Want a fantastic formula for a bit of search-engine optimized cash? Drop a bunch of blogger names into a story, add a few five- and six-figured monthly income claims, et voilà! Readers just click, click, click on it, trying to answer the question of "Why can't I make that kind of scratch?" just by being "passionate" with some "thoughts" and "feelings" on the Internet. Slate's story on blogging for real money doesn't tell you how it's done so much as throw out a few names and figures of who does. "Do we get the blogs we deserve?" Slate contributor Michael Agger asks. Kick in for my retirement fund and you can find out:The business of blogging has been run into the ground by, as lovable former productivity fetishist Merlin Mann put it, "a gentrifying wagon train of carpetbaggers, speculators, and confidence men, all eager to pan the web's glistening riverbed for easy gold." Competing with "thought leaders" in your "space" isn't just cocky, it's foolish dollar-for-dollar. Besides, as Agger points out, the hardcore blog audience of yore is migrating to Twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook to discover blogs — not Google, and not other blogs. The audience a baby blogger has to impress has already said, "You know what, you get 140 characters of my attention." Good luck with that. To answer Slate's question, it depends on what you feel you deserve. If you want to join the private jet-set class, you'd be a fool to take up any form of writing as a career. But if you are blogging for your own sense of intellectual and civic pride, as fast-fading and uneasily monetized as that may be, then forget about the Benjamins. (Diagram by Jay Hathaway)