I haven't cashed out personally, but I know people who have. I am not hurting for cash, so this is my way to have some exposure to the cryptocurrency field without having to use my own money.
I am like a lot of people, I understand the benefits but I can't quite shake that it is literally just 'computer money'. Not backed up by anything, just that there is a 'greater fool'. But hey, I have always been reading about new and alternate things. I remember looking into Bitcoin after hearing about it for awhile, it was priced at $2.64 then. I didn't buy any for the reasons I just mentioned. Now a single Bitcoin is about $3,000. If I just dropped a few hundred in it back then I would be FI right now.
Fools have always made other people rich, right? PT Barnum and whatnot.
As for the utility of STEEM, think about it this way.
First, it is the only cryptocurrency backed up with a website.
Second, the more STEEM you have the greater your influence is. Without STEEM power in your account your upvote is just an upvote - worth a fraction of a cent. My upvote with just over 10,000 is worth about 50 cents. The big 'whales', as we call them - those with hundreds of thousands of STEEM, can give a post $100's of dollars in a single upvote. There is utility in that.
Third, think about how much money Facebook is making from advertising. Now imagine the benefit of being able to hand out free STEEM with your upvotes - you will have a lot of attention to what you write about. Having people view and interact on social media is something a lot of business want. A business could accumulate STEEM and have a daily contest in where they could award the winner an upvote on their comment. That would get a lot of people following their account, seeing their brand everyday for a chance to win. All for just a one time investment in STEEM since you aren't giving away any of it. (Though that is also an option - to give STEEM directly.
Think about all the social media - FB, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, Imgur, etc. People work those platforms hard to have a following so they can sell something. Steemit actually rewards people for upvoting as 25% of the total post value is distributed back to those that upvoted it, in proportion to amount of STEEM they hold and how early they upvoted.
On Reddit and Imgur especially, people try hard to create something that they think will get them a lot of upvotes. That is nothing but fake internet points that can't be sold. On Steemit, they can sell those points for actual cash. Think about how many people would try to create amazing things if they could earn cash (by selling the STEEM earned) for it just by posting? I think it is a huge amount.
I don't get anything for telling you about Steemit, but I think that some of us interested in becoming financially free would be interested in a way to earn a bit of this pie.
If you already have art or blog posts or anything else that people might enjoy, try it out. If you want to go further, create new things to share. Sky is the limit and its growing every day as more people join up. Not saying it is easy, but people have earned $1,000's in just their first month. Not me, I just slowly and steadily accumulated small amounts.