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How to Set Up Profitable Mini Sessions

Mini sessions are not your regular sessions at a discount. They are a short and sweet photoshoot for clients to get a few updated photos, especially for busy families. New clients can get a small taste of what it’s like working with you, as some like to try before they buy so to say, and if done correctly will make them want to come back for more. Mini sessions requires a lot of thought and planning but the hard work is well worth the reward. You need to have your new ideas for each mini session, as well as being aware of how to put them together and market them. We are going to take a look at how you can do this, in order to profit from each mini session event and always have something new to suit your clients.

Understand how mini sessions work
Mini sessions are very simple in how they work and they are not meant to be like your full sessions. Your photos will be kept to the minimum, anywhere from 2-5 images. If you want to add additional profit to your mini sessions, you can offer them more images and products after their mini session at an additional cost. Also understand that these are set at one location, with no outfit changes like your full sessions might offer. Your photos will be kept to the minimum, anywhere from 2-5 images. If you want to add additional profit to your mini sessions, you can offer them more images and products after their mini session at an additional cost. Also understand that these are set at one location, with no outfit changes like your full sessions might offer. In order for your mini session to succeed, it’s important that you make these terms clear in your marketing.

Choose how you’ll approach them
Before you begin your first mini session, you’ll want to figure out what you’re going to call them. Once you decide on something, be sure to stick with it so your clients come to know exactly what they are and look forward to them. Some people like to just call them Mini Sessions, since that is the most popular term and the term most clients are familiar with. Others like to take a more high end approach, especially if you offer fine art or practice IPS. In this case you may choose to call them Petite Sessions, Limited Edition Sessions, or something similar.

Choose your theme
Each season brings with it new themes and new events to look forward to. The next thing you should do is to choose your theme. There’s nothing wrong with having mini sessions for each one – and you can do several for each season, especially during peak seasons like Fall. Outside of popular holidays and seasons, you may profit from specific sessions that are more creative, such as mermaid mini sessions or utilizing Photoshop and creative overlays (such as adding butterfly overlays for a butterfly mini session) in your mini sessions, these can help fill in your slower times. You just have to make sure you know what you are doing and how. You can keep your themes simple to start out, and get more and more specific and creative as you master your mini sessions.

Choose your location and props
The place where you shoot your mini portraits can have a big impact on the outcome of the shoots. Are you going to use your studio or is there somewhere nearby you could set up shop for a special experience? For example, one could take place at a local farm, bringing in some of the new lambs to delight your clients or a one could take place at an apple orchard or in a sunflower field. You can team up with local business owners to amp up the opportunities for both them and you.

Along with your location choice, set-dressing makes a big difference. Remember that you can always sell any props you use, re-use them in future sessions, or trade with local photographers. You can get lots of your supplies from craft stores or stores that make props specifically for photoshoots, as well as through online prop shops.  If you choose not to bring in props, you can really utilize a unique location and surroundings.

Choose your dates and time frame
Next you need to decide what dates and times you are going to offer your mini sessions. It should only be for a limited period and you should host it well before a holiday if they are holiday themed.

Choose a set time that will make it worth your while: do you want to work an extra day per week? Do you need to fit to the schedule of your venue? How late can you start, and how early do you need to finish? Set up this information, then divide the time into blocks so you can start planning accordingly. Your time blocks will need to be short (usually 15-20 minutes long) so that you can fit many clients in on one day.

This is when you really need to kick into gear. It’s not enough to set the mini session details up, then sit back and twiddle your thumbs – you need to make sure that you undertake marketing activities so that anyone who wants to book is aware of it.

You can make announcements on your social media pages, your website, your blog, and through your mailing list. You may also wish to send cards out to your regular clients by snail mail, letting them know about this new opportunity. You should include a sample of the artwork you will produce on your advertising, so that everyone can get really excited about the possibilities. To create this, you can host a model call, bring in a family member, friend, or your best client to do a sample shoot for all of the promotional materials. You can use marketing templates to make this much easier too.

Don’t stop pushing the slots until the very last slot is filled – even if you have already started shooting. You need to fill up as many slots as possible. Keep the excitement up by announcing how many limited spots are left as they fill up. If it sells out, great: you have another marketing opportunity. You can let people know that if they want a shot at a place next time, they should follow you or sign up to your newsletter or so on. You can also offer them your full package as an opportunity for them to book you outside of your mini sessions. If they are continuously selling out, you can consider upping your prices.

When it comes time to shoot, remember you are going to have to give this your all from start to finish. No off days, and no slacking off – every client should have an experience which is just as fabulous as all of the others. If they enjoy your session a lot, it’s these clients who will see your next mini session theme and think about booking them also – or recommending them to their friends. If you make it a poor experience and the images don’t look consistent with your previous work and mini session advertisement, you can’t expect them to want to book over and over again.

Once the shoot is over, you also have a lot more promotional material which you can share online to show everyone what a great time you and your clients had. This is a fantastic time for portfolio building, as well as building up buzz about your next mini sessions. It also opens up the doors to your full photography packages as they might want to book you outside of your mini sessions. Be sure to have these new mini session clients sign up for your email newsletter so you can keep them up to date on your future sessions. You may also choose to follow up with some of them if you think they might want another shoot with you (a newborn shoot, for example if a pregnant mom was at your mini session). Additionally, you can offer special mini session products that you can upsell, such as holiday cards, canvases, art prints, etc.

Mini sessions are a great way to really add onto your photography experience and add profit. Some even rely on them as their main income during peak seasons. Once you have a momentum going, you might even start to find that mini sessions become your niche – the style that you are known for amongst your local communities, and what people come to you for because they know that you are the best.

Do you have any tips or tricks to making mini sessions more profitable? Share them in the comments!

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