You've created your character, landed on your island, and planted your tent—now what? A blank slate of an island now lies in front of you.
If you want to hit the ground running, this starter's guide will give you a solid foundation to help you progress faster.
1. Save Your Bells
As much as you might want to spend your first 1,000 bells on a new shirt or piece of furniture, you must resist the urge. Saving those bells will pay off when you upgrade your tent to an actual house, and later expand that house. You can expect a huge, neverending amount of debt coming at you Tom Nook-style, so you'll want to have a decent amount of bells on hand.
2. Collect as Many Nook Miles as You Can
Nook Miles are completely new to Animal Crossing, and collecting them is essential if you want to progress faster. Some of the tasks like taking a photo for the first time, creating a post on the bulletin board, or checking into the ABD might seem trivial, but they pay off.
You'll unlock Nook+ Miles after paying back your travel fees to Tom Nook, and making the decision to build your house. Nook+ Miles offers five daily tasks that you can complete to earn double (and sometimes five times) the Nook Miles listed. When you finish the first five Nook+ Miles, more will get added to the list, making it easy to earn some Nook Miles for doing simple things like catching fish or planting flowers.
Make sure to use your Nook Miles wisely. The first things you should use your Nook Miles to redeem are the Pretty Good Tools Recipes (to get recipes for tools that won't break easily) and the Pocket Organizer (to expand your inventory).
3. Profit Off the Little Things
You can make a decent amount of bells off of the hundreds of weeds scattered around your island, and the same goes for seashells. Cash in 100 weeds for 1,000 bells, and pick up every seashell on your island to maximize your profits.
5. Farm Resources
As soon as you start Animal Crossing, you should start gathering resources. This means chopping trees for woods and collecting stone, iron, clay, and gold from rocks. You'll want to have a decent amount of these resources not only to craft DIY tools, but also to help construct Nook's Cranny in the near future.
Here's a hint: if you need wood and don't want to fully chop a tree down, hit it with a flimsy axe instead of your good axe. While the flimsy axe won't last as long, you can always buy or craft a new one.
6. Take Advantage of Nook Miles Tickets
Tom Nook will give you a free Nook Miles ticket after your house is officially built, so you don't need to go buying one right away. You can use your Nook Miles Ticket at the airport to travel to other remote islands.
Sometimes, these islands will have fruits not native to your island—bring these foreign fruits back to your island and plant them. Non-native fruits (with the exception of coconuts) bring in 500 bells, while native fruits only sell for 100 bells.
These remote islands also have plenty of other resources. Now's the time to chop trees and hit rocks to get extra iron nuggets. If you see a villager wandering around, talk to them two separate times to invite them to live on your island.
7. Hold Off on Large DIY Projects
Like I mentioned earlier, you'll need to have a solid inventory of supplies to move Tom Nook's store from a tent to a building. Instead of wasting your supplies on crafting furniture, try to hold off until you have enough resources (30 wood, 30 softwood, 30 hardwood, and 30 iron nuggets) to complete Nook's Cranny.
8. Don't Forget to Talk to Your Residents
Make sure to check in with your fellow villagers at least once a day, as they'll sometimes have gifts for you. Don't hesitate to give your residents gifts when you see the option in your chat dialogue—they'll sometimes reciprocate with a gift of their own. Talking to your residents on a daily basis also ensures that they won't move away from your island.
9. Wait to Sell Bugs and Fish
If you don't have the official Museum building yet, don't sell your bugs or fish! These creatures can earn you a lot of Bells, but it's better to wait until you can donate them to Blathers.
To get Blathers on your island, you'll have to give Tom Nook five different species of bugs and fish. Blathers will appear on your island the next day, and you'll have to give him 15 more new bugs, fish, or fossils. The museum's construction will then be underway!
10. Take Your Time
There's no rush in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Since the game operates on your time in real life, it could take days for you to see progress. Do as much as you can during your day, but keep in mind that there's no such thing as "beating" the game in only one week.