The Art of a Mini-Session
I have been running Mini Shoot Sessions as part of my business now for 3 years and they have become a fundamental way of how I look ahead for the year and market my business. My approach to the Mini Sessions are that they are a marketing tool and a long term approach to introduce people to having photographs with me and also to keep some customers on board who may not be able to afford my full lifestyle packages. Not only that, some families prefer a shorter more focused session so these type of sessions can appeal to them too. I should add that I don’t see my Mini Sessions as a way to earn a weeks salary in one day or anything similar but more of an approach to gradually build my client base.
What is a Mini-Session?
I tend to run my mini sessions on a particular day as opposed to offering them as a stand alone product. As a result, I will set my date, choose my location and then offer slots for the length of time required for families and couples to come to me over the course of the day.
How do I organise a Mini-Session?
Think about how you would like the Mini Session to sell. Is it themed, styled, linked with a season or an event or part of a holiday. We should be thinking in advance when they will be and if linked with a holiday or event, I always suggest following the supermarkets. Once the supermarkets start putting certain holiday items on the shelf that is when to start marketing your holiday Mini Session.
The key thing I do every year is find a location, a location that is a little off the beaten track so that clients can feel comfortable without people watching them, has some variety and is easy to have access or to give directions to meet you.
How do I price my Mini-Sessions?
I am sure there are lots of ways to structure your pricing for your Mini Sessions but I’m going to highlight what has worked for me.
The Mini Sessions need to feel like a good offer and that there are a limited number available but also fit into your current pricing structure as opposed to being wildly different or cheaper. You could offer a sitting fee or a sitting fee which includes a product and then additional products or digital files are available following the session. Alternatively, you could offer packages and families can make a choice prior to the Sessions with an option to upgrade later. I have tried both and both worked but for ease of paperwork and for it to be much more simple the sitting fee with a product seems to work best for me.
One thing I have learnt over the last few years is that it is important to take a deposit towards the session as without one, people change their mind, cancel, ask to re-arrange and it can become a minefield to organise. As a result from this, this year I will be requesting a small non-refundable deposit to secure the place. Of course, it is important to be fair and if there is a good reason why they can’t make it then you could allow them to move the deposit to a mini session later in the year.
How do I market my Mini-Session?
How do you market your other portraits? I imagine you use your Facebook Business Page, Twitter, Blog, Newsletter, Special Page on your Website … yes all of those things. I find for great offers that Facebook Works really well. Its great to have a Blog Post about the location – tell people about how beautiful it is, take your own child or a friends child and photograph them there in advance to share images of how Sessions could look. If you have done a session there before, how about a behind the scenes blog post?
Another idea could be to have a special page on your website or blog that is specifically about the Mini Session, giving further information and details about it. The key is to promote it and although it may feel to you personally, oh I promoted this last week, I can’t do it again – of course you can, people don’t always see the first time you share something or sometimes they do and then life gets in the way of them contacting you and this serves as a reminder.
Alternatively you could link with another supplier, as in they provide props or styling for the shoot and then you cross promote the Mini Sessions between you – reaching two audiences.
How does this benefit my business?
Personally, I see the Mini Sessions as a long term benefit that is a grower rather than a money making exercise. The days are incredibly hard work and at the end of it I feel physically and emotionally exhausted as it is highly structured and full on for the whole day but it is always worth it. The Mini Sessions introduce people to my business that didn’t know about me previously and in turn that introduces me to their circle of friends. It also means I have repeat customers coming back to me once a year who maybe wouldn’t normally be able to afford a full lifestyle session each year. Sometimes short sessions are enough for some children and they need focus, structure and a clear time span as opposed to a much more free and unstructured times (all children have different needs) and sometimes it is like a little taster.
However with each Mini Session day it widens my client base. In addition it can also lead to further work and I have had full lifestyle sessions, newborn sessions, gift vouchers and weddings booked following on from people that have had one of my Mini-Sessions so it is really important to give it the space and time it needs to grow organically.
I hope this has been a helpful introduction into Mini Sessions and how they can benefit your business. I would love to hear how you get on with them too.
Summer Love Photography also offers 1-2-1 mentoring days and will be running a 6 month Business Hub from October 2014. The Mini Shoots are also covered in more detail in the Lifestyle Photography Training. More details can be found here training or feel free to email me at email@example.com for more information