I just tried out a cheapo Brinkman charcoal smoker recently and was happy with the outcome for a first effort. The goal is to be able to do tender pork, beef and chicken, but I also love salmon and a good turkey leg. I did cure and smoke bacon starting with a pound of boneless ribs, which was easier than I expected. At some point maybe I'll try my hand at sausage. I'm already finding a wealth of good information here.
The only upgrade so far has been a better temp gauge and an extra grating to raise the coals slightly. I'm using an electric receptacle box and cover to hold wood chips. But I have an electric element on hand and a controller coming in the mail. I figure with that I can get more constant minimum heat with less work. I'm leaning toward having an external smoke box because I think it will be easier to tend.
But one step at a time.