Have Camera, Will Travel!
Michelle Seigerman is a mover and a shaker. While moving comes with the territory of being a military wife, shaking things up is what she does naturally. Seigerman, owner of Ages and Stages Photography, shook up her own life while living in England a few years ago.
“It began as a hobby,” Seigerman said. “After having my son I needed to do something for myself, something creative.” Living the military lifestyle, far away from home, families are constantly trying to keep in touch. Kids are growing up fast, away from relatives, and sending photos to loved ones back home becomes a priority. Seigerman had an epiphany.
“It’s hard to afford things off base,” Seigerman said. “I’ve always loved photography and I thought it would be great to offer our troops an affordable option for family photos.” Working with military regulations means you have to be resourceful when it comes to marketing. “You can’t advertise on a military installation but you can set up as a vendor when thereare Bazaars on base,” she said. Seigerman went to work. She created business cards, got on the Internet to figure out pricing and set up a package deal for her photographs. “ I set up a cute fall scene with a backdrop and thought maybe I’d get a few people. I ended up swamped the whole weekend!”
Seigerman was off and running. Business was booming and she had a steady clientele. Of course the life of a military wife is always in transition and in 2009, the family moved again. Seigerman is now shaking things up in San Antonio, Texas!
“There’s a lot more competition,” Seigerman said. However, a whole new world of marketing opportunities opened up because they were no longer living on a military base. “I initially tried mailing out postcards and putting them at local businesses but did not get an overwhelming response,” she said. Next came an ad in a neighborhood mailer and a small response. Seigerman started thinking. She’d joined Facebook in England but once back in America realized the value of social media as a great business marketing tool. “I’m a big fan of Groupon,” she said. “So I did an ad with them and that really got my name out there. People responded right away. Once you get a client base, word of mouth goes a long way.”
Seigerman also offers deals and discounts and holds contests. “People really respond to contests,” she said. You always have to be thinking when you move around. It’s all working for Seigerman. “Business is right where I want it to be now,” she said.
Seigerman is always thinking about the next marketing plan but she has found balance in her life. With two children and a full time career that may sound impossible but she has it figured out. “I shoot when my kids are in school and I don’t work every weekend. We need family time.” Being a parent and a former teacher has actually helped Seigerman with her work. “I’ve got more patience,” she said. “I love children and that shows. I love the art and creativity of photography and capturing a family naturally. I shoot in a photojournalistic style and people respond to that, it’s the way we like to see ourselves.”
So what happens when duty calls the family to another destination ? “Have camera, will travel, “ Seigerman said. “That’s the way it’s got to be!”
Tags: social media