Allie Wojtaszek of Edmonton, Alberta, is one of the top members on the social media influence market Empire Avenue, and a prolific photographer. I interview Allie about Empire Avenue and Flickr, where she is ranked as the most influential member on EA.
Adriel Hampton: Allie, with recent updates to Empire Avenue, you’re the No. 3 in price on the site, and the top Flickr member. EA didn’t even have Flickr at first. How did you find out about it (EA), and what first drove you to be an active member?
Allie: I found out about Empire Avenue when I met (co-founder) Dups at a Tech Start Up in Edmonton. I knew I wanted to be a part of it right away.
Adriel: You’re a self-avowed early adopter, but what it is that got you to stick with EA? I know I’ve tried and dumped a fair number of social networks.
Allie: I find EA rewarding (in the sense of game play, it’s fun) but what really made me stick with it was the community it created and the people I have had a chance to connect with there. The strength of EA as a social networking tool is attractive.
Adriel: You’re a social person! Before we start talking Flickr, what is it about the Empire Avenue community you found so attractive?
Allie: I like that EA connects with all the other social networking sites that I find important and useful. I love that EA has given me the opportunity to connect with people all over the world. Their ideas now influence and expand me.
Adriel: A small yet-international community, yeah, that’s super cool. So, Flickr. I hardly knew Flickr was a social network, but obviously you’ve been thriving a long time there. How did that start?
Allie: I needed a place to put my pictures online when I switched to digital. I was using Yahoo, tried Picasa. But when I found Flickr, I was sold. I’ve been using it now since 2005 as a pro member (which I totally recommend).
Adriel: I went Pro because of Empire Avenue! It is great for storage. Do you also back up your pictures, or is everything on Yahoo’s cloud?
Allie: I also use Mozy.com for backing up my pictures. Yes, I love them that much. Plus, I tend to only put pictures I like or that have significance to me on Flickr. I have thousands of other pictures to back up.
Adriel: Not surprised! When you do a shoot, do you post most or all of your pictures to Flickr, or are you really selective? I see both styles on the site.
Allie: I do try to be selective. I want people to like my pictures and want to visit, so I aim for the best quality I can provide.
Adriel: I’m guessing it won’t be long before you have a thousand Flickr contacts. Have you met a lot of folks there?
Adriel: That’s cool. Lot of that in SF, but I haven’t been to one yet. Are you a trained photographer, or self-taught?
Allie: No training, so I guess that makes me self taught. I see pictures everywhere. At some point someone gave me a camera, and I’ve never looked back. I think I was 8 years old.
Adriel: What are you shooting with these days? Do you do any post-processing?
Allie: I use a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XTi. I usually will auto correct for colors if need be and have been known to crop.
Adriel: Obviously you’ve put serious time into Flickr, but what’s your best advice for Empire Avenue folks looking to build a network there?
Allie: I would first say select good and interesting photo’s to post. Don’t dump or flood your page or people won’t want to look. Give every picture a title, description and tags. Add them to a set if applicable. Then find groups for them. Then you can post links to your pictures on other sites to entice people to come and see your Flickr profile. I would also suggest interacting with your audience – answering comments and checking out their pictures and leaving comments. Groups are great for exposure but also advice and tips. Flickr people are amazing at sharing advice!
Adriel: Again with the mind reading. I was just typing a question about groups. Tell me, how many photos do you think is right to upload in a session/day?
Allie: To be honest I think the less the better. I think quality is way more important than quantity. So I try to do no more than 25. And that would really be a lot – like vacation pictures (which I take a lot of). But I don’t know if there is a right/wrong amount to upload in a day. If you want people to look, less is better.
Adriel: How has EA changed your Flickr experience?
Adriel: Makes a lot of sense. Thanks for your time! Any last words for your fans on EA and Flickr?
Allie: I’d like to say thanks to everyone who supports me on Empire Avenue and Flickr. If it wasn’t for them, none of it would be fun at all.
Adriel: Awesome. And thanks for all your great community building on EA.
Allie: Thanks Adriel, this was fun! I could talk about Flickr all day.