If you're anything like me, you had no idea what you were doing when you were buying your first "real camera". I ended up looking on Craig's list for a used DSLR with starter kit lenses. The camera was advertised as a Nikon D5000 but was actually a D80 and like I fool I did not even notice. (FYI the model number of Nikon cameras are right on the front of the camera body.) I got two kit lenses from the Craig's list guy: a 55mm-200mm telephoto zoom lens, and a 18mm-55mm lens. It turns out one of my lenses was broken and didn't autofocus when set to certain focal lengths. I think buying from Craig's list is fine when you are starting out but if I were to do it all over again I would definitely go to a camera store (like Mike's Camera here in Denver) and ask them questions or get expertise from experienced photographers before purchasing a camera.
I would also have a clearer idea of what I wanted to use my camera for. Not until I got a photography internship and was asked if I had a full frame camera did I realize that mine was not full frame. Ultimately, if you want to ever be semi-professional, it is worth investing in a full frame camera. Full frame will get more in the picture so you have more freedom to crop out. (You can always go smaller but you can't get bigger than what the camera can see). That being said, what is more important than the camera body itself is the lenses. Don't settle for plastic! Glass is worth it. Fixed lenses are also nice for certain types of photography like portrait and product photography. If money is an issue for you like it is for me, you may be interested in renting DSLR camera equipment. I haven't used a renting service myself but I would advise at least testing out a friend's equipment first to figure out what lenses you actually want. Then if you do end up paying the big bucks to buy a bunch of fancy camera gear you can rent it out to get some of your cash back.
Finally, reach out to your local photographer community. Usually they are really nice people and will share their knowledge with you. There are also opportunities to attend classes and practice with other people who are learning the same as you. Most importantly get out there and shoot! Reading blogs can be helpful, but getting out there and making your own mistakes will teach you the most.