Thanks for all the replies. I had no idea there were so many possibilities, which is exciting but overwhelming at the same time.
I made by site public again so you guys can take a look and help me with some recommendations on theme, layout or anything else (I plan to return it to private until I am ready to actually roll out the blog).
I am not really sure what is going to work best at this point. My site is focused on interesting souvenirs. This is what I am trying to do:
-Build content from my own, but most importantly, from user submissions. I need to make user submissions, which will be primarily photos of souvenirs, as obvious and easy to do as possible. The contact form did not allow photo uploads so I found something on a site called jotform and added that. Not sure if this is the best option.
-Have a streamlined, clutter free blog that will focus on interesting souvenirs with some commentary behind it. I have thrown up a bunch of content for now as placeholders to see how it would look, but it is not ready at all, it is a rambling stream of consciousness mess-- this is why I am keeping it private for now as I am mortified to think of anyone reading it in this condition. As far as format, I am struggling with whether this should be a grid or some other format. So many choices!
-I also need the site to be easily searchable so a user can quickly find souvenirs by region or type. I don't want it to look too "blog" like overall, if that makes sense. That's why I was trying to figure out what to do with the categories to give them more of a polished and less blog-like look.
To top it off, I am totally tech illiterate. I do want to learn but it's hard trying to figure out how to do everything at once (and what can even be done).
Thanks for any ideas.