1. Have a decent amount of dolls. I've been on a site that have 2 dolls and that's it. It's very frustrating. I know you've made your dolls and want to show them off but a site needs substance. Join some forums to show your dolls off on. There are some wonderful forums out there which will welcome you and help you. Plus if you're known on a forum you're more likely to get more visitors when you do finally open your site.
2. Lean html. I know it seems like a daunting task but it's actually very simple. It's mostly copy and pasting while you're learning. You can use a page builder if you must but page builders have a very poor reputation. Many people will see a page builder site and instantly go to the little x in the corner. Don't believe me? Have a look at some page builder sites and compare them to html sites, the level of professionalism is very different.
3. If you can't make your own layout use someone else's. No don't steal, just do some searching, there are plenty of sites that offer free layouts. I would recommend looking for personal sites that offer this service, rather that big professional ones, as I've found their layouts are nicer and fresher.
4. Make your layout simple. This is a mistake I've made in the past. If your layout is complicated people will get lost. Try and have simple headings in your main menu. Things as simple as "Dolls" "Bases" "Links". I once had a link for "pixel shaded dolls" and "tool shaded dolls" and it was confusing for me when updating let alone anyone else.
5. Mind your colors. Neon green is not a pretty colour, stick to nice subtler colours. Pale colours are popular, they're calming and seem to reflect the whole pixel thing.
6. Don't use java script. It can slow down your site and really annoy people. So no slide shows of your dolls on you front page. Java is ok for counters and possibly menus, but remember these may not work with every browser.
7. Make sure your layout is multi browser compatible. The main browsers people use are internet explorer and Firefox. Download whichever one you don't have just to check. One thing I've noticed is a lot is text links not following the html in Firefox and therefore looking slightly unprofessional. Also a lot of people use alt text to explain a doll or provide base credit. This is fine in internet explorer but it doesn't always work in Firefox.
8. Organise your dolls. Putting all your dolls on one page is ok if you have less than 20 but after that it gets a bit much. Especially if your viewer is on dial up. There are 2 main ways to organise your dolls. There's the way I do it, by category (characters, historical, fantasy, casual etc...) or by base (angy chan bases, ILCK etc...). Both are valid ways which have both ups and downs.
One thing I've always found is if I'm looking for how people have used a certain base I can spend ages going through categories looking for a doll on a single base which might not even be there. On the other hand I can spend ages looking though dolls organised into base site looking for, say, a doll of Jack Sparrow. There's no way to solve this unless you intend on organising them both ways, but that can be a bit of overkill.
9. Be original. It seems that most of the sites I go on these days are doing dolls in one of 2 ways. Either DHF style or ILCK style. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with this or that I'm not in either category, but don't come into dolling saying "I want to doll like that" and in effect copy someone else's style. Doll however you want. Don't feel you always have to use those realistic bases and do big dresses. If you want to then go ahead but at least give something else a go.
10. Advertise your site but be careful. You want a popular doll site, who doesn't, but no-one gets that over night. My number one bit of advise is to join forums. Its a great way to befriend other dollers and be part of the community. Do link exchanges with people. If you do this be polite when you e-mail the site you want to link you. Remember they're just like you. Don't be too in-your-face with these things. Don't do what one person did and add people to your own mailing list, sending them e-mails every time you update. Its rude, pushy and un-wanted.
11. Update often. Even if you have no dolls to show still update. People stop going to your site if there are no updates. Trust me on this, I lost half on my viewers because I didn't update for months.
12. Once you feel confident with your website skills look into getting hosted. I don't necessarily mean go out and buy a .com. Have a look on sites like pick-me.net and find a hostess. Getting hosted on these personal sites means no adverts, generally more space, and a better address. Every other new site is geocites.com/blahblahblah, but if you can have an address that stands out people will remember it better. Getting hosted will give you an address like yoursite.forgotten-smile.com or forgotten-smile.com/yoursite. Doesn't that look more professional?
13. If possible avoid .tk addresses. I know it gives you an instant shorter address but it also gives you umpteen adverts, which is a big turn off. This goes for any url shorterner, to be honest it p*sses people off. You may think you've found a cheap way for a cool url but all you're doing is slowing people down, throwing adverts in their faces and making them switch off your site.
I may add more this list over time but I think that's all you need to know. If you ever want some site tips or advice from me feel free to E-mail Me