photograph of a camera and writing pad, cannabis communication tools

Boost Your Cannabis Communication Outreach with 9 Free Tools

It’s a harsh world for cannabis businesses. We deal with acceptance issues and stigma, unlike any other industry. It’s hard to finding banking that works, Facebook hates us, Google ignores us and Eventbrite shuts us down. We loathe those arbitrary and capricious community rules that interfere with us doing our work.

a crying baby to illustrate frustration with companies that exclude cannabis

There’s no sense in crying about what we can’t change, so let’s look at some things we can use to improve our business communication where cannabis isn’t an issue. But we have some great free and inexpensive tools for cannabis communication that work around the speed bumps.

Let’s start with Unsplash, a site where you can find free, high-quality photographs for your website or social media posts. The photos are searchable from tags that the photographer has added and in categories, at the top of the page. Make sure to experiment with searches–we’ve found that cannabis, hemp and marijuana, marijuana flower produce different results. You can use the photos for free and without credit, but it’s great to give credit to the photographer in your blog or on your website.

Another good source for free photos and illustrations is Pixabay. Like Unsplash there are lots of great images, but it adds illustration and graphic art to the mix, which we love to use sometimes. You have the option to buy the artists a cup of coffee (donate to them) which is a great way to keep free art coming.

a hear made from cannabis leaves to show the use of illustration in cannabis communication
Found this sweetie on Pixabay

If you’re a big player and have access to a pay to play media database, you’re lucky. But, if you’re a small business and doing your own PR, how do you build a media database? Getting the emails for local reporters is pretty easy if you read their stories, most of them are available in the byline or on the news source’s webpage. Some are harder to come by, like those in the national cannabis publications. For this, you need Register, and you can find up to 100 emails a month for people and companies you want to connect with. You’ll need the name of the person you wish to contact as in “Clark Kent” and the media outlet as in “Daily Planet” and most times you’ll get a correct email.

Writing headlines that attract the attention of readers is an art, what you think might work well to get someone’s attention might not do the job. How do you know? Well, we use this tool to test our cannabis communication headlines and we’ve done numerous revisions of what we thought were good headers to up our score in Co-Schedule’s Headline Analyzer.

We spend a good deal of our time writing for clients and for our own blog, and we are big fans of Grammarly. It’s a great tool to help you become a better writer. It points out as you write the typos, incorrect word usage and where commas do and don’t belong. You can install an extension on your Mac or PC and it will correct your emails and social media posts, too. It offers a more robust writing analysis than does the standard grammar and spelling that are resident on your computer. Honestly, if you’re uncertain about the correctness of your writing, use it.

Need to make a graphic for a webpage, social media post, an email blast or a printed product but don’t quite need to hire a graphic designer? We use Canva for simple things. It’s a free tool that has hundreds of templates and already sized up uses. Need a profile picture or page cover for Facebook, an Instagram graphic or a slider image for your website? Canva has all the sizes, backgrounds and tools to make something perfect for your cannabis communication. If you don’t have an eye for design, look at their templates and adapt one of them that to what you’re doing.

Ever wonder how your competitor is doing with their digital reach? With SEMRush, you can plug in a domain, and it will show you all of the data about that company’s digital presence. You can look at backlinks, referring domains, search terms and the position of their competitors all done in great charts and bars. It’s free for up to ten searches per month, and you can look at your own site, too and see how you’re doing.

Check out Spark (from Adobe) for making simple videos from photographs. You can add text, add music, determine the length of the slide and brand the slide with your company colors and logo. It isn’t as intuitive as Canva for simple design, but for on-the-fly photos into videos, it’s so easy. Here’s one we did about our company.

screen shot of a Spark video

For email marketing, we use Mail Chimp. There have been some issues in the past with the company shutting down cannabis accounts and that spooks us a bit. We like the flexibility of the platform, the ease of use and the tracking tools. It’s free until your list is over 2000 subscribers and if you do use a paid plan, you get a few more features. To be safe, download your database regularly because if you’re shut down, you might lose it. Email marketing for your cannabis business is effective and easy to work into your annual schedule or plan.

So we’ve shared a few of our secrets about how we get cannabis business communication done. But, these are tools, not a comprehensive strategy and that’s where Canna Communication comes in. We look at the big picture, know the cannabis industry, and we’re experienced at launching a new business or moving an existing one forward.

Need some help getting started? Too busy to develop a communication strategy? Canna Communication is here for you. Just give us a shout and we’ll lend you a hand.

Tools photo by Dariusz Sankowski on Unsplash

a young man who is using cannabis for sleep

Wide Awake at Night? Using Cannabis for Sleep Might Help.

We know a good night’s sleep is important for our overall health. Without sleep, our emotional and physical well-being decline. There’s evidence that cannabis can help with sleep.

If things are going well, we spend 1/3 of our day at rest, but when we’re overly busy or unable to unwind, that amount can be much less. There are a variety of factors that interfere with good sleep: an overactive mind, too much light, our electronic devices, caffeine, alcohol, noise, overstimulation and physical issues like pain. If you’re reading this blog, you probably have struggled with good sleep.

In Michigan, cannabis can’t be prescribed for sleep specifically, so while you might use cannabis for your pain or another issue, it could help with sleep, too.

We have to preface this blog with this: there hasn’t been enough research on cannabis on sleep. Because cannabis is federally illegal—the institutions that conduct sleep research can’t do that work because of federal funding. Please discuss your cannabis use with your physician, too. This blog is for information only.

If you want to try cannabis to help with sleep issues you need to first focus on your sleep hygiene. Some traits of good sleep hygiene are mentioned a comfy looking bed, where someone might consume cannabis for sleepabove and theoretically, they should help you sleep. If you’re like 30 percent of all Americans and you’re still sleepless, that’s when you probably have turned to sleep medications or herbal supplements. About 4 percent of all American take a prescription sleep aid and those pills have side effects and issues with overuse, as well as rebound insomnia when discontinued. Plant-based medicines tend to be gentler and don’t have the same harsh side effects of synthetic drugs.

Cannabis For Sleep 101.

There are three properties of cannabis that are involved in improving sleep: THC, CBD and terpenes. THC is the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis; CBD is non-psychoactive has a calming effect and can be used to counter THC in cannabis and terpenes are the part of cannabis that gives it a distinctive smell like pine, lemon or cheese. Aromatherapy is often used to help with sleep, essential oils like lavender are known to help relax people. The terpenes in cannabis can help do the same thing, but you ingest it, rather than smell it. You can learn more about terpenes profiles and strains here. Together THC, CBD and the right terpenes have a relaxing effect that can help induce better sleep.

Finding the Right Dosage is Crucial to Success.

We’re big fans of microdosing cannabis. It’s the best way to find out photo of tiny gummies made micodosing which can be used for sleepwhat works for you and to avoid some of the after-effects of consuming too much cannabis for sleep. Those effects can include dry mouth, red eyes and feeling groggy in the morning. Start small, one or two puffs if you’re smoking and if you’re using a tincture or an edible—try 5 mg to start and see how it works for you.

What’s the Right Strain?

There’s a lot of talk about sativa or indica and whether a strain really matters. In the case of choosing cannabis for sleep doing some research about strains will help you determine whether what you consume will help relax you or make your sleep issues worse.  Leafly has a great strain guide and your caregiver or budtender should be able to give you some direction, too. Keep in mind, indica tends to be more relaxing than sativa, and a hybrid for sleep should be indica dominant.

Smoking vs. Edibles.

We tend to favor edibles for sleep only because of their long-lasting power. While an edible will take longer to take effect, it stays with you longer, too. You’ll want to consume your edible about 90 minutes before you hit the bed so the relaxing properties are working. If you choose to smoke, you can do that right before you brush your teeth and hop between the sheets and don’t smoke in bed!

It Might Help with Sleep Apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition where the sleeper has frequent obstructions of breathing that can last from a few seconds to several minutes. Sleep apnea causes a person to wake up throughout the night and disturbs the sleep cycle. Some people stop breathing up to 30 times in an hour. People with sleep apnea are prone to headaches, daytime drowsiness and irritability. There has been limited research on using cannabis to help with sleep apnea—a small study with 17 people showed promise, but it’s not enough participants to give us faith in its result. What researchers are learning, though, is that THC can help restore breathing stability with serotonin signals to the brain.

Love Your Dreams?
You Might Miss Them if You’re Trying Cannabis for Sleep.

sheep sleeping in a meadow, they don't use cannabis for sleep!One of the biggest complaints people have about using cannabis for sleep is that interferes with dreams. Dreams happen in the REM cycle of sleep, which is the last cycle of sleep during the night and we know cannabis interferes with that process. Cannabis that is high in CBD and lower in THC might help restore some of your REM dream sleep and help you relax more.

If you’ve had trouble sleeping in the past, then you know that experimentation is key to getting it right and cannabis for sleep is much the same.