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May 2013

Don't Get Hurt by Black Hat BAD & UGLY

Bad-GUY-BLACK-HATcu In the "wild west" of the internet, search professionals AND Google refer to BAD & UGLY SEO practices as "black hat."

Black hat reminds us of the bad guy that wears a black hat in spaghetti westerns (as in this photo above left from the movie "The Good, Bad, and the UGLY").

Black hat in regards to SEO is a person or approach that tries to manipulate search results or computer security.

BadUgly72Google updates its search algorithms to identify BAD & UGLY BEHAVIORS and counters them in a variety of ways including lowered ranking or even removal from search results.

What scares me is that many artists and makers have been participating in behaviors (such as trading links or duplicate content) that search engines now consider black hat. Be prepared to avoid reduced page rank.

Here is a recent video from Google spokesperson, Matt Cutts titled,"What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?" .


 SEO RECOMMENDATIONS for Artists & Makers:

  • Use social media to develop your professional identity. If you are serious about your artistic future make deliberate business decisions.
  • LINKS need to be high quality authority TO your website or blog,  Focus on quality not quantity. I know this runs contrary to the friendly, supportive environment of social media, but personal is professional when it comes to your identity online. Read Jill Whalen's newsletter to understand the ramifications of your actions.
  • ADD "Rel=Author" to your website and blog. This starts with a Google + profile. It is an absolute must. ASK Harriete offers you step by step instructions. Use the free Google Rich Snippet Testing Tool to verify whether or not Google Authorship has been set up successfully
  • Image File Names are important for improved visibility. For artists and makers "a picture is worth a 1000 words" but not to search engines. Make sure every image works hard for your Internet visibility with unique titles, descriptions, tags, and keywords. 
  • Remove duplicate content from your website or blog. This includes duplicate page titles , duplicate meta descriptions, and even duplicate descriptions of similar items on your website. Search engines look at duplicate content as a SEO manipulation and 'black hat' practice. If you don't fix duplicate content on your website...the page may be removed from search results.
  • REALITYCHECKRemove any content you "copied" from other websites. This is also considered  "malicious" duplicate content and it will hurt your visibility in search engine results.



GOOD Increases Your Visibility with Search

The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY in the AGE of the Internet has exceeded 10,000 views in 9 weeks!

Discussions inspired by this lecture on the ethical and legal boundaries have been all over the internet. Just recently I discovered a post on Search Engine Watch titled,"SEO Guest Blogging vs. Guest Posting - Imagine a World Without Links" using the  Good, the Bad, and the UGLY metaphor for SEO professionals about boosting internet visibility.

The important issue for all artists and makers is that
GOOD ethical and legal practices

can increase  visibility
of your blog and website.
Google (and all the major search engines) reward original, quality content.

GOOD-Visibility-is provided by quality contentcolored

Following the GOOD path by writing your own original, quality content for your blog or website will benefit you and the craft community. Examples of GOOD content could include an evaluation or review of a workshop, tutorial, instructions or book. Offering insightful opinion that is informative for your audience's path to success.

GOOD practices honor the original source and boost the "authority of the content" on your website or blog.

  • Link to the original source/website.
  • Include the name of the artist, author or workshop master.
  • Provide resources relevant to your content.
  • References to a magazine publication, or book should include the publisher/volume/date.
  • Shared images should be small with a link to the original image.
  • Ask permission before sharing content you did not write.
  • If you write content - include your contact information so it is easy for others to ask for your permission for future contacts.
  • What else? Can you add some good suggestions in the comments?

Become a force for good.
Good practices include how you post images on Facebook, Pinterest or other social networks. Provide complete information with a link to the original source. Be a force for good by establishing new social mores.

Finally, I wanted to honor an example of GOOD shared by Lindly Haunani. She discoverd an example of good in a post on Beading Daily titled, Do You Keep a Beading Journal? by Jennifer VanBenschoten. Check out her recommendations. 

Being a force for GOOD has many benefits.

BadUglyP.S. Changes in search are increasingly focused on BAD & UGLY internet practices that will penalize your site. (More on this in another post.)


CraftCast Interview about the BAD & UGLY

CRAFTCAST-interview-Harriete-Estel-BermanAlison Lee of CraftCast boldly opened the conversation in a passionate dialog about the BAD and UGLY issues circulating in the arts  & crafts community. If you want to skip the "chit chat" in the beginning, advance the podcast 11:48 minutes.

This discussion was largely inspired by my lecture, "The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY in the AGE of the Internet."  

The lecture has over 9,400 views (at the time of this post).

P.S. Check out the other podcasts on CraftCast.

Commission Contract Resources & Recommendations

My name is Mara Friedland, and I am a metalsmith from Portland, Oregon. I am growing into the position of creating more commision pieces and am realizing I would like to have a contract to make both parties more comfortable.

Friedland_Mara_image #1Do you have a  commission contract recommendation so I "do not have to reinvent the wheel?" Thank you!"

If you have any insights they would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!


First I will recommend a couple of resources for a commission contract, then add my professional recommendations.

Business and Legal Forms for Crafts 




Business and Legal Forms for Crafts

Your-Crafts-Business-A-Legal-Guide 0




 Your Crafts Business , A Legal Guide   by Nolo Press.







The Visual Artist’s Business and Legal Guide


Most of these books include a CD-ROM so there is a digital version as well that is easy to modify. None of these contracts are comprehensive so I have included a few additional issues below.

CommissionContractlistThe primary purpose of a Commission Contract is not enforcement. The objective is to bring forward issues that should be discussed in advance by both the client and maker.





Additional considerations for adding to your commission contract include:

  • Payment Schedule in installments
  • Timeline for progress and updates 
  • Design Fee (non refundable)
  • Deposit Before Fabrication for Materials
  • Photography (of the completed work)
  • Owner of object get a photographic image for insurance.
  • Artist/Makers can use image for publication, etc.  
  • Taxes are additional expense and the responsibility of the commissioning party
  • Shipping Expenses are additional and the responsiblity of the commissioning party
  • The copyright of the design is owned by the artist/maker unless the contract specifies another arrangement.
  • Additional fees for changes during contruction/fabrication after approval.

Photography may or may not be important. I recommend adding it to the price as an option. The client may need the photography for insurance purposes. The maker may want the photographic documentation for your records, perhaps an exhibition opportunity, or publication in a book or magazine. It really depends on the nature of the commission.

Confirm that the client is aware of taxes that will be added to the retail price. This might be a significant amount depending on the commission price.

Who is paying for shipping? (if necessary)

Does the maker want to include the option of borrowing the work for an exhibition? If so, negotiate this in the contract. This should be at no cost to the collector, possibly once every 3-4 years if they will allow it (depends on the work, of course).  Include that you will clean the work for the exhibition and that the shipping and insurance would be covered by the exhibition sponsor.

Add anything to the contract that you think is relevant. The important point is to put your conversation with the client in writing to avoid misunderstanding.

Hope this helps.

*The books are affiliate links provided for your convenience.

Cash Cow, Sacred Cow, Purple Cow

The SNAG Professional Development Seminar is coming up soon. 

The topic for 2.5 hours of programming is:
"Cash Cow, Sacred Cow, Purple Cow"


The Professional Development Seminar will have the fabulous volunteer efforts of Lindsey Snell who will blog and tumbler the lecture LIVE!!!! from Toronto, Canada, on Friday, May 17, 2:30-5:30pm EDT.



Here is what Lindsey Snell has to say about our topic:
"I'm really looking forward to the PDS! The topics seem very well timed and I think it will really resonate with people at the conference" [along with the listeners on tumbler & twitter].

"This stems from the kinds of recent conversations that are happening with many of my peers. This is especially relevant to those students who are about to embark on the transition out of academia. There is a definite sense that things are very different from the lives that our professors have known and we need to be working independently to adjust to the way things are now."

"Especially with the rise of general interest in DIY culture, interactive media, social networking, and much more, many of us feel that being talented or a great maker will not prove to be as fruitful as it once was. There is a tension between the expectations of having good craftsmanship and design skills and the ability to develop one's identity as a maker and networker."

"In the last discussion I had with a friend, I think we used the phrase "social as survival" for a way to think about things now. Not only is being unique important as ever, but visibility and accessibility are essential." 

"Also, alternative exhibition spaces are exciting and rarely get discussed in comparison to traditional galleries and museums. I always think of the Clutch Gallery that is still in Chicago- it was a girl's handbag that was transformed into a mini traveling space."

"I'm sure I could go on forever about all of this-but that is precisely why I am excited about this presentation. It really should start good and necessary discussions about contemporary issues."


Attend the PDS 
Anyone may attend the Professional Development Seminar.

Date:          Friday, May 17, 2013
Time:         3:00 – 5:30 pm
Location:  Canadian Hall, Fairmont Royal York Hotel
Address:   100 Front Street West,
                      Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5J 1E3

This year's program was inspired by two TED talks:

Seth Godin: How to get your ideas to spread

Joseph Pine: What consumers want

Our speakers include:

Lara Bazant- “Bringing the Purple Cow to the Market: Tapping Into the Experiential Economy

Michelle Bilodeau“Milking Your Purple Cow in Fashion”

Natasha Granatstein – “The Unexpected Purple Cow: Pop-Up Stores and Alternative Exhibition Spaces

Justin D. Hartzman -  “All You Can Eat” Website – Customizing the Cow: New trends in New Trends in Cross Platform Web Optimization

Rachel Timmins – “Purple Cow: Documentation via video and photography

SHIPPING presentations for artists and makers from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar

All of the PowerPoints from the past three years of the Professional Development Seminar were recorded and made into a SlideShare presentation with audio. Fourteen presentations from the SNAG Professional Development Seminar can be found on the SNAG website. The information is intended for artists and makers in all media.

The Professional Development Seminar is organized by Brigitte Martin, Andy Cooperman and myself, Harriete Estel Berman.

"Abilities versus Choices" & Choice Quotes

In one of the Harry Potter movies, Dumbledore the wise wizard says: "It is not our abilities that show who we really are, it is our choices."

Albus_DumbledoreOf course, Dumbledore is a fictional character, but a character everyone admires. Why? Because he represents courage, perspective, careful reasoning and wisdom. He was willing to be "The Force for GOOD" regardless of political pressure and public opinion.

As_A_Man_Thinketh_bookcoverA book, "As a Man Thinketh", inspired some of my preparation for the lecture.  Written in 1902 by James Allen, the writing style is a little old-fashioned but his words merit being read -- and repeated. Here an excerpt:

"Man is made or unmade by himself.  In the armory of thought he forges the weapons by which he destroys himself; he also fashions the tools with which he builds for himself." 

"By the right choice and true application of thought, man ascends to the Divine Perfection; by the abuse and wrong application of thought, he descends."

“ they may have been hitherto woven in ignorance and pain they may now weave in enlightenment and happiness.”

A very interesting perspective about individuals making "choices" within a community is presented in this TED Talk by "Dan Ariely: Our buggy moral code".

This lecture offers compelling evidence that raising awareness about ethical behavior, even just a little, can have profound impact. After absorbing these insights, it should be clear that not only do our individual choices impact our community, but our community also impacts our choices. 

Reflecting on the words of Jonah Lehrer, How does our "desire for attention, a willingness to take shortcuts, and a carelessness provided that no one will notice" affect our choices?

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich said"Small actions by large numbers of people can bring about profound change."

Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

Change has started.....but it is up to everyone to keep it going.

Share the links to the posts. Share the links to the lecture "The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY in the AGE of the Internet". Create visibility for the issues.

Do we have the strength and courage to stand up against naive, uninformed, or self-serving choices?  Even small efforts by each of us can proliferate into profound impact.

The Gray Zone Framed By Black & White

The discussion in response to my lecture, "The GOOD, The BAD, and The UGLY in the AGE of the Internet" has ranged all over the map.  Most of the debate has touched on copyright and questions about ethical and legal sharing of intellectual property.  

I would like to reiterate that Copyright Law tries to clarify ethical and legal sharing to encourage creativity.  Proper sharing expands our communication and enlightens our community.  In contrast, unethical and illegal sharing dilutes and diminishes the value of our collective efforts.  

The lively debate and comments about "sharing" reminded me that the concept of Fair Use under copyright law has already addressed many of the issues under debate.  

Fair Use almost always involves a similar or derivative work that copies elements of the original work. An understanding of Fair Use can help clarify some situations that may appear to be gray areas - and instead frame them more clearly as black and white.

Shades of gray in enforcement of copyright law

A few years ago I wrote a post about Fair Use Guidelines
which concisely itemizes five key factors regarding Fair Use of copyrighted materials.

To claim Fair Use in making a derivative work (or before posting, sharing or selling a derivative work), ASK these questions:

ASKBLWIs the new version transformative?
If the derivative work borrows ideas or content from another person's work, book, or instructional materials, is it transformative?  The new version must look less like the original source and more like a NEW IDEA or NEW WORK.

ASKBLWCould the new version be confused with the original source?
There should be no confusion between the original version and the new version. Consumers especially should be able to instantly distinguish your artwork/tutorial as something different from  the original copyrighted work. Comparing both versions, if there is any possibility that consumers would be confused about who is the originator and who is the copycat....this is a copyright violation.

ASKBLWAre you selling the idea, art, craft or information?
Commercial intent or financial compensation are significant, often deciding factors in determining Fair Use. Copying an idea or information for your own personal use is permissible under the definition of Fair Use.  However, selling the derivative work or idea, or receiving financial benefit, violates the principles of Fair Use.  Even if you are distributing the copied work for FREE, but claiming or implying that it is yours, also violates Fair Use.

ASKBLWIs there an implied sponsorship or endorsement?
"Your artwork should make no suggestion that the copyright owner endorses or sponsors the artwork/ information." An example:  "_______( famous artist)_____ is my hero, I ’m sure that he won't mind if I copy this idea and share it with you" is an implied endorsement. This is NOT acceptable under Fair Use.  Before posting information or content, it is best to ask permission, and then cite your source clearly as in "This information was provided with permission from __________."

Ideally, Fair Use Guidelines can be applied to art/craft and writing (including sharing of information or instructions).  Most Fair Use is simply common sense.  Fair Use not only permits sharing but is intended to encourage a wide range of possibilities.  In other words, Be ethical AND Be creative!

If you want further insights into copyright issues here are links to posts on ASK Harriete about copyright

Fair Use Guidelines

Fair Use - Is your work "transformative."

Pandora's Box or Toolbox - COPYRIGHT of Photographic Images

Copyright Ownership vs. Owning the DVD

There seems to be some confusion in the arts and crafts community about ownership of information. Previous posts discussed sharing information as an ethical issue, but in fact, it is also a legal issue discussed and defined by the Supreme court on numerous occasions.

Copyright_symbol3As a result of a recent Supreme Court decision, there are many articles on the web about copyright. The article "Copyright protection. First Sale Doctrine." by Attorney Francine Ward explains ownership of information clearly.

"A common misconception by many people who purchase content, e.g., music, videos, images, photographs, is that they own the rights to that work. They think since they paid money for it, that they can do anything they want with it. WRONG!"

"The copyright holder is the one who creates the content, unless it is a work for hire.  The purchaser is just one of many, who bought the book, rented the movie, or licensed the images from the copyright holder or the 3rd party licensee. Because you bought a book, does not mean you can make copies of that book."

"To be clear  the copyright holder and the purchaser of products are not one in the same."*

I hope that this information has made the legal issue very clear.

If a person purchases a DVD of instructional materials, they have purchased access to the information for their personal use. This information may not be copied or duplicated. You own the DVD not the information.

If you have a subscription to a magazine, you have purchased the privilege of owning the magazine. You do not own the information. You may not copy the information.  You only own the digital or print copy of the magazine. 

These principles also apply to books. The information is for your personal use. Duplicating the lessons, tutorials or images for selling as an object or workshop is beyond the boundaries of "personal use." 

These issues surrounding copyright are clear. Sharing content outside of a properly attributed citation is not legal or ethical without permission from the copyright holder.

*This quote was provided with permission from Francine D. Ward, Business & Intellectual Property Lawyer in her post "First Sale Doctrine. Copyright Infringement."
Read the entire article here:

Related posts: 

The Color Blind Paint Salesperson and the Workshop Imposter  

The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing

"I love your work and want to make one for myself" 

"Abilities versus Choices" & Choice Quotes 

The Gray Zone Framed By Black & White

ASK Ourselves, ASK Everyone

Ethical SHARING Honors Original Content

The GOOD, the BAD, and the UGLY in the Age of the Internet