Well I have a decent amount of success following my friend (who has a lot more online tourney smarts) and his advice to me is to start off by only playing AA, KK, AK (as a beginning player) so that you can double up and add some chips. The key early on is to survive, as the longer your survive, the closer you get to the cash. And the longer you survive, the more players get knocked out by going nuts in the big tourneys.
And take maximum advantage of your table advantage, esp. when you are in late pos to be strong and steal blinds.