GTA Online's world is vast. So vast, in fact, that it can be a little daunting to figure out what exactly it is you're supposed to do once you get off the plane at LSX and enter that huge open multiplayer world - assuming, of course, you've navigated through all the bugs and glitches currently plaguing online players.
So what to do first? Well much like real-life, money makes this world go around, so your first port of call, after assembling a crack team of online buddies, should be to earn, beg, borrow or steal as much dough as you can carry. Here's a few financial tips to get you started - turn the page for more advanced tactics.
Bonus extra: here's a list of GTA Online's best-paying missions, including tips on how to beat a few of them.
Rob a liquor store
You can go into stores and buy food items to replenish any lost health, in theory, but I've yet to see any GTA Online player walk into one of these small businesses with the intention of making a purchase. You see, by running in and brandishing a weapon at the poor, put-upon shopkeep, you can force him to hand over whatever cash he's got hidden away in the register. Shout through your headset or Kinect and you can get him to fill up the bag faster, but be aware that any other players in the vicinity will be able to hear you, and may come to rob the robber. Shooting the bottles surrounding the shopkeeper will scare him into acting faster, but won't draw any unwanted attention on your head. Bear in mind too that you can buy and equip a mask, reducing the chance of being recognised by the shopkeeper upon a return visit.
Sell stolen cars
Los Santos Customs are your friends - and not just because they can upgrade the cars you own. They'll also take any car you hotwire but don't fancy keeping off your hands, and will even pay you for your trouble. Simply take the stolen vehicle into your nearest Los Santos Customs outpost, and select 'Sell' from the drop-down menu. The better the type of car and the better shape it's in when it's delivered, the more cash you'll be awarded. I was able to nick a good condition Coquette and exchange it for just over three grand. There's a caveat for this nice little earner though - you can only sell one car per person per day. We've had reports of certain cars selling for over nine grand, so keep experimenting with different makes and models.
Stand by your friends
Fleecing corner store owners and passing on stolen vehicles is small-time, however, and it's no real way to earn big bucks. For that, you'll need to take on various jobs and missions that come your way. Bear in mind that if you're playing in a group with friends or crew members, you'll earn more money and cash than you would have if you'd been playing the same mission with complete strangers, so it definitely pays to rustle yourself up some amigos for a bit of co-operation. And if you have a smaller group of friends, don't worry about it - we had a group of just three playing races together recently, and because we all placed as long as we actually finished each activity, everyone got a decent amount of money and experience. Win win.
Once a friend on another session starts a mission, they can send out a text message inviting other players to their game. If you're just wandering around aimlessly, take them up on the offer, and if you find a good group and a high-paying mission, vote to replay (for what it's worth, the Violent Duct job is worth around $9k per attempt, so could be worth a few quick runs). Farming for cash and experience in GTA Online is difficult during the early stages of the game, so this is by far the easiest, and quickest way to make a decent amount of legitimate money. Consider some of the pedal biking races at lower levels; they can be finished in less than two minutes, and first place will award you with upwards of three grand in prize money, along with a good chunk of experience.
Get garage, keep cars, drive
Forget about that swanky pad on Vespucci beach you've had your eye on, unless it's got an adjoining garage. Garages, whilst less sociable, are much more beneficial than owning apartments, at least in earlier stages of the game, as they'll allow you to own and store more than one car at a time. Collector's Edition owners have a free garage that they can reclaim by visiting the Dynasty 8 real estate website in-game.
All cars you acquire by running it through Los Santos customs should come fitted with a tracker as standard, but insurance is also worth paying for. That way, if you lose one of your motors, you can simply call up the in-game car insurance company to make a claim. It's worth building up a stable of cars that you like and will use early on, as the cops are much more aggressive in GTA Online and will give chase if they spot you driving any vehicle that isn't your own.