Content filing is an important habit to get into, especially as a professional writer. Content filing is an easy way to organize your thoughts, save time locating old sources, and write high-quality cannabis content in a fraction of the time. Best of all, the sooner you start – and the longer you stick with it – the more manageable the whole writing process will be.
What is Content Filing?
Content filling is a way to organize note tracking to simplify and speed the writing process. It allows writers to save important information; valuable sources; even unique phrases, sentences, and paragraphs; in an easy-to-use filing system.
Not only does content filing reduce time spent during the writing process, but it also helps to organize thoughts, inspirational content, and document pitches. By using carefully-chosen folders, keywords, and other note sorting mechanisms, content filing can promote more effective writing and reduce the effort required to produce quality cannabis content.
Content filing works much like an internet search in that you can search for the information you want based on keywords and other search queries. However, unlike internet searches, a personal filing system consists solely of information you are familiar with and the information you find most valuable. It is a single source of any information you can gather that may be relevant later.
How to File Your Content Notes
There are many note-taking apps to help you file your content notes like OneNote or Evernote. I’ve personally had great luck with Evernote because of its desktop/mobile compatibility and note-taking versatility. For example, you can easily save text notes, attachments, photos, code. The Evernote Web Clipper plugin extends its functionality with the option to save articles, web pages, bookmarks, and more, and you can tag it all for later reference.
The next step to filling your content notes is setting up your notebook. You can set your notebook up however you choose but to get started, consider the following folders:
Use this folder to save the most exciting, pertinent research you come across. Pay special attention to studies that use large sample sizes, those that confirm other studies, and those that offer in-depth discussions about the presented research.
In the research file, include pages sorted into topics. Each page will house research directly related to that topic. Use bullets or subheaders that include a link to the source, a summary of the study in your own words, and any relevant quotes that you might want to reference later. Also, include keywords as tags to help you quickly locate the content later.
This is a great folder to track developing news stories. In this content filing folder, include the most pertinent information of the news story including the topic and relevant tags. Also include the date of every article you save, ideally in chronological order.
This section is where you will include social listening statistics. List popular trends and buzzworthy articles, upcoming brands relevant to your niche, and hashtags that are growing in popularity. Your trends notebook can be an excellent reference for social media marketing strategies and other time-sensitive material.
Your Pitches folder is often the most frequented. As you research other articles, scroll through social media, or notice unanswered (or ill-informed) questions on forums, add the topic to a list of pitches in this folder. Don’t worry about the official title of each pitch, yet. Just record the basic premise along with a few notes regarding which points the pitch will cover.
Keywords are an essential part of any successful SEO strategy. Help your content stand out with the right keywords, especially those with a low competition score and an upward trend. Keyword research tools like SEM Ruch and Google Search Console can help track keywords to use while writing cannabis content.
Companies to Watch
Watching the companies in your niche is great for so many reasons. You can monitor trends and business developments, learn about the target demographic, and position yourself as an ideal content writing partner for companies within the niche. When listing companies to watch, include websites and social media platforms, and links to competitor platforms, as well.
Content Filing Makes Cannabis Copywriting So Much Easier
I’ve been writing about cannabis for more than five years now. In that time, I’ve come across countless articles and resources that I could reference in multiple articles. Unfortunately, a lack of content filing has caused me to waste time I will never get back. However, by filing content writing notes in a single location, I can improve my writing, speed my progress, and create quality cannabis content my clients will love.
Do you have tips to keep content notes organized?
Credible sources are vital to establishing trust and brand loyalty (not to mention the way they speak of your writing skills). Credible sources validate claims and prove to the reader that you know your stuff. Unfortunately, the internet is full of misleading and inaccurate information. So how can you tell which sources are credible and which aren’t? And how do you cite credible sources once you do find them?
Here are a few tips on how to find and cite credible sources for your cannabis content.
Recognizing Credible Sources
Deceptive websites and publications are good at what they do. They know how to sound intelligent, appear official, and gain search engine approval. It is up to the reader (that’s you!) to see through all that to determine which sources are credible and which are incredibly outlandish. The following are a few questions to ask yourself to help you find credible sources for your writing.
Who is the Author?
If an author is listed, it suggests that they’re willing to stand by their work and may indicate that their content is reliable. Further determine author is well-known and respected in their field, if they’ve written about similar topics, or if they have additional credentials listed. It’s also important to consider the motivation of the writer. Is he personally invested in the topic? Does he have something to gain or lose if his readers accept his statements as fact? If so, this may indicate a bias that should be either confirmed or denied through further research.
Does the Source Go In-Depth?
Does the source dive deep into the topic at hand? Do they cite sources of their own or other research/data to back up their claims? If they do, it’s a good indicator that they are a reliable source. Furthermore, if an author engages with readers in the comment section, on social media, or through their own website or email address, this suggests that they are confident and eager to share their knowledge rather than just fill website pages for search engines.
What’s in a Domain?
Domain names like .com, .org, and .net can be purchased by anyone. Conversely, .edu or .gov domain names are exclusive to universities and government agencies, and typically indicate that the source is reliable. This isn’t to say that a source with a .com domain won’t be a credible site, it just takes a little more investigation to make sure they know their stuff.
What is Their Writing Style?
Scan the content for spelling and grammatical errors. If there is an excessive number of errors in the text, the source is likely unreliable. A credible source should ensure that its content is not only accurate but that it is presented in a way that is easy to understand and properly written. Credible sources write content targeted to their ideal readers, not search engines.
Citing Your Sources
Finding credible sources is the first step but certainly not the last. After collecting your sources and sharing the information gathered from them, you must cite the source in your content. There are a couple of ways you can do this. Below are the most common ways to cite sources in your writing.
When citing or quoting a source, always link back to the original work. To do this, highlight relevant text (usually three to six words long) then either right-click and select the “add link” option or click the hyperlink icon at the top of your text editor to do the same thing. In the “Add Hyperlink” window, select “open in new window” to ensure that anyone who does click won’t immediately be redirected off the page.
Parenthetical References, Endnotes, and Footnotes
Another way to cite sources is through the use of parentheses, endnotes or footnotes. This type of citation is often preferred by those who wish to keep all website visitors on the page or those who print the published content. Citation Machine is an online tool perfect for formatting parenthetical citations regardless of the expected format.
Finding and citing credible sources is crucial to the integrity of your writing. Without proper citations, your writing becomes just another piece in a sea of inaccurate and ill-informed articles online. But if you can master how to find and cite credible sources, it will raise your work above that of the masses and make you an invaluable writer.
Are you ready to become a valuable cannabis writer? Sign up today to get started on your journey in as a cannabis industry writer.
Content marketing is a form of digital marketing that focuses on content to draw leads to a website or mobile application. As the name suggests, quality content is the backbone of the content marketing strategy with a strong emphasis on Search Engine Optimization or SEO.
Why Use Content Marketing?
Any business with an online presence should utilize content marketing strategies. This is especially true of cannabis businesses due to the many marketing restrictions these companies face. However, restrictions aside, content marketing has many valuable benefits.
The biggest investment in a content marketing strategy is — well — content. Whether the investment is monetary (hiring someone to produce the content) or time (such as content produced in-house), it almost never compares to the cost of other marketing strategies. In fact, content-based marketing costs 62 percent less than traditional marketing strategies according to Demand Metric.
Content is up to five times more effective than traditional marketing strategies because it focuses on the people, not the sale. The idea is to attract the ideal lead throughout all stages of the buyer journey without wasting time (or money) on those with no interest in the product or service. The best part? An on-going content marketing strategy gets better with time by improving both search engine rank and brand visibility. Research suggests that annual website traffic increases almost eight times as quickly for content marketers compared to other marketing strategies.
As mentioned, quality content promotes brand visibility which provides an excellent opportunity to build brand reputation. Considering that people are 59 percent more likely to purchase from a familiar brand, establishing a positive brand reputation with a solid digital presence is a great way to boost sales and increase customer loyalty.
People prefer to purchase from trusted brands. By delivering valuable content regularly, brands can actively connect with their leads to build a sense of community and brand involvement.
Marketing with content targets leads throughout all stages of their buyer journies: awareness, consideration, decision, and loyalty. For example, buyers in the “awareness” stage are more receptive to blogs, reports, and educational content. Conversely, those in the “consideration” stage may prefer product reviews, case studies, and testimonials. Essentially, focused, target content gives businesses more visibility during all stages of the buyer journey.
Tips for an Effective Content Marketing Strategy
The first step to developing an effective content marketing strategy is to define the target audience. This generally occurs through the development of buyer personas, or imaginary people that embody different target audiences. Common characteristics of a buyer persona include age, gender, habits, concerns, and solutions. Thus, buyer personas help content creatives produce targeted content that will resonate with each demographic.
Further target content using keywords, or carefully planned words and phrases most likely to match certain search queries. Keywords should appear in the title, the introduction paragraph, a subheader, and (depending on content length) sporadically throughout the body of the content. Use keywords naturally throughout the copy and at least once in your meta description, as well. Keyword research tools like SEM Rush can help make the process easier.
Of course, when publishing content, it must have value. According to Time Magazine, readers only spend 15 seconds on a webpage before deciding whether or not to stay. That means businesses have only 15 seconds to capture the attention of their visitors before they bounce. (High bounce rates are bad because that indicates to search engines that the page isn’t worth indexing.) If people are to stay on a webpage longer than 15 seconds, they must find it either informative, entertaining, or both.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, publish content regularly and frequently. Use many forms of content including blogs and articles, images, infographics, videos, podcasts, and so on. This makes it easier for people to find the content and easier for website visitors to consume the content. For example, while some prefer to read the news during their morning cup of coffee, others might prefer to listen on their drive to work or scan a visual for important information quickly.
We cannot say enough about content marketing. In fact, there’s a good chance that you found us through our own content marketing strategy! Contact us to learn more about how we can help with your content marketing strategy, as well.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is a digital marketing strategy aimed at improving search engine visibility using targeted keywords, well-placed links, attractive formatting, social shares, and carefully developed metadata. SEO’s primary goal is to meet the criteria of different search engine algorithms to rank website pages at or near the top of search engine results pages.
SEO is a form of digital advertising that primarily focuses on improving organic (non-paid) website traffic. SEO uses keywords and website content to draw targeted leads to a site through search engines. When done correctly, SEO is quite possibly the cheapest and easiest way to find and retain leads, to improve company brand, and to reach a broad, targeted audience.
Furthermore, effective SEO improves both the quantity and quality of website traffic by providing the content that the target demographic finds valuable. For example, a company that sells CBD products online will attract more useful leads by optimizing for the term “best CBD products online” as opposed to something vague like “health products.” Specifically, they attract leads who are already interested in their product (CBD products) and very few — if any — who aren’t.
The best part? SEO is both cheap and effective. SEO, when used as part of a larger inbound marketing strategy, is more than five times as effective as paid advertising according to a recent HubSpot survey. In fact, the most expensive part of SEO is simply the time involved in setting up and maintaining it. Though many services can help with the endeavor, outsourcing quality content production is perhaps the quickest and most effective way to get started.
How Search Engines Determine Content Quality
Search engines aim to deliver the best, most relevant information for every search inquiry. They do this by crawling websites to determine their authority, popularity, and relevance for any given search term. Those who want to rank well in searches (i.e., those who want their web pages listed at the top of a search results page), must not only meet the required criteria but also outrank competitors for the top positions. SEO ranking can be challenging for businesses with extensive keyword competition, but in the young cannabis industry, there is still plenty of time to grab those top spots before everyone else.
Search engines must believe that a website is of high quality if they are to rank well on search results pages. Though the specifics of search engine algorithms are unknown, we do know that there are five key elements search engines use to determine the quality of a website or page: keywords, website authority, backlinks, publishing frequency, and metadata.
Search engines only want to show the most relevant information to their users. They determine which pages to display in a search results page by scanning websites and pages for keywords and phrases that match a search inquiry. If a user searches for the phrase “cannabis content marketing in Denver,” pages that display those words (especially in that order but not necessarily), will be among the first page shown to match that query.
Marijuana marketing firms with pages that optimize for the key phrase “cannabis content marketing in Denver” should have a relatively easy time ranking for that specific term but may have difficulty ranking for “content marketing” because of its increased keyword competition score. Therefore, the more targeted the demographic, the longer or more detailed the key phrase should be. Keyword variations further help search engines narrow down the topic (and thus the relevance) of a given web page.
Do not take keywords for granted; they are merely a foothold into search ranks. In fact, too many keywords (especially if they are seemingly unrelated) can damage search engine rank due to a perceived “keyword stuffing” practice. To ensure keywords rank well, a website must have authority over a specific niche.
Search engines determine a website’s authority in several ways, including content quality, website traffic, social metrics (likes, shares, etc.), and the quality of both internal and external links.
The purpose of linking is multifaceted. To begin, links help build authority by telling search engines that a website contains valuable information. The theory is that authoritative websites will have many links pointing to it from other websites. To be clear, a link is a clickable object that redirects website visitors from one site to another. They can be in the form of text (hyperlinks), images, or buttons, and serve as additional reading resources.
There are three different kinds of links that websites should employ for an effective SEO strategy: inbound, outbound, internal. Inbound links, as the name suggests, are links from other websites that link back to a specific website. Outbound links are the opposite; they link from the site to other, credible sites. And finally, internal links are those that point from one page to another all within the same site.
Though internal links are the easiest to create, inbound links are the most valuable because they reinforce a website’s authority regarding a specific subject. Outbound links are also easy enough to add to a site but must be done with care to ensure that they link only to credible, valuable sources.
Inbound links are by far the most valuable link type. An abundance of inbound links tells searches that many sources view a specific website as an authority. There is heavy weight given to inbound links, but they are significantly harder to acquire. High-quality content, guest blogs, and back-linking services can all help increase the number of inbound links to a website.
Updated and Fresh Content
Search engines want to display content that is relevant now, not five years ago. The best way to maintain on-going authority is, therefore, to maintain a regular stream of high-quality content and to update old or outdated content regularly.
One great way to maintain updated website content is to regularly publish articles on a blog or newsfeed. Articles should be current and focused on popular search terms, or at least offer some value in terms of entertainment and/or engagement. When publishing new content, always try to link back to another page on the site to maintain a robust link-building strategy, as well.
Another tactic for maintaining current content is to include a call-to-action or CTA at the end of each article encouraging comments and other discussions. Though user-generated content (UGC) removes some degree of control over a website’s contents (and may require third-party spam filters), it is an excellent way to keep content fresh, promote conversation, and learn about the needs and concerns of readers.
Metadata is simply data about data. It summarizes the contents of a webpage, including webpage summaries, image description text, and page tags. Though typically hidden from visitor view, metadata is a vital part of search engine algorithms.
Metadata is easy for search engine crawlers to find and analyze. Because metadata is short, it must offer plenty of descriptive (keyword-friendly) information in minimal space. For example, a meta description (the text displayed directly below a page title in a search results page) should only be between 150 and 160 characters long and include the target keyword or phrase at the beginning. Tags and alt text should also be short, ideally containing the optimized keyword and (if possible) at least one variation.
Search engine optimization is an on-going process. It is not a formula you can simply implement then sit back to watch the visitors roll in. For an effective SEO strategy, marketers must continuously improve their credibility, their value, and their visibility among searches.
Copy is the term used to describe content written to sell a product or service. Copy can be anything from a banner ad offering 30 percent off to an informative article published on a company’s website. Though the former is certainly an important part of an effective marketing strategy, it is the latter that we will be focusing on today, specifically, how to write engaging content without sounding too “salesy”.
But before we dive into the “how” part of this article, let’s discuss the mentality of the average online reader. The fact is, most people surfing the web don’t want to be sold something at every turn – instead, they want to learn something, or at least be entertained by it. It is therefore up to you to add value to the content you create – the sales pitch can come later.
Determine Your Focus
The most important part of copywriting is understanding the goal of the content. Is it to inform? To entertain? Perhaps to enlighten readers about a problem and to inform them of a solution? Whatever the goal, the document topic should closely align with the reader’s needs and expectations. Don’t create a vague title or produce overly complicated content, just describe the subject in the title and expand on it in the document. (We’ll go over a few methods for choosing a topic in a later article so stay tuned!)
Research Your Topic
The research phase is often the most time-consuming part of the content development process and is, by far, the most valuable, as well. Research helps you gain a better understanding of the subject and will give you an idea of the best information to include in the document. If you want to write engaging content, you must research the topics your readers are interested in.
The best way to start the research process is to copy and paste the document title into a search bar. You’ll likely find a wealth of information on the subject; be sure to read many articles to gather well-rounded information and to avoid simply “spinning” someone else’s content into your own. Don’t forget to read the comment section, as well, as this can provide insight regarding common questions your readers have.
Also, pay attention to common words and phrases as this can help you decide which keyword(s) to optimize your content with. Other ways to find strong keywords include searching sites like Google Trends, Keyword Tool, or simply noting auto-populated terms from search bars.
Develop an Outline
I am a huge fan of outlines. Outlines help organize thoughts and information and give structure to the writing process. A strong outline not only ensures that all information is covered, but saves time – and headaches – once the real writing begins.
To begin, list at least three main points the document should cover. Structure the points as subheaders (including a keyword focus plus variations of the keyword or phrase) then use bullets below the subheads with the details you wish to include.
Next, go through and add details and source links, and rearrange information as needed for better flow. Remember, the more detail you add here, the easier the writing process will be later, especially if you use your own words rather than copy/pasting someone else’s (which would have to be rewritten later anyway).
When adding source links to your outline, try grabbing links from credible sources which you will use in link building to improve the credibility of your content and thereby the credibility of the site on which the content is published. When possible, reference the original source of information instead of an article that simply links to it.
After outlining the points you wish to cover, create a brief introduction and conclusion that summarize those main points. Feel free to reference other articles on the subject to help get the creative juices flowing (and to familiarize yourself with the lingo your readers are most familiar with).
Flesh Out the Content
To write engaging content you have to, well, write the content. This step is largely a matter of filling in the blanks with complete sentences and descriptive terms. As mentioned, the process is much easier if the outline is detailed and includes your own complete, unique sentences. In this case, you may only need to add a few transitional words and sentences, removing the outline format along the way.
When writing your document, pay attention to your use of language and sentence structure. Don’t waste your reader’s time (and client’s money) with redundant phrases like “added bonus”, “close proximity”, or “future plans”, and use bullets when possible to improve scanability.
Use terminology your reader is familiar with and add hyperlinks when necessary to provide additional information. Ensure links are from credible sources or, better yet, from other pages on the company’s website. Link building is an important part of SEO; the importance of valuable hyperlinks cannot be understated. Remember, to write engaging content, you must provide readers with links they find valuable, as well.
Finally, develop an introduction and a conclusion to summarize the topic of the document. Introductions and conclusions needn’t be long but they should give the reader a clear understanding of what they will read or what they just read respectively.
Wrap up with a call-to-action, or CTA, to guide readers on their journey. Don’t leave them hanging; give your readers a clear path to follow. Whether to encourage them to contact the company, leave a message, or follow them on social media, a CTA is a great way to boost content engagement.
Edit, Edit, Edit
Writing a conclusion does not mean you’re done. On the contrary; the editing phase ensures a document is informative, easy to understand, and as concise as possible. Though many writers dread this phase, it is vital to ensuring the client – and the readers – are happy with the content you produce. Don’t be afraid to delete and re-write as necessary, using grammar checkers like Grammarly as needed.
After writing and editing your content, submit it to the client. You’ll do this directly through your dashboard and, upon approval, will receive payment at the end of the month to your PayPal account. Should the client need revisions, kindly oblige within a day or two maximum lest they deny your work and choose another writer. Always be prompt and courteous and remember: happy clients are returning clients; if you appease them, they will likely ask you to write engaging content for them again in the future.
Continue to Write Engaging Content
It takes practice but developing strong content gets easier in time, especially after gaining knowledge about your niche. Strong copywriters are in demand and if you produce excellent content, clients will not only return for more orders, they will recommend you to their network, as well. Remember, your success as a cannabis copywriter depends on the effort you put into both writing engaging content and honing your craft so take your time, do your research, and become the cannabis copywriting rock star you were always meant to be.
Do you have tips on how to write engaging content? Share them with our readers in the comment section below.