Amateur bloggers spend too much time blogging about domestic or personal trivia. That is what Facebook and Twitter are for. Many amateur bloggers might have an interest in philosophical or political issues but think that the world has already heard enough squabbling. Or amateur bloggers consider themselves unqualified. How can a three-paragraph-long post compete with an entire book written by a professional who has devoted years to his job?
But this humility overlooks the advantages that the amateur has: he should never underestimate the group-think that most professionals fall into. The amateur is not constrained by ratings pressure, publication deadlines, legal worries, corporate policy, availability of grants, etc. Nor must the amateur start off with the same premises as professional pundits. After all, it's what doesn't get discussed that matters most. Many topics that might seem boring are not intrinsically boring; rather, their discussion was made boring by starting off with the same assumptions as everybody else.
The same is true of restricting yourself to the Breaking News syndrome of the Media. Professionals in the media will never discuss anything with historical perspective; even if they did, the amateur blogger need not choose the same perspective.
There is a time-honored passage from the opening paragraph of the chapter on Alexander the Great, in Plutarch's Lives, that pertains to the choices an amateur blogger can make. Plutarch chose to write article length comparisons between famous personages, rather than entire books on each one:
It must be borne in mind that my design has been not to write histories, but lives. And the most glorious exploits do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men; sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations, than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles whatsoever. Therefore as portrait-painters are more exact in the lines and features of the face, in which the character is seen, than in the other parts of the body, so I must be allowed to give my more particular attention to the marks and indications of the souls of men, in my portrayal of their lives.
So too can the well-chosen illustrations of a mere amateur add more to a discussion than another shelf of learned lumber from academics or think tank scholars. By 'illustrations' I mean well-chosen anecdotes, analogies, and uncommon historical perspectives that connect events and issues -- a creative condensation, a thought-painting. This benefits the reader more than a 600-page compendium of dry and disconnected facts. Certainly there are temptations and errors in pictorial thinking, but most of this would be averted if the reader didn't confuse perspective with proof.