How large of a factor do backlinks play in SEO rankings in Google?
Is it possible to rank high for moderately competitive terms with little or no backlinks?
If I put out great high quality content, they will automatically garner backlinks eventually. But, when just starting the blog, few will know about the awesome content I'm creating.
While no one knows all the details of Google's algorithm, you can basically assume that your ranking is a function of the number of links times the reputation of the sites linking to you. So yes, a few sites linking to you may be good enough if those sites have a very high reputation.
You seem quite sure that you have high content. How true is that? If you can afford to pe patient, you can wait for other influencers and big sites to discover you. If your content is truly good, you'll get links. It will take months (think 6 months to a year), but you should see slowly growing traffic.
I recommend you do email (nicely) influencers to let them know you have great content. But don't start spamming people and forums with your own links.