Cooking and Your Mule: Tips for Success
I have found that muling cooking goods can be a very profitable side business to Auction House sales. With an frequently filled mule with useful items you will be able to create some recognition for yourself, make a whole lot of gil and create a steady flow of customers. Soon you will find that you have repeat and return customers and even may make new friends. I say this from personal experience. Some folks on Odin may know my mule better then they know Vysala. Some players address me as Giskard even when I am playing my main character Vysala. Why is this you may ask? Let me introduce you to Giskard.
My mules name is Giskard and he joined the adventuring world of Vana'diel on May 8th, 2004. He is named after the character R. Giskard Reventlov in one of my favorite Asimov books. Giskard is a San d'Oria elvaan male. He has done some lower level San d'Oria quests, he is Rank 1, but has bought an Airship Pass. He is a traveler, often going to Bastok to take Alchemy tests as he is approaching level 90 Alchemy. Giskard's highest job level is Black Mage level 6. Giskard often runs around as a White Mage level 1 because he often death warps from other locations to return to his game-given, never changed homepoint of South San d'Oria (which is the best homepoint a mule could have - dead center in front of the Auction House).
Giskard does most of the holiday events and has a mog house filled with furniture from those events and other items. He often wears his newly earned event items, but these days he runs around wearing his favorite color: red. Why red? His owner has a bit of San d'Oria pride in her. Giskard wears a Santa hat from the Christmas event, a San d'Oria Aketon, Clamming event swim wear and Halloween event staff. Another thing that stands out with Giskard is that he has "Ramuh" spelt out in his bazaar with Easter Eggs (letter eggs), Vysala's favorite summon. These things all help set him apart from other mules.
Giskard sells a whole lot of food with some alchemy consumables mixed in. Consumables is his prime market. In fact, Vysala makes some foods specifically for him to bazaar. Because he has done all of the mog house quests and Gobbiebag quests, he can carry a whole lot of items to sell at a time. He is a very good salesman, often making an appearance in the same location and with occasional witty, thoughtful or helpful comments in his bazaar comments. Giskard tends to sit in one location when he is in his hometown and his location is often the major thing that sets him apart from all other mules. He will sit at the stairs between the Mog house exit and the AH, just before the Zulkiem vender. Well not exactly on the stairs, but more precisely above. Giskard sits with his body hanging out above the walkway. Often the phrase "Feel free to limbo under my buns!" has appeared in his bazaar comments. This has gotten many reactions - most of which are positive reactions with the occasional negative comment.
Giskard has made a whole lot of friends over the years, he has gained attention and as I said I think he is more well known then Vysala is. He is not the most famous mule on the server, but I am sure when he makes his final leave of Vana'diel he will be remembered by some of those that passed by him each and every day.
So why has Giskard been successful? Here is a list of suggestions, in no particular order, based on my personal experience on making a successful bazaaring mule. And not just successful - but memorable!
- If you are not at your computer, have your mule logged in and bazaaring his goods (including overnight!).
- Do as many of the mog house and Gobbie bag quests for your mule as possible. The more room you have for items the more you can sell at any one time.
- Explore what foods sell best off a mule, paying close attention to your best sellers, and keep restocking your mule with it when you find successes.
- Maintain prices that sell, do not raise your prices just because an item sells fast. Keep restocking for fast sales.
- Keep an eye on the Auction House prices as to not over price or undercut too much (to avoid resellers).
- Sell your items for a little less then the AH. This gives people a reason to buy from you instead of the Auction House.
- Keep a variety of items in stock. This means some mage food and some melee food and some types of food that anyone might buy.
- Take orders. If someone wants you to fry up eight stacks of Mithkabobs for them, let them know price and time required and work out a deal. If you do this often enough you may find yourself with repeat customers. If you find a very trustful repeat customer, tell them to send the orders in offline messages if you are not on and send it to them when you can, after having secured payment method (before or after, up to you - work that out before hand to avoid any conflict).
- If you want buyers to know who your main is, it is worth mentioning your characters name in your mules bazaar comments.
- If you are selling a rarely sold food or a new food, be sure to include in your bazaar comment what the stats are so the buyer does not need to look it up online.
- Does a customer want something you can not make? If they are a nice person, I would suggest sending them to a friend you know that can make the item they are looking for - references are nice and when you send customers to other crafters they might return the favor someday.
- If someone leaves a comment to you in tell while you are AFK, answer the person as soon as you can if they are online. If they are asking for a food in particular and they are not online, be sure to cook up a few and place it in your bazaar for the next day when they might come by and check your bazaar.
- If you really want to stick out, choose to mule in a nation, not Jeuno. Jeuno is so overcrowded that you likely will not be remembered there or even noticed in the crowd. There is just too much competition.
- If you are talking to someone in /say or even in private - role play your mule. Seriously! It gives your mule some personality instead of just being a street merchant. Plus you can make some good friends like this and have some good laughs.
- If you are muling in a nation, be sure to sell foods that lower levels would use, not just higher level foods. Keeping a variety of foods is best. Appealing to as many of your customers as possible will allow for a higher sales rate. The more customers you get the more sales you will have and that means you will be making some good amounts of gil in no time.
- Choose a name that is easy to pronounce, easy to remember and is not an annoying misspelling of an already used name (aka do not use 'xsepherothhx' or similar). But do not choose something boring like Joe or Bob. If you want something normal like that spice it up a bit by giving it some personality - like Unclebob or Joeyjoe.
- Meet a nice customer? Tell your linkshell or your friends about them. Nice people need to be seen more - there is too much negativity in the world.
- Dress your mule! Most mules are naked - make yours stand out with fun and interesting gear from events and such. Many people have their mules naked to save inventory space. By doing the Gobbiebag quests you will not need to worry over a few spaces taken up by gear.
- Choose a town that you would like to have a mule in. Perhaps one you do not frequently visit so that your mule can mail anything from there to you that you may need as to save you a trip to that location. For Cooking I would not suggest Windurst since most cooking mules are naturally already in that nation - thus you might end up with more competition then you want.
- Location is so very important. You want a high traffic area away from other mules, especially of those selling similar items. Creative locations are a huge bonus, as you can see with Giskard.
- Do not advertise in /shout. I think it is so very tacky to do this. It is okay to do if you are looking to clear your inventory and it is a really good deal, but I am not talking 5 gil under the AH price, I am talking 50% total AH price or less in price cut. This would be a real sale. Otherwise shouting to get attention will only get you added to other peoples /ignore lists and lead to less customers. No one likes to be annoyed. Let your prices and offerings speak for themselves. If you want to /shout an advertisement only /shout it once - not twice or three times or more - there is no need to spam. Spam will not make you any friends - or customers.
- Never block small walk ways entirely with your mule forcing other players to stop and try to walk through you because there is no way to get around you. Other players find this annoying and will not remember you for good reasons, instead they will /slap you and not buy from you and mock you in their Linkshells and tell friends not to buy from you either. Sure they might remember you if you are annoying - but only so they remember not to check your bazaar when they pass by!
- Do not price your items like this: 1,299 or 12,999 or 129,999. That pricing is so hokey. Companies in real life can get away with tacking that 99 cents on at the end to make it look like a deal, but in FFXI it just looks ignorant and it also looks like the seller did not research. 1 gil savings means nothing in this economy. Do not insult the customers.
- Most of all be creative and have fun with your mule, but do not be annoying or do anything that gets you a GM call.