By Melissa Renahan, Writer and Military Spouse
As military spouses, we are familiar with the term ‘portable career’, but what does that really mean? The powers that be sometimes recommend fields like nursing or teaching, but really those are two competitive job markets that require degrees, training and an open position in the spot you’re moving to. That seems like a lot to leave up to chance when you PCS, which is why many spouses have turned to direct sales, retail work or other, more unique avenues.
Take Michelle Ocampo, who has been married to the Army for 10 years, and her successful, dream business – which she relocates along with her family every time the moving trucks show up.
“Photography had always been a hobby of mine. When my children were born, I quit teaching so I could be home with them. This gave me the perfect time to play around with my hobby and practice on my own kids,” said Ocampo, who recently PCS’d to Monterey, California. “I had friends start to ask if I could do pictures of their children. Once I had this happen a few times, a light bulb went off! It was really the perfect hobby to turn into a career while staying home with my children. I love that I am my own boss and set my own hours around my family. Plus, isn’t it everyone’s dream to turn their passion into a career?”
Thus, Michelle Ocampo Photography was born and she began to ‘”leave her imprint on the world.” By focusing on outdoor, natural light photo shoots and capturing people laughing together, goofing off and simply loving each other, Ocampo knows that she creates images that families will treasure for generations.
Yet the question looms: is photography portable enough as a business…especially when compared to a teaching job?
“I think it’s much easier to move and go apply to get a teaching job somewhere…and you automatically jump into a steady paycheck. With photography, I always have to re-establish myself as a business with every move. No one wants to restart their business every three years, but it is the lifestyle we chose when we became a part of the military,” she explained. “It typically takes a year to re-establish myself; however, the benefit of being a sole-proprietor and working around my family makes it worth it. Not to mention, with every move, you learn ways make the process a little less painful!”
Ocampo works with both military and civilian clients, from families to couples to just kids or pregnant moms-to-be. Despite her fantastic website and portfolio (www.michelleocampophotography.com), her biggest method of promotion is through word of mouth and simply making her name known in each community that she moves to. She recommends getting involved in the spouse’s club, as well as other organizations that you will enjoy working with, and then let those new contacts create awareness about you and your business. In particular, she finds the military community to be passionate about supporting ‘their own’, which has certainly helped her out with each move.
So what does she recommend to those struggling to find their own dream career?
“Find your passion, and find a way to turn it into your dream job. It doesn’t need to be something that has been done before! The more unique, the better! Life is too short to not follow your heart with your career,” Ocampo concluded.
Truer words were never spoken – at least in this writer’s opinion.
Sarge Says: We have a network of home based businesses building across the globe. You can promote your business or services on SargesList. Check out Michelle’s listing to get ideas, as well as other photographers listings in other areas (– you don’t have to be a photographer to post!):
Michelle’s SargesList Listing: http://www.sargeslist.com/index.php?a=2&b=1270
Other Photography Listings: http://www.sargeslist.com/index.php?a=5&b=315
Best Practices for using SargesList to promote your business: http://blog.sargeslist.com/?p=3