I think we are all writers in this world, especially a social media content driven world, but more than that, I think that there’s a lot of fun that can come with cannabis content writing. You can certainly learn a lot about yourself, your customers, there’s a lot of thinking that goes into writing.
But in this Vine and Snapchat and YouTube world, does anybody really care about writing anymore? Especially in the cannabis world?
Yeah. I think so. I think it matters more than ever, really. It definitely doesn’t matter less. Because our words that we’re using really are our ambassadors. On your website, on your Twitter profile, on your Facebook page, on LinkedIn. Everywhere. The words you’re using are really your ambassador for yourself and for your business. I don’t think of writing as this ivory tower exercise. I think of writing as the everyday stuff of life, you know? It’s not just blog posts and eBooks and things that we typically associate with reading. I think it’s everything. It’s the words on our website, it’s our product descriptions, it’s our thank you page content. It’s everything.
We all are writing, we’re all trying to convince somebody of something. Whether it’s convincing somebody that you are the right solution to a problem that they have, that your cannabis business is the right answer, or whether it’s just a simple email to somebody. You have to swap places with your reader and think about what experience is this creating for them.
That’s helped me a lot as a writer, as a blogger, on all of my social content that I’m putting out there. Just really thinking about what effect is this having on the person? Am I wasting their time? Am I spending too much time on a setup at the beginning or can I just dive right into it? Just doing some really simple things to help you create a better experience for the people you’re trying to talk to.
I think strong writing is strong thinking. I think if you work on being a better writer, really what does that mean? That means that you are doing all kinds of things. Whether that audience is somebody you’re trying to sell to or whether it’s somebody you are speaking to, you’re on stage delivering some sort of speech or presentation, or whether it’s the person who is reading the book that you just wrote.
I mean, I think ultimately what it does is it trains you to be very economic with the words you’re using, with a real sense of empathy for what they’re carrying, what messages they’re carrying to the people who are there to hear you.
Mediocre content is the byproduct of our content marketing age. I mean, it used to be that writing and publishing was reserved for those chosen few who could afford a printing press and the distribution that went with it, but in a world where everybody is able to write and publish and email and create social media platforms, and everything. There’s a lot of noise out there in the cannabis industry, and there’s a lot of noise that’s poorly written, that’s incredibly useless, really, to the people that you’re trying to reach, that’s really clutter and is not valuable.
Don’t just publish something because you can, but really take it seriously and try to create great experiences for your customers. Ultimately, published stuff that’s incredibly useful to them, and that is really inspired from not just a data sense, but also from a creative sense. Publish things that are really good. In a way, it’s my personal charge, my personal mission to really just encourage and to try to get all of us to up our game. I include myself in here, too.
In a cannabis business world where there is so much noise, you’ve really got to up your own game. Not only because you have a moral imperative to do so, but at the same time, you have a business imperative to do so.
It’s definitely harder to write shorter, I think. But that said, I think that as content marketers, as marketers, as business owners, it is imperative that we think about brevity when we’re communicating with our customers, but that doesn’t mean that everything has to be 300 words or less. It doesn’t mean that you should never communicate with anything that’s bigger than an Instagram post or something silly like that. I think really what it means is that you only use the amount of words that you need to use to tell a story. That’s where I think the editing process is really important. You can’t just write to write.
I don’t do that and I’ve never done that, and it fills me with fear a little bit, because to me, letting it steep and then ferment a bit, and then going back and looking at it from the reader’s point of view, swapping places with your readers and really taking a critical eye to it is what’s important. “Is this the best way that I said this? Am I wasting somebody’s time? Is every sentence earning its keep?” I think that’s an important part of the process and I think that’s ultimately what’ll get you to something that’s really brief and useful.
Stephen King says, “Write with the door closed, edit with the door open.” I really like that whole idea. First, you’re writing with the door closed, in other words, you’re just writing for yourself. You’re producing that ugly first draft. But then write with the door open, so that’s the point where you swap places with your reader, and think, as I was just saying, “What kind of experience is this creating for them? Am I using the right words here? Am I indulging myself a little too much and not thinking too much about the reader and what they’re getting out of it?”
Because ultimately, you want to communicate with real clarity and so if it lacks clarity, then that’s the point where you can get to it. But I think that first step, the ugly first draft step, just letting it rip as you said, I think it’s great if you just let yourself off the hook. Write badly, but at least you’re writing.
I don’t know why people tend to use passive voice. Verbs in a sentence, they can either be active or they can be passive. So, passive voice means that something’s being done to something. It’s not wrong per se, but it tends to have a little bit of a stilted feel to it. A passive voice would be, “The blog post was edited by a guy named John.” Active voice would be, “A guy named John edited the blog post.” It’s basically looking at where is the action happening? What is being done to something?
My feeling is that passive is generally something that you want to avoid. But it’s funny, looking over my own writing, I’ve actually noticed that I tend to use passive voice quite a bit. It was sort of this moment of self-discovery that I realized like, “Wow, I do this a lot.” Such is the evolution of a cannabis content creator…