have Weaponsmith contacts. When contacting them, I have to figure out a way that I can communicate well enough with them that they would like to be a personal and long-term contact. How do we accomplish this? Well, come up with a plan of service.
A plan of service that I use is what I've coined as the 2 for 1 rule. I basically give an alchemist 1 resource and I get a return of 2 ingredients (wash or oil or resin etc.) and the alchemist in turn keeps 2 ingredients. No coin is spent. In addition, I use my own services to help the alchemist. If you are not a jeweler or someone the alchemist may need for services, you still have marketable wares you can use as a service to him/her. For me, I use jewelry and vials/glass as a perk. Although vials and glass are not always a big commodity with alchemists. Jewelry on the hand, is. So, in addition to the resource rule I plainly agree with all my "contacts" that I will provide them personal jewelry for free if they provide me with the ingredients necessary to make the combines for those items.
Now then, do I do this with everyone? No, only with contacts. That's why I have 3 contacts or else I'd be supplying every "profession type" for alchemist and weaponsmith with goods and be quickly out of business. In addition, I do the same with weaponsmiths. I keep only one or two contacts for weaponsmiths.
Because of this, I have not had to work with coin for supplies that I need. I have since modified my agreement slightly to help out the other alchemists but the fundamental design remains the same.
Throughout your trying to find contacts, folks are going to be trying to contact you. You see, they need your help with items they need made also. I have several armorsmiths and weaponsmiths that ask for my assistance for carbonite studs and carbonite pommels. I have a service agreement that I work with them in addition to the one I do with my contacts. I call this a revised 2 for 1 rule.
If an armormsith or weaponsmith needs say 20 pommels or 20 studs, I make them for them as long as they give me enough to make two of what they require. So, if they need 20 made, they give me 40 of the required ingredients. I then create 20 for them and hold 20 extra in a reserve stack that I can either use for personal reasons or for guild reasons, or for the next order. It costs these folks 0 coin for me to do this. I do not charge them a single copper for the services. I pay for the fuel even. The only thing they have to do is work out the ingredients and the time. If they use my philosophy with alchemists then they didn't spend anything but time. Thus far, time is the only thing I've spent in my profession.
Trading Raw Resources
As a jeweler, I need gold clusters about 70% of the time. Therefore, I only need agate and carbonite about 15% of the time. So, I trade 1 agate and 1 carbonite to anyone for 1 gold cluster. They get 2 resources and I get 1. However, for certain professions this is great. Alchemists for instance require either gold or agate to make items. So, by replacing them with an agate and a carbonite they basically get the same thing they had in the first place, plus an additional resource. For me, it works out wonderfully.
For those folks that left the 30 nodes of wood, I harvest all of it and then trade two full stacks or even three full stacks for a stack of gold clusters. So, I've started to work my way around those folks. Which is why I mentioned earlier that harvesting is important.
So, to reiterate, making contacts, learning the interdependencies, and trading raw resources will help you to develop great trading skills and limit your coin spending.
Marketing is the last important part of becoming successful in your artisan craft. Without good marketing skills, you won't be a good salesman and you won't find a place in the artisan world. You will be left with merchants who do not talk nor sympathize with your plight to be successful.
Communicating is very important to achieving success. Your customers are like an audience. Some parts of the audience like to sit close to the stage and others like to sit further back. How they view you is as important as how you view them. With that said, I've learned to grow to understand and thoroughly enjoy all my customers. I market my wares on 2 channels (trades and crafting). The reason I do this is because I love my fellow crafters. Therefore, I feel they should know when my wares are up for sale also. Another reason is because many adventurers listen to the crafting channel and not the trades channel. It reaches a dual market audience.
In my marketing messages, I always make sure to not spam them (stating the message once every 15 to 20 minutes in intervals). I always tell them what I'm selling and where I am located. I make sure that for the first hour or two that I'm standing there in-body and communicating with customers as they purchase from me. I talk to them, thank them, send tells to the ones that purchase from the broker boards, encourage others that they can save money by buying from my room directly, etc. This mentality has created an even larger base of customers as I have greater feedback from them on which items they are most interested in and which items they do not care so much for.
If I have to go afk, I always put an afk message up that gives anyone sending me a tell the directions to find my place of business in addition to what I'm selling and a small warm reply at the end. This makes folks happy because they don't have to feel frustrated if they cannot find you or locate your store.
Generally the best thing to do is to save up and use stacks the way I do and make many items over the period of a couple of days to sell on the third day. By having at least 30 - 48 items to sell at one time, customers that travel to me know they will have a great selection if they get to me within 2 or 3 hours of my store opening for business. In addition, it gives them a chance to see all of the items for themselves. With up to 48 items in stock, I still will generally sell out by mornings end. Selectivity is very crucial for variety and variety attracts customers.
I've heard this same story over and over but if you disagree with me, so be it. At the time of this writing, I am a 27th level Jeweler and became the first Platinaire on my server. I have close to 1 platinum and 50 gold to my name now and will probably reach 2 plat by the time I work with Tier 4 soon. So, my pricing strategy does indeed work and it works well. Here's how I do it.
First, I price my wares at the merchant to see what he would pay for the finish recipe. I then figure in the difficulty that it would take me to find and make the components and come up with a very fair price. The difference is, I do this at the first level upon entering the tier (so for example, level 20 for tier 3). From that point on, all of my prices in Tier 3 remain the exact same amount, regardless of the item made. And this is why I sell so much.
Remember how you go to the merchant each day and buy fuel components? Well we all know that they are 6 copper right? What if you went back to the merchant tomorrow and he said the coal you were purchasing was 18 copper. You'd be upset and shout about it wouldn't you? You'd say on the crafting channel, I have 90 gold to my name and yet this 18 copper for the fuel is horrible!! Well, I think you can understand what I'm getting at here. People enjoy stable pricing. All of my customers who have shopped with me in the past know that when they come back to my store the next time - the prices are "exactly" the same for the tier they want. I know because they tell me they love it so much. So, there are no surprises. They get a fair price at the same price "all of the time". This allows them to feel comfortable when dealing with me.
I had one customer the other night say that he was going to purchase 3 items from me. Would I give him a bulk discount? Absolutely...not. I told him that the price structure I create allows for the same prices all of the time and is a very fair price for us both. I would not charge him one copper more or one copper less for any amount he purchased from me but that he would thoroughly enjoy the wares. I also informed him that he could come shop directly in my store and save money. He came and not only bought 3 items but bought 5 items instead. He was happy. I was happy. We were both happy. Now then, you may think why not give him a bulk discount? Well, I'm afk some nights so how can I give bulk discounts to others? You are now dealing with the large ugly rat that is called price fluctuation. I simply don't do it and don't encourage it. My customers know me, love my wares and keep coming back for more. They will do so with you as well.
Moving On
The biggest drawback to an otherwise promising system is that some folks don't know when it's time to move on. When I attain 30th level, I will move on to the next tier and leave the 3rd tier behind me. Why? Because there are other promising artisans that need to run their own businesses. There is no reason for me to monopolize on their profits and gains. That would be selfish of anyone to do so. By moving on, I stay ahead of my learning curve and also stay on par with the customers I have been dealing with for a long time. The ones behind me will find their own customers. And the system will continue fluidly.
In closing, if you follow the advice I stated above, you will have a successful business in Everquest II. You will also have a lot of tells. I think I get from 7 to 10 tells now per 30 to 40 minutes and during sales time I am answering up to 6 tells at once, talking with 4 to 5 customers on the floor, and answering questions in the crafting channel. This is multi-tasking at extreme. Not to mention guild chat.
Anyways, take this guide as an advice column and not as a firm way of doing things. If you think your ideas should differ, then make them different. Just remember, what works for one, may not work for another. Use the advice I give in whatever way you choose to do so.

Message Edited by Padashar on 11-30-2004 11:35 AM
Padashar Rashere
Conjurer - 21 /Jeweler - 45

Antonia Bayle Server

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