First off, welcome.
Second, Blender is a good choice. Not just because it’s free, but also because it’s versatile. You can model, sculpt, animate, edit video, texture paint, draw/animate in 2D, & so on. Learn Blender well enough and you’ll find that it can more or less do it all and just as well. Blender’s greatest hurdle isn’t power, but adoption.
Apps like Maya and ZBrush are de facto standards in key industries like film & gaming. That’s mostly because they were production ready earlier. As such, they got into the hands of artists just as the studios were forming and/or growing. While Blender has been around for 27 years now, it’s really only within the past 7 years or so that it has achieved a certain level of maturity. 2013’s v2.68 was a major turning point for many established users while 2019’s v2.8x and its upgraded UI made converts out of many non-Blender (ie. Autodesk) loyalists looking to finally break free from subscriptions.
Blender is, while still not a standard, is quickly becoming a favorite among startups, indies, freelancers, and established studios looking to either make a switch for whatever reason, financial or due to the increasing number of remote workers. Is it perfect? No. No app is.
Why wouldn’t you want to choose Blender? Employability. That’s about it. You could argue that Maya has superior character animation tools or that ZBrush can let you work with astronomical poly counts and that’s why you should avoid Blender. However, the truth is that Blender can usually get the job done just fine (or better/easier) on both counts - provided that you know what it is you’re doing. Really, the core reason not to go with Blender is if your prospective employer doesn’t use it. In those key sectors, there are way more Maya related jobs atm.
At the same time, let’s be realistic. You may dream of one day working at Nintendo or Pixar, but most CG artists don’t. Most work for mid-tier studios or ones you’ve never heard about. Those studios may require you to know Maya, ZBrush, or whatever, but there might also be some room for flexibility. In the end, some of these smaller operations don’t care what app you use as long as you get the job done, get it done on time, and don’t cause headaches for those working on your team.
It doesn’t hurt to know both Maya and Blender, imo. They’re more alike than not. Modeling is modeling. Rigging and animation are rigging an animation. Lighting and rendering are lighting and rendering. Different apps might use different terms or have extra features, but the concepts are portable. Same thing with ZBrush. Sculpting is sculpting regardless. (FWIW, I’ve been able to take Blender up to 30mil+ polys for my sculpts and still work in realtime. Not quite the 100mil+ level of ZBrush, but that might be overkill for many projects anyway - especially realtime game art.)
Another reason to not automatically toss Blender aside as some “starter” app? A LOT of well known companies have invested money in Blender, hoping that it’ll be the future. Amazon. Microsoft. Valve. Facebook. Intel. NVIDIA. Ubisoft. ETC. Better to learn Blender and not need it than not know Blender when you actually do, imo.
As for resource… CGTalk is not the best place to be these days. It’s not dead, but it’s seen better days. Even in its prime, however, it was never a haven for Blender material. They’ve always sort of buried non-Autodesk apps like Blender. This here is Maya/3dsmax country.
Go for BlenderArtists.org instead if you want to link up with other like minded users. It’s large, very active, and a good place to learn/share for Blender related stuff. It’s GENERALLY pretty friendly, although you may run into the occasional troll or grump “old timer” member.
Additionally, very active and 20+ years old, if game art is your thing then Polycount is the place to be. Lots of more established, advanced type artists there, but they’re still very welcoming of newbies. Very helpful.
ArtStation is another super popular community, but it’s more of a place to show off your finished work than it its to mingle or pick up tips as you’re learning.
Obviously, social media sites like FB are good since they have tons of dedicated groups. While they’ve largely overtaken specialized forums and websites for this stuff, it’s easy to argue that something like FB is vastly worse in many ways. Too many trolls. Too few ACTUAL professionals out there to help you. Posts that are bite-sized and offer little detail where it counts. FB groups can really be great, but finding the right group(s) can take time. Plus, membership changes so frequently that a good FB group can turn worthless in a matter of days.
YouTube is a good place too, especially if you’re learning Blender. I’d start with YanSculpts channel and follow the rabbit hole from there. Again, as with FB, the quality of content all depends on the person/people providing it, but there’s a lot of good stuff on YouTube if you’re willing to invest the time hunting it out.