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August 22, 2010 - No Comments!

Q&A with SEO and Internet Marketing Strategist, Amanda Bernard

Sunday Spotlight Bug

Last month, I started a new series: Sunday Spotlight, a monthly interview (Q&A format) with an expert who I think can help you kick some butt in business. Be inspired, make a connection, learn. Either way, they are here to help you grow and market your business. It's a work in progress so if you have any suggestions or ideas or questions, please contact me.

Today's Sunday Spotlight is with Amanda Bernard, a Search Engine Optimization and Internet Marketing Strategist based in Portland, Oregon. Amanda and I first met during a couple of years ago now at a gathering for Portland area women in web. We reconnected at a mutual friend's party where we got into a bit of shop talk and geeked out for a bit. Since then, we have partnered to bring her expertise to you. I value her experience, her professionalism and her passion for helping businesses reach their marketing potential and goals.

[ Q ] For those who may not fully understand SEO (Search Engine Optimization), can you share your brief description or explanation of what SEO means; what it encompasses?

AB: When you use a search engine to look for information, the results you see are determined by the search engine’s algorithm. Although each search engine’s algorithm is a secret, a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) professional understands how search engines work and the key factors included in their algorithms. SEO is the process of enhancing a website so that these key factors are addressed, from both a technical and marketing perspective. Implementing SEO techniques helps the search engines to find all of the information on a site and have a clear understanding of what the website is all about, in order to rank the website’s pages appropriately. SEO is also an important Search Engine Marketing (SEM) tactic that allows you to customize the messaging seen in your website’s search results listings, giving your site an opportunity to display information that will compel a searcher to click on your listing instead of the other 9+ listings on the results page.

[ Q ] What is the difference between SEO and making a website “Search Engine Friendly”? Is there any significance in the relationship?

AB: Typically “Search Engine Friendly” means making a website accessible to search engine robots so that the pages on a website can be crawled and indexed by the search engines. This term is frequently used by web developers and designers who create websites that include some of the technical best practices of SEO such as validated XHTML code, external CSS, techniques for fast page loading, and site maps. Search Engine Optimization, on the other hand, addresses all aspects of SEO and includes Search Engine Marketing (SEM) tactics, not just the technical back-end optimization stuff. SEO includes keyword research, writing custom page titles and meta tags, content optimization, and more. Think of “search engine friendly” as addressing the technical elements of SEO, and full-on SEO as concentrating on both the technical and marketing elements.

[ Q ]  Part of our practice of building websites at Cococello is to take SEO into consideration before we begin the design and development of a website. When should a website owner begin to think about Search Engine Optimization and why is this important?

AB: A website owner should always be thinking about Search Engine Optimization (or pay someone else to think about it for them), because it is an ongoing process due to the dynamic nature of the web, search engine algorithms, and search behavior. But when designing and developing a new website, it’s not only important but also more cost effective to include SEO from the very beginning. Adding an SEO expert to your web design and development team will prevent you from experiencing significant drops in search engine traffic, searches engine rankings, and the loss of external links after launching your new site. Launching a new website without taking SEO into consideration can come back to haunt you, especially if you are changing domains, adding new web pages with new URLs, deleting or replacing existing web pages, and not using proper redirects. There are a lot of things to plan for, to avoid losing the equity your site has built up within the search engines, let alone the advantages of launching a new website that is fully optimized.

[ Q ]  As an SEO expert, what are the top three to five qualities a website owner should look for in a web designer/web developer?

AB: It is common for the design to dictate the user interface and functionality of the website, so a web designer should know how to present your content in a way that speaks to your desired audience and gets them to take the action that you want them to take. A thorough understanding of how to use conversion points and how users interact on the web is a must. A web designer should also understand what can and cannot be “read” by search engines. If your designer wants to put all of your text in images or build your entire website in Flash, then you should probably look for another designer. It’s also important for a web designer to have the skills and capabilities to create a shiny new website with Web 2.0+ features and functionalities so it doesn’t appear to be seriously out of date in a year.

If your designer wants to put all of your text in images or build your entire website in Flash, then you should probably look for another designer.

A web developer should know some basic SEO best practices like how to make pages load quickly, create permalinks and “human-friendly” URLs, and develop clean XHTML and CSS code. A developer should also care about the user experience, and understand the importance of having sound information architecture and a proper file naming system.

[ Q ]  Cococello works with a lot of photographers and creative businesses. Not that long ago, Flash was the base for almost all of their websites. Many Flash developers/designers and companies who build sites using Flash claim Flash portfolio sites can rank just as high as any Standards based XHTML/CSS website. What do you think?

AB: It is true that a Flash website with some basic SEO enhancements can rank just as high as an HTML site…but only if there is little to no competition for the keywords you want your site to rank for…or perhaps if you have owned your domain for a really long time and have a lot of popular websites linking to your site. Otherwise, Flash websites rarely ever out-rank HTML sites. Here’s why– Flash sites use the same URL throughout the website, which prevents search engine robots from being able to crawl and index your interior Flash pages. Less web pages in the index means fewer opportunities to have a listing appear for a search query. Also, it is nearly impossible for external websites to deep link to the internal pages of your Flash site, which has a negative impact on your website’s visibility in the search engines.

One of the biggest problems [with Flash-based sites] is the search engines’ fundamental preference that the robots be able to “see” what a human sees on a website…Google is especially sensitive to this. Google Webmaster Central explicitly states that Googlebot may crawl and index an HTML version of a Flash website but Google won’t consider the content found in the HTML version to be part of the content of the Flash site.

What many Flash developers do is they create a clone of the Flash site in HTML and then direct the human visitors to the Flash version of the website while directing the search engine robots to the HTML clone site. I know this sounds like a smart solution, but there are several problems with this approach. One of the biggest problems is the search engines’ fundamental preference that the robots be able to “see” what a human sees on a website, for fear of being deceived and inaccurately indexing information. Google is especially sensitive to this. Google Webmaster Central explicitly states that Googlebot may crawl and index an HTML version of a Flash website but Google won’t consider the content found in the HTML version to be part of the content of the Flash site. Another problem is the fact that the search engines will be indexing and ranking a version of your website that receives very few links from other websites, which is a major factor in obtaining high rankings. Since you are directing visitors to the Flash version of your site, this is where they will link to instead of the HTML version of your site, which is the one being indexed and ranked by the search engines.

Apple sold over 3 million iPads and nearly 8.5 million iPhone just in Q3 2010, so with a Flash site you are restricting tens of millions of people from viewing your website right out of the gate.

Putting SEO aside for a moment…web site owners should think long and hard before spending money on an all-Flash website. First, think about your potential site visitors. People are spending more and more time viewing websites on devices other than their desktops and laptops. This means people want to be able to search for a website and view it on the go via a smartphone, iPad, etc. Apple has been very vocal about the fact that all of their mobile devices do not support Flash, and they don’t plan on creating devices that support Flash…ever. Apple sold over 3 million iPads and nearly 8.5 million iPhone just in Q3 2010, so with a Flash site you are restricting tens of millions of people from viewing your website right out of the gate. As a website owner, this also limits your personal choice of mobile devices. If you want to be able to pull out your iPhone or iPad and show a potential client your amazing photography portfolio, you won’t be able to if your entire portfolio is in Flash. I’m all for adding some Flash elements to a website, but I strongly advise against having an all-Flash site.

[ Q ]  There are thousands of CMS (Content Management Systems) options out there for businesses, website designers, developers to choose from. I’ve heard many claim that WordPress gives better SEO than other CMSes. I disagree with that statement and would like to know what you think.

AB: This is an ongoing debate among SEOs and developers. As far as I know, there is not one CMS that the industry has deemed as the best for SEO. Most professional recommendations come down to opinions, personal preference, and experience working with the CMS (this usually applies to recommendations from developers too). The CMSes that get recognized the most frequently as being the best for SEO are the big 3– WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla. Do a Google search for “best CMS for SEO” and you’ll find millions of articles comparing and debating the SEO benefits of the big 3 along with all of the new and lesser-known CMSes that are available.

Make sure you have the ability to add and update text, page titles, meta tags, and text links through your site’s CMS.

If you are trying to decide between WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, etc., then I would focus more on what each CMS can do to power your website and handle your content in the best possible way and not worry so much about which one will give you the best SEO results. Any CMS is only going to get you so far SEO-wise because there is much more involved in SEO than just the technical back-end optimization, as we discussed previously about the difference between “search engine friendly” and SEO. Just make sure you have the ability to add and update text, page titles, meta tags, and text links through your site’s CMS.

[ Q ]  We’ve all heard social media and blogging are great ways to increase visibility and help with SEO. Do you have any quick tips for businesses who feel a bit overwhelmed by the myriad of marketing tools? Or perhaps how it can be used strategically?

AB: My advice is to only take on what you can handle based on the time and resources you have available. It is better to only have a blog or just a Facebook Page and share really great information with your audience on a regular basis than have a Twitter account, Facebook Page, blog, and LinkedIn Group that you barely use. An abandoned or infrequently updated blog or social profile can actually be more harmful than not having one at all.

I recommend doing some recon to figure out which platforms are most popular with your target audience. Don’t forget to check out what your competitors are doing. I’ve found that within some industries, one or two platforms will be more popular with a specific audience so you can learn a lot by seeing what’s working or not working for your competitors. Once you’ve done your research, choose the platform that you are comfortable with and most likely to use on a regular basis.

[ Q ]  Many people place site rankings as their number one priority / goal when hiring an SEO specialist. I’ve heard site rankings isn’t as important as understanding the relationship between analytics and marketing tactics. What do you think?

AB: Ranking reports used to be a great way to show the progress of SEO efforts and most clients still put a big emphasis on rankings. Of course people should care about where their website ranks for their target keywords, but any SEO professional that is heavily relying on ranking reports to demonstrate a site’s search engine performance isn’t painting the whole picture. Many people don’t realize that when you go to Google and do a search, the results displayed are based on your personal search history. You don’t even have to be logged in to a Google account; the search history can be found in your browser. In fact, if you don’t want Google to provide you with personalized search results you have to disable this setting in Google, because customization based on search history is now the default. I can run keywords through a rank checker tool and provide a list of your website’s rankings for those keywords, and the rankings wouldn’t include any personal history bias, but people actually searching on Google could see your website ranked in a totally different position depending on their personal search history.

Any SEO professional that is heavily relying on ranking reports to demonstrate a site’s search engine performance isn’t painting the whole picture.

My preference is to measure the effect of SEO efforts using Google Analytics (or any Analytics tool). Google Analytics allows me to show my clients the actual amount of traffic coming from the search engines and, more importantly, the keywords that are driving the most qualified traffic. Analytics gives insight into the real impact of your SEO efforts but ranking reports are still useful for monitoring keyword rank, if viewed as qualitative data and not an exact measurement.

[ Q ]  Can you tell us a bit about (or explain a bit more depending on the above question) personalized search and what that means?

AB: Personalized search results take some control away from SEO professionals and webmasters who are trying to get to the top spot in the search engine results, because we can’t control what a person searches for and we can’t control which listings they click on (although we can influence that part). But at the end of the day, if you have a website with really good content and your site is optimized for maximum search engine exposure then people will find your website, regardless of personal search history.

[ Q ] Local search is hot right now. Generally speaking, it seems more important for a business to optimize for local. For people who aren’t familiar with this concept, what exactly does local search mean?

AB: The top-tier search engines realized that delivering search results containing only the most popular or authoritative websites didn’t make sense for a lot of search queries. People had started using the search engines like the Yellow Pages, to find local businesses and information relevant to the searcher’s location. So the search engines started delivering local search results along with the “universal” results. This change definitely helped level the online playing field for local businesses.

The purpose of Local SEO is to send signals about the physical location of a business to the search engines so the engines will index the business’s website for keywords associated with geographic terms as well as product/service keywords. Optimizing a website for local search is done by adding these signals to the business’s website and to external business listings and local directories across the web.

[ TIP ] Add your business to Google Places.

[ Q ] I’ve heard stories of many brick and mortar businesses who feel they do not need to be online or can’t really see the benefit of a website. What might they be missing?

The biggest risk associated with not having a website is this: people are searching 24/7 for your goods or services, maybe even your business name, and instead of finding you they are finding your competitor.

AB: I agree that not every business needs a big, expensive website. But I do think that every business, especially a brick and mortar business, needs a website. Even if you own a brick and mortar business and you don’t sell anything online, people will still search for your business to find your location, phone number, hours of operation, driving directions, and more. People are more likely to Google a business name than pull out the Yellow Pages. You could just set up free local business listings in the search engines, but with no website to confirm the information in your listing, your business would only show up for searches related to your business name so you would still be losing out on visibility for searches related to your product/service offerings. But the biggest risk associated with not having a website is this: people are searching 24/7 for your goods or services, maybe even your business name, and instead of finding you they are finding your competitor.

[ Q ] There are many claims that businesses do not need to hire an SEO expert; that building a “Search Engine Friendly” website is enough. Budgets of course are a big factor as well as resources. What do you think?

AB: For any business, it is essential for people to be able to easily find your website online. More and more people are turning to the internet and mobile web to find every good or service imaginable. And with search engines as the gatekeepers of information, it’s hard to ignore the importance of making your site stand out, among millions of other websites, as the most relevant for search terms related to your business. Having a “search engine friendly” website is usually not enough to get to the top of the search results, but it’s better than nothing. However, if your website isn’t showing up on the first 2-3 Google search results pages then you should really consider hiring an SEO expert. SEO is an investment, but luckily we can track and measure the results of SEO to demonstrate the return on that investment (ROI).

Thank you Amanda!

If you have any questions about Search Engine Optimization or internet marketing strategies for Amanda, please leave a comment!

Cococello has partnered with Amanda and will soon be offering SEO packages. Subscribe to the RSS feed or my newsletter (see that " + " sign in the upper right? Click on that and Sign up for inbox goodies 🙂

Portrait of Amanda Bernard

Amanda Bernard has over 6 years of experience in multimedia marketing and advertising including online marketing and traditional media. As co-owner of a graphic design studio in Los Angeles, Amanda oversaw all marketing and advertising for the studio. She then headed to the East Coast to join an advertising and PR agency as Media Manager, where her role was to create and implement multimedia advertising strategies and work closely with media representatives to negotiate advertising contracts for clients. But Amanda was once again drawn to the West Coast and she was immediately hired as a Paid Search & SEO Account Manager at a search engine marketing agency in Portland, Oregon, where she solely managed all aspects of PPC & SEO campaigns for some of the agency's top clients. Amanda has recently moved on to working as a full-time freelancer and she is currently developing her own search engine marketing client base as well as partnering with other agencies to provide internet marketing services. Amanda is passionate about search engine marketing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, and developing cutting-edge internet marketing strategies. She is also the senior editor of the blog, Thoroughly Modern Marketing.

July 5, 2010 - No Comments!

Sunday Spotlight Bug I'm starting a new series called Sunday Spotlight where I will feature an interview (Q&A format) with an entrepreneur who I think has something valuable to offer to you. It's a work in progress so if you have any suggestions or ideas or questions, please contact me and share 🙂

Rebecca Shapiro Portrait Today's Sunday Spotlight is with Rebecca Shapiro of Integrative Mentoring. I met Rebecca a couple of years ago now and have worked with her in the development of my business. She is thoughtful, honest and extremely professional. Rebecca has years of experience working with many entrepreneurs, helping them to see more clearly; encouraging them to move forward and do what feels good. Rebecca has helped me grow and I think she might be able to help you grow, too!

Please share a bit about yourself and the services you offer:

I am a small business mentor and a professional fine artist. I find that entrepreneurship and art are both highly creative and complimentary. I often use my skills as an artist and mentor when I consult with business clients.

I work with my clients to develop an actionable plan so they can successfully accomplish what they want. We do this together so they’re fully engaged. It doesn’t work when I end up telling a client what they should do. If they’re not invested, it won’t stick and usually fails…even if it was the best solution.

Most of the time my clients are in transition and are having difficulty seeing where they need to go or what they need to do for their business. I use creative principles and exercises to get the juices flowing so clients can see what they’re doing in a new way and make the best decisions for their business.

You can read more on my website at www.integrativementoring.com.

What are a few of the biggest challenges facing businesses today?

Fear is probably the biggest challenge I see businesses face today. It prevents them from thinking clearly and strategically. It keeps them from investing in themselves and their business. I see so many businesses freeze in their tracks when the economy slows down. They’re so afraid of making a mistake but guess what…they just made a huge one by freezing up.

This is the very best time to reevaluate your personal and professional goals. Once you’ve taken some time to sit down and look at what’s going on, you can determine what you really need. It’s a great time to invest in your business, get some additional guidance or bump up your education. It’s also an excellent time to put some money and effort into building relationships with new customers so that when the economy does turn around, you’re way ahead of everyone else who was frozen in their tracks.

This is the time when I carry my soapbox around and tell everyone to reinvent themselves. It truly is the best time to do this sort of work. Most people need a little help so working with a coach, consultant or mentor can offer guidance and motivation so you stay away from freeze mode.

In an age of DIY, how can a business mentor help an entrepreneur?

DIY is great! Business owners can save a lot of money and have greater control when they DIY. BUT…there comes a point where DIY can actually get in the way and businesses can lose profits. It’s sort of sneaky…you get to a tipping point where you actually must reach out and bring other support on to keep your business going or growing.

A business mentor can help you through that DIY transition time. I commonly help my clients determine whether this is the best time to bring on additional staff or create a contractor position. Sometimes they need to relinquish control and delegate. Other times, they just need an expert eye to help them see where they can be more effective by having a good mix of DIY and hiring help.

What is the importance of design and marketing for entrepreneurs?

A well crafted design is attractive and people want to know you. The old adage “put your best face forward” really is true because first impressions do last. When your business has an eye-catching design, it tells potential customers you’re successful and have something to offer. It also tells your existing customers that you care about your business and you’re flourishing. Everyone wants to be part of something attractive and successful.

Design is also part of your marketing plan. In fact, a good design is part of your branding strategy which is part of a solid marketing plan. A lot of businesses skip over the branding work and go straight to the marketing. I discourage my clients from this pitfall. The branding work can be tough but when done right with a well-expressed design, it makes your marketing so much easier.

I’m a firm believer that owning a business is a community effort, so the more support you create, the better you will be.

What advice do you have for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business?

Get expert help. There are business advisors all over the place, especially now that entrepreneurship has been on the rise for the last several years. A strong business advisor who has experience working with your genre of business (this is very important) will help you identify and achieve your goals much more quickly than if you try to figure it out yourself.

Look at it this way…If you needed surgery, you would look up surgeons and pick the one that specializes in what you need because that surgeon is an expert in that field. It’s the same with business. You need help, research and find the best possible person who can help you grow your business. It might be a private consultant such as myself, it might be someone at your bank or someone at your community college. Don’t be afraid to say you need help and want to grow. Do be sure to ask questions and make sure the help you’re getting someone who has experience with your type of business.

You use social media services such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN. How did you decide how to use it and how does it fit in your overall marketing strategy?

I use these tools because they fit my personality and my way of communicating with other people. I am social and outgoing and enjoy helping in a public way. Having an online presence and personality helps me reach many more people than usual. It’s part of my brand.

BUT…social media isn’t for everyone. It may not fit your personality or personal bandwidth. You may not want to market and grow your business further. You also have to remember that social media has “flavors of the month.” Right now Facebook is the hottie but it could experience what happened to MySpace. My-what? See what I mean. You have to stay on top of the online trends and be smart about how you use them. If you’re not seeing any new customers or an increase in sales after a good solid effort over a good solid amount of time, then it may not be the best marketing strategy for your business. Just because “everyone” is using it doesn’t mean you should.

I help my clients assess whether or not they can maintain an online presence and where their business can see the most returns when recommending social media as part of their marketing plan.

How has using social media evolved for you since using it?

I’ve had an online presence for many years and as mentioned earlier, I’ve been online long enough to see trends rise and fall. The biggest thing I’ve learned is that if I’m going to participate, I need to keep my branding and message consistent, I need to be active and contribute to the global conversation and I need to stay on top of the trends and measure if I’m getting a good return on my time. Twitter used to be very lucrative for me. I still use it but that’s shifted and now Facebook is more productive. I know that this will change at some point, too. When people are frustrated with social media it’s usually because they don’t know how to use it for business and they’re not measuring whether or not the effort is paying off.

What advice do you have for using social media?

If you’ve never used social media, find a business or marketing consultant who has a lot of experience using these tools. They should be able to help you assess whether or not you can or want to maintain a social media presence, how to use social media and which sites will serve your business best.

I also recommend that you understand yourself and your business brand VERY well. Some types of businesses and business owners can combine personal and professional tweets and Facebooks posts seamlessly. That’s because it’s part of their brand and they understand how to use it. Other kinds of business should not post anything personal but find other ways to participate and contribute to the online community.

Of course, never post what you ate for lunch (yawn), or how much you hate your neighbor or boss (stupid) or load a picture of you last night at 2 am with a shot of tequila in hand. Common sense is necessary because once something is on the internet – it NEVER goes away. If you even hesitate for a second, don’t post. If you can’t tell, don’t post. If you don’t care, you could really hurt your business.

Are you reading any business related books? If so, what are they?

Yes. I’m reading Jackie Peterson’s new book “Better Smarter Richer” for creative entrepreneurs. It’s very good and I like what I’m reading…especially since I work with creative entrepreneurs who are launching a business or are in transition with their business.

How has your business evolved and what have you learned in the past year?

I’ve pretty much focused on consulting with small business owners and my art. It’s where I get a lot of energy and am excited the most. I spent the year prior letting go of things that don’t serve me. I also learned that if I’m involved in something I really don’t want to do, I can’t sustain it. It’s not an avenue worth pursuing. I tell my clients who are thinking about launching a business that if they’re going to be an entrepreneur they better like what they do and get energy from it because it’s going to be a huge part of their life.

As a business mentor, where do you go to find assistance and advice for your business?

I actually spend a great deal of time building and nurturing my business support team. As I’ve grown I’ve collected people that I can count on for different things. I use my bookkeeper and CPA for financial questions. I have several coaches…some for personal development and others for business development. I also have friends that I trust and are successful entrepreneurs I admire that I can turn to when things arise. I also keep cards of people that may be able to help me in the future and make sure to stay in touch from time to time so I’m building a relationship with them.

I’m a firm believer that owning a business is a community effort, so the more support you create, the better you will be. And, your support team isn’t just for use when things come up. It’s good to have coffee with someone from time to time and just do a check in…see how you’ve progressed. It’s amazing how we forget all the things we accomplish in a short period of time. These support people can help you mark your progress and feel good about your successes.

Do you have any current specials right now for business owners?
I offer a free 30 minute consultation so people can experience the way I work. This way we both test drive one another and see if we’re a good fit for teamwork.

What is the best way for entrepreneurs to contact you?
The best way is through my website: www.integrativementoring.com. There is an intake form tab you can click on and fill out the form and leave me a question or comment. I’ll get back to you quickly.

When entrepreneurs sign up with you, what three things can they expect?

First, that I will carefully listen to where they are and what they want to accomplish. I’m very good at listening “between the lines”, too. This is where a lot of information is stored that people don’t know about themselves.

Second, I make a clear assessment of where I think you and your business are headed. I’m very honest with my clients so they understand right away that our relationship is based on trust. The assessment is candid and without judgment.

Third, I offer recommendations for steps my clients can take to achieve their goals. Together, we carefully craft a plan that they can follow. We build a support team so they stay on track and execute quickly. When goals or transition work isn’t planned properly, people lose their inspiration and motivation resulting in lost momentum. That’s why I meet with people every other week and we stay on track, checking in and making sure progress in being made. What invariably happens is people discover other things in the process that they can incorporate into their business. The result is they have a business that is more appealing to others and more enjoyable for themselves.

 

Rebecca Shapiro : Integrative Mentoring

Websitewww.integrativementoring.com

December 17, 2009 - No Comments!

An Interview with Kevin Miyazaki About Collect.Give

I first met Kevin Miyazaki over email when I hired him for an editorial travel story on French Canals. Over the last few years, we've remained in touch brainstorming ideas and supporting each other as entrepreneurs and creatives. A couple of weeks ago, a group of photographers (of which Kevin is a member) launched collect.give: an online gallery of photography that also gives and supports when you buy.

I was curious about the thinking behind collect.give and so I asked:

Why was collect.give started?

The working photographers that I know don't make large incomes, so donating to charity in a substantial way isn't very easy. collect.give provides a way for photographers to help make change, by using what they have at their disposal: the photographs they've created.  We may not be rich or powerful, but we can create beautiful things, which just happen to have value.  The idea is enabled by both the growing and established online photo community - sites like 20x200, Flak Photo, Humble Arts - and collect.give seems like a logical addition to the web landscape.  And of course, technology such as PayPal, WordPress and Twitter make this possible, where it wouldn't have been, just a few years ago.

© Emily Shur / Title: Picnic Table, Queenstown, New Zealand 2008

For this launch series of images, what was the process in selecting the images? Essentially how did collect.give decide on these six?

The choice of photographs, as well as the charity, edition size and pricing, is left up to the photographers.  It's important that they're fully invested in their images and causes.

How are photographers selected to participate and why is participation closed to photographers willing to donate work?

The grass roots nature of the structure - the idea that the photographers are pledging that their profits will be donated to the causes through personal donations - requires a certain amount of trust by visitors to collect.give.  For that reason, it's easiest to work with photographers I know or whose reputation is well understood.  But I'm also a fan of so many photographers, and extending the invitations is incredibly fun for me.  The inaugural group of John Loomis, Susana Raab, Dalton Rooney, Emily Shur and Allison V. Smith are all photographers whose work I greatly admire, and who understood the potential of the idea, partly because of their own experiences and successes online.

© Dalton Rooney / Title: Palermo, Sicily, 2008

What kind of benefits are there for photographers in grouping together to present/market their work?

I embrace the reach of the internet, and how it translates to the contemporary photography world - it's an empowering time, and anyone can have a voice today. But collect.give has a wider reach than any one photographer is likely to have, in selling or displaying their own work on a personal blog or website.  Just by spreading the word and reaching out to our online photography friends, we had over 5,000 visits to the site in the first week.  

In what way(s) do you see collect.give evolving?

I think it's too early to tell, but the goal is to keep it very simple and direct: You find a photo you'd like to own, are moved by the cause it will support, and then click Buy. And if you don't buy a picture, but have been enlightened by the description of a non-profit doing terrific work, well then something good has still taken place.

©John Loomis / Title: World’s Largest Rocket, Kennedy Space Center, 2009

As Kevin mentioned in the interview, the tools out there now make marketing so much easier so I wonder how many more photographers will pool their resources and talents to reach minds and hearts.

Visit collect.give here to see more images and to read more about the great causes each photographer supports. Show your support by purchasing a photograph. It's really a steal!

Thanks Kevin!