The first thing I did after getting to grips with controlling my ship, was making my way to Archon Delain's territory in order to be immediately opposed to the starting area faction. The consequence of engaging in powerplay is that you get hostile agents sent against you. Just another source of income and loot, I figured!
I purchased an Eagle in Harma and started bounty hunting around the system untill I had about 500.000 credits. With an isurance cost of slightly more then 7000 credits bounty hunting keeps increasing my combat rank making more and more missions available.
One jump from Harma lies Kolabinates, which has a few belt clusters close to the sun. These make for perfect mining locations for new Commanders willing to take the risk mining so close to a traffic-heavy celestial.
With the Horizons update I traded my cargo bay for a vehicle hanger and a scarab SRV. It was fun to experiment with planetary flight and exploration, but I had difficulty completing mission objectives involving combat. I decided to get back to it at a later date, and refitted my Eagle for a combination of bounty hunting and data transport mission running.