Hi JohnS and Welcome...
I am a total neebie here too and feel your pain...
I don't have to invite people over, it's my husband that is the problem!!!
The brown in my tank is subsiding so there is a light at the end of the tunnel! In mine, the snails even had brown algae on them, yuck. Anyway, patience, patience and a little more patience.
I was actually under the impression that I was patient until I started this! It's all good and sounds like your going down the right path.
Look at it like this, by Christmas it will look good! And 6 months to a year, it will look great. That's my story and I'm sticking to it! haha!
Best of luck and hang in there! It's worth it! 8)