Within minutes of your escape from Helgen, the question of earning Gold in Skyrim is going to be thrust upon you. The nearby bandit camp has a few minor treasures - you're an archer, but maybe you could sell that Iron Warhammer?
Then there's timber to be chopped in Riverwood, and what about the Golden Claw? You get the point - opportunities to earn Gold in Skyrim are everywhere, and will present themselves, thanks to Skyrim's radiant quest system, at just about any moment.
But what are the main ways to earn Gold, and more importantly what's the best way to make money in Skyrim?
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The best way to earn Gold in Skyrim
Whilst you can of course earn a self-sustaining amount of money in Skyrim from simply performing questions and generally keeping busy in the the world, there are also some more specific methods you can employ that will drastically improve you ability to rake in the Gold.
First up in this section, we'll be taking you through the one method we've found to be the most effective above all others - excluding cheats and exploits. It comes in the form of a crafting loop, which you can perform through a combination of Alteration, Smithing, Enchanting and Alchemy skills to make potentially thousands from pretty minimal investment. And yes we're aware of how much that sounds like the opening line of a particularly uninventive a spam email, but bear with us - it does actually work.
Technically, there are two ways to go about this particular method. Here's the first, in full:
- Using our guide to maxing your Enchanting, Smithing, and Alchemy, get those crafting skills to maximum level.
- Craft, buy, or find some potions which fortify your Enchanting skill.
- Drink one, and with your level 100 Enchanting craft a full set of Fortify Alchemy clothes.
- Don your new clothes, and with them and your level 100 Alchemy, craft some stronger Fortify Enchanting potions.
- Repeat, drinking the potions and wearing the clothes, until you hit the cap of 29% Fortify Alchemy enchantment for each item of clothing, and Fortify Enchanting potions of 32%.
- Now, don your Fortify Alchemy clothes, this time crafting Fortify Smithing potions
- Wear the Fortify Smithing clothes and drink the Fortify Smithing potions (you could previously only do the potions part because there's no Fortify Enchanting enchantment).
- With those equipped, craft Dragonbone Daggers - they require just 1 Dragon Bone (acquired from killing dragons, which you can do by simply roaming around Skyrim) and 1 Leather Strip to craft, but are worth 600 Gold each. Making sure your potions are still in effect, improve these Daggers the maximum amount at the grindstone.
- Take another Fortify Enchanting potion, and now enchant those daggers with an enchantment from the Banish Undead school, which is the highest-value enchantment in the game.
The alternative method to this is to, instead of crafting Dragonbone weapons, smith jewelry. This is possible to do much earlier in the game thanks to the ready availability of the Transmute Mineral Ore spell in a small bandit's cave, which allows you to turn Iron Ore into Gold Ore, and in turn smith two Gold Rings from each Gold Ingot you smelt. Here's the process for that:
- Max just your Enchanting and Alchemy skills, and create the maximum-level enchantments and potions with the cycle above.
- Mine Gold Ore from Kolskeggr Mine, due south of the Lover Stone near Markarth. Note than mines reset around once per in-game month when marked as 'cleared'; OR
- Mine Iron Ore from one of the many Iron Ore mines in Skyrim, and buy it from any armorer or general goods merchant. Use the Transmute Mineral Ore spell (Alteration) to turn this from Iron into Gold Ore. If you have low Magicka, quickly wait 1 hour after each cast to replenish and repeat. The Spell Tome can be found in Halted Stream Camp, another small bandit's camp, North-North-West of Whiterun.
- Turn the Gold Ore into Gold Rings x2, which is the highest-value jewelry barring any precious gems you have to hand.
- Using the potion-enchantment method above, enchant these with the Fortify Sneak enchantment, which is roughly twice the value of the nearest competitor, Fortify Two-Handed.
A few notes on the above methods, for good measure:
- You can create even strong enchantments and potions with the Necromage perk if you become a Vampire Lord, and with the four Relics of Ahzidal from the Dragonborn DLC.
- Soul Gems - both empty and filled - can be bought in good numbers from the court mages in the various halls of Skyrim's cities and towns. Giants, Falmer, wolves and mudcrabs are good options for Souls of various sizes.
- The value of an enchantment will decrease the more times you craft it - even if you haven't sold any yet - in which case, keep an eye on the next most valuable enchantment, like Fortify Two-Handed for Gold Rings, and switch when the value drops to that level.
- More valuable weapons than the Dragonbone Daggers can be crafted, but will generally exceed the amount any store owner can offer to buy them from you. If they're still two high, switch to Iron Daggers, Gold Rings, or invest in the shops or buy crafting items from them first. Stores replenish every 48 in-game hours, which is roughly the time it takes to fast travel between each major city individually, buying and selling at each store in a loop.
- Vastly more valuable and potent potions and enchantments can be made using a Restoration Potion glitch, which we haven't detailed as it may well be patched out of the game in the future, and is a potentially game-breaking exploit rather than an intentional mechanic.
Other ways to earn Gold and make money in Skyrim
If you want to make money in Skyrim without the grind of maxing your crafting skills first, there are, fortunately, several options available to you. Questing, looting, and generally just doing stuff in the world will provide you with a trickle of income that's enough to cover the costs of your Health Potions and occasional new weapons.
But there are some more specific quests, storylines and methods you can put into practice, and here we'll explain some of the best non-max-level-crafting methods for you:
Yep, turns out tying the knot can actually earn you a nice regular income, with your spouse offering you 100 Gold per day, every day, once you've wed. Take a look at our guide on how to get married in Skyrim for more details on how you can do that.
Another crafting option, we know, but this way doesn't require maximum level skills. Instead, you can do the following:
- Buy up all the ingredients from an alchemist.
- Use their alchemy table to craft as many potions as possible from those ingredients.
- Sell the potions back to the alchemist, who should have a decent-sized pool of money from you buying their ingredients.
- Move on to another alchemist and repeat.
The downside here is that it'll take some time to get to grips with the best recipes, but you will at least gain some great knowledge along the way. You can also use an alchemy calculator like this one to calculate the optimal potions from your current inventory, to help.
Stealing and Thieves Guild Quests:
The Thieves Guild, being what it is, can net you a fair bit of coin - but doing the main questline is also pretty time-consuming.
We've put together a guide on how to join Skyrim Guilds and factions, including the Thieves Guild, and after you've done so you can talk to either Vex, or Delvin Mallory to take on some repeatable random jobs, which involve stealing certain objects and returning to your quest-giver for a reward.
You can also normally clean up a fair bit of loot from each job through Pickpocketing and sneaking to find other items around the location. Stolen goods are only saleable to various fences, with a prominent one being located in the Honningbrew Meadery, south of Whiterun.
Finally, Pickpocket in general is a very useful skill to have for earning money. We've put together a guide for maxing Pickpocket and the other Thief skills, and generally once you've hit a decent level it's useable in almost any situation.
Almost every NPC in Skyrim, for instance, will have at least one item of value on their person - normally jewellery - and stealing one from each NPC you meet can very quickly net a small fortune in saleable stolen goods, which can also be enchanted for additional profit with the methods above.
Want more help with Skyrim? Find out how to join every guild and faction, how to earn Gold fast, learning about XP and levelling to 100, max Crafting skills, max Warrior skills, max Thief skills and max Mage skills, how to get married, where to buy a house, how to start Dawnguard, Hearthfire and Dragonborn DLC expansions. If you're on PC, we have a list of console commands and cheats, and you can learn about the remastered version and how to install mods with our Skyrim guide. Finally, with Switch owners, we have Skyrim amiibo support explained to help unlock special Zelda-themed items.
The Dark Brotherhood:
Finally, completing the Dark Brotherhood main questline will result in a whopping 20,000 Gold reward, plus any of the money you earned from each quest along the way.
At roughly 500 coins per side quest reward, with other items like, say, Muiri's Ring thrown in as bonuses too, the Dark Brotherhood can be extremely fruitful in terms of cash.
The downside is that it's time consuming, and requires sufficient combat and stealth prowess to pull off without accruing some very high bounties around Skyrim. If you're confident in your assassination skills though, and want to actually get stuck into playing the game whilst you earn your gold, this is the best way to do so.
You can find out how to join the Dark Brotherhood in our guide to joining each of Skyrim's Guilds and factions.