Just a girl with a blog…


October 2016

About Me


My name is Kirsty McFarlane and I am an aspiring freelance writer/author. With a career-orientated mind and passion for learning new skills. I am a very approachable and creative person and find deep enjoyment from creative writing such as fiction writing and poetry and I am fascinated by Media.

I am currently studying journalism and social media communication at Hillsborough College and am hoping it will aid me into gaining a place at my desired university, Sheffield Hallam University.

I am creating this portfolio to display my best areas of work including: news stories, articles, reviews, blogs and photojournalism. This is some of the work I have been producing on my course as regular practice and writing articles for the The Sheffield Star to be published on their website/newspaper.


Conspiracy In The Air

Conspiracy in the air.

I feel as more unusual things happen in the world, the more people are intrigued by various conspiracy theories on all sorts of topics from unsolved mysteries, strange deaths and popular tragic events such as the JFK shooting and 911.

Many Youtubers are now including conspiracy videos in there schedule with popular Youtuber, Shane Dawson inspiring others to make similar videos on various topics and have more and more people interested with millions of views on his conspiracy videos.

A conspiracy theory is the belief that a secret conspirator has been decisive in producing a political event or evil outcome which theorists question and want to disprove, prove or do not approve of. A theorist typically identifies the conspirators and provides evidence that links them with an evil plan to harm someone and may point to a supposed cover up by authorities or media.

Lately, more and more people are being intrigued by popular conspiracy theories such as the Mandela effect (a theory in which things people have commonly identified as one thing is not as they remember) For example, the theory is derived from Nelson Mandela and people remembering him dying in prison however he lived on much longer than his release from prison and died recently in 2013. Other popular theories include aliens are hiding in Area 51, the American government are controlling the weather and a new theory in which people suggest that Hilary Clinton is hiding an illness as there are many photos and videos investigated by conspiracy theorists to suggest this.

Blog – My top 10 Autumnal songs

My top 10 Autumnal songs

Like Ned Stark from Game Of Thrones said: “Winter is coming”

Autumn is here and all of us are now snuggling up inside on the dark and cold nights. But what is more perfect than relaxing with a hot chocolate and that perfect Autumnal tune? Autumn has always been my favourite season and I really enjoy listening to calming music at night. I enjoy the deeper lyrics and melodies and I believe they make Autumn feel festive; and who doesn’t want that?

As the seasons change, so does my music, so here are my top ten autumnal songs to get you through the frosty mornings and chilly nights.

  1. Somewhere Only We Know – Keane

Between the nature-related lyrics and soothing verses, this song screams Autumn to me and is always played right into Winter. The song has even been used in the John Lewis Christmas advert covered by Lily Allen and when the song is played it always gets me into a festive mood.

2. Clementine – Sarah Jaffe

This indie folk song is a song about change and reflecting on the past and I feel it fits perfectly as the seasons change and the weather gets colder. Along with the year drawing to the end, I feel this song is perfect for this time of year. I like to play this song while I’m travelling and puts me in a good mood.

3. Sweater Weather – The Neighbourhood

Along with the very Autumnal song title, the lyrics talk of a relationship spent inside together as the weather gets cold. Perfect. I found this song nearly three years ago and would always play the song as the weather gets colder.

4. Stubborn Love – The Lumineers

The folky sound and lyrics are very suited to a long car journey in the transition from Autumn to Winter alike to the music video to this song.

5. Autumn Leaves – Ed Sheeran

Again, the title is very suited to Autumn and is perfect for playing on a long Autumnal walk in the woods. The song is also very emotional and sentimental and I can imagine sitting with a hot chocolate in my room wrapped up in blankets listening to the song.

6. I Know – Tom Odell

With many of the lyrics relating to things to do with Autumn, I believe Odell’s voice is one to definitely enjoy on the colder nights. I have always enjoyed the sung storyline in the song and image the story taking place in the colder months.

7. I Love You, Sleepyhead – Lanterns On The Lake

This song could be a lullaby. The sweet lyrics and calming voice makes it perfect for those nights spent snuggled up relaxing. When I found the song I would play it repetitively late at night and I think it would be a beautiful song to listen to in the early mornings when you’re first waking up

8. Holy Ground – Taylor Swift

The first time I heard this song was many years ago in Autumn. And I believe the pop-ish, upbeat sound and Autumn related lyrics is perfect for a Autumn day out and about. This song holds a lot of memories for me as I got the album that contained this song four years ago and I would always play this song during that time which was late October so around this time every read I love to play it!

9. Chasing Cars – Snow Patrol

There’s something about this song that makes me imagine it as a song for Autumn and Winter. I love listening to it on walks home at night and belongs on a Autumn playlist. The lyrics are completely genius in this song and the sound makes me feel like it would be perfect to listen to on a cold walk.

10. Let It All Go – Birdy & Rhodes

This duet is calming and their unique voices along with the setting of the music video makes me believe it belongs on an Autumn playlist. I liked to listen to this song very often last year. I enjoyed the sound of their voices and thought it was very peaceful. And all in all, this song is a great one for Autumn.

The Star – Article Piece: The Rise Of The Youtubers (In Progress)

Youtubers are taking over the world.

More and more teens are favouring an evening of Youtube videos over a night of soap operas making the community of Youtube sensations rise in popularity and quantity.

Because of the rapidly growing number of subscribers, views, shares and promotions a Youtuber is getting per video, many often get the chance to work on secret projects resulting in a utopia filled with books, merchandise, cosmetics and fashion lines.

A lot of it is quite overwhelming. Popular beauty guru, Zoella states: “Over the past few years, my life seems to have taken a complete 180. Did I set out for it to become that way? Of course not. Did I ever expect it? Hell no. Did I ever plan on making a living from it? Nope.”

Many other popular Youtubers such as Lily Singh and Tanya Burr are bringing out their own personalised goodies for their fans to love while taking over Waterstones with books and stationary and highstreet drugstores with make up and bath products.

The number of channels earning six figures each year on YouTube has increased by 50% and is still growing in numbers making what seems to be a common hobby into a full-time job for many Youtubers.

Youtube lover Jess Bradley states: “Although they’re just people, I feel happy that there are more things to buy from the Youtubers I enjoy watching.” and Youtube fanatic Abbie Akers includes: “I think it’s good that Youtubers get to express their creativity in different ways and share it.”

2.1 Demonstrate independence in decision making in planning and planning creative solutions

The makeup mothership is landing

For all makeup-lovers that have been living under a rock, remain calm with the upcoming news that Sephora will be coming to the UK!

British beauty fanatics have been taking to Twitter and other social media sites to express their excitement over the new Sephora store opening in Westfield Stratford in East London after rumours sprung that people noticed the frame of the store being built.

I think we can all officially start saving up.


And for those still unsure on what the hype about this store is about, Sephora is a makeup haven including every product and brand a person could need including makeup brands that are not currently available to us in the UK.

The excitement is very real. Although there is no official opening date or word from Sephora yet, it’s safe to say we will all be saving every penny we can until that day comes.


My Sephora Interview

Promotion As a Freelancer & Creating a Portfolio

Tips to remember as a freelancer: Source 1 (1-3) Source 2 (4 – 5) Source 3 (6 -)

Respond to phone calls and emails as quickly as possible – If your are contacted by someone, the chances are that person has researched your work and is looking for your services and you are still fresh in their mind. It is useful to get in contact with them as soon as possible as this helps you look more professional and serious about your work.

Create a good website with a daily blog – Blogging religiously helps to show your personality and your style of work through your photos and helps to promote your skills to people looking at your website. Your website is very important and will be the most crucial when people consider you for work so investing your money and effort here is vital.

Confidence is key – A steady work load won’t just appear over night – you have to work for it and believe in yourself. You will make mistakes, but mistakes are good; it means that you’re learning. Believing in your own abilities is the most important tool to keep yourself going in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out their, that’s how you’ll find work, and being confident in your own skills makes a good impression on people wanting to use you for work.

Find your niche – Don’t try to be the best at everything, you will fail. Finding your niche and the one thing you’re most skilled at and enjoy will be your focus when doing your photography.

Make the most of your resources & Invest – It’s far better to focus on what you do have than stress about what you don’t have. Make the most out of your equipment you already have and learn how to use this to your advantage when starting up your business as this makes everything easier, stress free and more profitable earlier on. Always start off your business with money in the bank and save up for better equipment later on. (It’s better to buy lenses than lighting)

Build a portfolio – Even if you never have had photographs taken professionally or publicly displayed, starting a portfolio of your best work will help to show people interested in your work your skills and you can add later when you start receiving paid work as this will be your professional work.

Forms of promotion 

  • Advertising
  • Business cards/Flyers/Banners
  • Social media (Including linked in)
  • Websites/Directories to get work
  • Own website and portfolio

What is a digital portfolio? – Source 1

A portfolio may include an individuals best work which has been collected typically throughout a year or longer displaying their skills in their field of work. A portfolio is typically displayed in a lean and straight forward manner to keep the interest of an agent/company etc wanting to hire. A digital portfolio may also include an example of media based work such as photos, web material, spreadsheets, audio files, illustrations and diagrams

They may also be used as a requirement from an undergraduate or graduate degree to show key information from the student’s academic career. In education, digital portfolios should accurately represent a student’s interests, active learning and comprise a showcase of the student’s work.

They are also common tools amongst professional artists such as graphic artists, photographers and illustrators who may use media as a way of showing their skills in a non traditional way to market their work and should represent top work and any key clients or publications.

Digital portfolios are very useful for people in media based careers as they are very versatile in the different forms of media which can be displayed and are easy to update which is helpful for people wanting to show off their newest and better work. They are also useful in demonstrating an individuals mastery of a certain subject and can be used when applying for an internship or job as digital portfolios can be visually interesting and engaging.

Creating a portfolio as a freelance writer – Source 1

Your portfolio needs to represent you and your personal style at it’s very best. You’ll need to include your best pieces and performances from your most recent work and does not have to include everything you’ve written. A good portfolio is focused and represents your speciality as a writer. So a good approach to building your portfolio is being very limited with your pieces but including your very best as an employer is very unlikely to look through everything.

Getting past references such as an employer/tutor to write your skills down helps to show what others truthfully think of your work and what your speciality is in writing. Proof of past work and skills from education and work helps to build a foundation on various opinions and pieces you may have done and rounds out your skill set overall.






Interviewing Techniques and Skills


Be “sceptical not cynical”
Avoid “grandstanding” or showing-off
Be sure of your facts

Source 1

Practice good nonverbal communication.
Dress for the job or company.
Don’t talk too much.
Use appropriate language.

Source 2

Knowing your own CV inside and out


Repeat the interviewer’s question. The interviewer may give you a hint if you’re actively thinking instead of stalling.


Good nonverbal communication speaks volumes about a candidate.


Leveraging knowledge of the company and interviewer

Source 3


Know what questions you may be asked by an interviewer


Know what you want to achieve from the job position


What the interviewer really wants to know: Are you a well-rounded individual?

Source 4


What not to do:


don’t lie: the interviewer may see through you. Even if you get the job, your employer can dismiss you if they find out that you have not been honest
don’t let your nerves show too much
don’t be arrogant and assume you’ve got the job. Nothing turns off employers more than someone who is disrespectful and over-confident

Source 5

Thank the interviewer


Keep all of your mobile and other electronic devices turned completely off.

Source 6


Interviewing Skills (Feedback)

Ask questions – Research common interview questions

Be prepared – Read over your CV/Personal Statement, Do your research e.g company/course

Look presentable – Neat, First impression count, (Judgements made within first 7 minutes)

Stay in contact – Follow up email to thank company for opportunity

Stay calm/ be well rested – Be focused

Interview formats – Q + A (One to one) Q + A  (Panel) Group interview, Roleplay, Workshop, Produce an artefact

Take a portfolio – Sample of your best work in an appropriate format, testimonials

Sell yourself – Self presentation, be punctual, eye contact






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