For people who are just starting out in photography, here is my advice:
1) Glass is far more important that your camera body. Invest is a good camera and great lenses
2) Shoot daily. Shoot in every situation you can; dark, light, crowds, empty streets, cityscapes, landscapes, cars, sports, everything. Until you find something you’re really passionate about shooting, then focus on that.
3) Get Lightroom. Maybe get Photoshop. Or, get both for the $9.99 a month package. But, at minimum, get LR and learn how to really use it.
4) For the love of everything that is good and pure in this world, calibrate your monitor.
5) Don’t get caught up in only posting your work online. You don’t want “followers”, you want to get better. Find some place on the interwebs where you can get honest feedback about your work. They are often difficult to find, but there are some great forums out there where talented people do take the time to give solid critique. You will never grow as an artist if all people do is kiss your ass.
6) Learn your camera inside and out. Know the tool of your trade. Read the manual. Know how to change aperture, shutter speed and ISO on the fly, without fumbling around too much.
7) Learn what aperture, shutter speed, and ISO are. Learn how they relate to exposure, and what else they affect BESIDES exposure. These will all start to make more sense, hopefully, if you continually follow rule #2 and start asking questions about why some shots work, why some don’t.
8) After a while, and you start getting shots you like, start printing them out. Your photographs will look surprisingly different in the “real world” rather than on a computer screen. And it’s very cool to physically hold something you created.
9) Look at other photographers work. See what people did before you. Me, I’m a huge fan of Stephen Shore, Lee Friedlander, and William Eggleston. You might hate their work. If so, then screw you. But you’re entitled to your opinion, I guess. The bottom line is, find people whose work you connect with. We have close to 200 years of photography behind us, there is a lot to learn.
10) Have fun. If photography becomes too much of a chore, put the camera back in the box and take up quilting. Seriously, the homeless need to keep warm for the coming winter. Do something productive with your life.