I get the question a lot. What do you need to do to become a successful photographer? And unfortunately there is no easy answer, no shortcut (that is actually pretty good for every professional photographer out there, if it would be easy we'd be pretty fucked). Here's some of the things every great photographer does before she becomes great.
Grow your network
When you need the help of someone, it is to late to get to know her. You'll be amazed how far someone will go to help a friend. A friend, that is. Not a guy you've never talked to who is now sending you tweets asking how to get in touch with National Geographic. Get out there and help people, praise their work, ask them things you are genuinely interested in and share their work with others. In the future, when you need help with something, the'll most certainly be there for you.
Decide what you want to photograph
No. You should not be a photographer that shoots "everything". No, I don't care what you think, I've been doing this for eight years and I know better than you. You need to be good at something that others aren't. In the beginning, of course, you'll need to shoot some portraits, some children and some weddings just to make the ends meet financially. But as you go along, you need to become the guy "that makes those weird an awesome miniature landscapes" or "that shoots stunning black and white ambient light studio portraits". Become really good in a specific field and show that of. People will remember you.
Set up goals
When you know what you want to shoot, think about what you need to get there. Make plans for what you should accomplice in one month, three month, a year and three years. What do you need to learn during that time? What clients do you have? What do you do? If you want to get somewhere, you need to know where you are heading.
Get over the fear of photographing people
If you have any trouble walking up to someone you've never met before and take her picture, get over it. Fear of talking to you peers will NEVER help you create photos, you need to learn that there is nothing to be afraid of. Download my free e-book on the subject and get out there!
Whenever you find a photographer producing great images, steal her technique. If someone is doing something good, learn how and do the same. I'm not saying you'll be able to use it to earn money at once, but when you've collected enough techniques they will blend into something that is yours. Like breaking in to peoples houses, stealing their gold rings and melting them all down into a golden bracelet. No-one will ever know.
Travel the world
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page, said Augustine of Hippo. Great photographers are on top of things. They know what it is all about. See new places, get to know new people. Learn from everyone and everything. You do not want to be an ignorant photographer. Be aware, be everywhere and be enlighten.
Find your sources of inspiration
Other photographers are awesome for inspiration. But movies, music, art, sports, love and hate could be the things that sparks that part of your brain that will make the good stuff. Be aware of what fuel your brain runs on and never let the tank run empty.
Take care of your body
Everything is linked together. If you eat junk, never exercise and sleeping to few hours it will mess up your creativity. I don't care if you walk, run, fight or climb walls - work your body. I don't care if you go LCHF, Paleo, raw or vegan - find a way to eat healthy.
If you feel like reading more about great skills that will help you sell your photos, these are a few posts that I suggest that you continue with: