Those are pretty good questions. I'll try to answer them, but I want to describe some of my experience with one blog to illustrate a little of an approach that really doesn't depend that much on search engines.
I write to a few blogs. One of them is a law related blog, or what one of the legal bloggers called a Blawg.
A lot of lawyers, and paralegals, law professors, and paralegals, and people just interested in the law started up blogs about different legal issues.
Some of them were geographically based, like the one I'm involved in (which is about Delaware law.) Some of the are about different aspects of the law. For instance, a blog about trademarks, another one about appellate law, a different one about the admissibility of scientific evidence in court, some about everyday dealings with law school.
A few of the attorneys made a habit out of pointing to new legal blogs on a regular basis. At least one blog ring ( http://www.ringsurf.com/netring?acti...&ring=Lawblogs
) started up dealing with just legal blogs. We included links to a lot of other legal blogs on our site, and I'd recommend that if you write about a specific topic, that you create a couple of blog rolls. One that lists blogs you like to visit for one reason or another, and another one that is related to the topic you like to write about (or just merge the two lists together into one.).
When you find a blog you like, look at the blogs they have listed on their site, and see if they are ones that you would like to link to also. Build a blog roll of your own. Doing that does a couple of things for you. The first is that it makes it easy for you to visit sites that you find interesting. The second is that it helps other people (your visitors) find sites on that topic.
There are a number of directories that focus just on blogs. Many of them allow listing in categories rather than just alphabetically. This blog directory not only lists blogs, but also lists other blog directories and blog search engines: http://www.lsblogs.com/
You may want to add your blog to some of those other directories, to make it easy for people to find your blog. You can also use the different blog directories listed to find blogs by category.
I don't know if you've come across the idea of pinging different services. There are services that try to keep track of updates to blogs, and try to index and track those blogs, and keep on eye on where blogs are linking to. The blogging software you use may automatically ping some of these services, or it may have the capability but isn't turned on. Or you may have to do it yourself manually. Here's a link to a page that can help you ping a lot of services manually: http://pingomatic.com/
After you update and publish to your blog, try sending out a ping to all of those services. It can help you get more traffic to your blog.
Here's a link to one site that uses those pings to provide a service to people:
Blogdex tracks sites (pages, articles) that are the most linked to by blogs, every four hours. Here are a couple of others that use pings:
A couple of those you have to register your blog with, and it's worth doing.
Don't worry about submitting your site to search engines. Instead, keep on blogging, and linking to others, and providing articles, stories, opinions, recipes, pictures of your cat, whatever, to your blog, visiting other blogs you like, and writing comments on those blogs to discuss with other people the things they are writing about.
Submit your blog to some of the blog specific directories, and some of the ones that aren't like DMOZ, Yahoo, Zeal, and others. Search engines will follow links to your site and start indexing it.
If you can, add an RSS feed to your blog, and let people subscribe to it. That does mean that some people will read your posts without visiting your site, but you expand the audience of your blog tremendously by having an RSS feed, and it helps people know when you've posted something new, so that they can come visit your site.
With the legal blog, I found that if we focus upon a specific topic, and write about it frequently, we tend to do pretty well in search engines for that topic. It may take some time, but it does happen. Frankly, we pretty much ignore the search engines. We get decent search engine traffic, but there's a lot of traffic that comes to the site because people are interested in the topic, and have linked to the blog in their blog rolls.
By creating relationships and friendships with others who share similar interests and blog about them, that has become an alternative way of reaching out to others. One that doesn't really rely on the search engines for visitors.