Holy Island-based photographer Emma Rothera says high speed broadband has given her business new focus and helped her to attract new customers.
The landscape photographer has transformed the way she works since she signed up to superfast broadband following the arrival of the technology just over a year ago - thanks to the iNorthumberland project.
Emma, who as well as selling her photographs, offers photography workshops and tours on the historic island, said she previously felt like she was living in the past as she tried keep up with the growing demands of an increasingly online business world.
“Before, I used to send images out to customers on DVDs in the post – because it was quicker than trying to send things to people online. If people wanted to do a course I’d end up posting the booking form out to them.
“A lot of what I do involves uploading and downloading very big high resolution photographic files and my old connection just couldn’t cope. I used to take my laptop and go and sit on the mainland to be able to send some files.”
But with a superfast connection Emma has been able to re-launch her business to exploit the growing digital marketplace.
She said: “With business – especially my line of work – everything has moved online. The first thing people ask me now is ‘what is your website address’? My website is like a shopfront in the virtual world. To be able to sell yourself you need to be online and you need a fast connection to do that properly. That is where the real marketplace is now.
“Since having fibre I have been able to use social media – things like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to market myself online. I started getting a lot more bookings through for the workshops I do. I started getting more commissioned work as well – you’re exposed to a much wider audience with social media.
“With my old connection when I tried to send or upload images online – I might have quite a few to post and potentially it would take up to half a day. Now I can send the same number of images in the time it takes me to make a cup of coffee. It means I win back hours of my working day when I can be responding to customers. I can just get more done.”
Having faster speeds have also helped Emma to showcase her work more widely and also to work more flexibly by uploading her work to The Cloud.
Emma said: “I’ve been able to upload my portfolio to a remote website designed for professional photographers. Clients can go on and look at the images in high definition, which is really important if they want to commission something for a magazine cover or poster. I also now have a separate hard drive that is linked through the cloud – so that if I’m working away from home, I can access everything from my laptop and pull things off my desk top computer remotely.”
It has also enabled her to pursue other projects including revamping her website and producing an e-book photography guide.
“I’m completely re-designing the website and hope to include lots more photos and also videos taken of the island at different times of the year. I also want to create a photography guide that you can download and I’m putting together a book which is a compilation of the images I’ve taken of Holy Island over the last ten years. These are things I could never have contemplated doing without a superfast connection. It would have been too time consuming.”
More than 146,000 households and businesses in Northumberland are now able to connect to fibre broadband as a result of the iNorthumberland programme and BT’s commercial roll-out of the high-speed technology.
The iNorthumberland broadband programme, a key part of the council’s growth investment, is being delivered by Northumberland County Council and BT. The programme was recently recognised for its success in promoting digital inclusion and skills with a win at the Next Generation Digital Skills Awards.
Cllr Dave Ledger, deputy leader of Northumberland County Council said: "This is a very important outcome from the iNorthumberland programme - to be able to support and help businesses to become viable in previously digitally isolated communities. I am delighted that Emma has been able to transform her business in this way."
Simon Roberson, BT’s regional partnership director for the North East, added: “Emma’s story is a great illustration of how high speed broadband can revitalise businesses, create new opportunities and enable them to compete in the new digital marketplace wherever they are.”
BT was awarded the iNorthumberland contract in April 2013, whilst the second phase contract was signed in June last year. It will see more than £4.1 million invested in the programme area in addition to the £18.9 million initially invested by Northumberland County Council, the Government’s Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) fund, BT and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). 1The majority of premises in Northumberland will be getting access to some of the best broadband speeds in the UK via iNorthumberland and the commercial roll-out of fibre by BT’s local network business, Openreach. Openreach’s network is open to all broadband service providers on an equal wholesale basis and so Northumberland households and businesses can benefit from highly competitive products and pricing from a range of providers. For up to date information on the roll-out visit www.inorthumberland.org.uk
The Cloud: Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the internet).