If you’re considering starting a cannabis business, the timing’s never been better.
About 147 million people all over the world consume cannabis (2.5% of the population), as compared to cocaine (0.2%) and opiates (0.2%).
As popular as cannabis or cannabidiol (CBD) is, its set to grow even more in the next few decades.
As per one survey, nearly six in ten Americans favoured legalized use of marijuana for recreational and medicinal use.
Take a look at a few stats we found that confirm the immense growth potential for cannabis businesses:
- As per one report, global cannabis sales grew 38% to reach 19.7 billion in 2020.
- The sales for legal cannabis in the United States are expected to reach an estimated 23 billion U.S. dollars and close to 50 million consumers by 2025.
- One report found the Christmas holiday period generated $427 million in sales in 2020.
Cannabis is used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Medical marijuana is used to reduce vomiting during chemotherapy and to improve appetite in people suffering from HIV infection. It also helps treat involuntary contraction of muscles and chronic pains.
The recreational uses of cannabis include relaxation of muscles, euphoria (experience of pleasure and excitement) and increased awareness of sensation.
Given the popularity of cannabis globally and in the US, for a wide range of uses, it makes sense to set up an online cannabis business.
In the next few sections, we’ll go over the types of cannabis businesses you can start as well as ways to promote your online cannabis business.
Which cannabis business can you start online?
As per the president and CEO of industrial hemp company Medical Marijuana Inc, Stuart Titus, there’s plenty of opportunity for medical and recreational marijuana use, support industries, and infused products.
Let’s take a look at two major ways you can make money from an online cannabis business.
1. Selling CBD/Cannabis products in your own webshop
In this section, we’ll take a look at cannabis products you can sell, plus steps to set up your cannabis web shop.
Types of cannabis products
To open your cannabis web store, you’ll first need to understand cannabis and its products in detail. You should know the different uses and side effects of cannabis, its growth in the market and whether it is legal or not.
Let’s take a look at common cannabis products below:
- Cannabis Buds/flowers: Flowers are the most popular form of cannabis. They can be smoked using a pipe or by rolling it in a joint. Loose flowers and pre rolls are prevalent forms of the cannabis flower.
- Dried cannabis: Drying and curing cannabis buds makes the flowers healthy to consume. Smoking cannabis which is not properly dried and cured may cause pain in the throat and chronic lung problems.
- Cannabis capsules & soft-gels: Capsules and soft-gels are one of the most popular ways of consuming CBD. They help in relieving pain, regulate sleeping, treating seizures or unusual behaviour, inflammation, and more.
- Cannabis topicals & skin care: Cannabis is also known for its skincare benefits. NYC-based aesthetician and founder of her own skincare center, Ildi Pekar says, “Cannabidiol offers some serious antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits which can be beneficial in treating skin concerns like inflammation, dryness and free radical damage”.
- Cannabis oil & vaporizers: It is worth investing in cannabis oil and vaporizers. Cannabis oil is used to get relief from pain, inflammation, anxiety, depression and epilepsy, While Vaporizers are one of the most effective ways to use cannabidiol. They are used to inhale cannabis as well as cannabis oil.
- Hemp-derived CBD products: Hemp-derived CBD products are sourced from industrial hemp plants, which are essentially grown for their seeds and fiber. Selling these products can also help you to earn in your cannabis business. The hemp-derived segment market for cannabidiol (CBD) oil should grow from $516.3 million in 2020 to $2.9 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 41.5% for the period of 2020-2025.
Steps to start your cannabis web shop
Now you know the types of cannabis products you can sell, let’s take a look at the steps involved in starting an online cannabis shop:
- Know what you want to sell
- Create a professional-looking website. You can easily set up one with a website creator tool or build a dedicated store using an ecommerce software.
- Invest on website design to make it easy to use
- Invest in photography to make your products stand out
- Use online age verification software on your website to comply with rules of selling cannabis. (Cannabis is legal for adult use only)
Let’s take a look at two examples of cannabis stores.
2. Starting a cannabis blog and earning affiliate commission
This is the second most popular way of launching an online cannabis business.
Here are three simple steps to get started:
- Write blog posts about cannabis and different kinds of products. Use high-quality photos.
- Highlight the uses and benefits of the products and explain how to use the products.
- Link marijuana products from CBD affiliate programs in your blog posts and start earning commission.
Is it legal to sell Cannabis products?
Marijuana is being legalized in many states. A recent Gallup poll showed that 68% of Americans support legalization of marijuana.
The Former Chief Administrative Law Judge at the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Francis Young, says, “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating 10 raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death.”
Legality of medical and recreational cannabis depends on the country and its distribution and cultivation. In some countries, both medical and recreational marijuana is legal, while in some countries only medical cannabis is made legal.
In the United states, Recreational cannabis for sale and supply is legal in 15 states, two territories, and the district of Columbia, but is illegal at the federal level. Sale of cannabis has been fully legalized in Canada and Uruguay. The US, Canada, and Uruguay are only the three countries where it’s legal to sell cannabis for recreation.
Medical cannabis has been legalized in many countries such as Australia, Canada, Germany, the US, and Switzerland.
Before you set up an online business selling cannabis, be sure to go over the regulations related to the sale of CBD in your country and state.
How to promote your Cannabis Online Business
According to SEO Design Chicago, a SEO agency that works in the cannabis niche, those selling cannabis online should create a marketing plan that includes SEO, social media, influencer marketing, and PPC ads. Don’t make the mistake and try to do all the marketing on your own. Checkout some freelancer job directories to find some professionals to help out.
Let’s go over each of these in detail below.
SEO for Cannabis
SEO is one of the most powerful tools for promoting and growing your businesses online.
But how can cannabis businesses benefit from SEO? Take a look:
Use keyword tools such as Ahrefs, Google Keyword tool, and Moz to help you find keywords relevant to cannabis products. Then, craft landing pages and blog posts around those keywords.
Having a mobile friendly website helps you to drive more traffic and therefore, rank you in the top search results.
As per Statista, the number of smartphone users worldwide today surpasses three billion and is forecast to further grow by several hundred million in the next few years. If your website does not support mobile phones properly, the users are surely going to switch to a competing dispensary.
Use video content
According to research from Hubspot, 54% of consumers want to see more video content. Therefore, using video content in your marijuana SEO strategy will help you boost rankings and engagement.
Marijuana consumers have a number of queries about the uses and side effects of cannabis. Writing relevant CBD related blog content can help increase website traffic and drive attention of these users towards your dispensary.
Online Business Listing
Creating an online business listing is a popular way to sell cannabis online.
Online business directories list the information of your dispensary such as the name, address, contact information and the services and products you are offering.
Some examples of business directories.
- Best of the web is still a trusted online directory used by more than 16 million businesses.
- Aboutus receives 200.000 monthly visitors on average
- You should always consider a Google my business listing
Pay per click ads on Google
We know that medical and recreational use of cannabis is being legalized, especially in the US and Canada.
Still, Google has strict restrictions on cannabis related products for PPC ads.
Take a look at what Google’s official advertising policies state:
To increase the chances of ad approval on Google:
- Remove keywords like “hemp” and “cannabidiol” from your landing pages. Replace these with substitutes or indirect terms related to cannabis. For example , ‘Herbal natural medicines’.
- Create a landing page which omits all references and mentions to CBD and hemp if your creative is not approved. Include a calls-to-action to your website from this landing page.
Note that even if Google approves your ad, they may remove it sometime later. Thus, its best to use multiple promotion techniques for your marijuana business.
Social media is one of the best ways to promote your cannabis business.
However, like Google, social media also has its regulations and restrictions regarding cannabis.
For example, Instagram does not allow cannabis sellers to advertise or sell marijuana. Marijuana dispensaries cannot promote their products by providing contact information like phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, or by using the “contact us” tab in Instagram Business Accounts.
It only allows you to promote your products by providing the link of your website in the bio of your business account. You still can build an audience of Cannabis lovers around your organic Instagram following and contribute with engagement pods to gain traffic.
Rob Pacinelli, VP of a Toronto Digital Marketing Agency, states that cannabis businesses should “forget about Facebook”, as it prohibits retailers and manufacturers from selling marijuana products on the platform.
However, sellers are allowed to post photos of cannabis products, post educational content about CBD, and post health related statistics and research.
Even if you can’t directly sell cannabis or link to your website, these can be effective ways to build brand awareness about your cannabis business.
Cannabis Social Media Networks
Since a number of social media platforms restrict the sale and promotion of marijuana, there are various dedicated business social networks, which are specially built for selling and promoting cannabis.
These networks help you increase brand awareness and sales. They allow you to list your products on their site or app, connect with other cannabis sellers, know the statistics and current conditions of the cannabis market with the help of daily updates.
You can also educate and interact with the users and make them a part of your niche community. These restriction-free networks help you grow your customer base faster and in a legal way.
Here are some examples of cannabis based social media networks:
YouTube content creators promote your products and services, by mentioning your name and the benefits of your products in any part of their video.
The cost of such sponsorships depends on the popularity of the channel and the number of subscribers the youtube channel has.
Be sure to go through YouTube’s promotional policies for marijuana products before you invest in such partnerships.
80% of marketers find influencer marketing effective.
For your cannabis business, CBD influencers will provide you with access to a wider customer base to promote your products to.
Here are some examples of cannabis influencers:
We hope this piece provides you with enough information to start and promote your cannabis business online.
As cannabis gets legalized in more countries, the value of such a business can be lucrative.
While some platforms do have restrictions on promoting CBD products, there are many ways to build your brand while following legal guidelines.