When I was in college, I used a site called ePinions (founded by Nirav Tolia who later would start NextDoor). I'd write reviews, mostly of tech gadgets and CDs, and would earn money as people read and rated them. I loved it.
In many ways, Epinions was a very very early Steemit. And just like on Steemit, @eeks was around to read my reviews. @eeks aside, Epinions offered early interest-based social networking and rewarded its users for adding value to the ecosystem.
Epinions failed because it relied on advertising for revenue (this was early internet, so mostly banner ads). As such, almost inevitably the interest of the advertisers and the interest of its users diverged. The correlation between users' likes of each others' pieces and revenue was far from direct. Eventually, people bounced.
What I love about the crypto model, on the other hand, is that the users are the customer. With Epinions back then, and with Facebook now, the advertiser is the real customer and the users are the product merchandised to that customer.
With Steemit, on the other hand, the customer is the user. The user expresses preferences by engaging with other users' content.