It’s a question you often hear asked, and I sure there has been plenty written on the subject, but for me I believe in a number of things, first start calling yourself a photographer, took me a while to learn this , picked up a camera at age seven and all my life there has been a camera in hand where ever I go, recording life one frame at a time, so I been a photographer most of my life.
Like any pursuit in life to be good at it you need to be passionate about it, recently I heard a photographer at the top of her field, say take photos because you love photography not for the money, this what will make you a better photographer.
Be diverse learn to photograph everything , go outside your comfort zone push your boundaries, photography is such wide field of subjects all with their own challenges, a lot of the technique’s you will learn will cross over in to other areas of photography
Take lots of photos, and I mean lots, take a camera everywhere you go you will take more bad photos then good ones learn this lesson it’s a part of the journey, learn from the bad ones.
When it not possible to take a camera, take the photos in your head of the things you see, look for the light, shadows, textures and shapes
Look back on the photos you took 12 months can you see them differently now it so you have grown as a photographer.
Connect up with other photographers, you can learn so much from their experiences
Start learning about post production , lots of divided opinions about this ,but it you truly want to grow as a photographer you need to able use this just like the settings on your camera to create the image you see, as the photographer it is your vision of what you see.
In summing up, Be persistent , Experiment, Review your own work , don’t let the creative process stop behind the camera.