Photography Mini Sessions… this is NOT a new concept. Photographers all over the world have tried mini sessions for every season and every reason. Some find success, some find PERCEIVED success, and some find failure with their photography mini sessions.
Most educators will tell you not to waste time with mini sessions. But I think that’s a huge mistake. When used as a marketing opportunity mini sessions can be a good thing, as long as it’s done right!
I can make as much OR MORE on 7 hours of mini sessions than I can at a 7 hour wedding!
By viewing mini sessions as a marketing opportunity, NOT cheap photography.
Photography mini sessions are meant for one reason and one reason only… to serve as a sample of you and your work to new clients as a low-risk way for new clients to try you out.-Ariel
Here’s how to do mini sessions the RIGHT way!
If you do mini sessions all the time, you’re going to struggle building the clientele that you want because you’re not giving anyone a reason to book a full session. Not just that! These mini sessions become less special because they are not as scarce.
I only have three photography mini sessions per year: Easter, Fall, and Christmas. Each time I have a designated amount of time slots allotted on 1-2 days. Once they are gone, they’re gone. Why? Because in order for mini sessions to remain special, they must remain scarce. Scarcity is a psychological trigger. That’s why black Friday sales CONTINUE to do well. If something is more rare or unattainable, we want it more.
Also, mini sessions are not for anyone who wants them at any time. But more on that in a bit! 😉
This is key. If you want to use your mini sessions as a MARKETING opportunity to add 20+ regular and loyal clients to photography business, you have to price it right! Too low and you’re going to attract bargain hunters which isn’t necessarily what we want. Too high and potential new clients’ “perceived risks” (concerns about hiring a new photographer) aren’t going to be put to ease.
Typically, I recommend putting mini sessions at 50-75% of your normal price.
Mini Sessions are not meant to be a regular offering at a discounted price. Instead, pare down your offering and the amount of time you spend shooting/editing the session.
Typically my mini sessions are 20 minutes long and include 10 images. Here’s why I do 20 minutes instead of 30. Let’s say you charge $150 for a mini session. I have the potential to make $300 in one hour OR $450 in one hour. Obviously I’m going to choose the later as long as I feel that is something I could reasonably do and still be happy with the finished product.
Some people do 15 minute mini sessions and while that is totally awesome, as someone who photographs small children, 15 minutes isn’t always enough time. Toddlers can take time to warm up. Babies need to eat. I like to offer a hair of leeway time just in case things go awry. Again, i’m KNOWN for a stress-free experience from start to finish, so I want to make sure these mini session clients experience that as well.
Also, for those who are interested, I do only offer one package size. I find that people get overwhelmed with options. And again, my entire brand is KNOWN for being stress-free so I make sure my packages reflect that.
Who you market your mini sessions to is key. If you don’t do this strategically, then you are going to just end up having a bunch of your ideal clients that have previously worked with you continuing to book. Which, is not a bad thing necessarily. But remember, we don’t WANT to do 12 mini sessions a year just to make our salary goal. We want these people to turn in to recurring, full-price clients.
So, I have a segmented email list. It’s separated by past/current clients and potential new clients. Potential new clients are people who have inquired with me and not yet booked because they were still to early in the client process. They were cold clients.
So, those people are the ones who get first dibs. Why? Because THOSE people are the ones who felt that the risks were still to high to purchase with me. Whether it was a fear of cost, not liking the product, or worry that I wouldn’t be good with their kids, etc. For whatever reason, those people are the ones who didn’t feel as though the benefits were worth the risk.
So, mini sessions are a way to compromise with them! They get a little less for a little less money. So a mini session is a great way to get these cold/warm clients (still uncertain) to turn into hot clients (ones who are ready to book). After they’ve had 48 hours to book. I open it up to the public.
If you are interested in learning more about this system for your entire marketing system, make sure you check out my More Than Marketing course HERE.
I pick one or two dates for my mini sessions that are convenient for me. I set up my mini session sign up’s on my website (hosted by Squarespace) on a secret page. On the date of release, people can go to this page and select the date and time slot that works best for them, pay the deposit and they are all set up. Easy for them AND for me. No back and forth messaging required.
My promoting of my mini sessions goes as follows:
I do typically include a sneak peek of the set-up during the promotion (otherwise you will get approximately 1 million emails asking about it). I also create cute graphics on Canva for promoting it on facebook/instagram and my blog! 🙂 Make sure your mini session graphic includes:
However, I do begin to “tease” my mini sessions about about 2 weeks in advance. I tell them to make sure they are on my email list because the link will be released in two weeks. I schedule about 3 teasing posts and then a reminder post the night before the link goes live!
By putting a set start day and time and teasing it, it allows for people to get excited, make room in their budget, and act quickly before they sell out.
It’s so fun waking up the morning of a mini session sign-up! All spots being filled and $3,500 extra dollars is enough to make me do a happy dance!
Our goal is to impress these people if we want them to be returning, full-price clients. So, I make sure that I have an automated email sent out to each person who signed up. This email outlines:
When using photography mini sessions as a tool to gain new clients for your photography business, you need to make sure you are giving them as good of an experience as you give your regular-priced, full session clients.
So during the session I make sure to give them my magic. Help them to fell calm and comfortable in front of my camera. Laugh and have a good time! I want them to leave and say, “Man… I want more of her in my life.” Because the Client Experience you offer before and during the session will have a direct affect on how they view their photos.
I don’t do in-person sales. However, I do offer prints and albums through my gallery server (PASS). In addition to that, I am a affiliate for Basic Invite. Inside the client gallery, I put a pre-designed image encouraging them to order Christmas Cards, Save-The-Dates, etc. through this website. They receive 40% off and I get a huge cut of each sale. By putting them in the gallery, I’m taking away all the work for them on finding who they want to use. I made thousands of extra dollars by doing this last Christmas.
Delivering their gallery isn’t the end. For mini sessions to truly have long-term benefits for your business (like recurring loyal customers), you have to have a plan.
First, I invite them to follow me on Facebook so they can see their sneak peek. But also, I add their email to my email list. That way I can ensure that I am getting in front of their eyes ALL YEAR LONG. Plus, it doesn’t feel salesy. I don’t just send them blog posts of recent sessions (BORING)! Nobody wants to read those anyway! Instead, I send useful and helpful information that they actually want to click.
If this intrigued you. Make sure you check out & join the waitlist for my More than Marketing course. I reveal my entire marketing system I used to build a six-figure photography business in a new town and state without spending a dime!