Professions are expensive! Getting a crafting skill to 450 involves geting all kinds of finnicky odd-ball mats from content that nobody ever runs these days, which typically means paying a whole lot for them. On top of it, all the stuff you make is pretty much valueless, and often fetches more at the vendor than it will in the auction house. What can you do to help turn these lemons into lemonade?
First off, it helps if you're popular, smart, and patient. Popular people have friends who have tradeskills that might be able to help stem the losses, smart people have addons that can provide them with valuable information, and patient people are not at the mercy of low supply.
Well, if not popular, per se, at least friendly and willing to network. Seriously, the most expensive part of leveling a tradeskill is vendoring all the stuff you make to level. If you had the ability to lean on, say, and enchanter friend of yours, you could ask them to disenchant anything you make that is disenchantable. You'd be surprised how much these older enchanting mats go for. In fact, if you ever find yourself making something where the mats you are using are worth less than the enchanting mats you get out of it, keep using that recipe until it turns grey, no matter what your powerleveling guide says. If you are making money at any step along the way, milk it. Also, note down what you are doing for later, as you might be interested in doing this over the long run to help finance later, profitless steps toward tradeskill mastery.
In addition to a pocket enchanter, it can help to have friends who can provide other services for you:
- If you're leveling something like blacksmithing or engineering which uses a lot of bars, being able to buy ore and have a friend smelt it for you will often reduce your costs. Ore is usually more plentiful and less expensive than bars. Usually.
- If you're leveling inscription, it helps to have a friend with a high inscription skill, because Northrend herbs are often cheaper than whatever the herbs you can actually mill at your level. After milling, Northrend herb based Ink of the Sea can be traded for any of the low level common ink in Dalaran.
- If you're leveling virtually any crafting skill, it helps to have a friend leveling a gathering skill. While I would recommend against picking gathering yourself, if you have a friend that doesn't take good advice, you can probably work out an arrangement with them where you can buy all the low level stuff they farm.
Knowing the basics of the auction house and having a few addons can really make a difference between spending 7000g to powerlevel something like enchanting and making a profit. The skills involved in getting skill capped cheaply are, conveniently, the same ones you use to make money in the AH once you're there. You need to know how to buy on the cheap, as well as how to sell efficiently. Still, whether you plan on doing a little auctioneering or not once you hit your goal, using the tools in those posts will help push you in the direction of profitability through lower costs or higher income from crafted goods.
Another tool you can use to great effect is Lilsparky's Workshop and the Lilsparky fork of Skillet. When combined with Auctioneer, these will allow you to see the cost and market price for the recipes you have access to, allowing you to minimize losses and maximize profits. Using this data instead of following a leveling guide strictly can be a huge advantage. The mats you need to follow advice in a leveling guide are the same mats everyone reading that guide needs. If there's a cheaper path, these addons can show it to you.
Slow and steady won't win you any races, but if you can afford the luxury of waiting, you'll be able to do just about everything cheaper. Make a list of the stuff you'll probably need, watch prices every day to get an idea of what it's worth, and make a point of picking it up whenever there's a good price. A lot of time, there may not be enough supply of whatever you need at a fair price to get to the next step. Being able to wait instead of buying the overpriced stock will save you money.
Of course, the problem with this is that you might buy too much. Don't let that phase you, though. You can always sell it back on the auction house. And if you wait long enough, you might find someone rushing through their skill that is willing to pay a premium.
If you're not sure about the value of items, get in the habit of keeping Market Watcher up to date. You can install that addon, add everything you'll need to its watch list, and look at a graph of the prices over time.
Being an auctioneer is like being able to print money (or gold, as it were). Wait, that doesn't make sense ... You can print on gold, but you can't print gold. That would be closer to transmutation? I can transmute titanium, but that's only worth it if the price of saronite is low enough to justify the time spent making it. I need some sort of analogy here. ... Whatever, I'll figure it out later. Making gold? Every time they let Basil write Insider Trader, he will endeavor to teach you the tricks of the trade.