I think you'll find a good range of techniques used by the folks on APUG. Some use densitometers, and are devotees of the Phil Davis BTZS system, which certainly makes sense if you're printing platinum, with its very high material costs. Others develop by inspection and print until it looks right. The densitometer approach is probably the most accurate, but seems like a huge learning curve when the "experiential" approaches will probably get you close enough.
For a normal negative, I usually print one picture at grade 2 and another at grade 3. Once I pick the appropriate contrast grade (even with VC paper), I then do my fine tuning from there.
The way I get burned, even to this day, is with print drydown. I end up printing several variations and picking the print I like after they dry. Not very professional.