Interesting post, Right now I'm in the process of putting together a portfolio with the hopes of making money. I think the most common theme in this post is marketing. Its easy to say, oh yeah you need to market yourself but the question you should ask is how do you sell yourself. There is a great book that you should take a look at titled "Start with why"The book says that companies go wrong when they try to market WHAT they do rather then WHY they do. Why speaks to your customer, they already know what you do - you take pictures- most of them could care less with HOW you do it. So the difference is why.
There are also creativelive.com webinars that I think are a huge help in growing your business. It is a rare thing for a business owner to pull back the curtains and allow you to see inside. Creative live is great for a couple of reasons, one, the live viewings are free, two, they showcase extremely successful photographers telling you not only how they make their images, but how they created a successful business. Most people starting don't understand successful business' copy! Find some one that is doing what you want to do , and copy how they do it.
Facebook is not just for kids. Anyone that tells you that you shouldn't be marketing yourself where MIllions of eyes are everyday doesn't get it.
One last thing, and this may help with your marketing, decide who your client is, then test your findings.Demographic and psychographics go a long way. I put up different ads on craigslist, the people who respond ask, how did you find me, then, what would make the experience more pleasurable. I want to know why they want what they want, I want to know how far they are willing to travel,what their budget is. I try to figure out what they all have in common. I try to figure out what shots they like the best. Then I tweak the wording, and images I post to support my findings, and test again. The images I put on flickr will tell me which pictures get the most hits, so I use those more often. AND THATS FREE INFORMATION! You want to know how your client thinks, and what they'll ask before they open their mouth ! You want to put their fears at ease. When you know exactly who your client is you won't have to look for them, they will find you . Christa Meola said something to the effect of they don't buy the photo they buy the experience. Im just a student of this game, like you , but I listen to the people that are doing what I want to do, and when they are all saying the same thing independent of each other I have to sit up and take notice.