Co-Head of the United Standings Improvement Agency [USIA] here. For over 11 years we’ve been hiring mission runners to service our clients and paying them based on performance; as such, we’ve refined the art of mission blitzing since it is in our best interest to complete them as quickly as possible.
So first of all, I want to make it explicitly clear: even if you aren’t being paid to run missions like we are, it is possible to generate a respectable amount of income from missions. You can make more than 150 million ISK per hour from L4 missions, for example (I think I’ve heard of some players making 300 million per hour from doing L4s for pirate factions, which sounds about right - more on that in a bit). The revenue comes from the bounties you score killing rats (the mission ISK reward itself is negligible and not worth mentioning, but the rat bounty ISK adds up VERY quickly) and in the value of the Loyalty Points earned from completing missions (which can be VERY valuable after conversion to ISK). In some missions, the loot itself is also very valuable (some missions will drop 30 million ISK worth of loot). In general, it is NEVER worth looting L1-L3 missions and it is NEVER worth salvaging L1-L4 missions. (I don’t actually know if the loot or salvage is worth getting L5 missions; I would imagine it is not if for no other reason that you are putting yourself at risk operating in lowsec and can get the loot/salvage elsewhere in safer ships.) In L4 missions it is not worth looting unless you are using a mobile tractor unit, and even then you would only deploy it if it doesn’t slow you down, and you would only pick it up and whatever it has looted by the time you cleared the room - don’t bother waiting for it to finish looting (and don’t help it finish either).
Once you get high skills and high end ships, you’ll be able to run special missions called “burners/anomics” that pay out a considerable amount of loyalty points but are also very quick to complete. These will make you very space rich very quickly, particularly if you run them for pirate factions where they get an LP multiplier AND their LP store is worth more than empire LP store. (Not only that, but like… half of the missions offered by pirates are burners… it’s crazy…)
If you’re running lower level missions, I want to point out that you will still generate more revenue running lower level missions (possibly at L1, but certainly at L2 and L3) than you would blasting rocks simply from the bounty revenue alone. So while the mission reward ISK is laughably low (even at L4 and L5), those bounties do in fact add up quickly, much more quickly than the mission reward ISK would suggest otherwise. And never ignore the value of the LP itself. You can use Fuzzwork’s LP Store tool to get an idea of how much the LP is worth. (There’s a right way and a wrong way to use this tool, so further guidance may be required.)
If you’d like to learn more about mission blitzing, or would like to get paid to run missions, head on other to the USIA Discord to discuss further.