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In recent years, some photographers have so many clients flocking to mini-sessions, that they ultimately have to say “that’s enough” and pause new reservations from coming in. They don’t have to spend a fortune on advertising in order to achieve this; in fact, a large amount of that kind of work doesn’t cost them anything. Let’s allow those successful photographers to do the talking - and look into how they do it.
Mini-sessions - not so “mini” for photographers
Everything starts with a title - what do you call your mini-sessions? Do you call them what they are? We could just skip this whole element - but, just as an example, Lindsay Coulter avoids even calling those sessions “mini’s.” “When I advertise it as a mini,” she says, “sometimes the customer gets the impression that they can be cheap or even inferior. I call them Holiday, Spring, Christmas shoots, etc.” This is just a subjective view though - many others just call them mini-sessions and do just fine, so give it some thought.
How your clients may perceive different mini-sessions
For many clients, Christmas mini’s are a must-have - they’re something that’s planned well in advance. Spring and Summer mini’s are more of a “nice-to-have” type of deal, and are more spontaneous. Hence, Coulter thinks those types of occasions call for client acquisitions through the use of discounts, or in other words, for discounts on less common mini-shoots in general - be it for Spring, Fall, Mother’s Day and the like.
Build up a list of smart emails
Facebook may come and go - but the world of email will not. Create a list of clients who have previously had mini-sessions with you before. Send them a discount at your next set of mini-sessions. Alternatively, hand them discounts for more, right after their initial mini-session is over.
Keep those emails short and concise.
Promotional emails aren’t there for putting all your cards on the table - they’re there to attract attention to your offer. A few short sentences here and there, a catchy subject, and you’re almost there - like Henna Holwedra, a Dutch photographer with over 60,000 subscribers on Youtube, give it a neat finish with some behind-the-scenes pictures from your mini-shoots and you’re bound to arouse interest, build trust and give people the desire to shoot in no time.
Go Online. Spread the message.
Where do your local clients often go? The nearest barber, restaurant, school? Work with those who run these places, spread the word. Send out emails to parents. Leave posters near entrances. Think about how school management, hotel owners, etc. could benefit from cooperating with you.
Running Social Media contests
Organize contests on Facebook or Instagram. Let your followers react to your mini-session photos with comments and impressions. These types of interactions are highly appreciated these days, as people enjoy simple, non-controversial and consistent pieces of content. Give the contests a meaningful reward, like a free Lite Album with someone’s next mini-shoot.
Use your client’s satisfaction to your advantage.
“Could you leave a comment about me on Instagram” is too vague of a request. What is it you’re actually looking for? Be more specific with your clients - “Can you leave a comment on Google about what you liked?” “If you upload the photos to Instagram, could you tag me? I want to be a part of the story.”
Social Media, Social Everything.
Your job mostly consists of photography and making people’s dreams come true. You are constantly told to expand your social presence, and a variety of excuses will also soon pop up into your mind in response. This simply isn’t acceptable anymore. If you exclusively use Facebook, you’ll eventually find yourself with diminishing returns. Instagram has also peaked as an app and won’t be here forever. To be clear; do make one of those Social Medias your main focus, but remember to put some effort here and there, leave word about your mini-sessions on all major social media channels.
Communicate efficiently to save time
You’re a photographer by profession, not a customer service agent - Natalie Mide understood that all too well. Her social channels all clearly state that all questions and bookings should be done via Whatsapp, as it lets her record messages and gather information quickly. Think about a single contact channel which would suit you best. This way, you’ll have more time to sleep, or take pictures.
Choosing suitable print products
Are all nPhoto products suitable for mini-sessions? Of course not. We wouldn’t recommend forcing your clients to get a Grand Gallery Book every time they want a mini-session. Some products are simply too big, or too time-consuming for you to design to be worth the trouble. The amount of photos you’re working with is also something worth considering.
The most suitable products
- The Folio Box: It could prove difficult to completely fill out a larger Folio Box with a mini-session - which is exactly why it’d indirectly encourage people to come in for subsequent sessions over time.
- The Accordion Mini-Book: This product makes it possible to display 12 to 18 photos in an innovative and convenient way, while retaining a high sales margin on your end.
- The Framed Print: Suitable with slightly larger mini-session packages, it’d allow you to have a decent turnover for when you spot a photo that’d look perfect on a wall.
We’re currently featuring a set of mockup presets which use some of these products, as well as a whole PDF guide & planner for your future mini-sessions. As a bonus, the bundle also contains a set of social media templates one could use to get a mini-sessions package up and running quickly.
Follow the button below to take advantage of this bundle, completely free of charge.
Set out with a clear goal in mind - what are your sessions for?
“The point of mini sessions is not to sell your soul and be eating tuna for the next six months, I never looked at mini sessions that way. I've looked at mini sessions as a way to provide a shortened session for my clients who don't want to spend an hour and a half at a Christmas session, who don't have the time or the money, who also have children that don't want to spend an hour and a half at a session.” - the world-renowned photographer Ana Brandt just about sums it up. You can find the full interview containing this topic here.
Ask yourself the right questions before starting
Will you be working with kids, their parents, or maybe both? If you could only wish for one photo from the whole mini-session, what would it be? Ana Brandt asks questions such as these. The client could then answer with, say, “A photo where the kids are comfortably snuggled up to me.” To which one might say - “Very well, let’s start with that scene.”
Make a cheat sheet for your clients
Write out a series of questions that a client may ask before or during a mini-session. Think of any misunderstandings that could arise. How long does your shoot usually take? Exactly 20, or between 20 and 30 minutes? What happens if the client arrives 5 minutes early? What if they're 15 minutes late? Natalie Milde compiled a list of bullet points out of questions such as these. Now, she barely has to explain anything - she just sends the list and asks if the client actually read through it. Both parties involved save on stress.
Keep your schedule slim
Fenna Holwerda doesn’t do more than 8 mini-sessions a day. “I want to give the last client as much attention and enthusiasm as the first, be it with the help of longer breaks between shoots, or the editing of photos straight after, or a long lunch break, or assistants cleaning up after each session - you simply need a good breather.” A hungry and tired photographer can’t achieve their peak potential. You’re not a mini-shooting machine.
Let your mini-sessions play out like a date.
“It’s like mini-dating!” Dates are an emotional and beautiful experience - sometimes you end up happy, sometimes sad, and other times, something serious can come of it - It’s no wonder then, that Ana Brandt compares mini-sessions to a date - sometimes they result in long-lasting cooperation, and sometimes they may end in disappointment - which doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing anything wrong!