These are some simple steps that every bug bounty hunter can use to get started and improve their skills:
A major chunk of the hacker's mindset consists of wanting to learn more. In order to really exploit issues and discover further potential vulnerabilities, hackers are encouraged to learn to build what they are targeting. By doing this, there is a greater likelihood that hacker will understand the component being targeted and where most issues appear. For example, when people ask me how to take over a sub-domain, I make sure they understand the Domain Name System (DNS) first and let them set up their own website to play around attempting to "claim" that domain.
One way to get better is by reading fellow hunters' and hackers' write-ups. Follow /r/netsec and Twitter for fantastic write-ups ranging from a variety of security-related topics that will not only motivate you but help you improve. For a list of good books to read, please refer to "What books should I read?".
As you may be aware, the information security community is full of interesting discussions ranging from breaches to surveillance, and further. The bug bounty community consists of hunters, security analysts, and platform staff helping one and another get better at what they do. There are two very popular bug bounty forums: Bug Bounty Forum and Bug Bounty World.
Go to https://github.com/explore or https://gitlab.com/explore/projects and pick a project to contribute to. By doing so you will improve your general coding and communication skills. On top of that, read https://learnpythonthehardway.org/ and https://linuxjourney.com/.
Once you discover something new and believe others would benefit from learning about your discovery, publish a write-up about it. Not only will you help others, you will learn to really master the topic because you can actually explain it properly.
The bug bounty community is full of people wanting to help others so do not be surprised if someone gives you some constructive feedback about your work. Learn from your mistakes and in doing so use it to your advantage. I have a little physical notebook where I keep track of the little things that I learnt during the day and the feedback that people gave me.
The first step when approaching a target is always going to be reconnaissance — preliminary gathering of information about the target. If the target is a web application, start by browsing around like a normal user and get to know the website's purpose. Then you can start enumerating endpoints such as sub-domains, ports and web paths.
A woodsman was once asked, "What would you do if you had just five minutes to chop down a tree?" He answered, "I would spend the first two and a half minutes sharpening my axe."
As you progress, you will start to notice patterns and find yourself refining your hunting methodology. You will probably also start automating a lot of the repetitive tasks.