I don't use pre-mixed mud for bedding the tape, I use Durabond45 or sheetrock45 (same stuff really) it has more adhesive in it and will prevent cracking a lot! A 6" taping knife works great in my hands and by all means DON'T PUT TOO MUCH MUD ON THE FIRST COAT.
One more thing...when you do the other coats only do one side of a corner at a time...never try and mud both sides!
The one thing to know about Durabond45 is that it has a 30 to 60 minutes setting time. Therefore, don't mix any more than you can use in that amount of time or don't leave any knives sitting in it.
A friend, who is a 30 year drywall contractor, has a great story about the first time that he used Durabond. He filled a bazooka with more than he could use in the appropriate amount of time and it hardened. It took allot of extra time to clean his tools that day.
It is great for joints. It will actually bond them together so they are like one continuous piece. I like to use Durabond on Hardibacker. You don't have to worry about the joints.