Hello Ryan, and welcome!
Lectora does indeed have a steeper learning curve than most other e-learning creation tools out there, but its capabilities are effectively unmatched once you know what you’re doing. The “formal” trainings from Trivantis were actually very helpful for me in the beginning, but from what you said, you won’t be able to take those since they do charge money to take them.
My suggestion is to keep doing what you’re doing! It sounds like you’re already doing a great job with finding available free resources and being very proactive in teaching yourself, so bravo!
Reverse-engineering is indeed a fantastic way to learn (have you found the free sample courses?). Especially if you get materials/samples from the users here on the forums as well. You’ll notice everyone has their own style and way of doing things, and the fact that Lectora allows for this is part of what makes it a powerful tool.
Here’s another suggestion: Try making something! Anything! It doesn’t matter what, and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Try making a basic how-to guide on how to check your email or something. All the tutorials and guides in the world can’t substitute for actual experience and practice!
When you run into something you want to do but don’t know how, try using those resources you mentioned. And if that fails, you can always post here on the forums! After you’ve made your first project, you can go back and try to expand it with more advanced concepts and features. Add a test, change up the background templates mid-course, utilize your own variables, etc.
You can search within the forums via the search bar at the top right of this page (scroll the window up if you can’t see it). However, I’ve always found it easier to search externally via Google (i.e. site:www.website.com). It’s hard to beat a dedicated, juggernaut of a search engine with an in-site search algorithm unless it’s purposely kept unavailable to search engine crawlers.
Try a search statement like: site:https://community.trivantis.com/forums/forum/lectora-2/ [then your search terms here]
If you want to do a specific search within a particular topic board, you just use that URL instead (e.g. site:https://community.trivantis.com/forums/forum/lectora-2/general-lectora-discussion/ [search terms here])