J.R. Portman was a millwright with an interest in photography when he went through the verification process to become a Google trusted photographer.
Now, the project manager and local search strategist with 5 Stones Media in Hammond uses his expertise in all things Google to help area businesses optimize their web presence in local markets.
One of the easiest ways to do that, Portman said, is to make sure a business has good photographs online, especially in Google Maps.
Portman shared some of his knowledge with Livingston Parish residents April 14 at the Get Found On Google Search and Maps class for small-business owners at the main branch of the Livingston Parish Library.
“People love the virtual tours,” Portman said, which can be photographed and uploaded to a free business listing on Google Maps.
As a Google trusted photographer, photographs of the outside and inside of a business is one of the services he provides, however, it’s easy enough to do with nothing more than a cellphone camera, he said.
Portman spoke to the group, which included real estate agents, entrepreneurs and nonprofit agencies looking for strategies to get their names and services out to potential clients, as part of Southeastern’s Louisiana Small Business Development Center’s educational outreach program, said Sandy Summers, the center’s assistant director.
Programs offered through the center fall into two categories, Summers said — one-time programs like Portman’s, developed based on specific feedback from business owners in the area, and regularly scheduled classes that provide general information on getting started in a small business.
“Things like how to get started, how to make your idea into a business, how to write a business plan and get financing,” are among topics regularly addressed, Summers said. “And we try to make them available in as many areas as possible,” she said.
Portman and Summers have been collaborating for years, Summers said, long before Portman began working at 5 Stones Media.
“Most (small-business development centers) have to figure it out for themselves when they offer classes like this one,” Summers said.
“J.R. is a great local resource to have right here in our community.”