I agree with you Emptypockets!
I can't tell you how many people I've talked to who have hired people to build their website and three years later are hopping mad that the site makes no money despite having invested 10s of thousands of dollars in it and the designer.
I haven't read every single post in this thread, so forgive me. But I want to add what I know from personal experience.
1. As long as it does not repel visitors, the look and feel of a site has little or nothing to do with how much traffic it gets.
2. Abundant traffic is the most important factor in developing a site that earns income.
3. Content is King and imperative to visitor retention, search engine affinity and is the basis for a successful online business that gets lots and lots of free search engine traffic.
4. Nobody knows your business like you do. As you say, Emptypockets, passion is very important. In fact, it can give a small site a competitive edge over leading sites on the Web, because passion shines. (Designers tend to make sites read like encyclopedias.) A site written in a friendly, personal, insightful "voice" is very appealing. And who would most people prefer to buy from? The guy down the street that they know, like and trust or a big, faceless corporation?
5. Once you learn how to do it, you become self-reliant and never again have to be at mercy of anyone else when it comes to your business.
The last thing I want to say is: selling online is different than selling offline. In fact, many people try to slap up a store and drive traffic to it using Adwords (which, by the way, can be very expensive), only to have the traffic bounce back out. It can be very discouraging, but people are turned off by in-your-face sales techniques online. They're probably turned off by it offline as well, but online they have an easy escape. It's called the back arrow!
To learn more about how to sell online, I recommend a free download called Make Your Site Sell which can be found here: http://myss.sitesell.com/