I own a couple of rental homes that I manage myself, and I really like being a landlord. Now would be an ideal time, as prices are down, and so are interest rates.
Here's my basic formula (and it's kind of conservative and boring): find an area that you think will appreciate over the next 10 years (I personally like the intown markets of Kirkwood and East Lake); start going to look at a lot of houses for sale in the area as well as houses in the area for rent; when you feel comfortable that you really know the market, you can then think about buying with enough of a down payment (at least 20%) that allows you to have a positive cash flow right from the start; manage the property yourself; keep the house in good condition and make repairs as soon as they are needed; then hold onto the house for at least 5 years. It helps to have a "go with the flow" temprament when meeting prospective tenants, figuring out repairs and contractors, and generally dealing with all the issues that come up with a rental (I had the copper piping stolen out of a house a year ago - that was really fun!). But in the long run, you want to buy at a good price, get decent tenants in to pay the mortgage, keep the house up, and let it appreciate as the market improves. There is no magic to it, and it does take some work and some time, but I find it rewarding to be a nice landlord that actually provides decent housing for people.
I'd be happy to talk to you more in-depth if you have questions - Good Luck! -Mitch Falkin, Associate Broker, RE/MAX Greater Atlanta (770) 330-2374.