Yes, try things like themes for free first, then there’s usually a paid option with more features and support. Make sure you like something, and then want more of it. Wordpress is very powerful, but when you’re new to the learning curve it seems daunting, and empty.
Wordpress themes are actually quite customizable, and I’m sure you can create your own, BUT it requires that knowledge of CSS and parent/child themes, HTML coding, etc. That’s what people who are selling paid themes are doing, they are just creating something they think is useful, getting income from their creation, and supporting its use in the wild. I think you can modify or customize free themes, but I could be wrong. They may have a way to block you from doing that.
If you get a free theme you like well enough, find a page builder plugin to do some of the heavy lifting. I have used the free version of SiteOrigin Page Builder, and I think it’s pretty good. They have a paid version I may upgrade to, but then there may be something even better out there if I’m going to pay. The theme basically allows you certain options for headers/footers, colors, banners, and some other features. Make sure you get one that is “responsive”, which means that full, tablet, and mobile displays work properly! A page builder then lets you design the pages, which will be the bulk of your design and content unless you’re looking to get fancy around the edges. Some good (many free) plugins will take you long way too (the page builder is also a plugin). I’d only buy a plugin if the extra features are essential to you, or you just want to thank the plugin maker for their work.
A page builder that lets you do drag-and-drop may be what you are looking for. Try several of them out, look at the recommended ones, download them and try them out. Deactivate that plugin and try another. That takes some time, but should help you find what you want.