You seem to be jumping from one extreme to the other. Sure SEO is a rat race, especially if you are scurrying around like a rat that is looking for crumbs (free traffic) in the trash.
Seems you have come to the realization that web spamming (what some people call SEO) is not free, especially in a competitive niche, and it is very Sisyphean in nature. Web spammers like to use the more respectable term “SEO”, but what they are doing is website promotion, often with the intent of manipulating SERP ranking, not true SEO. Real SEO is something we do to our content o make it easy for search engines to understand what our content is about, web promotion is what we do to get people to find our content in the first place, and web promotion with the intent to game the search engines is what search engines call webspam.
When was the last time you built a link strictly for the targeted click-through traffic it generates, instead of its search engine manipulation potential?
Instead of jumping from the fringe of website promotion, i.e. web spam, to completely old school marketing, why not try something a little more mainstream like advertising and promotion meant to drive targeted traffic. That is where many businesses are having long term success, and don’t need to worry about the latest webspam fighting update.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against old school marketing, it still works (especially radio and TV), just that there is a whole new world of marketing that exists between those two extremes. We’re happy to have you join us here, but don’t expect it to be any easier, conventional internet marketing is very competitive so you will need to bring your “A” game to compete in this arena, but the traffic potential is immense for those that learn to do it well.