Use a good lump charcoal, and as thick a material as you can afford, or work with for your mods.The stack mod can be thin, but the stuff near the meat and heat, needs to be thick to retain heat when ya check the food, or cook in the wind or rain!
By a charcoal chimney, they are cheap. Use your seasoning wood sparingly. You don't need smoke rolling out the stack, or smoke comming out the whole smoke either. Just the lump itself will impart some smoke flavor.Get the charcoal burn part down before ya start stoking splits into the firebox.It may take ya a couple of smokes to learn your heat management, but with the help of alot of good folks here, you'll do just fine!
Congrats on the new beginning, I share your excitement. I remember when I got my first offset smoker"stinky"!
I'm sure you'll keep us all informed.................as it should be!