The purpose of leveling an alt
There are mainly two reason to level an alt:
- Having more characters means that you'll have the ability to max out more professions. This is of great importance if you want to diversify your business (and if your serious about gold making, you should want this) and if you want to be able to make profit of every change in the game (think about Glyphmas).
- Rolling a character of a different class gives you a new prospective on the game. This is great both for finding a new interest in World of Warcraft in a boring period and to understand the needs of the other players (which can be useful to better understand your server economy and what is valuable for other classes first-hand, but also to play better when you're in a group).
Obviously most of you won't be able to level an alt from 1 to 80 before Cataclysm, it really depends on how much time you have to spend on it, but you should begin now, or start leveling the character you already have... If you don't have a Death Knight already you should consider starting with it, since you'll begin at level 55 and it's quite good at leveling.
Some thoughts about professions skill level cap
Once you reach level 75 you'll be able (come Cataclysm) to learn the final rank of your profession, rising your skill level cap to 525, but many sources are saying you'll probably need level 84 to learn all you need to actually reach skill level 525. Also if this wasn't true, there is another reason for which you should try to take your alt to level 80 before Cataclysm: for every profession there will be some recipes that you can buy only when you are of the appropriate level to complete quests or farm reputations.
So you should try to take at least the alts with the most interesting professions (or those to which you plan to give them) at level 80... In this way you'll have less work come Cataclysm to level them if you discover that you need to.
Inscription starts to be valuable at an early level, so you could want to make an exception and give inscription also to those alts that you don't plan to level up too much.
Gathering professions while you level
Whatever are the profession you want on your alt, you should give him gathering professions while you level (obviously this applies just to newly created characters... If you're just taking an alt from 70 to 75/80 to increase the maximum level of his professions, don't change the ones you already have!). Every guide you'll read, except those really new, will tell you not to do so, but now collecting herbs and mining give experience, so they won't slow your leveling as they used before 4.0.1... Skinning still doesn't give you experience, but it doesn't take you out of your way, so it's not a big loss of time.
Once you learn mining and/or herbalism you'll be able to track nodes of each professions (and of both professions at the same time). Most old player are not very used to this, and probably don't have both profession on the same character. If you can, you should take a character with both profession at maximum level and keep them, since this enable you to farm in a more efficient way (once you hit level cap your main source of income shouldn't be farming, but there is no reason not to be able to do it the best you can. This saves you lot of trouble if something is missing from the AH (as it's now on my server with herbs, since everyone is making glyphs and/or leveling inscription)).
Once you reach the level at which you want to take your character (75 or 80), you can unlearn the gathering professions and start learning two new ones.
Another option is keeping the gathering professions until 85, so if you plan to level your alt to 85 you'll also be collecting ores and herbs that will still very valuable for the first weeks (or even months) of the expansion. If this is the case, be sure to buy *now* all the mats from Northrend that you'll need to level the new professions you want to give them... All Northrend mats will grow in price some time after the expansion, since most people will be in the new maps. Consider their prices from now to December the 7th to be the minimum price at which you'll see them.
Crafting professions for when your alt reach the level cap
You should have on at least one character the following crafting professions:
- Enchanting (this is better on your main)
These are the crafting professions you can have on more than one character without any loss:
- Alchemy (since the more profitable things are on cool downs, doubling the character with this profession nearly double the profit done with Alchemy)
(I know it's just one, I'm keeping it in this format so I can change this easily if things change... You also have some utility from a doubled Jewelcrafting and Inscription, but I don't thing it's worth it, unless you already have all the other professions maxed out)
If you don't have a Tailor/Leatherworker/Blacksmith on your guild willing to help you to craft the items you need for your character you could also want to have one of these professions, usually on your main (to get high-level patterns that requires reputation with some raid).
Lastly, I'll repeat that having a farming alt is quite a wise thing... If you don't have lots of gold it's an insurance that will help you rise some money if you loose gold in a too risky investment (obviously this is just for when you're under 20k and you unwisely finished your money buying lots of [Razzashi Hatchling] that became valueless shortly after... you shouldn't do that kind of thing, but some people are strongly pulled by the rush of making easy money, specially at the beginning), if you already have a good deal of money and don't need farming, this will still help you in those times in which some resources totally disappear from the AH.
It's been days since I had a chance of buying low and mid-level herbs on the AH and some times you just don't stockpile enough.
Best classes for leveling up
Since this is an alt and not your main, you should focus less on the role you want to play and more on efficiency. This has one exception: if you are not satisfied with your main character you should feel free to level something you think you may enjoy playing as your main, just to see if this is really what you want... If it isn't, you'll still have another alt, if it is you'll just have rerolled a new main. Please note that in case you want to rise an healer or a tank the best way is probably using the Dungeon Finder the most you can (this will also let you know how you actually play that class while in a group).
If you're just looking for fast leveling, your best choices are:
- Death Knight (obviously)
- Hunter (you should absolutely spec Beast Mastery to level)
- Druid (you should spec feral, you'll also be able to join Dungeon Finders as a tank, meaning very fast queues. There is actually a distinct spec for feral cats and feral bears, but it won't do so much of a difference while tanking low-level dungeons, and taking some tanking talents won't totally screw your ability to kill mobs faster while questing)
If you want to use this alt as a gathering one, you should probably roll a druid, since it has an instantaneous flight form and doesn't have to exit from this form to gather things... It's like being able to gather herbs without dismounting (this has changed so many times now that you should check if this is still true when you read this guide... I'll try to keep the post updated). If you want your alt for crafting professions, and you don't care about RP, remember you don't need to be ashamed if your Death Knight is a Tailor... just because he's wearing plate he doesn't need to be a Blacksmith.
Buy that fast mount
There is no reason not to buy the fast mount and the 280% flying mount. You must remember that sometime, when you're thinking you're saving money you're actually just wasting time. Back in TBC, when you could get the 280% flight form just when you were already at max level it was useful just to gatherer, now you'll need it also for the next 15 level (counting the 85 level cap that we'll have in a few weeks).
However, except for gatherers (and main characters), I don't think the 310% flying mount is really worth the money.
The best free guides for power-leveling
My favorite site for leveling guides is wow-pro. They even have an addon to load their guides directly into your game... It has some glitches (not many), but it actually works quite well if you follow it from the beginning. If it doesn't work for you (that could happen if you started doing quest by yourself before loading the addon) just ignore the advices that doesn't apply to your situation (you can check the boxes to tell him to skip to the next step).
And if the addon bothers you too much (didn't happen for me), you can just read their guides, and maybe print them... Another good addon is Carbonite, it's a bit more precise than the new Blizzard's quest-tracking UI, I personally don't use it anymore (but I really use the less addons I can).
They're updating their guides to Cataclysm, so even if you read this post past December you can still follow my advice and go to check their website. For the most lazy of you, this is the page with the leveling guides.
I'm not giving you links to any profession-leveling guide, for three reasons:
- There are hundreds of them and since I didn't try most of them I can't really point you to the "best ones".
- All these guides are very easy to find, just Google for them
- Come Cataclysm everything will change, and not every website will be updated fast... I don't want to give links that will be outdated so soon (while wow-pro has already leveling guides for Cataclysm)
Anyway, the same wow-pro has some leveling guides for most profession, but their not at the same level as those to level your character (level level level... can I make this sentence without repeating so many time this word?). I strongly advice you to look for more than one source and try to compare them before starting, as this can save you gold and frustration.