Richard Higby Astrophotography
Tips for budding Astrophotographers
Buy the best mount you can afford.  Equal if not more money should be spent on the mount as on the optical assembly.  Seek careful advice.
Join an Internet Yahoo Astro Imaging group.  Many have been where you are going.
Join a local Astronomy Club.
It can get cold imaging on a Winters night.  Stay warm with layers of clothes.  A beanie and gloves are essential.
With portable mounts, mark the ground so that tripod placement is repeatable.
Buy secondhand where practical and after testing.
Level the mount with a long spirit level in all directions.  Whilst not critical with many mounts, a level mount makes polar alignment easier.
With the German type equatorial mount, balance is especially critical in all planes for accurate tracking.  Hours and many images can be wasted if not observed.
Mains power is always preferable to batteries.
Tie cables together and preferably under a cover and under the tripod mount.  Walking through wires in the dark by you or visitors can be an expensive disaster.
Allow at least an hour for the optics to reach outside temperature.  You will be amazed at how much difference this can make to viewing and imaging.
Take as much time as needed to aligh the telescope to the Celestial Pole and test for accuracy via the various methods.  After balancing, I have found this to be the next most important aspect to successful imaging.
Nothing would appear to beat "The drift alignment method" for accurate alignment on the Celestial Pole with a portable mount.
Fit your scope with an inexpensive"Red Dot Finder". This simple gadget speeds up alignment and "goto" capability.
Also you must fit your scope with and 'anti dew' heater strap to negate "dewing".  Once a scope's objective is "fogged", it is dificult to recommence imaging for that night.
An auto focus device such as "RoboFocus" has been the best addition to my system and should be contemplated as one progresses.
Finally take time to allow family and and friends to experience the universe at night through a telescope.  I still remember and will never forget my first awe inspiring sight of the planet Saturn and its surreal ring system.
Welcome to a challenging and fascinating hobby.
First, perservere and don't give up.
Richard Higby
A few suggestions from my own humbling experiences for those starting in this absorbing hobby.