Great BBQ is like art. People know it when they see (or rather taste) it.
I started smoking pork shoulder to try & replicate a place that my family got good pulled pork from when I was a kid. I did a lot of research on the interwebz, then jumped in & developed a process on my Weber kettle. After a few trial & error sessions, I got a handle on what I liked and what my family & friends liked. My wife & I went and tried a handful of well known BBQ places, some were good, some not so good, and some were downright awful compared to what I made at home.
My point is that since you are in a BBQ poor area, try developing your process to where you, friends & family are satisfied with what you make (you will know because people start asking when you are cooking again), and compare yours to others.
Sounds like you are already on the right track. Just keep practicing and you will achieve good results.
Traeger Lil' Tex Elite, WSM, Green SS Performer, 22" OTG, hyperfast orange Thermapen. CBJ.