Sam, a question for you. What was your target temp for your smoker? Your method that you describe would have been how I would set up for a low and slow, 250° or less smoke.
For higher temp smokes, whether I am using lump or charcoal there are a few things that you can do to help get your ambient temp up.
1. Use a full chimney starter and let the charcoal (lump or briquettes) get super hot. Then dump that into you charcoal basket.
2. For higher temp smokes you need to ditch the terracotta or other high mass diffuser (especially true when there is high humidity and temps lower than say 40° outside). Using the steamer insert as a diffuser during high temp smokes is fine.
3. Leave the vents wide open until the smoker hits your target temp with the meat in the smoker. As the temp starts to creep above where you want it start closing vents. With the silver I start with the lower vent, then move to the side vents.
4. I always allow the smoker to get 20°-30° degrees above my target temp before I put the meat on, especially when its a large cut.
5. Both lump or briquettes can be used for hot smokes. I have found for my area that KF Blue will hold a hotter temp longer in colder or high humidity conditions.
6. The other method of lighting that I use is Keith's method of lighting one side of the charcoal through the side vent with a torch. This can be used for high temp as long as there is no diffuser or just the steamer insert. I only use this method for high temp though when the ambient outdoor temp is above 40°.