At the end of 2012, 123-reg ran its annual Christmas campaign draw whereby customers sent their email address into us for the chance to win a prize of £1000. The lucky winner of this competition was Roderick Barker-Benfield, a photographer from South East London, who was selected at random and delighted to be so.
Here, we talk to our winner about the competition and we learn more about Rod’s relationship with 123-reg.

The winner of our £1000 Christmas draw

You are the winner of one of our most popular competitions. How did the win make you feel?

I won’t lie to you – winning your competition has been an ace start to the year! I have felt an incredible rush of emotion and this is really great news for both me and the business. Without a doubt, I am going to compete in future contests!

Tell us a bit about yourself and www.rodography.com

I started taking photos as a kid, but it wasn’t until about 2009 that I decided to turn my hobby into a career. I’d taken some great shots whilst travelling and some friends recommended I look into doing something a bit more commercial. I started photographing portraits and events to gain a bit more experience working with clients and it wasn‘t long before I was asked to shoot my first wedding. Since then I’ve gone through two cameras, three websites and several lenses, but I love taking photographs and wouldn’t change it for the world.

As Social Media becomes more intertwined with our everyday lives, where do you see the photography market going?

The market is slowly moving towards the crowd. In a couple of years’ time wedding albums will be made up of images taken by guests throughout the day using their smartphones. You’ll be able to upload your images to a specially created wedding group and if they make the cut, your photo will end up in the happy couple’s coffee table book forever more! In the meantime though, it’s all about the social. It’s easy enough to create image content as a photographer, but if you want to engage your audience you have to get them talking. A Facebook page and a Twitter feed are standard, but get yourself onto Pinterest to show people what you’re interested in and write a blog to keep them amused with tales from the industry. Keep people talking and when someone asks them if they know of any photographers they’ll remember the conversation you got them involved in.
Oh and make sure your website is mobile and tablet friendly. I read a stat somewhere recently that up to 50% of all online content is viewed via a tablet/smartphone. If your website doesn’t look good to people viewing it on their mobile devices you could be losing business. Actually, that’s next on my to-do list!

Why did you choose 123-reg?

My dad runs his own business and uses 123-reg to host his website. He recommended I use them as a good starting point to find the domain name I was after. Initially I just purchased my domain name from 123-reg and hosted my website with a third party, but after a couple of years of poor service elsewhere I decided to bring everything under one roof and use 123-reg to host my site as well.

What do you like most about 123-reg?

The user friendliness is vital. Everything I need to run the online side of my business is there in a clean, bright and accessible way. I’m kept up to date by email with when I’m due to renew my domain license or hosting package and there are a load of helpful technicians in the online support centre that can give me a hand if I get stuck with anything.

What have you gained? Have there been any benefits that you didn’t expect?

I’ve gained a better knowledge and understanding of how the internet can really work for small businesses. I’ve also taught myself how to create a website from scratch. These days you don’t need to have a background in coding to be able to create your own website – there are free apps available to help you build your own without the hassle of getting under the bonnet. As with everything in life, the more you put in, the more you get out so my advice to anyone wanting to make their own would be to set aside some time, figure it out logically and then start playing. Remember that you started out with nothing so creating anything is an improvement!

How would you describe 123-reg to somebody else?

A one-stop-shop for all your website needs. You can purchase a domain, get up and running with hosting and email and use their inbuilt apps to help create your own website from something as small as an idea.

Would you recommend 123-reg?

I definitely would. I would recommend it to all small businesses looking to get themselves an online presence quickly and professionally. Whether you’re a local café just wanting to tell people about your new menu or a photographer like me wanting to show off your latest snaps then 123-reg can do you wonders!

If you want to see more of Rod’s fine work head over to: http://www.rodography.com

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