It’s fall here in the midwest, which means mini session season. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, or kind of know and want to know more, this episode is for you.
If you’ve been testing out the mini session waters but still aren’t sure how things work OR you’re having trouble filling up your slots, listen up. In today’s episode I’m going to give you my rundown of how I run minis and how I manage to sell them out every single time.
First, it’s review time. You know this already if you’ve listened to the show a while: I love showing my gratitude for your time and support by giving every single review a live shout out on the show. I appreciate you, yes you listening right now. Thank you for your support.
This week’s review comes from BrandonBrands
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Okay, mini sessions.
What are they?
Mini sessions are basically truncated versions of a typical 60-90 minute lifestyle or portrait session. They can be done for branding, couples, pets, or seniors…but they are hands down most popular for families. Most of my clients take advantage of mini sessions for their holiday cards, or as an easy way with young kiddos to get some great shots and get out of there before meltdowns happen.
Another distinguishing factor, particularly for photographers who generally shoot on site, is that you as the photographer choose the location of the shoot. This way you can book multiple sessions in one day without driving anywhere. You clients come to you. It saves you time, which is also why the extreme discount works so well.
Before I give you a few tips on getting your next mini session fully booked, I’ll tell you about my process for sign ups.
For the last two seasons, I have offered 20 minute sessions with 20 edited photos for $200. You’ll hear from a lot of people that 20 photos seems like waaay too many for a mini, but I’d argue that’s based on your business model.
I’m a storyteller, that’s my brand. So detail shots, shots that show movement (like hair blowing in a face or a close up of a kiddo’s hand grabbing a pebble)…these shots aren’t the sort of portrait you’d put on your holiday card, but my clients will often choose a handful to arrange on a holiday card or print out for their homes, and as a collection, my images tell a story.
That said, I deliver more images.
I’m also not a heavy editor. Some businesses, and this is very common with luxury newborn portraits where the babies are asleep in the cutest poses with amazing props, these business do extensive edits. They are also trying to achieve the perfect portrait, not a series that tells a story.
My point is that 20 images works really well for me. Maybe for you it’s 5, maybe minis don’t work for your style. Maybe it’s more than 20. Whatever is working for you and worth your time and effort is what you should do. I’ll be doing an episode on the logistics of pricing in the future which will give you a better idea of when you’re making money, losing it, or breaking even in your business.
So I offer about 8 slots on mini days. I’ve done up to 15 and as few as 2, but I find that 8 is a great chunk of change and easy enough to schedule. I will typically offer 2-3 minis a year.
So how do I book up in less than 24 hours every single time?
Above all, I’m consistent. The images I have advertised in the past are consistent with what people get in their final collection. I don’t mess with coloring or style. It’s consistent, straight forward, and dependable.
This helps with your know, like, and trust factor. If this is your first year offering minis, it might take a little more time to totally sell out. But if not, it’s one of the easiest things to book out because they book themselves.
What do I mean by that?
When I announce mini sessions, they are 90% returning clients. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a few new folks jump in. But I don’t have to sell anything. I don’t have to convince anyone that it is worth their time and money. They have already done it and they know. They typically email ME before I announce them asking if they’ve missed the sign up.
So how to get such a loyal following? Underpromise, over-deliver. Yes, they get 20 minutes and 20 images…but it’s a rare shoot that I don’t throw in extra images, or offer a big holiday card discount or give them a couple of extra minutes in the session. These little things, as long as they don’t throw me off my schedule or cost me loss of time, are SO easy to do and go a long way.
I’m also FAST. I’ve practiced for 10 years. I don’t spend a lot of time posing and shifting and moving for the perfect set up. I just roll with it and shoot my butt off. I’m fast shooting…so what? It makes a HUGE difference when kids aren’t cooperating and the parents feel like they didn’t get any good ones only to view their final images to find a lot more smiles and beautiful moments than they ever thought.
Bottom line? If people have a good experience from booking to paying to shooting and getting their images, they will book you again and recommend you to their friends.
But how exactly do I reach out?
Email. Email. Email.
You don’t have to get all fancy and dive into list building to do this (although having an email list is SUPER helpful). You just need to have a way, whether it’s mail chimp or a notebook, to keep a list of anyone who’s asked about or hired you for a mini session. It doesn’t hurt to add anyone who’s ever hired you period to that list. You’ll need their permission to add them to a list if they are just word of mouth and haven’t done official business with you. Even if they have, hiring you for a wedding is different than minis, so legally you should ask their consent. You can do this easily by emailing everyone a link to opt into your mini session list if they’d like to be notified the next time you have them.
People that have hired you for minis in the past can be added right away.
And ta-dah! You have a basket of folks you KNOW are interested. I email my mini list FIRST, then my general client list, then finally I’ll post on social using IG stories or FB. The last two years I’ve had to add dates because the sessions fill up in less than a day.
So be consistent.
Under promise over deliver.
Do great work.
Have a list to email.
And finally, educate your audience if you’re new to this. Maybe a blog post telling them what mini sessions are all about, something you can share on social or email them about. Maybe this blog post has a way for them to opt into an email list. This way they know what mini sessions are, why they should sign up, and you’re giving them an easy way to do so.
So that’s what I have for you on minis! If you have additional questions about this that you’d like to bounce off me or other photographers, consider joining the Photo Business Help FB group for listeners of this show to connect. It’s on FB at Photo Business Help with Natalie Jennings or https://www.facebook.com/groups/photobizhelp. Right now, FB is still the easiest way to connect with communities of people into things you like. IF you don’t really like FB but want to be a part of things, you don’t have to do anything else on FB to join. I rarely post anything personal but groups are my jam when it comes to growing in business.
In all you want to achieve, consistency is key.