Exploring is lucrative, with very useful loot found in loot chests.
Batch crafting is recommended when doing Explosion/Lightning Crafting
If you find a Takeoff spell in a Loot Chest you are blessed with early flight.
Your first Storage System can be Pretty Pipes' Crafting Terminal. It reads the inventories of all the connected pipes and allows you to craft with them. Transfer speed will be slow so you can use a Pipe Pressurizer when you get power to make those items zoom through the pipes.
Finding Nautilus Shells
Nautilus Shells are used for a lot of crafts and finding them has never been easier:
Kill or use Drygmies to harvest from Nautilus (great choice) or Drowned (not so great choice) mobs
Dig up Embedded Ammonite under beaches and oceans
Gather shells from beaches and oceans (right click picks up the shell, left click breaks for a random drop, either nautilus, prismarine shards, or prismarine crystals)
Trade with Seals by tossing them fish. They'll dive to the ocean floor and 'retrieve' a gift for you. This loot table has been heavily modified and gives shells frequently
Fishing. This option is slow, but it can be a good way to get early gear (Neptune's Armor and Weapons) early game.
Craft a Morphing Tool! It comes with all the tools included.
To reach very high temperatures (like for the Thermo-pneumatic Processing Plant) an active Blaze Burner (Doesn't need to be Super Heated) will increase the temperature up to 1426º, with that and the help of Vortex Tubes and Thermal Lagging high temperature crafts can be achieved slightly earlier.
Rftools' Storage Scanner or Occultism's Dimensional Storage Actuator can make great alternate storage options prior to Refined Storage.