A new galactic wanderer
Ok, you have a freshly build ship, $500 pocket money and you're dropped somewhere, what should you do?? I think you are either in that situation, or you are familiar with it. The first thing you must do is buying a trade good and starting to trade. Sincce you make more profit if you spend less money on jumping, you should raise your warp%. This can be done by reducing your ships mass and by buying new warpdrives in the shops. The only demodrives I advice to keep are the warp and the pod. If this is to radicle you can also keep your shield and maybe livesupport but only when you plan on hiring crew very soon. When you are warp + pod + cargo you will have a warp % of 33. Now you can jump more cheaply, but where to jump? There are many alliances and information sources made available by players (visit my alliances section for more info). Now you can start making money the first few turns. Don't start spending that money too soon on schools but aim for building a basic ship. I do not advice you to buy primitive modules except for a primitive warpdrive which you should buy as soon as possible. You will be able to maintain the basic modules very soon and they are two times better, two times the price but the same weight. Primitives will greatly increase your mass, but poorly raise your percentages. When you find some primitive modules as treasure or get one as a gift from another player, you can offcoarse take advantage of it, but don't spend you money on them.
Your own ship
Now you have a well filled wallet and you are standing in a shop, what modules should you buy? First, buy only modules which are 95% reliable. They will be reduced in price and you probably wont yet be able to maintain them and raise their reliability (you will be able to repair them). The first modules you should buy is a warpdrive and a pod (because your demo pod will brake soon when you start building a ship). I think there is one thing that should be your single goal from now on and that is getting a nice officer skill level. This means mainly doing adventures, since half of the skills are adventures. For doing adventures you need sensors to spot them and lifesupport so your crew can breath. Since half of the level of an adventure must be the number of crewmembers you have, you should start hiring crew right from the moment you have a lifesupport and keep hiring until you reach the max number (which I have never reached yet). When you can afford it, you can also buy some shields and weaponry. Since you already have sensors it is wise to buy long ranged weapons: missiles, drones and fighters. This is where you start to have the fun. Crush aliens, collecting treasure while the officers are doing adventures. You will often take cargo as treasure and by trading it, you can make huge profit out of it. By this time you also should be able to afford the schools. You need a steady favour income from all 4 Old One's, because the spell enlightment costs you 100 favour and you want it as soon as possible. It is wise to access a number of starnets, cure a number of plagues and try getting enemies, which should be able now you can defend yourself
To Boldly Go Where?
To make your way up the list, you will need a bigger ship. Depending on what kind of ship you want to build or operate, all strategies are different from this point on. Getting good officer skills will still be a goal for most captains, as is building a good ship. But the definition of a good ship will vary depending on the strategy you choose. Since by now you should be able to run and design your own ship, my guide will end here.