technology, cannabis, intelligence, career, creativity, benefits,

Marijuana Versus Your Smart Phone; Which is More Likely to Make You Dumb?

It should come as no surprise that cannabis use affects a person’s short-term memory, but so does multi-tasking. In fact, engaging in too many activities at once can actually cause you to display some of the same symptoms as marijuana intoxication without the negative connotation.

Ironically, though being high and multitasking cause similar tendencies, those who multitask typically believe they are accomplishing more by doing so.

So, which is it? Will cannabis make you more or less productive than your cell phone, tablet, laptop and television? This article compares the two so that you can decide.

How cannabis affects memory loss

Rumor has it that smoking weed can make a person lazy, stupid, and unmotivated. And, though parts of this may be true during the high, the stereotype does not necessarily apply after the high wears off. In fact, contrary to popular belief, long-term marijuana use does not have a negative impact on one’s ability to recall information from memory.

During the high, however, many users show an impaired ability to recall details or specific information — not that they’ve forgotten it — it was never stored in their memory to begin with.

This happens because THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana, binds to naturally-occurring cannabinoid receptors in the brain including the hippocampus which is responsible for regulating the storage of memories. In other words, the part of the brain that’s responsible for deciding what’s important enough to become a memory is hijacked by the THC which may, in turn, decide that the information being presented is unimportant and toss it to the side. Hence, if it is never a memory to begin with, it cannot be forgotten.

Cannabis and creative problem-solving

If, on the other hand, the task at hand is of great interest — a new song, a fresh theory about life or even a doodle on a napkin — then the brain’s ability to retain and build on that new information can, in fact, be heightened by a marijuana buzz thanks to its stimulation of the frontal lobe.

Though the frontal lobe is not directly tied to a “creative” section in the brain, it does seem to tame an “internal critique” that might otherwise hinder the creative process. This means that those with creative potential can harness their ideas more fully without constantly second-guessing themselves, thus letting the creative juices flow.

While smoking weed may not help anyone  bone-up for a physics final, it certainly can help foster creativity and the ability to solve problems — a feature that nine out of ten employers seek when recruiting new talent.

So, to answer the question “will marijuana make you dumb?” Probably not as long as it’s not part of a constant high. But will it get you hired? It just might.

How multitasking affects memory loss

Next, let’s talk about cellular devices, specifically their role in helping us multitask with the best of them.

With cell phones, tablets and laptops equipped with multi-tab features, instant messaging and, of course, adorable cat pictures galore, it can be easy to get sucked into a multitasking cycle that makes us believe that we are being productive than we are.

Contrary to popular belief, the ability to multitask does not improve productivity. According to Realization, those who notoriously multitask are a whopping 40 percent less productive than those who can focus on a single task at once.

Multitasking requires that our brains switch between subjects quickly, which consumes a few seconds of the day each time the switch occurs. Because it takes our brains time to switch gears, each time someone clicks on a new tab, opens a new email or sends a text to a friend, they are losing valuable time (and brain power), and thus diminishing productivity.

Studies also show that those who spend a lot of time multitasking have lower cognitive ability than those who can focus on a single task until complete. This is because their brains have essentially been programmed to pick up stimulus from their surroundings, resulting in an inability to filter out unimportant information and difficulty prioritizing tasks. In other words, even when you have the attention of a multitasker, you will never have their full attention.

Multitasking and over-all productivity 

When it comes to productivity, those who multitask have been fooling themselves into thinking they are accomplishing more than they are. Perhaps this contributes to the feeling that there just aren’t enough hours in the day, and yet students and employees continue to tout their ability to multitask was though it was something to be proud of.

 

So, when it comes to comparing pot to cell phones, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve been led astray. Though smoking marijuana can (and does) impair one’s ability to retain new information, so, too does one’s insistent multitasking.

The difference between the two, however, is that, once cannabis users come down from their high, they do not have reduced cognitive ability, contrary to their multitasking counterpart. Couple that with the fact that cannabis users tend to tackle problems more creatively and you’ve got a recipe for a solid employee who is bound for greatness — if he can put down the bong for a bit. The same cannot necessarily be said for multitaskers and their many cellular devices.

 

It’s easy to get sucked into a massive to-do list and to try to take everything on at once. The days are just too short and your list of obligations just too long, but attempting to multitask until your work is complete will leave you burnt out and unproductive.

In fact, multitasking can cause similar degrees of forgetfulness that cannabis does, but without the happy, euphoric feeling. While marijuana may not be conducive to an effective study session or thought-provoking speech, it does not seem to have a lasting impact on long-term cognitive functions that compulsive multitasking might. So, to answer the question of whether or not pot will make you dumber than the cellular phone glued to your fingers, I think it’s safe to say that either one could do the damage if you let it.

What do you think? Does weed make you smarter than your phone?

journalism major, copywriting, writing gigs, online jobs, work from home, make money, work in weed, cannabis jobs, marijuana, work, writing

Increase Your Worth by Listing Certifications in Your Bio

Weed is awesome, and writing about weed is pretty awesome, too. Of course, just because it’s awesome doesn’t mean it’s easy or that anyone can do it — but there sure are a lot of people trying. If you want to make good money writing about marijuana, you’re going to have to up your game to outpace the competition. Some of the best ways to make more money writing about weed are to focus your attention on a specific area in the cannabis industry and to get yourself certified. Here’s how to do it:

Focus on Your Niche in Cannabis

Weed writers are in high demand (pun totally intended). Thousands of cannabis companies need marijuana copywriters to create fresh content for their websites and social media platforms and they want specialized writers to make it happen.

Because cannabis encompasses such a broad spectrum of topics, simply being a cannabis writer may not be enough. Grow supply companies may seek growers with years of hands-on experience to develop content for their site, whereas wellness companies may prefer someone with a medical background to complete their work. Dedicating your time to developing focused content can improve your credibility as a writer and your clients’ credibility in their field, as well – two things that make upping your rate worth it for everyone.

Adding Credentials to Your Writer Bio

Clients want to know who you are – what your writing experience is, what your areas of focus are, what you like to do for fun, even – and your bio is the best place to make all of that known. Unfortunately, you have to say it all in less than 100 words which is where your awesome writing skills come into play!

The biggest reason to polish your writer bio with credentials and areas of focus is quite simply so you’ll stand out against the competition. Clients have a lot of contributors to sort through and will decide if you’re worth pursuing within the first 7 seconds of reading your bio. Listing credentials straight away will help clients decide quickly if you’re worth their time and will help justify a higher payrate, to boot!

To create an effective writer bio, choose your words wisely and include qualifications predominantly at the beginning. List credentials like educational courses and certification programs along with your specific area of focus then leave something about your personal life at the end if you have space.

Adding Credentials to Your Bio

Credentials are important, but honesty is more important. Though you don’t want to include anything in your bio that is untrue, it’s totally fine to beef up your bio by adding credentials as you do. You can do this in a number of ways, university being the easiest. If you’ve got any sort of English or journalism background, mention that first.

Another way to add credentials to your writer bio is to become certified. We recommend hitting up the HubSpot Certification Programs where you can certify in things like Content Marketing, Inbound, and Email Marketing. Completion of each free certification program gets you a certification badge, a higher listing on our “Contributor” page, and more money in your pocket as you increase your rates. Not only that, certification programs will help you increase production efficiency so you can create solid content faster thus increasing your turn-around rate (and client appeal), too.

Finally, improve your credentials by simply writing. Write daily; whether it be a list of pitch ideas, journal entries, or assignments and blog posts, just write. This will improve your flow, keep your brain active, and help you develop solid writing habits. When possible, write about topics in your niche to have published on our Contributor Blog. The point is: the more you write, the better you’ll get at writing. The better you are, the faster you can produce solid content, the more clients you will acquire, and the more money you will be able to charge those clients. It’s a cycle that can start out slow, but can net a huge reward if you stick with it.

 

Writing online is a legitimate way to generate income at home. But, writing content that clients want to pay for (and pay well for, at that) is something that takes a good amount of effort. If you would like to learn more about becoming a solid cannabis content writer, contact us to learn more or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have any tips to improve your worth as a writer? Share them below.

 

cannabis therapy, medical marijuana, benefits of weed, health, 420

The Amazing Benefits of Cannabis Therapy

Marijuana has been shown to significantly improve the quality of life for those who suffer from cancer or glaucoma, but there are many other amazing health benefits to using cannabis, too. Thanks to this herb’s amazing (and largely untapped) potential, anyone suffering from stress, pain or even droopy eyes can benefit from a trip to their local pot shop.

Just how can a person benefit aside from getting high? The answer might surprise you. You just have to think outside of the bowl.

Weight control

Despite consuming more calories per day than non-users, regular marijuana users tend to have smaller waistlines and a reduced occurrence of diabetes thanks to a lower resting insulin level. In fact, according the American Journal of Medicine, insulin levels average about 16 percent less in those who regularly consume the substance.

Insulin affects the body’s ability to absorb sugar (glucose). Higher levels of insulin mean that the body can absorb more glucose which will be stored as fat if it is not burned off. Lower insulin levels help block glucose from entering blood cells thus preventing fat storage and reducing over-all weight gain. So, if a trim waistline is your goal, a few tokes may work just as well as those expensive weight loss pills.

Stress/Anxiety relief 

Cannabinoid receptors in the brain have been shown to play a key role in the regulation of emotions. Though the body naturally produces cannabinoids, they are also introduced to the body through the consumption of marijuana which is linked to reduced anxiety and stress.

It is important to note, however, that excessive use of the drug could increase the body’s dependency on the substance. So, while occasional use of marijuana can induce euphoric, happy feelings in the brain (thus reducing stress and anxiety), excessive use could exacerbate the problem. If you suffer from chronic anxiety, an occasional toke could improve your mood, but, as with anything, moderation is recommended.

Pain management

Also used to treat severe pain associated with chemotherapy and other ailments, marijuana use can be used to treat a number of aches and pains including nerve and muscular pain and discomfort caused by surgery. Studies conducted by Mark Ware, MD, at the McGill University in Montreal show that participants who inhaled cannabis three times a day reported almost a 50 percent reduction in pain. Though regular use reduces the effectiveness of the medication, marijuana is still considered a viable option to pain management, especially if prescription drug dependence is a concern.

Skin treatment

Marijuana has also been shown to improve the condition of skin by reducing puffiness and acne breakouts, but there is a catch. As with cigarettes, cannabis smoke can damage skin due to a reduction of collagen production thus causing wrinkles and discoloration. But if it is eated or vaporized, it has a counter effect.

According to Leaf Science, marijuana that is either eaten, vaporized or used as a topical treatment can reduce puffiness around the eyes and increase the skin’s elasticity.

Additionally, thanks to marijuana’s ability to reduce stress, a person’s outlook on life and over-all demeanor can help reduce stress lines in the face, softening the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Could marijuana be a viable alternative to the ever-popular Botox injections? I certainly like to think so.

Oral pain management 

After reading about cannabis oil’s effect on skin cancer, I decided to try it on a canker sore. Sure enough, within 24 hours, the sore began clearing and had vanished all together within 48 hours.

But cannabis isn’t just good for pesky canker and cold sores. When applied topically, it can also greatly reduce tooth pain. When smoked via combustion, however, it can have the opposite effect, causing browning of the teeth and a reduction of tooth enamel. Therefore, if tooth pain is an issue, treat it with a little cannabis oil. If the oil is difficult to locate, however, simply rubbing a little keif on the affected area will also work.

Sooth sun burns and bug bites

Used topically, cannabis can have a huge impact on the skin, relieving pain associated with burns and bug bites. That’s because marijuana’s pain relief properties are able to absorb directly into the bloodstream through the skin – the body’s largest organ – bypassing the stomach and liver to work faster and more efficiently. though it doesn’t offer the same head-change as it would if it were ingested, cannabis oil that is used topically can target area-specific pain by reducing swelling, pain and irritation on the spot.

Cannabis oil also reduces muscle tension and stiffness and can be used to treat rashes, eczema and many other skin irritations, and does so in a matter of minutes to hours. Re-applying the oil every 24 hours may be necessary to completely heal the area, but immediate relief should be noticeable.

Sleep aid

No matter what the reason for restless sleep, many people are choosing to take a few tokes prior to bedtime to help them drift off easily. Though it is important to note that certain strains inhibit the ability to fall asleep (specifically, Sativa-dominant strains), Indica-dominant strains do wonders as a sleep-aid. Not only do they allow users to slow their ever-grinding minds, but they also provide a relaxing body high that helps encourage sleep (or couch-lock if you prefer).

Nausea/loss of appetite

Many people are aware of marijuana’s “munchie” side-effect, caused by a heightened sense of taste, which makes it a prime tool for treating nausea or loss of appetite. Though commonly used to reduce the side-effects of chemotherapy, those suffering from a case of the queezies can also benefit from marijuana. So, whether nausea is caused by the flu or a late night of drinking, users can reap the benefits of a full belly despite their initial nauseous feeling just by taking a few pulls off of their favorite smoking device.

 

Aside from the euphoric high that keeps many people wanting more, the benefits of marijuana use should not be ignored. Whether in pain or just in need of a pick-me-up, even the average Joe can find some medical benefit at the bottom of a bowl or keif jar.

Do you use cannabis to improve your health? Tell us about it on Facebook or comment below.

Determining Your Worth; How to Decide What to Charge Clients

Many freelancers have difficulty determining how much to charge clients. This is especially true in artistic fields such as writing, photography and graphic design. While each of these is a skill, they are also a part of you. How do you determine your worth as a creative? Do you know how much to charge for creative work? It can’t be done on an hourly basis, nor should it be. The first question you need to ask yourself is “What do I bring to the table?”

Skill Level

Each skill level you mastered requires revisiting what you charge. This is because as you learn and practice your art, the more you can offer your clients. What is your skill level?

Novice

  • Has never worked with clients
  • Has no portfolio

Intermediate

  • Has a small portfolio
  • Has worked with professionals for experience
  • Has done small projects unsupervised

Experienced

  • Has sold numerous pieces
  • Has years of experience
  • Can provide references and an extensive portfolio

Expert

  • All the skills of the Intermediate
  • Has a specialty area that has been carefully honed

Now that you have determined where your skill level puts you, take the time to see what others in your field charge for projects. Ask yourself how much experience they have and what all they offer to clients. Take time to get a wide range of samples of those with your experience level. This will give you both an upper and a lower level. When it comes to how much to charge for creative work, you aren’t trying to underprice the competition. What you need to do is determine what you can offer clients that they don’t. Your worth is determined by how much the client benefits from what you provide.

A Basic Guideline to Charging Clients for Creative Work

When determining how much to charge for creative work, every type of project  will have its own pricing, but here are the price ranges you can expect for the type of work you will most often be doing:

Graphic/Website designers  

  • Beginners: 20 to 30 dollars a page
  • Intermediate: 30 to 50 dollars per page
  • Experienced: 50 to 100 dollars per page
  • Expert: 100 dollars plus per page

Photographers

  • Beginner: 25 to 50 dollars per photo
  • Intermediate: 50 to 100 dollars per photo
  • Experienced: 100 to 200 dollars per photo
  • Expert: 250 to a thousand dollars per photo

Writers 

  • Beginner: 3 to 5 cents per word
  • Intermediate: 5 to 8 cents cents per word
  • Experienced: 8 to 15 cents per word
  • Expert: 15 to 50 cents per word or more

Go back to the figures you gathered earlier. Ask yourself where your skill level falls within the range of prices you determined? Are you able to offer clients a little more than most and can you show them that? If so, start your pricing near the upper end. If, however, you aren’t yet ready to offer that little extra, keep your pricing near the middle until you can offer more.

Every year, go back and re-examine your worth. Add in the experience and skills you have gained over that time and adjust your pricing accordingly.

 

personal branding, business marketing, advertise, sell yourself, inbound marketing, how to build your brand

Build Your Cannabis Brand with Content Marketing

One of the biggest challenges with promoting yourself in the cannabis industry are all the taboos associated with it. Cannabis is legal in some states, medically legal in others, and outlawed in others still. But to paraphrase:

“Let he who has not toked off the reefer leaf cast the first stone.”

Even with all the uptight, sin-ridden, “gateway” baggage which follows cannabis to this day in some circles, more and more avenues are opening up.  Whether you’re behind the counter or you’re commercially involved in cultivating and selling the plants or you’re dealing in hydroponics or you’re simply trying to raise awareness through your editorial/informational scribing, there is a hunger to find out what is going on with cannabis.  So promoting yourself in the cannabis industry is what people need to begin plotting for now.

Establish  Yourself

Whether you are selling soil, lights, plants, herb, or information you need to set yourself apart from the competition. You are also not always going to be able to know who is gunning for your customers. Just like politics, in the beginning all of your business is going to be “local” so you should start with the cannabis competition in your direct area. But then be warned, as the acceptance of marijuana grows and becomes more widespread, you are going to face challenges from much bigger conglomerates. Luckily for you at this stage in the game, most multinationals are still pawing at the marijuana industry.  So if you embrace your place full on, you will establish yourself as a leader for sure!

Make Connections

It’s also important to develop a strong network of connections; few have gotten anywhere alone. When you develop a strong network of connections within the industry, you will become the de facto name which comes to everyone’s lips when talking about your particular brand of business. Building up others is a strong means to building up yourself and is an essential component to building your brand and promoting yourself in the cannabis industry.

Increase Visibility

In the same way McDonald’s golden arches are associated with quick and easy food, you want your brand to be an image that people immediately associate with your arm of the pot industry. Creating a timeless image like these is tough and is not something you may even realize in your own lifetime. But by pushing your brand out there to the fore and gaining as much visibility as possible you are not just promoting yourself in the cannabis industry, you are also building up a brand ID for your product and for your business which will hopefully stand the tests of time!

Improve Ranking 

A final thing to concern yourself is search engine page ranking. If yours is the best product in your realm “on the street” but not so much on the web you are going to run into stagnant growth curves. This includes not just SEO page rankings but also video content, blogging content, social media, and even things like Instagram. Attack the business from a variety of angles and draw your brand up!

Positions in the cannabis industry are ripe for the taking. This, of course, means that competition in the industry is high which makes it especially important to set yourself apart from the rest. Fortunately, no matter where you are, you can begin establishing yourself as an expert in the cannabis industry by using basic self-promotion strategies, and you can do so easier by working with Cannabis Content as either a contributor or a client. Sign up to contribute today or check out our storefront to make a purchase.

 

Why Cannabis Enthusiasts Make Great Creative Thinkers

Plenty of musicians, artists and inventors have credited cannabis for their creativity. Cannabis really does promote creativity as it stimulates creative thinking, also known as “divergent thinking”. Let’s dig into the nuances of this phenomenon to help readers understand exactly how and why cannabis expands one’s mental horizons, inspiring creative thought as well as creative action.

The Effect of Cannabis on the Mind

Ask anyone who has used cannabis about his thought patterns after indulging in the sweet green and he will testify that the plant enables the connection of ideas that once seemed unrelated. Many will claim that cannabis empowered them to feel mentally liberated as the plant mutes their “internal critic”. As a result, thinking patterns are freed up to digress across previously unexplored territory. This type of adventurous and unpredictable thinking results in highly creative thoughts and actions.

After all, nearly everyone is somewhat critical of their thought processes and ideas. Wouldn’t it be nice to unleash your thoughts without the ever-critical internal “thought police” putting a damper on your creativity? Give cannabis a try and you just might wrestle free from these rigid mental constraints.

Consider Your Mindset

All too often, people who sit down and attempt to create something end up quitting within a half an hour or less. This premature exit is usually the result of an improper mindset. Creative thinking involves shifting one’s perspective, challenging routine thoughts and developing the will to test out new ideas. Yet altering one’s mindset toward these aims is easier said than done for most individuals.

Enter cannabis. This amazing plant can rapidly change one’s thinking patterns towards creative ends. Engage in cannabis use and you will likely enjoy dynamic thought patterns. Think of cannabis as the kindling wood for your mind’s fire.

The Science Behind Cannabis and Creativity

Indulge in cannabis through smoking, vaporizing on ingestion by way of edibles and your brain activity will change. Marijuana allows the brain to release dopamine, a neurochemical that induces euphoria. This release lowers one’s inhibitions and silences his “inner-editor”. Cannabis also boosts the capacity for wonder, awe and imagination as cannabinoids prevent the gaps that typically occur between thoughts. The result is the ability to amplify your imagination and conjure up creative ideas. These emerging thought patterns are highly unique and result in the types of extraordinary notions that completely sober individuals struggle to develop. This is why so many people are adamant that cannabis is the key to breaking free from the usual “everyday thinking” that the average person endures.

Most people do not engage in divergent thinking for several different reasons. For one, their thought patterns rarely deviate from one day to the next. Secondly, plenty of people have latent creative abilities yet have not yet figured out how to tap into these strengths. If everyone were to give marijuana a try, our society would undoubtedly become more creative, lively and dynamic.

Cannabis for Content Creation

Individuals tasked with the creation of content relating to cannabis will find that ideas flow much more freely after enjoying marijuana. As noted above, cannabis catalyzes one’s creative abilities.

Furthermore, using cannabis to kick-start the creation of cannabis-related content will provide you with an inside edge that others lack. Would a hermit serve as an excellent travel writer?  Would a fast food addict be capable of writing an in-depth cook book? Of course not. This is precisely why cannabis users are often the industry’s best writers. First-hand experience with this wondrous plant really does make a difference in the quality of your writing as well as the depth of your perspective.

How to Be Successful When Working From Home

Working from home seems like a dream job, yet those who work from home testify that it isn’t as glamorous as most make it out to be. Let’s take a look at some tips that will keep you productive, healthy and happy while working from home.

Stick to a Schedule

Though it is tempting to let each day evolve into its own unique experience, it is best to adhere to a schedule. Get up around the same time each day. Work until a specified break or lunch period then hop right into the next project just like you would at a normal job. Don’t work excessively just because you feel a bit guilty about working at home. Set an end time for your day’s work and honor it.

Don’t Work in Your Pajamas!

Rolling out of bed and hopping onto the computer to start your day’s work is a mistake. Develop a morning routine that includes breakfast, changing into daytime clothing and brushing your teeth. Changing out of your pajamas will help you take work seriously and perform at your best.

Work in a Designated Space

You can boost your productivity by pinpointing a specific space to complete your work. Whether it is an at-home office, a study or even the dining room table, picking a specific place to do your work will get you into a routine that keeps you focused and productive.

Get rid of Those Distractions!

Though it is difficult to put the smartphone away, it is imperative that you do so. Turn down or turn off music, talk radio, e-mail and all other stimuli that can steer your attention away from your work. Eliminate these distractions and you’ll find that your productivity goes through the roof. Work as though you have a boss standing over your shoulder. By replicating the authority present in a traditional work environment you won’t be tempted to procrastinate or produce work of inferior quality.

Be Social

Staying indoors all day to work and then cook, watch TV, surf the web, play video games and take care of the kids is a pitfall. It is imperative that you get out of the house and interact with others. If you don’t have many friends, take up a hobby. If the hobby is solitary in nature, post an ad on the web to meet people with similar interests.

Stay social and you will find it is much easier to avoid depression and feelings of loneliness. Furthermore, being social gets you away from your work environment and allows you to connect with fellow human beings. After all, this whole “life” thing is all about establishing connections with others. A life spent alone is a life that is somewhat wasted.

Stay Away From the Kitchen

One of the worst mistakes stay at home workers make is wandering over to the kitchen several times during the work day. Try to set up your work space far away from the kitchen so you are not tempted to grab snacks or cook meals throughout the day. Stick to specific times for your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.

Stretch Throughout Your Day

Working alone has the potential to harm your health if you don’t remain cognizant of your physical conditioning. Don’t sit in front of the computer screen for hours on end without getting up to stretch, walk around and hydrate. If necessary, set your phone’s alarm to remind you it is time for a stretch/walk break.

Working from home is very liberating — you can set your own hours, decide your own terms and income, and travel as far and as often as you like — but being successful working from home can be a challenge if you lack structure. Use these tips to help you make the most of your time in front of the computer so you can earn your worth and establish yourself as a reliable source of content.

Do you have any work from home tips? Share them in the comment section below.

Tips to Improve Sentence Structure and Readability

You don’t have to be an English major to excel in your writing career, you just have to know how to put together words, sentences and paragraphs in a way that the average reader will appreciate. Though much of this will depend on the creativity and thought process of the writer, there are some basic steps you can take to ensure your cannabis articles and blogs are well received by both clients and their readers.

Get to the Point

People have a short attention span — around six seconds on average to be exact. While a blog post with pictures and videos will help maintain someone’s attention, you may need to rely only on words. How do you do this? Keep your sentences and paragraphs short so that everything is easy to follow.

Breaking points into sections using sub-headers is another great way to improve readability because it allows readers to skim the content for the information they seek. Rather than producing a piece of content with long, drawn-out sentences and paragraphs, keep sentences and paragraphs short, and introduce them with keyword-rich sub-headers.

Avoid Fluff

Unnecessary words are often referred to as “fluff” because they serve no purpose other than to make an article appear longer and more informative than it really is. But readers can see through this and will often abandon an article mid-read if they feel their time is being wasted on excessive verbiage. You can easily improve the quality of your writing (and its ultimate worth in the eyes of clients) by assuring every word has value.

Use Keywords Naturally

Clients will often request the use of keywords or phrases to help their content rank well on any given topic, but search engines are becoming more intelligent — they can tell if keywords have been “stuffed” into an unnatural location within a document. Avoid a ding in search engine ratings by using keywords and phrases naturally throughout the document especially in titles, sub-headers and tags.

Stay on Topic

Always focus on one topic. Ideally every blog post will focus on a single topic. If you want to cover multiple topics in a single post, keep every paragraph or subsection focused on one topic so it is easy to follow and understand.

Be Conversational

You’re not writing a text book so keep jargon and technical language to a minimum. Instead, write as if you’re talking to a friend — be genuine, specific, insightful and over-all conversational (and maybe even drop in a bit of humor when possible, too). This will make your content easier to understand and will make the client seem more personable to their target audience.

Edit, Edit, Edit

Your first draft could be drab or it could be amazing, but no matter its initial condition, it can always be better after an edit or two. Go back through your work and eliminate and excess words, rephrase lengthy sentences and clarify obscure points. Don’t forget to include links to sources you’ve used so readers can do their own research, too.

Writing web content can be intimidating at first, but once you learn the basic formula for creating strong content, your work will flow smoothly and readers will come back for more. To make the most of your writing career, practice these tips for improving sentence structure and readability every time you write something new.

Do you have any writing tips you’d like to share? Tell us about them on Facebook and Twitter.

Unique Places to Find Inspiration for Your Next Cannabis Article

If you aren’t exactly sure what sort of cannabis-oriented article you should compose, don’t fret. Though you might feel as though just about every angle of this industry has been covered, the truth is that there is plenty of unexplored territory in the context of cannabis publications. Let’s take a look at how you can conjure up an interesting cannabis-related topic that will generate considerable interest.

Let Others Inspire You

One of the best ways to come up with a captivating cannabis article is to conduct a web search. Type “cannabis” or a related term into a search engine, click the “news” tab and take a look at all the stories that pop up. You will undoubtedly find an interesting angle that you can spin into your own unique content. Alternatively, check out some online message boards related to marijuana. Oftentimes, cannabis enthusiasts will log onto these Internet forums and post some interesting takes, tidbits and other material that will inspire you to craft an intriguing article.

Another excellent way to obtain inspiration for your cannabis-oriented articles is to follow the marijuana industry’s influencers and authority figures on social media. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or another social media platform, you will undoubtedly pinpoint some intriguing news, opinions or statistics that will serve as the basis of your article. Be sure to check out our Facebook page on a regular basis. We’re constantly rolling out new article pitches and cannabis-based content for writers, cannabis enthusiasts and others.

Change Things Up

If you find it difficult to come up with subject matter for your next cannabis article, break out of your routine. Get away from the screen for half an hour. Take a walk outside. Or, hop in the shower. For some, shooting hoops for 20 minutes will move their mind in a different direction. The key is to alter your environment and activities. These changes will alter your thought patterns and possibly lead you to an idea for your new piece.

Consult With a Friend

Those who write about cannabis tend to have a social circle or at least a few friends who are interested in dabbing, traditional marijuana smoking or cannabis edibles. If you find yourself in a mental rut and can’t come up with any interesting article ideas, do not hesitate to reach out to a friend for inspiration. Sometimes, a quick phone call, text or meeting over coffee will move your mind to an interesting angle or subject for your next article.

Ask your friends and/or colleagues what they think of the recent changes to the marijuana industry and culture. Find out if they have been using any new cannabis-related products. Maybe someone in your social circle has a unique opinion, prediction or concern regarding the state of the industry or its future. Even a seemingly minor comment or question could stimulate your mind and lead to the formulation of a new article topic. Still not enough? Spark up a conversation with fellow contributors on our contributor chat. You may be surprised at the number of topics that can come up during casual conversations with fellow cannaseaurs.

Visual Inspiration

Some people find inspiration when looking at pictures. Take a moment to conduct an image search on the web for “cannabis”, “marijuana” or a related term. Scroll through the pictures and write down the thoughts that pop into your head. Once you’ve scrolled through the images and jotted down your thoughts, spend some time considering whether any of your notes can be spun into unique content. It is even possible that one of the first few images generated by your web search serves as inspiration for your article.

 

We know that inspiration can be hard to come by. When you don’t have a client telling you what to write, you’re left to your own devices which can be difficult when there are so many cute cat videos jockying for your attention. Fortunately, there are a few easy tricks you can do to conjure inspiration for your next cannabis publication. What’s your favorite?

How to Know if Your Sources are Credible

New media has changed the way people, authors and authorities get their information. On one hand it has opened the door to a wealth of information that was difficult to access in the pre-internet era. On the other hand, it has opened the floodgates to fictitious “news” sites and blogs that lack credibility. Here are questions to ask yourself in your quest for citing credible sources.

How Close is the Source to the Information?

First hand information from direct witnesses is always more reliable than second hand information. When a media source features a quote, is it the entire quote or just a part that may be taken out of context? Citing credible sources can be difficult if you cannot pinpoint where the information originated, especially when media outlets merely quote other media outlets.

Is it Information or Just PR?

Sometimes features or even news segments on TV newscasts are designed to cleverly promote a product that isn’t an obvious part of the story. Movies, even documentaries, have used “product placement” of brand names for years as a sneaky form of paid advertising by big companies.

What is the Source’s Slant or Agenda?

It’s no secret that most major newspapers slant their news toward a certain political party. The New York Times, for example, leans Democratic, while the Washington Times leans Republican. Regardless of ideological slant, many media outlets will only go so far when it comes to reporting on studies that may hurt the image of their sponsors.

Who Owns the Media Source?

The public is bombarded with propaganda on a daily basis from corporations, advertisers, government and other institutions that promote themselves and their clients to the masses. It’s always worth checking who owns the source you are thinking about quoting. Politifact, for example, is owned by Tamp Bay Times, a Democratic newspaper, which is owned by Times Publishing. Here are owners or controllers in parentheses of America’s top media companies:

  • NBC, MSNBC (Comcast/GE)
  • CBS, Viacom (National Amusements)
  • ABC (Disney)
  • CNN (Time Warner)
  • Fox (News Corp)

What is the Content Style?

Media spans a wide variety of communication styles. AP style, which is supposed to stick with answers to “who, what, where, when and why” questions, is a popular journalistic approach. But even AP has admitted publishing errors. Other writing styles include scientific studies, investigative reporting, commentary, blogs, reviews and gossip. Be aware of how editorials may be more wishful thinking than factual.

How Scientific is the Study?

When you are citing credible sources related to scientific studies, pay close attention to who funded and conducted the study, how many people participated, when the information was collected and whether or not control groups were used. Remember that one small study of 10 people 10 years ago doesn’t prove much. But repeated studies of thousands of subjects with consistent findings will be much more credible.

What else should one look for?

It’s easy for a non-authoritative source to appear credible. To make sure your sources are as respected as they say they are, consider the following:

  • the source’s and its publisher’s reputation
  • specific sources as opposed to “sources say” or “according to officials”
  • credentials of the writer
  • who is the target audience?
  • will the source be used for primary or secondary support?

Citing credible sources involves research and should not be taken lightly. The old saying “don’t believe everything you read” has merit, as does “believe none of what you hear and only half of what you see.” Until information is verified, it may be written off as hearsay by many people for good reasons. When information cannot be verified, it should be reported in a matter that lets the audience know it leans toward speculation.

Request Custom Content