I know vangogh
Just emphasizing. I went thru the same type of long winded process as you. Its challenging, takes a lot of persistence and most give up. I'm just emphasizing for those that are truly serious and want to belly up and learn this information ... you get what you pay for and there are many excellent resources that are well worth their money if you are willing to pay a little bit.
For example, the WebmasterWorld Supporters forum has a cost but a lot of valuable information. Is it worth it?
Another example, just this week Eric Ward (the grand daddy of link building/publicity) announced a new paid newsletter for $299/year.
The Ward Report
Now its new, so I'm not familiar with it. But I am familiar with Eric Ward and think it is a pretty safe bet that the $25 per month cost may well be very worth it. Certainly a better spend versus a text link ad campaign for $25 and many spend hundreds if not thousand+ on montly text link ad fees - which are risky, have pitfalls, and don't 'always' work.
There is the long route, but what route shortens that learning curve more? Is it worth paying and how would you a lot a budget of say $1000 to learning seo. Is that even realistic for some? Perhaps not most... but for those really serious?