I'm fairly computer literate, but HTML coding wasn't something I'd had any experience with, and for a complete newbie, or at least for this complete newbie, learning the HTML ropes left me contemplating using one to strangle myself. Here's a synopsis of my trials and tribulations:
Step one: search approximately 137 sites for the proper code to do ____.
Step two: save current template in case I screw it up.
Step three: open HTML editor, search for proper place to put code.
Step four: cross fingers, click SAVE.
Step five: curse when it doesn't work.
Step six: move code to This Better Be The Right Place This Time, Damn It!
Step seven: cross fingers and toes, click SAVE.
Step eight: curse louder and longer when it doesn't work again...
You get the picture. Painting it is how I spent far too much of my time this past week, but at least I've got two things to show for it: a level up in computer literacy, and a much-improved layout.
One site that I found immensely helpful: Blogger Sentral. If I'd found it early on, it would've saved me a great deal of cursing and hair-pulling-out. Excellent tips in straightforward language you don't need to be a computer expert to understand, and many of them can be used in gadgets rather than having to tinker around with the HTML panel. Their Pinterest widget advice was especially useful.
I did have to go elsewhere for the floating share widget code (the bar on the left that lets you "like"), because I couldn't get the one from Blogger Sentral to work with this template. I found the one I'm using here. Note that I modified it to remove some of the buttons, but that's easy to do: just take out the code for that particular button.
Other finds in my search: collections of cool "follow" buttons at WEBTREATS etc and blog templates at BTemplates.
So if you're looking to spruce up your blog, yes, it can be a daunting task, but doable.