I've made plenty of money selling goods myself and only using caravans if the good is listed in the access prices menu and u can send that good to that city. Ex. Oil from Sich to Warsaw if the access prices menu says you'll make money then I send the largest caravan posible with 1 guard to keep prices down and I escort the caravan myself.
Good deals I've found in my game are buying dried meats in the tsar lands for around 20 thalar and selling them in Sweden for around 200 apiece. Also selling fish from Sweden to the khan lands is lucritive and potery from the khan lands to sweden makes a good amount of spending money... No where near as much money as prepatch caravans but I've done well for army upkeep, food, and equipment with out cheats!
Hope this helps guys and sorry if my iPhone changed any words on it because it has the habit of doing that.
you can still make a reasonable amount of money, but when i say "reasonable", i don't mean 200k, like before. if i didn't spend money on new gear i'd be at about 50-60k right now, which is respectable, i guess. it took a lot longer to get, though. it seems like i mostly use caravans for oil and furs. along with other cheap commodities, i always buy powder, which will sell to certain fortresses for over 600.
the key is to buy cheap goods AND use caravans. if you see a hot commodity for cheap, just buy it.
Well, back in 1.139, just a few days ago, I travelled around all of the Crimean cities, buying up Velvet (or Fine Cloth - forgot what it's called in WFaS), Spice, Salt and Iron. Roughly in that order, although I always made sure to buy up all the Velvet and Spice I saw. I bought Spice only if it was under 300 Thaler and Velvet only if it was under 400. Then I bought Iron and Salt for under 50 thaler. I took all of this all the way to Reval, where they always had the best price for Velvet and Spice. I sold as much Spice as I could until the price for it dropped to 650 and as much Velvet until its price dropped to 750. As for Salt and Iron, I sold both until the price dropped to 200. Then I went to the neighbouring Riga and offloaded whatever I had left. This is how I farm money in WFaS. There is no trade good as efficient and profitable as Spice and Velvet in WFaS. Usually Spice is between 80-250 thaler and Velvet is under 300 thaler. That makes it to 700-500 thaler profit per item of Velvet. The inventory capacity is the only limit. Well, and the goods availability too, hence why I load up with Iron and Salt at times. Those net me a profit of 200 thaler per unit. Not like Velvet, but still profit.
Buuuut, in 1.141 all this seems to be gone . All the Crimean cities I visit only have food for sale. The villages have even less. No one seems to be selling anything but food. I am not sure if this is just the stocks replenishing after the changes of 1.141, or whatever... I remember that the first few minutes after I downloaded 1.141, all the 'Goods' - but not weapons, armour, and horses - were worth only one thaler. I hope the lack of trade goods changes. Also, I had a load of Velvet stored in the chest in Kiev from 1.139, and so I took that to sell at Reval. I noticed that the prices for it seemed to have went up...
Now I make much more money just by collecting taxes from my only village than by caravan trading! After 1.141 the best trade profit I made was around 1000 thalers. But now, I usually collect 10.000 thalers of taxes from my village each week or so!!!
I'm finding that caravans only return a decent price, IF the town has 15-20 of the goods in stock, and are of a decent value to begin with. Tip: if a town only has like 18 in stock, head over to the next town and see if they are selling that item as well (they normally are, just not quite the best price, and less of them), buy the extra 2, and then sell them to the producing city to make up the full 20. You lose a little bit on those 2 items, but even then, since this is at the low price end of the item, I normally still make a bit of profit on those 2, and get full profit from the extra 3 I get to trade, as opposed to if I sent a caravan of 15. I always asses prices so I know where to send the caravan