Hi folks, I'll likely be reading this forum extensively in the coming days, weeks, er who knows how long This will be a long post - I figure if I yammer everything out here I might get a ton of good answers/advice and maybe even some people interested in helping out.

A little background on myself. I failed a Javascripting class back in college I'm not a programmer. I made a few personal HTML websites back in high school back in the early days of the internet 1994-95. Since then I've managed to work in IT, and avoid web design, up until recently... got some unemployment time on my hands ya see (this icon sums up my feeling screwed and enjoying vacation at the same time, heh)

Recently I stumbled upon some good business ideas. I'm looking at obtaining or creating several websites that will be dedicated to a small business venture that I'm hopeful could grow into something larger. Unfortunately I don't have 5-10 G's to just plop down and ask a web guru to handle it. That WOULD be nice. But this business could fall flat due to a variety of circumstances and I wouldn't be pleased shelling out big bucks to find out.

There are people out there with sites that are of the right industry/genre that I could literally copy/paste, add different images, change the look and feel in several places, and voila have a website that would sell products. I don't know if that's even possible anymore with all the .. stuff.. going on. I don't know HTML anymore, javascript, php, perl, xml, etc. etc. but if I had someone else's site(s) to look at for reference I'm pretty sure I could figure it out well enough!

The kinds of sites I'd like to make or have made
One "little" commercial website without much functionality, it may stand out in terms of curb appeal, that will advertise one or two products that a consumer can purchase. This is the one I was figuring I could just flat out create by myself... copy a competitor's site and change it around to suit me? It may or may not include ads or the like... this is a site that doesn't matter much, unless it somehow brings commerce to the Main site or people to interact with the Community site.

The "Community" site is to bring in people to discuss the goings on that ideally would have links to my other sites I'm laying out here. I think that I could possibly create this site as well but I really don't know much about managing a site with several people registering, posting messages, some jerk posts pornography that needs to be removed and scolded, etc.

The "Secondary" commercial site I'm envisioning is intended to sell a couple higher priced products. Some number between 2 and 10, maybe 20. I don't think a shopping cart would be required yet. This site is similar to the "little" site but I want it to be of higher quality, thus implying that I may not figure out how to make it by myself.

The "Main" commercial site will require pretty much everything you can think of. I've talked with competitors selling the same products to get some kind of idea what is involved in this type of site. You have a messaging system that pops up when an order is made, some have a custom shopping cart, there's high security involved (not allowing orders through proxies for example), some flash animations, even a flash movie introduction sometimes... lots of eye candy things going on and things behind the scenes I have little to no understanding of. Basically this is where some competitors have spent their 15-20k bucks trying to outperform and automate things... a live chat option that is tied to a PDA in one case. I think there are probably 20 different things that are sold in several combinations. You've got your drilldown menu that needs to go through 3 or 4 trees before you can finally determine exactly what someone wants.

The reasoning between the different sites is mainly because the products don't mesh well together. They are related products, but should be sold on separate sites. I figured I could link all of these sites together because a visitor to one site may be interested in something a little cheaper or more expensive on one of the others. I've been reading a bit about SEO as well and figured some links between these sites would result in some more hits.

I could probably type more but I need to head out... any and all advice welcome. Thanks.