Noob here… Advice on multisite practice install and plugin config order

Hello WPMU community…

I’m excited about joining your site but have to admit, I’m a complete noob with WordPress…

I just cant seem to get my mind around how to get it set up to do all of the amazing features that I know it can do.

I have several ideas for ways to utilize multipress but trying to decide whether to invest the time to learn how to create these sites myself, or to hire someone to do the initial set up, then admin the sites myself….

Couple of quick questions for the community

1) Is there a list of preferred providers, if I wanted to hire someone to create 3-5 wordpress sites? I would like for them to be familiar with the themes and plugins from WPMU to avoid problems with incompatible plugins, etc…

I am thinking about creating a multisite test install to learn how to integrate the plugins together seamlessly before rolling out a live install. Basically, a practice install.

Ultimately, I like the idea of creating a site / directory in my town where citizens could have a free blog but would charge for business directory listings and business blogs.

I thought I would set up my practice sites using the auto-blog plug in for each of the “sample” blogs on the practice site that would simulate the various citizen or business blogs once I go live.

So, I’d probably set up 5 blogs and populate them with rss feeds with the autoblog plugin: photography blog, food blog, cycling blog, watches blog and maybe a classifieds site?

WPMU seems like the PERFECT platform for this kind of thing.

2) Is there a particular order that you should install and configure the plugins? or just go ahead and install as many as look like they would be nice to have?

3)Is there a tutorial or walkthrough for creating this type of site?

I’m going to be reading through the documentation provided but just curious if anyone could provide any tips or feedback on how best to begin getting something like this set up? Perhaps a rough $$$ estimate to use as a general cost when budgeting. $500…. $1000…. $5000….I have no idea how much time would be involved for an experienced word press wiz.

Thanks in advance,

-A