Just read a post on Scott Bourne's photography blog, Photofocus, and I would like to expand upon what he wrote.
He says that in photography, the image matters most. I totally agree. It's not the photographer, not the gear, not the amount of image views on Flickr, not whether you earn money from your photos or not, or how much time and effort you put into getting the shot.
What the viewer cares about is THE WORK. If it's not good, then it's not good and nothing will change that. I don't care if you might have risked your life getting the shot, or spent thousands of dollars on that expensive lens, or camped in the jungle for days, because the simple fact is that people judge the final work. Keep in mind that no amount of effort you put into creating the work will change the work if it's bad. :)