In this document, I intend to share with you my ultimate secrets for making lots of gil. This applies to low-level players as well as higher-level players, but you'll get the most use out of this guide when you have a bit of money to invest and are able to get from city to city, so 20+ is probably optimal.
So, you need gil? So do I. So does that dude with the Haubergeon and the two Sniper's Rings. So does that taru SMN who's standing outside the gate to Ronfaure casting Carbuncle over and over. So do the half-million+ other folks who play Final Fantasy XI. So, with all those people needing cash, how do you ensure that YOU find your pot of gold? It's actually shockingly easy, and it seems to be one of the best-kept secrets in Final Fantasy XI. I'm sure that I'm going to be stepping on people's toes by posting this, and I'm certain that I'm going to be rated down for it, but I'm tired of seeing everyone complain about gil in this game. So read closely.
There are about sixteen billion different ways to make money in this game. I'm not going to attempt to tell you which of those sixteen billion to choose, as your server's economy is no doubt very different from mine. What might be super-profitable on my server may be a big gil-sink on yours. So, if you thought I was going to let you in on my super-secret gardening recipe or my sweet-as farming spot, you were mistaken. However, I'm going to give you information that will benefit you MUCH more than those things would. Because, no matter HOW good your farming spot is, someone else is going to find it. No matter how secret your recipe is, someone else will stumble upon it. No matter how many "Goldsmithing to 60!" guides you read, the market is going to change and the recommended synths are going to be useless. However, use the tips I'm about to give you and stick to them, and I promise you you'll be able to get all the gil you'll ever need, for the rest of your FFXI career.
Tip 1: Know your limitations. There are certain limits placed on every possible way to make money. If you farm, you're limited by your inventory space and the rarity of the drops you're farming for. If you craft, you're limited by the availability of the materials you need (and often this changes every week with the Conquest tally, so you can never count on ingredient availability). If you NM-camp, other players will limit the number of times you can claim the spawn. If you fish, demand for your fish and the number of competing fishermen will be your limits. If you mine, it's going to be ore availability and demand. No matter WHAT you do, there is no such thing as a free ride. For example, if I find an awesome item to farm that I know sells for a couple thousand gil each on the auction, I've got it made, right? Not necessarily. Does my item stack? If not, I can only sell seven of my item at any one time. Does it sell quickly? If not, I'm going to have auction house slots tied up on that item that might better be served with cheaper but faster-moving items. Is my item over-farmed? If so, I'm going to be fighting for spawns with other farmers, meaning I'm not going to be bringing home too many of my item in a given night. So, find out what your limitations are. Don't just look at the sell price of something and think it's worthwhile. Often, cheap items will make you MUCH more money than high-ticket items. EVERYONE has pocket change, but not everyone has 8 million gil to throw down on one item.
Tip 2: Check the price information, everywhere! If you have an item to sell, you need to know how much it sells for in every location you can sell it. Meaning, you need to know how much your item sells for at the Windurst/Bastok/San d'Oria/Jeuno auction houses. You need to know how much it sells to NPCs for in the town you have the most fame. You need to know how much the relevant guild (if there is one) will buy it for. You should even have an idea how much it goes for in bazaars in town. This way, you know where you should be selling your item to get the most profit. I cannot tell you how many items I've found on auction that sold for less on auction than they do to an NPC shop right next door. If those sellers took the time to check the NPC first, they would've made even more money and (more importantly) not wasted an AH slot. However, just because you know where it sells for the most gil at, that doesn't mean you know where to sell it. Because....
Tip 3: Find out what the demand is for your item. Your item may sell for 10k in Windurst and 8k in Jeuno. But that doesn't mean you should necessarily sell it in Windurst. Check the dates on the last 10 sales in the AH history, and find out how quickly the item sells there. If it sells three times a month in Windurst and six times a day in Jeuno, even if you won't get as much money for it you'll probably want to sell it in Jeuno. Every day that it's sitting on auction, you're losing money. Because that auction slot could be selling something else and it's tied up selling this one item. Fast sales are usually better than big sales. Also, if you're selling a crafting ingredient, you can bet the demand is going to be higher in the town with the relevant craft. If you have cockatrice meat, you'd be hard pressed to find a better place to sell it than Windurst since the cooking guild is there. So, knowing how much demand there is for your item is critical.
Tip 4: Find out what the supply situation is for your item. Just because you know how many are selling, that doesn't mean you're ready to sell off your item yet! You need to consider how many are on sale. If there are just a handful of your item on auction and it sells quickly, you've found a golden ticket. That means the demand is there but the supply is low. You've found a market niche to fill. If there are 208 of your item on sale, REGARDLESS how quickly it moves you'll probably want to consider selling it somewhere else. Again, you don't want to waste AH slots that could be selling more merchandise.
Tip 5: Find out where your item can be obtained. You need to know EVERY SOURCE of that item in the entire game. You need to know where and what mobs drop it, or what tradeskill it belongs to, or what NM has it, what items can be desynthed for it, or what NPC merchants sell it. You need this info for two reasons: First, you need to know where your potential competition is getting their supply from. Second, if you have several options on where to get that item from, you can find the one that's the most cost effective. Sure, farming Paralyze scrolls off beastmen is a free way to get the scroll, but there are a number of NPC merchants who sell the scroll for cheap. You could mine darksteel, or you could desynth quadav backplates for much, much cheaper. Rather than waste time (your #1 asset) farming them, you can pay the minimal price to buy them and mark them up at the auction house. This leads to...
Tip 6: Be familiar with all the NPC merchants and their wares. Yes, it's a daunting task. But that's what Allakhazam's database is for. You need to know what merchants sell what goods, and under what conditions. Most merchants have items they **only** sell if that kingdom is in first place in Conquest for the week. Regional vendors only sell items if that kingdom controls that region for the week. For example, many cooking ingredients can only be obtained from the Lower Elshimo regional vendor. Since that area (Yuhtunga Jungle) is often controlled by beastmen, one possible strategy would be to find out what ingredients the vendor sells, then stock up on the in-demand ones while the region is under player control. When it reverts to beastman control, you have a firm grip on the market for that product and can often set your own prices. You create a short-term monopoly on the product, until you run out of supply or the region gets retaken by players.
Tip 7: Diversify! Please, for the love of all things good and pure, do NOT put all your eggs in one basket. Find MANY ways of making money. The market is extremely fluid and sometimes volatile. What might have made insane gil last week might be a big waste of time this week. The more methods you have of earning gil, the more likely you'll survive (or even flourish) in an unstable market. If you were farming cockatrice meat and suddenly everyone else is doing it too (and subsequently, the price drops), start making mithkabobs. If everyone's eating mithkabobs faster than the cooks can make them, start farming cockatrice meat. Money doesn't disappear, it changes hands. Your job is to follow the money. Ask yourself "Who's making all the money right now, and what do they want that I can offer them?"
Tip 8: Start a production chain. Many miners already understand this one. So, I'll use mining as an example. Mining can be a wonderful way to make money. HOWEVER, if you sell the ores, you're just lining the smiths' or goldsmiths' pockets with gil. They're charging a markup on your ores. So, start smithing or goldsmithing yourself! Turn those ores into ingots, then turn the ingots into products (or just sell the ingots directly). Generally, with each stage of a product's life you make a profit. You profit from mining the ores... you turn the ores into ingots and they're worth more. You turn the ingots into products and they're worth even more. You're forcing your item to appreciate in value. So, instead of selling an ore for 500 gil, you're selling a piece of armour for 3000 gil.
Tip 9: If you need start-up capital to build your gil-making empire, go do some quests. SO MANY quests in this game will reward you handsomely. Allakhazam has an entire database devoted to quests, their requirements, and their rewards. If you do the teleport scroll quests, the drain/warp/aspir scroll quests, Utsusemi, Selbina Clay, etc, you'll have a huge bankroll to start investing. You'll also have a whole lot more fame (which helps too, since it raises the prices NPCs will buy items from you for and lowers their sell prices) and a map of the Crawlers' Nest (always handy!) Unless you need that quest reward for your job(s) that you're levelling, you can sell it for a big boost to your bank account. But don't go crazy and spend it...take the time to consider HOW you're going to spend it. You want to take that money and turn it into more money. Find a way to do that.
Tip 10: Spend wisely! If you can save 100 gil by walking across town, do it. If you can walk (and farm on the way) instead of riding a chocobo, do it. If you have a lot of worthless junk that you just want to get rid of, instead of throwing it away, take it to the city you have the highest fame in and sell it to an NPC. Every single gil will add up over the course of the game. If you save 10 gil on every transaction you ever make, you could have half a million gil extra (or more!) by the time you reach higher levels. That's that much more you have to invest. The more money you have, the more money you can GET. Don't waste a single gil. And don't just hold onto your gil, either. If it's not out in the world, it's not earning its keep. Find somewhere to invest it. Don't walk around with 400k... Walk around with 20k and have the other 380k earmarked to spend to further your money-making goals.
Now, I'm sure you're disappointed that I didn't tell you the secret recipe for Vile Elixers or Wootz Ore or point you to the new secret NM that drops the 4-million gil Whatthehellevertron. But as I said before, if I gave you some "secret hot tip", it would be gone in three weeks and you'd be hurting for money again. What I have given you are the tools to find your OWN "secret" to making gil. You know to look for openings in the market that you can fill. You know to find the best prices, both on ingredients for you buy and end products for you to sell. You know how to come up with start-up cash to kick your plan off. And I promise you, if everyone followed all 10 of these steps, none of us would ever have to read a gil-rant thread again. More likely, everyone would be complaining that gil is too easy to come by and "It isn't fair that everyone I party with is wearing dual Astral Rings these days! I want to feel unique!" ^_^