I help because I love the challenge and thrill of solving a mystery. Naturally, it is nice to receive the thanks too. Of course, the more one does genealogy, the more proficient one becomes. I specialize in German Genealogy and speak, read and write German including the old script. I have been helped over the years by many and thus it is a way to pay it forward by helping others.
I have a part time business where I help people by researching their German ancestry, translating old script, etc. The nice thing is I do it when I can and when I want. My biggest dilemma is when does my initial gratis help go too far, i.e. will my paying clients be upset that I am doing too much pro bono work when I would be charging them. It is a totally subjective decision on my part and I just try to keep a good and fair balance that works for me.
I make my living in a totally different profession but enjoy genealogy research immensely and was able to figure out a way to do something I enjoy and help pay for my own addiction (gen research) by offering my services.
We all have our own personal reasons for researching - mine are quite similar to yours in that I had little contact beyond my father's immediate family and was truly curious. I love to research but honestly don't enjoy the recording of it as much. I wish I had a better understanding of how to create a website so I could record my work and make it available for others to enjoy but alas all of us are given particular talents but usually not all the talents we desire.
Not sure if this answers your question; however, perhaps it gives you something else to consider. Personally, if you are going to make a living doing genealogy, I would think research would provide a small source of income perhaps in your later years when retiring. To make substantial amounts of money for your younger years, you would need to research something and produce a book or product that could be sold multiple times to make a profit. In my opinion, I would encourage you to keep genealogy as a hobby or part-time, supplemental income job and not your primary employment.