My Content Writing Process

October 20, 2021
my content writing process

Eight years ago, I never thought my love of social media and blogging would take me to content writing for all kinds of brands. I went from an assistant to creating affiliate ads and social media to strengthen my SEO content manager, writer, and editor. Today, I am happy to share the content process I’ve created over the years. 

In the world of online content, good SEO means releasing good content regularly. Content can be blog posts, videos, or social media posts. It doesn’t matter what type you use as long as it meets specific criteria of writing and storytelling.

The content that I write takes time and energy to create, but the final product is worth it because of its size and frequency of production.

I try not to cap on content creation since content drives traffic back to your website. Content is the new marketing, and you shouldn’t ignore content creation. It should be embraced, nurtured, and given attention.

Here’s how I create content that leads to views, drives conversions, and ranks on Google:

Step One: The Content Writing Ideation and Planning Phase

Using tools like Google Trends, SEMrush, Ahrefs, SEOsurfer, and Clearscope, I brainstorm content ideas that will have the most impact on user engagement. Here’s how my content writing idea process usually goes:

  • It all starts with a content idea 
  • I move to whether it will have SEO benefits 
  • How many content ideas do I have in total? 
  • I collect scalable content ideas that I can release throughout the next several months (a quarter or more) 
  • I keep track of old content that needs some good ole’ repurposing


Using Google Docs, I storyboard content ideas that seem like they will be SEO-worthy content. This content is content that I want people to see and has the potential to go viral. I like to create a content calendar in Google Sheets for my blogs and have a list to go straight to for my next project. 

Step Two: Content Creation

Now it’s time to put everything together and create some Kick-A$$-Content (KAC). Here’s the most important part of content writing:


Using Google Docs, I outline each content idea using a five-paragraph essay format with the following:

  • An introduction
  • Headings (using proper H1, H2, and H3’s), and conclusion (if applicable)
  • Body paragraphs 

The outline also includes:

  • Content writing ideas about keywords to target
  • Content points that have the most value; why this content is being released, and whom to target with releasing this content

Outlines are crucial. They help us determine if content will be successful in outreach efforts before it’s even written.

Topic Research

Now the fun begins! I start by researching the content standards and points of the content writing piece. I become a subject matter expert on the topic, using as many resources as I can. Some resources might include:

  • Interviewing stakeholders, team members, or professionals
  • Diving further into a buyer persona
  • Doing a competitive analysis on other content
  • Researching and sourcing from institutions, organizations, and other non-competitive resources on the internet

I then compose material following the content requirements, keywords for content pieces, questions about our audience’s thoughts on the subject of content, and connections between pieces and objectives. 

Content Writing and Editing

My attention to detail, writing style, and tone and voice of the brand come into play here. If there’s a style guide, I follow it or stick to a preferred style like AP style. I make content come to life with my words while making my content scannable. 

Next, I check my readability score on, and I check for errors on Grammarly Premium. I’ll also double-check to ensure I’ve incorporated all the in-line links and keywords I intended to use. If I’m working with an editor, I’ll shoot it to them for an extra pair of eyes and revisions. 

Step Three: Share Content Out Into the World

Are you ready to share this wonderful creation? Ready, set, go!


After I write the content, it’s time to publish on websites where content naturally falls, such as blog posts or videos. I get into my CMS (usually WordPress), and using YoastSEO; I input my content and format everything. I add images and alt text and a meta description with the keyword.


Syndication is good for content that might not go viral but still has excellent outreach and content engagement value. Syndication means the content has been published where content already exists. For example, you could publish content on your blog and then republish it on LinkedIn or YouTube.


After content is out, it’s time to see if content efforts are successful using analytics tools like Google Analytics. Analytics show me what content I should create going forward, what content is performing well on secondary channels of content distribution, and if the content has an SEO benefit. 

These analytics goals are the goals that content producers should have in mind when working with content. Suppose content doesn’t get a lot of views but receives only a few backlinks from authority websites. In that case, there are a few possibilities:

  • The content isn’t content that content viewers like to see 
  • I didn’t target the content at the right people
  • I need to create better content with higher content value

Conclusion: Content Process and the Importance of Keyword Research

Depending on what kind of content you’re releasing, you should use keywords either throughout your content or explicitly used for content outreach. Don’t leave home (err, hit the publish button) without it!

I hope my content process is helpful to content producers who want to publish content with purpose.  If you want to look at the content I’ve previously done, check out my portfolio page.

Interior Design Lifestyle

Ways to Make Your Home Cozy for Fall (2020)

October 20, 2020
10 Ways to Make Your Home Cozy for Fall (2020)

There’s nothing like the coziness that comes from when you cozy up on the couch in your living room, watching movies all day. Do you want to make your home cozy for fall? This time of year is a great excuse to change up the dining room, entryway, front porch and more to create that cozy fall ambiance. 

From greenery to gourds, minimalist to glam, there are fall decor ideas for everyone. You can make a DIY front porch or simply adorn your dining table and front door with a garland of fall colors. These interior design tutorials are to inspire everyone to give themselves a fall-themes makeover.

How Do I Make My House Cozy and Inviting?

There are a number of ways you can get your home to look cozy and inviting for fall. First, start by putting a fall wreath on your front door. Usually these details are small, but there are some more unique ways you can makeover your home into a cozy space for family and friends to relax. Here are some tips to make your home cozy for fall:

  1. Change up your bedding
  2. Incorporate throw blankets in all your living spaces
  3. Blanket ladders and baskets for organization
  4. Use comfy seating
  5. Add accents to the fireplace
  6. Change up the lights
  7. Entertain with fall tableware
  8. Decorate with candles
  9. Display fall-theme photos
  10. Insert pumpkins inside and out

Tip #1: Change Up Your Bedding

Check Latest Prices:

Belgian Flax Linen Waffle Duvet Cover & Shams

Alpine Faux Fur Quilt & Shams – Ivory

Waffle Weave Blanket

1000-Thread-Count Sateen Sheet Set

You don’t necessarily need color to make your bedroom look cozy for fall. This look from Pottery Barn is great because it blends warm whites and beige together that keeps the room cozy through winter and into early spring. Layers are the theme here, starting with white sheets (you can use year-round BTW), then with this linen waffle duvet cover for your comforter, a faux fur quilt, and the waffle weave blanket on top gives you all the textures. Top with another cozy throw, and your cozy look is made complete. 

Buy Now: Fall bedding

Tip #2: Incorporate Throw Blankets & Throw Pillows

Check Latest Prices 

Crate & Barrel Carez Throw

Crate & Barrel Styles Ecru Fringe Throw Blanket

Pottery Barn Faux Fur Ruched Throw

You can add in a throw blanket and pillow anywhere to make your home look cozy for fall. Muted tones like beiges, browns, off white, teal, orange, and pink are perfect, depending on the main colors in your rooms. Faux fur, cabled blankets, and fringe add texture to any room. Throw a throw on your home office chair, your bed, and of course, your sofa. When you need a touch of warmth, your cozy throw will be within reach. 

Tip #3: Blanket Ladders and Baskets for Organization

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Wooden Blanket Ladder

Decorative Basket

When you need to store your throw blankets and pillows, a blanket ladder and basket is the perfect solution. You can make your home look cozy for fall by placing the blanket ladder and baskets near your sofa, so family members and guests can grab a blanket or pillow when they want to get cozy. You can also use them as storage when you don’t want your sofa adorned with accessories. 

Tip #4: Use Comfy Seating

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Velvet Accent Chair

Tufted Accent Chair & Ottoman

Esters Wood Arm Chair 

Imagine a rainy Sunday afternoon, with a good book and a comfy chair. No matter your style, you can make your home look cozy for fall by choosing an accent chair that meets your look. Bold colors, luxurious textures, and a rustic touch make the perfect combination for a lovely reading nook. 

Tip #5: Add Accents to the Fireplace

Ways to Make Your Home Look Cozy for Fall
Cozy living room interior inspired by autumn colors

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Suede Fireplace Holder

Fireplace Candleholder

Fall Garland

Cozy Chic Mirror

If you have a fireplace, you should know that it becomes the centerpiece of your living space during the winter months. Because it’s a showpiece, you can make your home looking cozy for fall by adorning your fireplace with seasonal accents. Candleholders, fireplace wood holders, and mirrors are great options for accessories. You can top it off by adorning your fireplace with leaf garland. It will add an extra layer of warmth to your living space, whether more contemporary or in a log cabin. 

Tip #6: Change Up the Lights

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Oil Rubbed Brown Pendant

Tripod Wood Floor Lamp

Glass Table Lamps

Nothing’s like the warm glow of a well-lit room. To transition seasons, you can make your home look cozy for fall by using different table lamps, floor, lamps, and light pendants. Create a fluid aesthetic by finding lighting with the same finishes. Brass, brown, or black finishes are perfect for warmer months. 

Tip #7: Entertain and Eat Fall Up

Walden Dinnerware Collection

Check Latest Price

If you’re planning to entertain this fall, the best way to make your home look cozy for fall is to showcase your hearty meals by using dinnerware for fall. Bold colors, gold, white, and porcelain looking dinnerware is the most cozy looking dinnerware. 

Tip #8: Decorate with Candles

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London Glass Hurricane Candle Holders

Mercury Votive Holders

White Birch Flameless Pillar Candles

White Pillar Candles

Voluspa Japonica Baltic Amber Candle

We all know that candles make any room feel more intimate. But you can make your home look cozy for fall by decorating your home with fall candles. Even if you need to go flameless, you can create a flameless look in a hurricane candle holder by adding acorns, pinecones, and mini pumpkins. The scent from luxurious candles fill your home with scents of amber and wood. So, even if you don’t have a fireplace, you can feel as though you are sitting in front of one anyway. 

Tip #9: Display Fall-Theme Photos

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Rustic Frame

Gray Farmhouse Frame

When you want your home to look cozy for fall, why not incorporate your friends and family? Frame your precious pictures (think in fall or cold scenes) with cozy rustic frames. Alternatively, you can also hang artwork that takes your place into the woods and creates a rustic backdrop.  

Tip #10: Insert Pumpkins Inside and Out

Cozy Chic Pumpkins

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We can’t forget the best part of fall decor – pumpkins! These days there are plenty of options available to make your home look cozy for fall by decorating with pumpkins. Try different patterns, colors, and textures to go with your home decor. Put real pumpkins outside your door, too, by stacking them. Pro tip: spray real pumpkins with hairspray so bugs and critters don’t eat them up before Thanksgiving.

Buy Now: Mackenzie Childs Pumpkins – Striped | Polka Dot

Frequently Asked Questions: Make Your Home Look Cozy for Fall

How early can you put up fall decorations?

It’s never too early to put up fall decorations. While some people opt to put up fall decorations in late August or early September, most people put up fall decorations in late September or early October. 

Is August too early to decorate for Halloween?

August tends to be a hot month. If you are craving fall leaves and pumpkins, it’s acceptable to put fall decorations out in late August. Do what you want, though. I mean, Starbucks comes out with their fall menu in late August, so why shouldn’t you?

How do I decorate my front yard in the fall?

You can decorate your front yard for fall by doing the following:

  • Have a colorful display of moms in different colors and sizes. Rustic planters give your front yard a rustic look. 
  • Dried corn is readily available at craft stores everywhere. Hand dried corn with different colors on the sides of bails of hay (you can also pick up at Michaels or Joanns).
  • Create layers of hay between fall decor.
  • Use fake or real painted pumpkins to match your home’s color scheme. Teal, grays, and greens are popular these days.
  • Attach cornstalks to lamp poles and columns for an added fall touch.
  • Get a fall-theme welcome mat for welcoming guests. 

Easy DIY Decorating Ideas to Make Your Home Cozy for Fall

  • Rotate your area rugs with fall colors. Or simply swap your current with sheepskin. 
  • Place coffee table books on the table with fall themes. Even cookbooks create that cozy look. 
  • Make a fall wreath with burlap, fake leaves, ribbon, and other adornments in fall colors. 
  • Swap out the china in our dining room for fall serving ware and dishes.

Happy Fall!


Steph Shakes

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Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Must-Haves: Shop it Now

August 7, 2020
Nordstrom Anniversary Sale
Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

The Nordstrom Sale, or Nordstrom Anniversary sale, was postponed until August. Did you know you can shop the sale now?

Here’s the Nordstrom Sale Schedule:

Pulled from Nordstrom, here’s the schedule:

  • August 13 – All cardmembers are allowed to shop early access. Depending on Nordy Club status, you may be allowed to shop earlier.
  • The Anniversary Sale becomes open to the public August 19-30, with prices going up August 31st.
  • Shop August 13th, if you do not have access already.
  • Favorite anything now so you can shop later — or check back at this post for updates!

My Favorites: Women’s in the Nordstrom Sale

You have to grab this, this, and this Barefoot Dreams sweater. These ones always get sold out fast – so jump on it! They’re especially great if you are working that #remotelife. Also, check out these loungewear favorites below.

I love that boot cut jeans are on their way back. These ones are fabulous.

Not too many dresses on here, but I love a good discounted Eliza J.

Women’s Accessories Favorites in the Nordstrom Sale

Not too many handbags this year, but I did see a lot of sunglasses like these ones. I love how discounted they are.

My Favorites in Shoes in the Nordstrom Sale

If you’re shopping for the Anniversary Sale, you should always check out the shoe section. They have a good selection of men’s and women’s tennis shoes and also a good selection of booties this year.

Men’s Favorites in the Nordstrom Sale

Many of the best deals for men’s is in dress wear and sports coats. Such great deals on suits, you cannot find at these prices anywhere else.

My Favorites in Home in the Nordstrom Sale

Barefoot Dreams makes their appearance again in the home section. Not too much here this year, but the blankets are at a good price.

Nordstrom Sale Beauty Favorites

I’m a big fan of this curling iron, and I am pretty happy with the discounts they have on beauty this year.

What is the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale?

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a coveted sale Nordstrom, the department store, holds once a year. Typically in the month of July, this year the Anniversary Sale was moved to August due to unforeseen circumstances.

Should I Shop the Anniversary Sale?

By all means, yes! Whether a cardholder or not, the Anniversary Sale allows for anyone to buy the latest fashion at a discounted price before being made public.

I Can’t Shop the Sale Now, Should I Wait?

If you are not eligible to shop the Nordstrom sale by all means, wait until you can! There are so many great deals this year.

But did you know you can “wishlist” certain Nordstrom Sale items and go back to buy them when you are available to shop? All you need to do is create an account on the Nordstrom website.

Happy shopping! I hope you find the BEST deals around!


Why Personal Branding is Important

November 7, 2018

You may have a blog, a following on social media, or you may be looking into starting your own blog. As someone who helps businesses with their social media and website content on a daily basis, I know that it is a slow start. However, you want to define your brand first, even if it’s your personal blog, it’s still a brand. 

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Vegas 2018: Las Vegas Travel Guide

October 24, 2018
travel guide las vegas steph shakes

A couple of months ago, I spent 48 hours in my hometown of Las Vegas with one of my closest girlfriends. Back in January, right before my move, she had called me up because she was about to purchase some Backstreet Boys tickets, who are in their last leg of their residency at Planet Hollywood. Now, I may not be a Backstreet boys superfan like she is, but I can appreciate a 90’s boyband and a quick visit back to my hometown. I’m going to break down my super fast and sleepless trip to Sin City.

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Fashion Lifestyle

Blog Update: New Year, New Beginnings

January 5, 2018

Happy 2018! Well, we are a few days into the New Year. Mine certainly started out with a bang! A case of bronchitis. Thankfully, I was able to get myself going on meds right away and spent the whole week resting while it was sub-zero temperatures outside. Perfect excuse to stay in, I must say!

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