I think most of the answers here are dead on. When I began writing hubs, I had already read a number of hubs about what to expect financially. I expected writing hubs to be hard work and limited in payout early on. That is what transpired. I just got my first payout not long ago having been with HubPages about 18 months.
There are a lot of quality hubs here that have offered me great writing examples. That has exceeded my expectations. The advice found on HubPages has also exceeded my expectations.
Writing is something I find myself looking forward to everyday. A lot of that has to do with how HubPages has treated me overall. It's a fair place with lots of encouragement and many talented people.
Focusing on quality writing first and money second has left me feeling that my expectations about HubPages have been exceeded. But paradoxically or not, focusing on the quality will lead you to the money, in my opinion, faster than anything.