As a mage convert (coming over from a hunter character), I was initially flummoxed as to how I might be able to gain enough gold to properly outfit my character at any level. Currently as a level 32 Human Mage, I have come up with a fairly strong strategy for the Mage class that has the benefit of giving you enough gold to keep yourself geared via solid use of the Auction House (AH).
The AH provides a good means of both getting a lot of gold for your wares and also equipping your character to a point where it can handle enemies that are several levels higher than yourself. A mage has a huge responsibility when it comes to equipment because it has to rely on cloth armor for it’s protection, and that is what the last line of defense is if you get aggroed by multiple mobs or are unfortunate enough to accidently go up against a mob or player that is at a higher level than you expected for the zone. One good example of this is the elite giant that is traveling the path in Darkshire. If you have a properly equipped mage you can stand to fight off or even kill that elite mob even if you aren’t close to the level necessary to do that normally.
When playing at a mage, you should never go more than four levels (if you’re past level 10 or so) without going to upgrade your gear at the AH. The reason for this is that there are major gains in the armor quality and the buffs in higher armor especially at these low levels and by going back all the time you will consistently have the best gear and will be able to level and grind or complete quests much more quickly, thereby gaining a higher level of experience.
In order to upgrade your mage with good gear, you need to be able to use the AH very effectively since you will be spending most of your cash there on gear. The best way to do that is by utilizing the Mage’s Herbalism profession and only using exactly the herbs you need to level your character while selling the rest at the AH. On my server (Magtheridon), even a stack (20) of relatively common Silverleaf will give you upwards of 5 gold, an amount that would allow you to get some pretty good greens and blues early on where the grinding really gets boring. As you get a little higher, you can sell stacks of Earthroot and Mageroyal for double digit amounts of gold depending on your server. Continually I have used this cash to outfit my mage and am able to PvP against characters two to three levels higher than me without going below 50% of my HP. When comparing the ease at which I level a character using this herb gathering strategy to what it was like to level my Hunter (one of the easier characters to level in the game), I am amazed that I did not do this earlier. Hopefully this has helped you a bit and will make your WoW experience more enjoyable, I know it has for me.