I've been re-listening to several instructional photography courses that I've purchased over the past several years. In the process, two quotes really stood out to me, especially as they relate to one another. They both told me that being a successful professional photographer is about more than just good exposure.
As I followed Corey Rich's Creative Live Class he said the following, this isn't word for word, but the gist was: "Great exposures and good technical settings won't set you apart. What sets you apart as a photographer is how you layout your frame."
A couple of days after hearing that, I heard this from Jim Richardson in his class on National Geographic story research: "Photo editors don't buy images they like, they buy images they need."
I think a simple takeaway here is that we need to learn to tell a compelling story within a frame. The technical ability to expose and edit are a small part of the business of being a photographer. Create images that are needed and you'll set yourself apart.