Having played Animal Crossing: New Horizons pretty much religiously for a month since the release date, I've learned quite a few tips and tricks that I wish I had known since the start.
When I started playing, I knew close to nothing about Animal Crossing, so when I got New Horizons, I was SUPER confused. Luckily, the game slowly teaches you how to play, but there were still some parts that I didn't know, so I thought I could share them. So without further ado, here are some VERY useful tips for when you first start your island.
1. Pick the right island
Okay, this one may seem obvious as it is one of the first choices you make in the game, but it matters. Make sure you choose an island that has the most land that isn't separated by a river or body of water - when you first start out, you aren't able to go up cliffs or go over rivers, so that's something to keep in mind.
2. Press "B" to go faster
This is one of the main tips I REALLY wish I knew when I was starting out. If you ever feel your player is going too slow, hold down "B" while walking, and you'll run (and it feels so much faster than walking). Additionally, if text is going too slow (and you're a fast reader like me), pressing "B" will make the text go by faster. This way, instead of waiting for forever for characters to finish their dialogue, you can read at your own speed. This not only works for characters, but for any text boxes as well. I use it most when skipping past what fish I caught (it just gets soooo repetitive).
3. Plant flowers and trees
One of my big regrets is not planting enough. As soon as I went to some of my friends' islands, I saw how pretty theirs looked and how empty mine looked by comparison. I only had a few flowers and trees strategically placed, so it didn't look as nice as it could have. Not to mention, when you're trying to get K.K. Slider to visit, you need to make sure you have flowers, so if you plant them ahead of time, you'll save future you some time.
4. Water your flowers
When I first got the crafting recipe for the flimsy watering can, I tried it out, and saw it did nothing, so I put it away and never used it again. (Ok, that's a lie, it just took me a while to get it back out.) Watering your flowers, contrary to what I previously thought, can actually be very useful. If you water two of the same type (not necessarily the same color) of flowers that are diagonal, you can either get another flower of the same color to grow next to them, or you have the chance to get a hybrid flower, which are worth more (and not to mention look prettier). There are plenty of hybrid breeding guides online that you can use to get all of the colors.
5. Use bait
Ever notice those holes in the sand that spew out water? Well, if you dig them up, you'll find that it's a Manila Clam. Once you unlock the DIY recipe for bait, you can use those clams to make bait, which can be very useful for catching rare fish (more on that later).
6. Eat fruits
Your fruit might at first just seem like a dumb way to make extra money, but it can help with a bit more than just that. Eating fruit can help the player either break rocks with a shovel (not recommended, because even though they will respawn in a few days, there isn't much of a point) or you can move fully-grown trees with a shovel. This is incredibly useful, especially when redesigning an island without getting rid of that precious source of wood.
7. Get some friends
If you have a Nintendo Online account, it's a great idea to visit friends (just go to the airport and fly over) because you can exchange native flowers, native fruits, native fruit trees, and anything else your heart desires.
8. Buy turnips
Every Sunday morning until noon, Daisy Mae will come by selling turnips. My recommendation is if you're not short for money, buy as many turnips as you can and check Nook's Cranny twice a day (once in the morning, once in the evening) and sell your turnips (I would wait until the price is 200+ to make a good amount of profit). Besides, if there isn't a chance to sell them, on Saturday night, join an Animal Crossing Discord server or ask some friends in order to find out how to sell your turnips before they expire on Sunday.
9. Imagine where you're going to put buildings
Before you place a bridge, incline, house, or store, you have the option to imagine what it will look like before you decide to place it - do it! I made the mistake of not doing that when placing villager houses next to each other. Sadly, I ended up with one house more forward than the other, so take my advice!
10. Buy new stuff!
The selection in Nook's Cranny and the Able Sisters Shop changes daily, so if you have money to spare, buy what you can, then check websites like Nookazon and check Discord servers and sell them for more money. Want to keep what you could sell though? No problem! If you check the ABD (the green machine inside Resident Services) and go to Nook Shopping, you have the option to buy things you've already "catalogued" (aka had in your inventory). So no worries about getting rid of those really cute sneakers, you can always reorder them and get them the next day for the same price as when you originally bought them!
11. Plant trees of different fruits
Earlier I mentioned that fruits may just seem like a way to get bells, and in some cases, that's what they're best used for! Every island has a native fruit (mine, for example, was cherries), but, if you get fruits that are non-native, they sell for much more than native fruits do. But not so fast - when you first get non-native fruits, plant them! This way you can get more fruits than you would if you just sold them.
12. Use helpful websites
There are some websites solely dedicated to Animal Crossing: New Horizons which are incredibly useful. One if the previously mentioned Nookazon - a place where players can buy and sell furniture and clothes. My personal favorite website is nooksguide.com - it tells you what fish, fossils, bugs, and flowers you need to get to complete your collection, as well as how much they go for, how to get them, and what times they are available.
13. Fish at the pier
Once you get some bait, use it at the pier/dock - that little wooden bridge that goes out into the ocean. Throw your bait in the ocean over there and you can catch very valuable fish!
14. Donate to the museum
Whenever you get a new fossil, fish, or bug, give it to Blathers at the museum. While this doesn't help you very much, it is one of the main goals of the game, and it's always fun to see his reaction!
15. Get a stone axe
Once you unlock the better tool DIY recipes (the non-flimsy ones), you might be tempted to ditch your flimsy axe in favor of a regular axe. Well, I am here to tell you that that's not your best option. I would opt for the stone axe. The stone axe is great for getting wood because its more durable than a flimsy axe, and it's better than trying to remember with an axe "Wait, did I already hit this tree twice? I don't want to accidentally hit it a third time and knock it down!" Stone axes can't chop down trees, so you can get three pieces of wood from each tree, instead of either getting two or getting three and a chopped down tree from an axe. Besides, if you need to get rid of a tree, just eat a fruit and use a shovel to move it somewhere else.
Bonus tip: Relax!
Remember, Animal Crossing is about being wholesome and having fun - don't try to speedrun this game or you're going to get bored FAST.