If somebody had sat me down before I'd started writing a blog and told me how ruddy hard it can be, I honestly don't know if I would've done it. It's pretty crazy. There's so much more to think about, from planning to publicity, than I ever thought there could be, and it can be really tricky to keep all those different balls up in the air without accidentally dropping one.
And all of that, that hard graft, well that's after you jump the biggest hurdle of all; coming up with something worth writing about. If you don't write or blog, you'll probably think it's gotta be easy and you could definitely do it, no problem at all - I know I did. But actually, thinking of relevant content and trying to make sure you get something out there that actually engages your audience on a pre-planned schedule? Sometimes it feels nearly impossible.
That's why it helps so much to keep reading other people's blogs. Not only is it entertaining, but I often find that that's when I get my biggest flashes of personal inspiration and remember why I really love doing this. I'm a big believer in keeping a broad, varied reading list, so I'm always looking out for new posts and bloggers to follow, but there are a certain few that I come back to time and time again.
These five bloggers, in my opinion, knock it out of the park. Every. Single. Time. Though they write about various different topics, they all have one thing (probably the most important thing) in common: they all write from the heart.
AND to top it off, they're all truly lovely, friendly people and you should definitely try to pin them down for a natter. So! In no particular order:
1. Twenty Something Meltdown
Gwennan Rees is sort of the woman I want to be when I grow up, which is especially annoying because she's actually three years younger than me. Having graduated as an illustrator, she now runs her own business (check that out here), writes a killer blog and apparently maintains three separate Instagram accounts. Yeah, it's almost irritatingly impressive, isn't it?
On her blog Twenty Something Meltdown Gwennan writes about a brilliant variety of topics and I love that I'm never quite sure what I'm going to get each day when I pay her a visit. She gave me incredible bullet journal envy with this post, made me howl with laughter with her thoughts on the latest Instagram update, and then made my really think about how important it is that we all vote in the EU Referendum. Also, she posts pretty much every single day because she's magical (I actually think she's probably a witch but shhh don't tell her).
Oh, and the Bullet Journal stickers on her Etsy shop make my heart do happy things.
Enjoy! And follow her on Twitter at @20sMeltdown.
2. Alisha Ockenden
Alisha Ockenden is probably one of the loveliest, happiest people I've ever met. If one 'meets' people online, I'm not quite sure. Like me, she's fairly new to the blogging scene, but unlike me, she's owning it. Like Kim Kardashian in a tight skirt.
Her blog is one of my favourite reads simply because it's all-around fab - she has great pictures, interesting things to say and bagloads of personality. The posts she wrote about her holiday to Ibiza (find the first one here) gave me all kinds of envy, and the piece about vegetarianism was really interesting - and I say that as a die-hard carnivore (sorry) - and enlightening.
Alisha's posts usually go up on a Monday, so they're the perfect antidote for when you're feeling a bit rubbish about the long week ahead. Say hi to her on Twitter at @AlishaOckenden!
3. Oh It's Sare
Sarah has pretty quickly become one of my go-to girls for anything and everything to do with makeup. This girl truly knows her stuff. She's actually studying makeup and prosthetics for TV and film, which may be one of the coolest things in the whole wide world. Plus she has absolutely cracking eyebrows. Major jealousy.
Her blog (Oh It's Sare) gives me exactly what I want in a beauty blog - honest, no-holds-barred reviews, swatches and photos of products in use, plus you actually feel like you're having a chat with her when you read her posts. I sort of want her to take me makeup shopping and just tell me what to buy all the time.
She's just done a whole week of budget-friendly Maybelline buys starting with her fab review of their Vivid Matte Liquid Lipsticks, and not only are there swatches, but also photos of her wearing every single shade. Yes. She's helped me pick my next foundation, and if you want to get to know the girl behind the blog a bit better, this post is a really great place to start!
Make sure you give her some love on Twitter at @ohitssare too.
4. Adventure & Anxiety
Beth is one of those people that just staggers me. She's incredibly sweet, intelligent and humble, and she writes her blog like your best friend would write to you in an email. I honestly don't know how she does it.
Her blog Adventure & Anxiety was started primarily as a diary to document her journeys near and far, and she's giving me serious travel-writing goals! All of Beth's travel posts include beautiful photographs and really interesting historical and cultural tidbits to inspire your inner wanderer. I particularly love her posts on Bath and St Andrews, but they're all fantastic!
As a recent bonus, Beth's branched into beauty posts and her guide to Lush Fresh Face Masks has basically become my next shopping list. It's a fabulous product review post that includes pretty much everything you could possibly want to know about the entire range. Amazing.
Don't forget to follow this lovely lady on Twitter at @adventureanx
5. Jamie T Smyth
Jamie is my most recent discovery on this list, and I'm so unbelievably glad I found him! He's a real deal photographer from Scotland and his images are truly stunning. He's also bloomin' funny and has actually made me do the laugh/cry emoji thing in real life. Over Twitter.
If you're looking for photography inspiration and major picture goals, his website needs to be in your bookmarks. His 7 Days of Nature challenge is incredible - I went majorly gooey over the rabbit photo! - and what he wrote here about his first year of marriage made my heart so happy I couldn't stop smiling for about three hours.
Make sure you bother him on Twitter at @jamietsmyth and tell him it's my fault. Then ask him to share some dancing gifs with you and be prepared to laugh so much you hurt.
Weirdly, I'm sort of hoping that you've got so distracted by the brilliant blogs I've featured above that you haven't even made it this far down the page. But if you have, thanks for checking in and MAKE SURE you keep expanding your reading list.
Not only are these people fab bloggers, but they're also some of the most lovely bunch of Twitter-ers I've encountered. I don't know about you, but I don't know how much I would really enjoy doing this if it weren't for the wonderful, supportive people I've chatted to that just get it.
So Gwennan, Alisha, Sare, Beth and Jamie: thank you all for making my life a little happier. I hope you liked my post!
Who are some of your favourite bloggers? I'm always hunting for more, so hook me up in the comments below! Oh, and if you want to bother me on Twitter, you know where to find me...