I am also a breadmaker, I love to make bread
I really have no tips from what the others have said but once you make a really good loaf of bread *that* is when things start happening. For the longest time everytime I tried to make bread something went wrong....didn't rise, too doughy, burnt, too dense, whatever.
I think you need to work with someone who is good at making bread so you can see and most importantly touch what good dough and bread is like...once you can know it by touch that is all you need to be a great breadmaker IMO. You eventually will just "know" when it's all coming along right.
I really don't know if its cost effective to make your own or not, but its sooo much better for you and better tasting right? It really just depends on your ingrediants (organic, etc) and how much you want to spend like someone else mentioned.
I still would like to make a sourdough, that is one bread I have never tried to make and it intimidates me for some reason.