Ever since its release way back in 2011 (yes, it’s been that long), Skyrim’s popularity has endured, even increased, thanks to a robust and active modding community, and unique game mechanics that have a perfect mix of RPG and life simulation (thanks to the Hearthfire expansion). And, of course, the dragons. Because, dragons are always cool.
Another reason for Skyrim’s enduring popularity is that it made its powerful in-game items either easy to craft or easy to find (or, if you’re a jerk, easy to get using console command cheats). You could also buy these items in shops, but here lies the one problem with Skyrim: making money ain’t easy. For a game that spent years developing realism, it somehow forgot to create a working economy that made it easier for players to grind for gold.
So how to make money in Skyrim the fast and easy way?
How to Make Money in Skyrim
Barring cheats and exploits, there are a few ways to make money in Skyrim, not all of them fast, not all of them easy, but all of them better than grinding quests and fulfilling every mundane task that an NPC gives you. I mean, sure, if you’re into that, you could do your umpteenth side-quest and earn a pittance, but there are ways to make money in Skyrim that earn more and are generally more fun. Here are a few ideas:
One of the most effective ways to make money in Skyrim is by crafting high-level items and selling them to various shops. To do this, you’ll need to max out your Smithing, Enchanting, Alteration, and Alchemy skills as much as possible so you can get started with creating rare weapons and armor like Daedric sets or even Dragonbone. The best part? Maxing out these skill trees requires a very minimal investment that pays off huge dividends in the long run. I know that sounds like the opening pitch of a multi-level marketing scam, but trust me, it works.
There are two ways to get you started, one through Alchemy and one through Jewelry:
The Alchemy method requires, well, Alchemy. But before that, you’ll need to get your Enchanting skill to 100. Do this using Fortify Enchanting potions which you can find as loot, buy in shops, or craft yourself. Ideally, you’ll craft it yourself so you can get other skill sets up and running. But it doesn’t matter how you get to 100, what matters is you get there.
Once your Enchanting is at 100, craft yourself an entire Fortify Alchemy clothes set. Once you have the full set, equip the clothes and start crafting high-level Fortify Enchanting potions, and when you’re at a higher level, equip even stronger Fortify Alchemy clothes sets. Rinse and repeat until you hit the level cap with your Enchantments (that is, you can no longer craft Fortify Alchemy clothes above 29% and Fortify Enchanting potions above 32%). High Elves in Skyrim will find this method easy, considering their high levels of Magicka, but see our note below about which race is best for this method.
Using your highest-level Fortify Alchemy clothes set, start crafting Fortify Smithing potions and Fortify Smithing clothes sets. Get them as high as possible.
Wear your highest-level Fortify Smithing clothes set, and while under the effects of your Fortify Smithing potions, start crafting Dragonbone daggers. These daggers require just 1 Dragon Bone (which, by now, you should have a healthy supply of), and 1 Leather Strip (one of the most common crafting items in the game). Dragon Bones, if sold as is, go for 500 gold in most shops, but crafting them into Dragonbone Daggers bumps up their price to 600 gold, more if you improve them to their maximum level at grindstones while your potions are in effect.
To get even more value, take a Fortify Enchanting potion and enchant the daggers with anything from the Turn Undead skill set, as these are the highest-value weapon and armor enchantments in the entire game.
Rinse and repeat this entire process until you run out of Dragon Bones and/or get sick of the drink potion-enchant clothes-wear clothes-drink potion-craft-craft-craft grind. Hey, we said it was an effective way to make money in Skyrim, we didn’t say it was fast!
Another way to make money in Skyrim is to smith jewelry rather than Dragonbone items. Not only is this just as effective, it’s also a method available to low-level players, as jewelry smithing appears as an option early on in the game, thanks to the Transmute Mineral Ore spell. This spell, which you can find in a small bandit’s cave (Halted Stream Camp or the Ansilvund Burial Chambers, locations that are also the best places in Skyrim for Quarried Stone), allows players to transmute Iron Ore into Gold Ore. The Gold Ore can be smith into Gold ingots, which you can then use to craft Gold Rings.
To start, max out your Alchemy and Enchanting skills using the Craft Loop method above. Create max-level enchantments and potions.
Next, you’ll need some Gold Ore. There’s two ways to go about this:
- Mine it. One of the best sources of Gold is the Kolskeggr Mine located south of the Lover Stone near Markarth. Take note, however, that mines get depleted and are only reset once every in-game month.
- Make it from Iron. Buy/mine as much Iron Ore as you can and start turning these into Gold Ore using the Transmute Mineral Ore spell. This process, however, takes up a fair bit of Magicka, especially for low-level players. You’ll have to wait an hour per casting to replenish your mana.
Once you have your Gold Ore, though, start crafting them into Gold ingots and rings. Gold rings are the highest-value jewelry in-game, excluding precious gems, of course. Once you have a fair amount of rings, start enchanting them with Fortify Sneak, one of the most high-value enchantments you can put on jewelry.
A quick note, though: Skyrim’s best race for smithing is the Nord, not just because of their bonus in the Smithing skill tree, but also because of their bonuses in Speech, which allow you to sell things in shop at higher prices.