I found the rootsweb and genforum forums to be the biggest help as a beginning family researcher, I made lasting connections with distant cousins, and I worked from there.
It depends on what information I'm searching for, Ancestry is great for census/military/immigration, while I also use familysearchlabs for Philadelphia death records and census when I can't find what I need on Ancestry. I also use Google extensively, especially Google Books.
Are you researching African Americans? If you are not it may still be beneficial to check African American sites if your family origins were in the south. Many times we have more information on the family of the slaveholder than on our own.
Have you hit a brickwall yet? Post it and I'm sure help will come forth. I can suggest some general sites for you as well.
I try to stick to free sites although Ancestry has been my most used and informative. I just think they are getting too high with the subscription price. In my hometown of Phoenix, AZ the local libraries no longer have free Ancestry online. Have you visited any archives like NARA? I've heard that NARA is charging more and in some instances requesting reservations! What does Google books offer in genealogical research books?
I'm not doing any African American research at this point, but I have done some in the past. I also have some Louisiana/Texas families that may have owned slaves in my lineage.
I've hit several brickwalls, one of my main ones is in my Fletcher line, we can't get past Joshua Stroud Fletcher (1785-1821-5) born probably in Delaware to Samuel and Elizabeth Stroud Fletcher. We can prove their children are siblings to each other, but can't document that Joshua and Eliza were their parents, well enough for the DAR. LOL MY fourth cousin once removed and I know the are the parents but that won't convince the DAR. :)
When I have a new name to research I use Google Books to see if there is a reference to that person, sometimes there are genealogy references or books written by that person or about that person, you never know. :) You can also go to Google Books to look for histories of counties and towns. Heritage Quest, which is free at some libraries is good for free census(not all name indexed and you have to browse through several of the years) and for books, as well as Rev War pension records.
Let me check with a friend in Mississippi who is helping others make the SAR/DAR and see if she has any suggestions for you. Looks as if you have checked for Rev War pension data. What about Bounty Land Grants or land records in general. How about Wills? Where are they buried? Church records? Does Google eliminate the need for PERSI? Have you tried it yet or the Library of Congress?
We know where Eliza Fletcher was buried(in Lafayette Cemetery, in Philadelphia which no longer exists) we believe Joshua was buried in New Orleans as the family history we have indicates he died of Yellow Fever in 1821, but we have him dying in either NO or Philadelphia according to his information on the 1821 Pension Index. We can't find evidence of the marriage, but the pension info indicates they married in 1806 in Philadelphia. I believe Eliza's family was Quaker, and Joshua may have been too, but he still fought in the War of 1812. We have tried to get the full pension file for him, but the NARA couldn't find it(before the rates went up).
I think PERSI is still good for somethings, some of the Genealogical Society Journals that are listed on Google Books don't show any of the journal/book, some show a 'snippet' some are 'limited' and a few are 'Full View' I believe it comes down to the copyright issue.