1) I suggest starting with a pyromancer as its the "easy" build to start with
2) I got stuck similarly - got around it by watching a "lets play" and the pbvious became apparent
3) make sure when you've collected a bunch of souls you level up some at a campfire
wont say anymore as it will spoil the hard as balls nature of the game
I'm in a similar position to google due to my blog (on blogspot) and the changes they keep making behind the scenes.
trying to find an alternative, but seems nowhere offers the same features for free.