What kind of tape did you end up using?? If it's paper, you shouldn't need to sand at all. If mesh, just lightly brush to smooth out. Again, I pull a thin layer with a 10" knife on either side of the tape just slightly overlapping in the middle. There will be a slight mark from the overlap. Lightly sand that before pulling the middle of the joint with a 12" (10" will work if you don't have a 12" and don't need to buy one), again a thin coat. Lightly sand the whole joint once dry. All you're really trying to achieve is to cover the EDGES of the tape slightly and leave as little mud in the middle as possible. Even if you can still see a bit of tape showing, it will paint. Don't sand too hard and "burr or fuzz" the tape though. And again, if you're a first timer, either method is what you will go forth with and this IS the learning curve. Choose your weapon as the one that has the most comfortable feel to you. I'd say knife and pan, but I know there are those who advocate the hawk and trowel. I've never used them (on drywall anyway...).