I am very new to this.
Currently leveling a shadow priest at level 19.
I did level up woodcrafting to unlock some runes.
I play in US2 and from what I see the auction/economy is poor so there is no incentive for me to craft/gather.
So what exactly are the benefits of crafting after we have unlocked the runes ?
Crafting provides reliable access to pretty decent gear. Craft any given item 30 times and you will get 5 stars in it, letting you produce rare level gear comparable to the equivalent drops. There are some runes only available from drops, or elder gear, but the rest you will be able to make yourself.
There's also many quests (especially event quests) that can only be completed with crafting. Crafting is also a very social aspect of our game - I just finished an awesome crafting party on our server. Lot's of fun and conversation.
Yeah the market is really poor for crafted gear on US2. It seems unlikely you could make real coin crafting and selling stuff to other players. You can make a tiny bit of money crafting trinkets or shields (woodcrafting) and selling to the NPC, but it takes a lot of wood for very little money.
Crafted gear is the only way to get "reinforcement runes". Also, it's the most reliable way to get epic gear of the type/level you want (unless you have a team that can crank off gold dungeon runs). If you have a friend/friends who have already leveled up their crafting and taken the right crafting specializations, then you could provide them with the materials needed to craft some really top notch gear for you (without having to invest the effort to level up crafting yourself).
So the other benefits of having crafting yourself are the following:
1. Reinforcement runes on crafted Trinkets (woodcrafting) - the trinkets are soulbound, and you can't get the reinforcement runes on mob drops.
2. Enhancing bound jewelry/etc (quest/dungeon/event zone rewards of rings, class tokens, and trinkets)
Gathering, on the other hand, gives a lot of gold. As you gather, you will get gems which can be sold to NPCs for gold. Also, you can make ok money selling raw ingredients to other players (although still not loads of money from that) which they can use to help them level up. If gathering in the village, you can also get cornucopias, which you can also sell to other players. (The motes you get gathering used to be a great way to make money on the auction house, but they're account bound now)