I am thinking about this issue because of two recent threads at Blogcritics. A particularly callow young person more or less demanded that participants in the group blog contribute $10 to an advertising fund. He said he believes we should give money to the blog out of a feeling of appreciation. I do exactly that sometimes. The increments are small, but well meant. Of more importance, it is my decision to make the contribution. I would no more respond to a demand that I contribute money to a blog than I would post a demand that people contribute money to me on my blog.
So many other participants in Blogcritics responded the way I would have that I did not need to comment on those entries. Several of us, including Natalie Davis, bhw and myself, have written for pay for years. Some of the material we post to weblogs is of publishable quality. So, we are contributing something worth money, though not money itself. Other Blogcritics may not have written for media, but they are contributing their time and elbow grease to the effort.
I think it somewhat unrealistic for any blogger to expect to make much money from his weblog unless he has a way of displacing the top ten hit makers in the blogosphere. The bulk of contributions go to them. But, I do not believe that even the big guys make enough money from independent blogs to compensate them for their time and effort. I recall Atrios having to make a special request when his car needing repairing. Glenn Reynolds has a sinecure as a law professor and the income from his sponsored blog or he might find himself in the same situation. The only certain way I know of to make money blogging is to publish pornography. However, I have yet to see a blog where pornography and well-written entries coexist. Usually, the weblog just becomes another pornography site.