Web presence and search engine optimization expert Geraldine Convento was a witness to the beginning of the internet. In fact, she grew up with it
"I thought it was so cool to be able to code and build your own website," she said. "I started doing that as a hobby in 1993. I found websites to be great places to express who you are and what you do visually through design, pictures and written content."
The San Francisco Bay Area native once owned a film production company called AIDO Group (Analog Imagination Digital Output). The group was involved with production for several commercials and a Lynn Hershman film, "Strange Culture," which made it as a selection to the 2007 Sundance Film Festival.
Convento also worked for Ghetto Pass Promotions, a marketing company that promoted new album releases for companies like Virgin Records and Warner Brothers. Back then, in 1998, social media was not used as heavily as it is today for promoting records.
"Grassroots promotions - like handing people cassette singles, posting flyers outside of colleges, music events and concerts - and traditional advertising in newspapers and public places was mandatory for getting the word out," she said.
But the internet changed all of that.
"Word of mouth is and always will be the best advertisement," Convento said. "But also consider how easy it is for individuals to find information on the internet. I often ask business owners, 'Is there a place online that explains what makes your story, your company and your products or services special?' There are people looking for what you have to offer. They just need to know where it is!"
In 2008, Convento started her own marketing and web development company, meetgeraldine.com, to harness the power of the web.
Business growth is empowering. It feels invigorating for the entrepreneurs themselves, Convento said, and it's inspiring for the patrons that they serve daily.
"Smalls businesses that thrive create a stronger community and a sense of pride," she said.
But how do you grow a business?
"An online presence in these days and time is a need, not just an option," Convento said. "People spend countless hours on Yelp, Google and other sites planning their day and finding services that they want to spend their money on. If your website is inactive or you just don't have one, consider getting one and then promoting it through social media."
The way that people consume information is expanding and Convento points out that video is one of them.
"The popularity of YouTube has given people all over the world access to things they wouldn't have otherwise come across," she said, "and an opportunity for the creators of video or folks featured in the video access to a platform which allows them to be seen."
Convento, who has been in Taos for several weeks, describes the overall vibe of the town as "very calm, community-oriented, creative and entrepreneurial."
Having an entrepreneurial mindset herself, she has created a YouTube channel called "Get to Know Taos" with the goal of spreading awareness about the town from the firsthand experience of the local entrepreneurs.
"I wanted to create an authentic representation of Taos, different from the tourist attraction point of view," she said. "I am interested in covering categories like food and restaurants, people, spiritual living and lifestyle."
Being featured on the videos allows people to add themselves to a platform that can generate leads for their business or projects and increased searchability.
"YouTube is considered the second largest search engine that people use to find information," Convento said. "And it is owned by Google, the most popular search engine in the United States and other countries."
Convento uses her expertise as a search engine optimization expert to associate relevant keywords with each YouTube video she uploads, which increases the chance of the videos being found.
There is no cost for individuals and businesses to appear on the videos. Filming and editing are complimentary.
"I am actually doing this project for the fulfillment of my passion for video and as a tribute to this amazing community," Convento said.
If people choose to use the video on their website or want the raw, unedited files, she will request a donation.
"However, I am not attached to the idea of using this project to make money," she said. "It really can be for any amount."
Convento has featured Kathleen Noonan from the Earthship community and Susan Moore, manager of Taos Food Co-op, among others.
"I was delighted that Geraldine wanted to include the Taos Food Co-op in her video series," Moore said. "She asked about my personal reasons for moving to Taos and why I love it here, as well as why so many of us volunteer our time to run a small grocery store. I told her the beauty and energy of Taos and the quality of our healthy foods in the co-op speak for themselves. We feel we are nurturing our very special community."
Convento was recently filming a video on OptiMysm, a woman-owned business that carries metaphysical items, clothes, books and more.
"We are also planning to collaborate in some other areas, like helping women get loans through the Kiva Lending Team," said OptiMysm owner Nyna Matysiak. "It's been wonderful to work with Geraldine!"
To find out more about Convento or to be featured on her YouTube channel, visit geraldineconvento.com, meetgeraldine.com or email her at email@example.com.