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St. Paul Park man helps make businesses visible on Google Maps

Paul Lampland wants to make small businesses visible -- and visibly appealing -- on a really large map.

Lampland, a St. Paul Park resident, has launched a business as a contractor for Google. He sells his photography services to businesses such as restaurants and salons. Lampland photographs a business and then loads his photos to an advertising feature on Google Maps, all in an attempt to give the business more visibility to potential customers who search on the Web for services.

"It allows me to be able to help businesses with their presence online," he said.

Lampland started his work in August and has finished projects for a coffee shop, two salons, a day care and other businesses. His Grey Cloud Studio is based at his St. Paul Park home, but he works the entire Twin Cities area.

As some businesses have gravitated to web-based advertising and promotion, Lampland has made a similar transition. He said he previously worked for a company that produced plates used in the printing industry, but decided to make a digital professional leap.

He went back to school at Dakota County Technical College and earned degrees in Web design, electronic publishing and graphic design. Through his marketing and design networking Lampland learned that Google was recruiting contractors worldwide to bolster business presence on its Maps service, now the dominant online map searching service. With a background and interest in photography, Lampland decided to give it a shot.

His focus is specific yet broad: he said any business that has walk-in traffic and "uses visual appeal to attract customers" could benefit from his service.

While Lampland is a contractor for Google, he is not paid by the search-engine giant. A business pays Lampland for the service; the cost is based on the size of the business. A business can benefit from the visibility on Google Maps, while Google benefits from increased traffic and online advertising it sells.

A few months into it, Lampland has discovered that it's challenging but rewarding work. He makes his sales pitch directly to business owners and enjoys seeing the result when a business agrees to work with him.

Lampland uses digital still photography equipment to shoot photographs of the interior of a business. Computer software patches the digital images together to create a "virtual tour" around the inside of the business. Lampland can then upload the virtual tour, along with still photographs, to Google Maps.

Businesses also can put the virtual tours created by Lampland on their own websites.

"It's another product that allows people to get an idea of what's inside that business," he said. "It's a product that makes you more competitive."

For more information about Grey Cloud Studio, contact Paul Lampland at, or 651-332-0198.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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