Few suggestions from a novice welder myself....orientate your work so that your welding on a flat horizontal if possible. Welding vertical beads are a lot tougher. Also a good starting point for selecting amperage is 1 amp for each thousandth thick the rod is. In other words a 1/8 rod is .125" thick, start at 125 amps and go from there. Also select a rod half the thickness of the material your trying to weld, for 1/4" plate use 1/8" rod at 125 amps. Keep the bead width to twice the rod thickness. If you want to weld thinner metal go 3/32 rod and 90 amps to start. For thinner metals I used the 3/32" 6013, for the 1/4 stuff I went with 1/8". I liked the 1/8" 7018 AC rod, lays a nice bead, almost like cheating, just practically drag it and look like a pro. Just is a bitch to re-strike once you stop unless you scratch the tip on a rough surface to clear the flux.
Oh yeah...watch a few youtube welding vids..LOL. I think I watched them all
This is just a few things that helped me get started. Really enjoyed my welding project.
Oh yeah again...go to harbor freight and get yourself a cheap auto darkening helmet, worth its weight in gold and works awesome for $49.