(TLDR at the bottom)
So basically I don't have a ton of time to play. So little in fact that I'm pretty much just able to finish my leves before the reset. Now, I've been getting my crafting up excited to make some money by selling crafted items, but then I realized something. If I simply sell the shards that I use to craft the items instead of the items themselves, I will actually make more money. I see the benefit in gaining experience and rank from doing the crafting, but given my limited playtime the leves give me all the experience I could want anyway.
For example. Let's say I make a hempen cowl to sell (all prices listed are based on ffxiv.yg.com sale prices for the Karnak server):
The hempen cowl requires 1 hempen yarn, 6 earth shards, a hempen inner cowl, hempen outer cowl, and hempen hood.
To craft all of that from scratch, and make the cowl, I will need:
4 moko grass, 16 lightning shards, 72 earth shards, 6 wind shards
That is the matts required to make all of the hempen yarn and hempen cloth required to then make the pieces of the cowl which then makes the cowl.
Now, I can probably sell the cowl for what? About 15k maybe? But what could I sell all those shards for?
The value of wind shards is about 300 gil each, the rest about 200 each. That's 19400 gil, even more than I would get for that cowl. That's being generous too, since I'm assuming a 100% synth rate. The difference is I don't need to spend a ton of time crafting to sell those shards. In fact, I can use that time killing dodo's and get even more shards to sell. Sure, I miss out on all that experience but like I said, I barely have time to finish my crafting leves before each reset, so really it's no loss to me.
Then it got me thinking, maybe it's more worthwhile at higher ranks? But I also noticed the shard requirements become higher for higher ranked items so I wasn't sure. Here is the resource breakdown for a Cotton Cowl.
Estimated sale price for Cotton Cowl = 45,000 gil
Materials = 4 cotton bolls, 2 lightning crystals, 104 earth shards, 9 wind shards
For lightning crystals at 4k, 200 for earth shards, 300 for wind shards. That's 31500 gil.
So, it does appear that the item becomes worth more than the shards at this point. I guess my conclusion is that I'm going to sell my shards until I get my crafts to around rank 20 where I can actually make stuff that is worth selling. This is true for other professions as well. I thought it would be cool to mine a bunch of copper ore and make nuggets to sell, until I realized that the fire crystals I was using to make those nuggets were worth way more than the nuggets were.
TLDR: Unless the crafting leves don't give you enough rank exp at low ranks, there isn't much point in crafting items to sell. You will make more money at low ranks selling your shards rather than crafting with them.