Hello John, and welcome to HubPages!
I have been here for a while and have seen many potential earners come and go. The key to earning any money on HubPages are that it will take time...sometimes a decent amount of time. Many people think they will get rich quick because they write well but that is very far from the truth. You need to write well but there is a lot more involved. Money is made by Ads and in order to get people to click those ads, you have to be in the top pages of a Google search for whatever your article content is about. I am just summarizing here because there are many variables that will determine the rank of an article (most importantly, how many other articles are you competing with on the same subject, and would Google (not you or your friends) think your page is better so that it ranks your content above the others).
Again, these things take time. Think of it as building an online reputation (often referred to as a "Brand"). I have written several articles about making money on HubPages and I feel that I am qualified because I earn money here every day. Yes, I make a residual income from articles I wrote years ago. But not all my articles make money, not all the time, and I assure you that I am not rich. However, if you follow statistics and the rule of large numbers, if I was to write on a regular basis (quality over quantity) and then have a cache of many, well written, optimized articles, then I would likely increase my daily/monthly income.
After you have been here a while you start to see trends in traffic patterns and there are a lot of tools to measure metrics and all that stuff. I suggest that if you are serious, you realize that you will be here for a long time and that you will continue to learn and change as is the nature of this type of business. Feel free to check out my articles about earnings and also what makes a good article (what to include for better chances at page rankings & stuff like that). Personally, I have been away from HubPages for quite some time, but I am back in school now so I think I just might get back to writing once again! This is a great community by the way. Best of success to you and if you have any questions feel free to contact me. (http://hub.me/acBUd)