Much of what you do and what you hope to accomplish is based upon your own playstyle. This playstyle is defined as a combination of your personality, your goals, and oftentimes, your access to both in-game gold and SparkCash.
You could have the never-say-die Heart of a Champion, but if you don't have the financial back up, you'll fall short of achieving your goals. Simply put, Mages need a steady flow of money to be extremely successful.
As you already know, Mages by nature are extremely fragile, a stiff wind can probably wipe out 25% of your HP. So in order to make up for those deficiencies, a Mage must earn enough money to be able to both solo and party comfortably.
For myself personally, I'm more of a soloist by heart. I'm able to come and go as I please and I don't need to depend on others to get what I need, if I want to grind, I can just scroll up, head out, and AOE until my heart's content. I'm fine with doing things on my own, I don't feel the need to party with others. Independence for me, is a top priority.
That being said, there are times when I simply have to party. Instance Dungeons, raids, and some quests are better tackled in a party setting and I'm perfectly comfortable functioning in these environments also. I just don't like having to commit so many hours at a time to one task. If I'm the only mage in an AOE party, I feel obligated to stay until a replacement is found. Having that trapped feeling is not at all desirable for me and while I do understand that the other people in the party wouldn't necessarily get upset at me leaving, I still feel bad about it because their session just ground to a halt.
My playstyle is all about having options. If I wanna do this today, I can. If I wanna do something else an hour from now, I'm able to do that also. Flexibility, for me, is my key to happiness. If you're a faithful reader of my blog, you'll fully understand this.
|Be fully stocked and ready at all times.|
If you've fallen behind on productions, take a week to catch up. If your gear is lacking, take time daily to shop in vendors looking for a better piece. If you're able to farm dungeon bosses either on your own or with some friends, do it. Take time to explore, experiment, and push yourself. Stand around and observe. See what other mages are doing differently than you and see if it's possible for you to replicate it. Find out what your limits are and continually break them. Research the forums and gather information.
If you're not in the same playstyle category as I am, it's a bit difficult for me to give advice. There are always people on the forums asking things like: "What is the best build?", "What skills should I empower?", "Where's the best place for me to grind at this level?". All of those questions have to factor in your distinct playstyle. There is no cookie-cutter answer to those questions because there are so many variables. I can give advice on what's best for me and what I've done in the past, but if our playstyles aren't a match, then you either won't be able to do what I've done, or will find yourself extremely frustrated. So going forward, I'm going to assume that you all play like me, if you don't, then take what you can from my postings and tailor it to your own distinct playstyle.
My best advice to a start-up Mage: Get your finances in order first.