This is a commonly asked question we see on the forums from newbies and I thought I would try to answer it in a bit more depth then we normally see but it will take me a few posts and quite a bit of rambling so you will need to be patient
The first thing that needs to be decided is how much time and energy is to be devoted to learning, devising and implementing strategies to start extracting returns from the market. This will then help determine what type of time-frame and strategies to devote time too.
The next stage is to set some goals, what do you want to achieve from investing/trading? And do the goals then match up with the amount of time you are willing to put into your trading. I'll give a bit of a hint here - probably the most important goal in trading is to control your risk and minimize your losses.
Alright we have covered the easy bits, this is where it now becomes slightly more difficult for beginners - building a plan to achieve your trading goals that also fits in with the time you are willing to commit to trading. Building a plan for a beginner can be very difficult due to the fact they don't know what they really need to know to build a good profitable trading plan. So that means the first goal and first step in a plan should be based around education, which is why they probably have ended up on this forum in the first place.
As the more experienced know it can take quite a few hours of study and then plenty of trading mistakes to finally formulate a understanding of how to be profitable. This is why I feel too many beginners (and some of us more experienced) get lost in the short term aspects of trading and should actually start with a long term investment strategy first as this gives time to study and learn other strategies while also giving a feel of how the market works. I know I wish I had, I would be probably 5+ years in front of where I am at now.
This is all I have time for atm and I know it has really gone nowhere so far but I will look to do a post on the power of long term investing in the markets using dividends to create an income stream highlighting why I think this is a good place to start. I will also look at giving a run down on my various portfolios that I run and the goals and ideas behind them.