PictureCorrect has a great article with 7 starter tips for sharper photos. It goes into detail into:
2. Cable release or remote
4. Mirror lock-up
5. Use your lens’ sharpest aperture
7. Image stabilization
You can read the whole article here .
In my case I started by using my monopod, with image stabilization off, which was a tremendous help in getting sharp photos. Later I realized that I was getting better at having a steady hand when taking photos handheld, and I started adjusting the shutter speed to go for sharper photos. I’d start at the inverse of the focal length, so if I was shooting at 100 mm I’d start at 1/100 sec, then adjust depending on whether I was shooting a moving (so faster shutter speed) or stable (no need to push the shutter speed) object.
When I started taking stock photos the goal of focus at 100% magnification, which is the requirement for many stock photo agencies, was daunting, but now I get it “tack-sharp” most of the time hand-held. It was a matter of getting out there and shooting lots of photographs, first with tripod and cable release, etc. , then monopod, now handheld… Remember I’ve been taking photos seriously for a number of years, got my first DLSR 10 years ago, take it one step at a time, and master your camera as you need to…