Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Ultimate Festival Inspiration - Tassels, Sequins & Metallics

Four weeks until HOGSOZZLE!! (buy your ticket here)

We can't wait and I'm starting to try and put together some outfits for the occasion that I can add to the ridiculous amount of festival clothes I bought last year and create some super-memorable ensembles. I've put together a wishlist which I'll add to and edit over the next month and hopefully beyond - I hope you will find something that you love...
Amazing right?  Bookmark this page as I'll be adding lots more items as I find them online and these sell out.  I'd love to know what you think, if you make a purchase from my list or your favourite online destinations for festival garms, please leave a comment below, or hook up with me on Instagram here.

Katy xx

- This post contains affiliate links

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Camping Essentials For Sleeping And Comfort at Festivals (or on holiday!)

I struggled with what to call this post. Sleeping Bag Information Post? Camping Essentials For Sleeping With Some Comfort In A Bony Field?



Check out my Festival Tent Shopping Guide Here for lots of tent options.

You probably already have a sleeping bag tucked away in a cupboard, but just in case yours (like mine) ended up with four chocolate bars in the bottom stashed in the airing cupboard for a year, here's a guide to some of the best sleeping bags and other extras you can buy at every price range to give your weekend a little bit of extra comfort.

Worst case scenario, we once had a short notice opportunity come up to camp at a festival that we thought we were only going to for the day, although we had a tent we didn't bring anything to sleep on. Here is an actually photo of my trying to sleep on this occasion using our other supplies as a makeshift nest - the neck pain was real.



I don't recommend this set-up.

First things first, do not underestimate the chill of a summer morning in the UK. You WILL need a sleeping bag and something to lay underneath it so the chill in the ground doesn't give you a cold.



1. Trespass Seista (click here for reviews, info and to purchase) - £24.74

This is the sleeping bags that we have currently. They are super lightweight and pack down into a tiny bag the size of your hand but I've never been cold whilst inside mine!

2. MultiWare 3/4 Season Sleeping Bag - £9.59

When buying a sleeping bag, you'll often see how many seasons it's suitable for out of 4. This bag is thicker than the Trespass one but rolls up quite a lot bigger. My son has one of these for his school trips and it's pretty effective, the best thing about it is that you can open the whole thing out flat like a blanket or if you felt so inclined you could also zip two of them together to make a double.

3. Mountain Warehouse Apex 250 Sleeping Sack - £15.99

Suitable for two seasons, which I kind of assume are Spring and Summer although that isn't immediately clear. It's useful to have a distinctive pattern so when you come to pack away you don't pick up the wrong bag - this also packs down into a tiny little sack so it's ideal for longer walks to your campsite.

A sleeping bag alone won't give you a huge amount of support for your back. If you are anything like me (by which I mean, if you are over 25 and have ever hurt your back) you'll know that sleeping on freezing cold, rock hard ground isn't the best. I'd strongly recommend some kind of airbed or 'lino' type mat to prevent cold transfer and give you a little bit of extra comfort. Most of the mats around now are significantly better than those awful blue airbeds that your Mum used to have for sleepovers. We tried to take one of those once and it got popped within about an hour. We dragged it out the tent and used it as a sort of communal picnic blanket but it ended up abandoned in the field, soaked in wine and regret.



1. Trail Extra Thick Self Inflating Camping Mat  - £24.99

Self-inflating camping mats are the future. You simply unroll, undo the valve, put your tent up and then your mat should be full inflated although you may need to blow a few breathes into it the first few times to inflate the cells properly. It's a clever vacuum system that means you don't need to carry and heavy air pump and the relevant batteries around with you. This extra-thick one looks cosy, we have the Vango version (below) but if I had seen this I would have gone for it.

2. Hikenture Inflatable Sleeping Mat with Pillow - £30.88

This looks amazingly comfortable, I can just imagine flooping down on it after a hard night dancing and it's a self-inflater too. Buying a mat with a built in pillow means you don't have to bring one from home, although I always do as I like to sit on something soft when I'm sitting around camp.

3. Vango Self-Inflating Camping Mat - £28.10

This is the mats that we have and they have lasted 12 festivals so far and haven't succumbed to cigarette burns or punctures. They roll up and come with bags but they are slightly heavier than the sleeping bags, yet I always forget that they need to be factored into the weight of our belongings when we are loading up cars and trolleys. Definitely worth a buy, I've recommended them to so many people.

Once your essentials are sorted, see if your budget stretches to a few extra bits to make your campsite comfortable and welcoming.  Here are some other bits and pieces that we have either used or really want to add to our kit this year.




1. Sunncamp Inflatable Chair - £11.95

What a bargain! Although you probably need a pump to inflate it, this style of inflatable chair has been my favourite the last few years and I'm chuffed to have scored this for our kit. I've usually found that someone else on the campsite will be happy to lend a pump if one is needed so I'm crossing my fingers and taking this along.

2. Chill Out Wedge - £14.99

I can't wait to bust this out! We got this as a gift last Christmas and it literally looks like a dream for lounging around camp getting ready for the night ahead. One of the main issues I have with camping is there is never anything to lean against to relax #firstworldproblems

3. iRegro Inflatable Sofa - £24.65

I have a love/hate relationship with these things. They look great, you sink into them like you are floating on a giant cloud and they are weirdly easy to inflate, you just wave the opening about like you are trying to put on a duvet cover. But they are thin and they seem to be the thing I see abandoned most after tents at the end of a festival so I get the impression they pop quite easily. Keep away from cigarettes and sharp sequins!

I hope this has helped! Please do comment below with any links to your own essential camping kit :)

Monday, 9 April 2018

What Tent Is Best For A Festival - Choosing a Festival Tent For Keeps


Happy Spring! I'm excited to introduce the first in a new series of Festival Essential guides that I am going to be posting over the next few weeks.

I've pulled together some of the best tent options I can find at every price point - please do leave me a comment if you have any questions or want to recommend a tent to add to the list. This post contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase a tent after clicking one of my links I get paid a small commission but there's no change in cost to you.

Whether you are a seasoned UK festival goer or have your first tickets booked for this year, the main piece of kit you are going to need is a tent. There are a huge range of options out there, as long as you don't leave it to the last minute you should be able to pick up an amazing tent at a really reasonable price that fits all of your needs and more.

First, establish the basics:
  • How many people need to fit inside?
  • Are you going to have a large amount of luggage or any valuable items that you may want to leave at the campsite? 
  • Are you going to a small festival where you will be able to come back to the tent regularly or are you headed to something huge where you may not see your camp for days? (Boomtown, I'm looking at you)
  • How much space do you have in the car for a tent, or are you travelling by coach and foot? The weight of your tent is going to be extremely important if you are taking a greener travel option than driving!
  • What is your budget?



Let's start with something ridiculously affordable. Unlike regular camping, at a festival you may find your tent crammed with sweaty people you have just met, poking through your stuff and trying to borrow your glitter - and they are all drunk. This combination at any time of the day or night means people rubbing their body up against the interior layer of the tent and just in case you weren't a Girl Guide, that means condensation will be able to penetrate the outer skin of the tent. Once you have touched the skin, water will continue to come through in that spot until you completely dry out the tent. British mornings, even in summer, are dewy and damp and there is no chance of keeping any of your stuff dry with a single layer tent. Most cheap tents tend to be single layer but I've found this amazing bargain for £24.99.


Check out the full specifications and reviews by clicking here

Bonus features include mosquito netting across the vents (because bugs love your unwashed festival skin and high-alchohol blood) and taped seamed - you don't usually get this in a cheaper tent and it means that water can't seem in through badly sewn seams. Honestly, this tent is a total bargain if you don't need something for heavy use.

I hate pop-up tents. They are unstable and usually only have one layer (see above). If they make it through a festival weekend, they probably won't go back in the bag quite right and next time you try and get it out you'll get poked in the eye by a sharp piece of metal. I've hunted high and low for an option that won't get left behind in the camping field - because that's really uncool - and this is probably the best one I could find. A friend has something similar and it's so far lasted 2 years and 7 festivals but it's only ever used for one person.



If you want something that is going to last for several trips as well as 'regular' camping, and have room for everything you might want to take with you, you should look to spend a little more. As we sometimes have to store instruments and equipment in a tent, when it came time to upgrade from our trusty blue Eurohike 2-man, I knew I was going to be looking for something with a bigger porch. The Eurohike (linked here) did us well for two seasons and eight festivals but the zips on the porch finally gave way meaning we couldn't seal off the inner compartment from moisture or bugs and some of the poles were starting to poke through their casings. 

We upgraded to this beauty:



It might not look like much but after struggling hunched over in dome tent with a tiny, unsealed porch area for two years it was pure luxury.

It has all the features that I knew we needed and quite a few more - you have no idea how gleeful I was over having large pockets on both sides. I can kneel with a straight back in the porch and at the beginning of the sleeping area and the whole thing is sealed off from the elements, which made a real difference on the side of a Welsh mountain at the end of last summer in the torrential rain, let me tell you. If you want something waterproof, big enough to have a late night gathering of festival souls and easy to carry, pitch and pack away for under £150, make this tent your bitch.

Link to read reviews and see more images is here.

If we had a little more in the budget, I would have pushed for a bell-style tent. There are so many amazing polyester versions of the classic festival tent. I've found the one below which has some great reviews and seems to offer everything that you could need in term of waterproofing and ease of pitch. Having a tent like this means most of your possessions will become communal as people gather in the only tent with any standing room, but the payoff is worth it. All the space you could want and you won't get a hunchback like the rest of us dome-tent peasants. It's not double layered, but the extra room means that you are much less likely to rub up against the sides and there is an option to add an interior section as well.



Check out the 'Grand Canyon Indiana' here, along with reviews and sizing options.

If money was no object, I would go for something fun and traditional. All the tents I've included so far are made of polyester which is lighter and more waterproof than traditional canvas but I would cast those features aside in exchange for a rainbow bell tent from Boutique Camping. Check this beauty out:


Whilst definitely not as practical as some of the other options (you'll probably need some sort of trolley device to get it from the car park to the campsite!) you can't beat a bell tent for drawing you home after an evening of dancing. More room means you can bring things like foldaway beds, pop-up storage and even stuff to cook on. You can really pimp these out with flooring and flags, lighting and storage. If you know you are going to be going to quite a few festivals and you have the budget, one of these will last you forever if you care for it properly and it will feel like a home away from home with some personal touches. Don't underestimate the benefit of having a full length mirror if you can carry one as well!

Check out all of the reviews and options for these beautiful tent by clicking here.

Finally, I want to include possibly the very best tent I have seen online. I want this tent so much that I regularly trawl the Lotus Belle Facebook and other social media looking for competitions to enter to try and win one. It's wildly out of my price range, but the features are off the scale. I can dream, right? Lotus Belle tents are inflatable, fully waterproof and huge, they would be such an amazing basecamp for a weekend at a music festival or just to take all of your friends camping in luxury. Not going to lie, they are pricey, but if you end up buying one, please do invite me along for a glamping weekend!! You can check out their website by clicking this link. The lovely people at Lotus Belle got in touch to offer my readers a special discount code KATYCLOUDFD for free UK delivery on any of their amazing tents. You can also follow them on Facebook by clicking here.





Thursday, 22 March 2018

First Festival Of The Year - Hogsozzle 2018

Does anyone else feel like this winter has gone on for several hundred years? I've forgotten what sunshine feels like on my skin and I can't remember the last time I drank rum out of a grass-filled plastic cup. Honestly, these last few weeks of Arctic weather and cloudy skies has kind of taken it out of me.

So, finally, the Eternal Winter is over and SPRING is on the horizon. That means it's time for the band to start booking up festivals, yay! For the last three years I've been lucky enough to go to Hogsozzle in Hertford during the last bank holiday in May with our friends, an 11-piece band called The Turner Brothers - all my posts about the band and their gigs are linked here.  This year the fun starts on the 25th of May and goes on until 27th - get your ticket by clicking here!

I've shared so many pictures of Hogsozzle over the last few years that some of these may be familiar if you have ever read one of my festival roundups, but I've grouped my all time favourite pics by year throughout this post anyway, because you can't have enough festival throwback pics on freezing Spring days, right?

Hogsozzle 2015...

...more 2015

As the band have played the festival for the last four years running, they aren't on the line-up this year, but I'm hoping this won't stop us heading over yonder hill to the custom built festival site (the guys run Wilkestock from the same site later in the Summer!) and getting ridiculous - we've seen several of the same people year in, year out so I'm looking forward to reconnecting with all the friends we've met over the years.

Hogsozzle is a small festival with a friendly vibe and a serious focus on looking and being as silly as possible. My favourite thing to do there is to sit on one of the huge torn sofas perched on top of the hill and just watch the craziness happening all around.


 ...2016 continued
 Every year the staples of what makes this a joyful start to the festival season stay the same. A glorious powdered paint fight, a couple of huge sizzling Hogs (included in your ticket price) and a line-up of some seriously awesome dance and entertainment acts as well as some of the best fancy dress we've seen in the last few years - and it's one of the cheapest around too. You can snap up tickets on their official site by clicking here.

Hogsozzle 2017...

...more 2017

I would love to try out their luxury camping this time round, each year we've have created our own little campsite area with gazebos and lights but I think trying the luxury camping would be super fun - there's bell tents for hire and the whole thing is set up ready when you get there. I'll be doing some camping and festival essential guides in the coming weeks as we dig our kit out from under the Christmas tree and everything else we've piled on top and I'm always looking for recommendations and gadgets to take camping. This year my essentials are going to include a solar powered fan, some kind of non-heavy, easy to carry chair situation and a battery charger that doesn't blow my phone battery with two uses - please do pop your recommendations below.

The line-up is looking pretty sweet too, no word yet on whether our dance tent favourites Mirrored Theory are going to be playing a set but I do know that Scratch Perverts have a slot and there's a DJ set by Dub Pistols which I can't wait to get down to but the biggest draw for me is the fancy dress. This years theme is pretty generic and I think you could probably dress up as basically whatever you wanted if you put a bit of thought into your backstory - Fantasies & Fairytales. Don't forget my shopping and inspiration guides if you are stuck for fancy dress ideas, just click the images below.




Will you be coming to Hogsozzle this year, or any other boutique festivals? Buy your Hogsozzle ticket here and let me know you are coming, I'd love to join you for a dance in the Pig Pen! I'd be interested to hear about more small, friendly weekends we can get booked in for the summer. After the last few months of snow, ice and staying in I'm definitely ready to start planning an epic summer. Don't forget to drop a comment down below if you've read this far, it really means a lot to me when people comment on my blog posts :)

Friday, 2 February 2018

Why Do Brands Take Influencers On Expensive PR Trips?



What a week for new beauty releases! I've seen the most insane PR packages and trips. I honestly love how fast-paced the beauty industry is moving at the moment. I spotted 4 separate 'blogger' or launch events happening yesterday across my social media feeds and they each looked their own kind of incredible.

When launching a new product or store, introducing a new face or having a rebranding, the current preference for glitzy, no-holds-barred events is a part of a trend called Experiential Marketing. It's been predicted as being 'big' for several years on digital and tech blogs but it's taken some time for brands to get used to spending their budgets in this way and so we are just starting to see something really awesome happening in the sphere of Influencers. Brands are beginning to understand that not every aspect of marketing can be measured in a quantifiable way. Experiential Marketing is about giving consumers an experience that will increase their propensity to purchase, even become an advocate for, the brand. In turn a wider audience is then exposed to positive feelings about the product. This snowball effect is extremely valuable!



At the Benefit Cosmetics #raiseabrow event last year

I was inspired to write this post after I saw quite a bit of moaning on Twitter. Two nights in a country hotel for a new cleanser?  The Maldives? For a MASCARA?  How can this possibly be beneficial for the brand and why are they splashing out thousands on a very small minority and then charging a high price for the product when us mortals have to purchase them?

Brace yourself, sensitive snowflakes.

If you are going to work in social media, expect brands to pay you for your content and ideas and promote yourself as an expert in the subject, you need to know your shit.

I'm really surprised by some of the people I've seen negatively commenting on bloggers attending events, especially when the general mood of the blogosphere finally seems to be turning in a 'support each other' kind of direction.  So I've written below some of the ways that these launches can benefit the brand in a much wider way than just promoting the individual product and how it benefits you too.

Brands have had to completely change the way that their marketing budget is allocated in the last three years. From point blank refusing to pay bloggers to signing up content creators on £100,000 contracts, things have gone from zero to hero for those of us that love to write about and photograph our lives. When I first started working in Influencer marketing, I was convincing decision-makers of the three ways that working with Influencers could help to grow their business.
  • Increasing the number of followers their brand accounts had
  • Raising general awareness of the brands existence
  • Direct sales (became a lot more relevant with the advent of Instagram Stories 'swipe-up' function)
All three of these are measurable to some extent. You can watch a brand's follower count go up when you see an influencer posting about them. Brand awareness can be measured in tags and mentions and direct sales are counted by total sales, of course. A combination of this data should help a brand target the Influencers to keep working with, the type of content that works for them and so on. This ability to use the data to hone future campaigns is a secondary benefit which works infinitely better online than it can do in print as you can test different content and users easily with A/B testing. This is where you trial something on a selection of your potential audience, and something else on another group.



At the launch for Deciem x ASOS

Each of these desired results has certain ways it can be achieved - for example, if you want to increase your follower count then running a contest that involves following that account would be an ideal way to achieve it.

So, we have all these ways of creating campaigns, mixing and matching your desired results with A/B testing of audiences and content. Brands usually have to select what they want from a campaign.

Experiential marketing does all of this and more.

But what brands really want these days is for their fans and users to be creating content for them, independently. This is the holy grail of online marketing in the current climate. Imagine you are launching a product and you've given it a kooky hashtag. If you check that hashtag daily, you want to see people tagging your product in their images. In the case of beauty brands, this is so valuable because of the possibility of using so many different products in one images. You could easily feature 15 or so brands in one picture of your made-up face and tagging with the brands individual hashtags is the first step towards getting that brand to notice you. If they notice you and your image is of a high quality, you might get shared on their page. Boom, 4 million people are looking at your photo, This can have an earth-shattering impact on your own follower count.

 If a brand seems to be sharing a lot of Influencer's content to their audience, sending out amazing PR packages and taking bloggers on holidays that most people can only dream of, it becomes aspirational to be noticed and featured by these brands. This in turn makes their products more desirable, as you aren't going to be featured on Kylie Cosmetics page wearing a knock-off dupe liquid lip. For those bloggers that don't actually take pictures of their face but create elaborate flatlays and studio set-ups - the same goes. They need to buy the product to create the content. Then their followers see them buying and recommending the product and go out and buy it too - this is where micro-influencers fit in and play their part in the campaign. Essentially, creating content on a brand's behalf in exchange for a potential feature.

This is the crux of Experiential Marketing - for the cost of hiring an aquarium for the day and giving away some of your product in mermaid packaging, you can create an experience that gets shared millions of times, something that isn't always possible to get when paying individuals to create content - although that's obviously incredibly valuable too!

One of the negatives I've seen so far is that EM is more difficult to measure. I don't know how brands are going to be analysing whether the thousands and thousands they spend on events with spaceships coming from the roof, covetable merchandise (who else wanted a Too Faced sunhat last summer?) and masterclasses added to their sales. This will be really interesting to watch and research. I'll be keeping an eye on new launch hashtags and how long it takes content to start getting created by aspiring make-up artists and micro-influencers.


The Boohoo Spring/Summer Press Day 2017

I LOVE the movement towards this type of promotion and PR. It means brands have the opportunity to really infuse their personality and their ethos into launches, making it an exciting time to work in the beauty (and fashion and lifestyle and fitness...) industries. Once the longer term effects on sales and brand awareness can be measured I believe there will develop a whole secondary industry dedicated to putting on these type of events with the most success. In the meantime, the only way anyone gets to be involved, whether it's an all-expenses paid trip to Bali or a pool party in central London, is to create amazing content - moaning about it on Twitter won't get you anywhere at all.

I hope this has given some background as to why brands are creating these experiences, I would love your comments below on amazing events you have been to and how they made you feel about a product or brand - please do leave a comment.

I'm currently available for consultation and digital content projects. You can email me on katycloudsofficial[at]gmail.com or tweet on [at]katy_clouds

Thursday, 11 January 2018

New Years Eve at the Ceridwen Centre with Sweetcornbread

I was dreading NYE this time round. The last few years had been underwhelming, my bank account was empty after Christmas and to be brutally honest, our plan to spend the weekend halfway up a mountain in Wales did not fill me with excitement. How stupid I was!

The idea was for Sweetcornbread to play a five hour set at the Ceridwen Centre's Alternative New Year's party, which was being held on their farm in Carmarthenshire. They had played there before as the band have friends that live and work at the venue. For once, I didn't have the usual pre-gig strops from my bassist boyfriend, this should have been my first clear indicator that it was going to be a little special.



The five hour drive was killer, I'm not going to lie. Most of it was in the dark and being squashed up in the back with the instruments and our supplies for the weekend didn't do much for comfort. At one point we stopped at a Welsh service station and I feel like I could be forgiven for thinking we had landed on Mars - who knew Mcdonalds chips could get any thinner? Why do they have a completely different version of the cheese bites? We arrived at the Pen-Y-Blanc farm in the pitch darkness - all I knew was there was a lot of steep hills to traverse and we were going to be staying in The Old Dairy.

We were welcomed warmly and shown to our space. I've shared with the whole band and their girlfriends before and it was tight and noisy with a very intimate feel to the toilet so I was expecting the worst. I needn't have worried! The Old Dairy had lots of room for us, the farm owners bought double mattresses and there was water, snacks, tea and coffee on tap as well as under floor heating and some beautifully equipped, far-away-from-the-living-area washing and toilet facilities. I wish I had taken a picture of the ENORMOUS stack of giant floor cushions in the room because they were literally the cosiest thing ever!

I started to notice other little things. The signs in the toilet, the biodegradable toiletries, the recycling bag - the farm operates on an extremely green basis and they have a green septic tank - I fell a little in love. I had a brief chat with the owners son-in-law and he said  the farm has solar panels and various recycling and green facilities and continue to work to improve their sustainability.

We spent the first evening in a local pub, the John Y Gwas. I have to say our hosts were a dream and the pub itself was exactly as you may expect from a village that seemed to cling on to the side of a mountain. The toilets were something out of Stephen King's It and the locks were on the outside of the doors - only in Wales! We made plans to visit the beach the following day and retired to our cosy Dairy.

I took quite a few photos at Poppit but my favourite part of the beach trip was the 20 minute drive through tight, winding Welsh villages. At the time we went my phone was out of action but I must make a note to try harder to get candid snaps of things I want to blog about - a goal for 2018!


Back at the farm and we got ourselves ready for the night, with the band resting and some of them downing double Lemsips to counteract the bastard flu everyone seems to have now we are back (I've avoided it so far, but I tend to be the last to the party anyway) At the Dairy, wafts of the most fragrant lamb tagine were starting to drift over from the kitchens and I set upon a large bottle of gin - it's a blur from then onwards...


Dodgy panorama of the band trying to sort out their set list, mostly I've included this because Jim's head looks hilarious.



One of these individuals was determined not to have a nice picture with the band *eyeroll*



The party went down beautifully and the band were a smash - despite a slightly awkward countdown for midnight itself which started way too early! The band played a set of covers and original tracks and got the tipi rocking!




We loved the photobooth - I got pretty attached to this red wig at one point.

 I've popped some photos of some of the farm and accomodations below but their website is definitely worth a look  if you are looking for a green (or just beautiful) venue for your wedding - click here. They have all the facilities you could possibly want for your big day - including a stunningly private mountainside wooden hot tub, fired by logs and with incredible views over the valley. I really wanted to give it a go but we didn't start the fire off early enough and we had to leave - I would have been more than happy to spend another few days soaking in the cooked breakfasts, fresh air and genuine warmth of Simone and Roger and everyone at Ceridwen. Thank you so much for showing me that New Years Eve doesn't have to be rubbish when you step out of your comfort zone.


 The hot tub of dreams



Gypsy caravan under winter storage - I believe this is used for the bridal suite for weddings - so romantic.



My favourite - a lovingly restored bus with all mod cons, position overlooking the beautiful valley.

Thank you all at the Ceridwen Centre for an amazing weekend!

Katy x

Monday, 25 September 2017

Picmonkey Free Has Gone




I have advocated Picmonkey for years. I love the fun, fresh interface, the fonts, the overlays and most of all how  kept developing and growing it until it became almost invaluable to a huge number of people who haven't had the time, money or inclination to develop skills in other major design programs.

Over the years, I've written a bunch of articles about the free features on Picmonkey - some of those posts have been shared on the Picmonkey site and one of them is my highest-viewed blog post of all time. It still get's hits, despite being an old and completely redundant way of making your avatar a circle for social media - I still get questions on the post!

Despite all my tutorials featuring only the free elements of the program, I've paid for membership on several occasions, once for a significant number of months. I was also gifted a year long membership at one point as a thank you for the tutorials that I was writing. I strongly believe in supporting independent businesses in the technology industry and I completely understand that not everything can be free.

Last week I saw the title of the announcement email and my heart sank. I knew straight away that it was likely that something was going to changing at Picmonkey and I crossed my fingers it would be something positive. I couldn't believe it when I read that as of that moment, there would be no free access at all, other than a 7 day free trial which required credit card details. This obviously cuts the majority of students and young people who have relied on Picmonkey when their parents won't splash out on design software for adding fonts, overlays and filters to their online content.

The most irritating thing about the change is that because a long, long, long time ago, I've had a free trial which then turned into a subscription to access the Royale features (which are amazing, in particular the addition of the Hub) I am now not entitled to a free trial of the incredible new features that Picmonkey has obviously spent time and money in developing that now needs recouping. I ended up using someone else's card, with permission obviously, as I had just taken on a small freelance project that required a basic graphic. I was overwhelmed with all the new Royale features, especially the Hub, which offers a way of saving the layers in your images. This is going to make it really easy for me to whip up images for my blog, which are all just a background with two white rectangles at different degrees of Fade. The text effects are pretty good too - I'm grateful to finally have drop shadow.

Picmonkey said they wanted feedback and that they were listening but they didn't respond to my several tweets asking them to reset the system so you could have another trial if you had already had one in 2013 or something - so I've done what bloggers do best and vent these issues here - but I'm anxious to make it clear I absolutely think it's worth the money and I will be continuing to subscribe. I love the interface without the ads and the addition of new overlays that can be used in millions of different ways is fab too.

I hope they listen to feedback and provide some way of showing off their brilliant features without needing a credit card.

Katy x

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