Hindsight is def 20/20. I can see how I began as a photographer much clearer now that I've made it over the hump learning photography, getting experience, getting published, etc. Some things I thought when I started photography have remained true. Some of the things that I've learned, I still don't apply all the time. But, I move closer to a strong work flow.
1. Don't over consume youtube
For having watched over a thousand hours of youtube tutorials, workshops, and courses; my time could have been much better spent as a learning photographer. I fell into the trap a lot of people far into. I was always clicking the next video hoping it was the secret to great photography. I now realize the truth is that there are very good workshops and tutorials out there but when you try to piece together your own education online, it's difficult to know when you've finished "learning photography" (ignoring the debate as to if you can ever finish)
2. Gear matters way less than you think
I don't have gear acquisition syndrome. I don't obsess over new cameras. But, I still often thought I needed a different lens, I needed more speedlights, I needed strobes, I needed bigger modifiers, I needed TTL, etc. Not a single one of these things made a substantial impact on my photography, how I felt about it, the quality of my results, or my earnings potential.
3. Prioritize models who value your time and show gratitude
I wanted models to have the right look, have lots of followers, and be willing to do skimpy outfits. This was quick method for me to find unfulfilling work with models who were fly by night. The most rewarding work I've done as a photographer involves people who exhibit gratitude and preperation.
4. Use social media as a tool
As many hours as I spent learning photography, I probably spent more on Instagram. If this time had been in efficiently growing a community and monetizing it to get more models according to whatever the algorithm of the week was, that could be been beneficial. But, the key here is that being efficient on Instagram takes the fun out of it. It makes it more like work. So, the majority of my time on Instagram was liking random photos, messaging potential models, and looking for outfit inspo. Time is a limited resource and social media, if not used purposefully, can suck time away from things you truly enjoy.
5. For God sake, get a work flow.
When I started photography, I would look at these photographers work flows and be like "That seems like way too many steps" "I don't need to do all that" Workflows and processes are life savers. It makes a huge difference to have a clear method of how you go from the shoot planning process to image delivery. Otherwise, things get caught up, missed, poorly shuffled around, left half done, etc. A solid workflow means that when the work is done, it's done. It helps you turn that list of things you "should be doing" to things that you just naturally do whenever you do a shoot.
I hope some of this was helpful.