I will most probably start of with a small journal and improve it when I have more time.
Beginning - views or watches
First thing you should think about when coming to deviantART is if you are here to improve your art or get views and use it as a bit different social network. That being said, neither of them is a wrong option because it all depends of your interests and what you want to get out this experience. If you are here to get views and find friends who like art as much as you then your next steps are quite easy. Here is a short guide on how to get views without posting any artwork:
1. Find art you love and favorite it. In my opinion giving out favorites is one of the best ways to get views fast and easily. I have a theory in my head, based on what I have seen from looking deviantART users profiles, that each favorite you give out returns you 0,7-0,8 page views in average without having to do anything else for it. So it is a really easy way to get views. Over the years I haven't given out many favorites because I want to keep my favorites gallery as clean as possible but I have seen people who have been in deviantART for only a year or two and have already given out over 100,000 favorites and therefor having already over 100,000 page views without any real artwork in their gallery.
2. But don't forget to comment as well, because this is another great way to get views and actually find your deviantART friends. I find that giving out comments rather than only faving is in a long run better not only for you but also for the person whose artwork you commented. Because giving out comments, even better if constructive one, makes your comment receiver way more happier than just giving out a favorite. And you can build up some fanbase with your comments, so it's a win win situation.
But without any real artwork or submissions this is pretty much as far as you can go in deviantART. You will have a lot of views and some friends you picked up during your commenting sessions, but page views without submissions are like an empty shell, you won't have power to push your stats even further without your own extra work of faving and commenting because without submissions you won't get watchers who would give you a steady page view rate even if you don't do anything yourself.
So what is more important, views or watches? I think that they are pretty much equally important, because watchers are people who actually loved your art or personality enough to follow what you are doing and see your updates, therefor giving you a constant rate of views. Views show you how much impact you actually have when posting something or doing something.
I constantly see people saying that they don't care about page views, it was even a bigger deal few years ago, and that it doesn't mean anything. But if you are serious about your art and your activity in deviantART then you should care about. I admit that I really care about it. Because saying that you don't care about this is like deviantART saying that they don't care about their website traffic. Of course they do and they have a same reason behind it as we do. Page views show you how much your actions impact people and in what events people are more interested in you. Thanks to your page views and favorites you can see what people want to see.
Here is a simple example. If I'm not active I get about 30-40 page views every day, showing that I have made big enough impact to generate that amount of views even if I'm not doing anything. If I am active and posting comments I get around 50-60 page views, posting a journal gives me 20-40 extra page views increasing my daily page views to around 80-100. But submitting my new pixel art tutorial boosts my page views to 400-500 in that day, while submitting a photo wouldn't give me any extra views. Same thing with favorites, if I usually get around 20-40 favorites per day then posting a new pixel art tutorial boosts it to 800 favorites. So you can safely say that people are more interested in my pixel art tutorials and follow me because of this. Without watching my page views I wouldn't know it.
To conclude this. For the first few years you have to work hard to get people to notice you. If you think that only submitting art works then you might be wrong because it only works if your artwork is really good already. So my advice to you is to be active, don't forget to comment and favorite because it is as important to them as it is to you. Don't only go for popular artwork, find some new artwork from unknown artists because they are the ones who are most likely to return the favor. But while doing that don't forget to submit your art and improve. To be successful you have to have both sides covered, this gives you more page views, favorites and watchers.
Once you have these basic things covered you should focus on creating some awesome art and figure out what you would want to do. I know that there are people out there who are like me and didn't know what to do at first. You have so many awesome options, you can either go for photography, web design, digital art, resources, etc. But let's be realistic, you have a limited amount of time on your hands and you won't have time to do them all. So I would recommend you to pick one and concentrate on this one thing only. Of course you can have other styles as hobby but you have time to invest some time seriously to only one of these things. If you don't know what to pick then don't be afraid to ask your watchers. Over the last 7 years I think I have made couple of polls asking people why they are watching me. First time when I did it my opinion was totally wrong. I thought that people were here for my design work but they actually wanted to see only my tutorials. It was the time when I had just started with my tutorials and didn't know what to think about it. But it showed me that if people liked my tutorials then it means that there has to be something good in them. And maybe this is the way I should go.
Of course it doesn't mean that if you are a digital artist and you love it that you should go for photography, always follow your dreams. But if you don't know what to do then this might be a good help for you.
And when you know what you want to do then go for it and try to get as good as possible. DeviantART is a good community because you can develop your skills here because you are in a community where people understand you while people in your real life would say that it is worthless. Here you can develop and build up your confidence in that specific area.
If you are stuck somewhere then don't be afraid to ask. Ask someone who you admire, because maybe they were stuck at one point as well and know exactly what you should do. Even if they don't answer, what do you have to lose? You can't lose anything, you can only win.
I remember when I had just started with pixel art and didn't know what to do. I asked help from some awesome pixel artists and they gave me some awesome tips. But not only that, they added me to their watch list and commented every time I posted a new pixel work. They didn't say just "nice" or "awesome", they actually said what is wrong and what they really like. To me it was a blessing to get feedback like this.
And this should also be other way around. If people ask your help then don't ignore them, at this early stage you might be really important to them and be the deciding factor. Always help, always give feedback. Don't be mean, be constructive.
Being a deviantART member
At some point you will get more attention and your art will improve, you will become a full member in deviantART - you will comment, fav, post journals and artwork. It is obvious that deviantART has given you something that you didn't have before. It gave you tools to improve (feedback, confidence) and a place to post everything you do. Now it is time to give back.
This is the step that a lot of people skip. You once needed help and you got it from deviantART, now help deviantART if they need it. HQ suggestion/update journals aren't there for no reason, they need your feedback, new features aren't there to piss you off. Don't be rude and give constructive feedback. If you don't like something then say it, but also say what they could improve. If this isn't enough then post a visual suggestion. Send them feedback and say what they should change or what you love, how they could improve.
Think of deviantART as a user who tries to improve its artwork, help out!