Yes, I consider myself an amateur, in the sense that whilst I'm paid to write, I'm certainly not paid to blog, and I try to keep the day job and the blog separate.
An amateur - as anyone with a smattering of Latin knows - is someone motivated by love, not by money. There's a great line in a Josh Ritter song - "I'm singing for the love of it, have mercy on the man who sings to be adored" - which sums up my motive for blogging. I know Samuel Johnson said that "none but a blockhead ever wrote except for money", but he was a twat.
And amateurism has a lot to offer. Stephen says that "if you want your blog to get noticed now, best to develop a niche." But the thing is that the MSM has left a lot of big niches. Sunny's right that "there is just too much opinion out there". But a lot of voices doesn't mean we get a diversity of ideas.
There's an awful lot which the mainstream ignores. Perhaps the main question I ask before blogging is: "what needs saying that isn't said elsewhere?" And I'm rarely stumped for an answer. The mainstream tends to ignore things such as anti-managerialism, the ubiquity of ideology/cognitive biases and the vast quantity of new and interesting economic research. Yes, there's too much opinion, too much manufactured outrage, too much narcissism and too much obsessing about the Westminster village. But there's a shortage of different perspectives.
In trying to provide different ones - albeit those which are entirely within established intellectual traditions - I'm sometimes accused of trollemic. This is not an accusation but a compliment. The lazy consensus - which extends across both left and right in some important ways - should be challenged. The reactions to my posts which most depresses me is when people agree: what I'm striving for is the reaction, "I'd hadn't thought of it that way."
It is, I fear, only amateur blogging which permits me to do this. The MSM needs to attract eyeballs, and the way to do this is to echo readers' prejudices. Being freed from the need to attract an audience, I can say what I want, or more precisely, what I think needs saying.
Blogging also gives me freedom over style. The essence of blogging (this post excepted!) is linkage. A good blog therefore drives traffic away from its site, which is of course the opposite ideal of the MSM.
In these sense, there is a big place for amateur bloggers - which I hope to continue to occupy, whether you want me to or not.
Another thing: I'm mystified by people who claim not to have time to blog. Blogging takes only around an hour a day of my time, and much of that is time I'd spend thinking about the things I blog anyway.