Tip #1, use a sturdy weighted tripod.
Updated: Sep 8
I know this one sounds like a no-brainer but you'd be surprised. Those of us who have some formal photography training were probably taught that you can shoot handheld if your shutter speed is [insert whatever speed here]. That's true for the most part. Look at sports photographers who don't necessarily have the ability to carry a tripod (my hat's off to those peeps. Running.. um, no). These tips are geared mainly for portrait photographers so please put yourself in that mind set.
Some photographers think of the tripod as a sign of weakness. They see it as a crutch and they're afraid their clients will too. After all, they are professionals. They should be able to hold the camera still, right! Remember in the introduction post (please read the introduction post), we mentioned that most softness in photos comes from camera movement. The tripod is tool specifically designed to reduce camera movement. There you have it.
You don't have to spend a fortune but you do want something stable, especially if you're like me and haven't transitioned to mirrorless cameras yet. Most camera movement comes from the mirror and mechanical shutter in DSLR's. A stable tripod will help to reduce quite a bit of that movement.
If you can, add some weight to your tripod. We all want lighter gear so it's easier to carry but a heavier tripod will hold your camera still. I use a Benro Mach 3 aluminum tripod that I bought at Pauls Photo for about $165. It does everything I need it to do without breaking my budget. I use a small Manfrotto Q5 ball head, nothing fancy but it works great.
If I'm going out to do some landscape shooting, I bring a California grocery bag. Those things fit anywhere, will hold a bunch of weight, are practically indestructible, and are pretty easy to hang from any tripod without getting in the way.