by Alicia Gould
Setting up mini sessions doesn’t have to be stressful! Really consider what you are offering and who you are offering it to. Answer the following questions and there should be no guessing on either side!
Who: Who is your target audience for your mini sessions? Are you limiting who can have a mini session? Think about what is realistic, will you let a family with 5 children book a slot? What about a newborn? A one month old? Be specific in your promo. For example: “Mini sessions are for families with up to 2-3 children. Newborns are not included.”
Another thing I like to do is open up the mini sessions to my current clients first, then a week later for new clients. Announcing mini sessions is a great reason to send out a newsletter!
What: What are you offering in your mini session packages? Think about how you want to structure your pricing for these; setting up 2 packages completely different from your regular sessions will make these stand apart and also help guarantee your profits. I recommend creating a smaller package that includes the session, proofs and a few small items that is due at the time of booking. A more expensive package can be upgraded to after the session, and can include the digital files or larger items. Be careful about including items that require design and approval time like accordion albums, cards and storyboards. I promise the design time and revisions will really add up. If you are going to offer cards, create a gallery of 5 or so cards you are offering and make a policy about choosing images and cards and an additional cost for revisions beyond that.
Think about how to present the proofs. There are two popular ways to do this, soft proof all of the useable images (basic color corrections, white balance), then let the family choose which 10 they would like to have edited to purchase or you can cull and fully edit the images yourself.
One of the mistakes I made when first offering mini sessions was giving way more proofs than promised. My thought process was that giving them 20 proofs instead of 10 would guarantee they purchase the upgraded package. What I was doing though, is undermining what I offer with a full family photography session. If my clients are getting 20 images at a quarter of the cost, why would they ever book another full session again?
When: Consider the location you are using, how long it takes you to edit and what the theme of your session is. For back to school mini sessions, september is perfect. The weather should be cooler and the trees still provide lots of shady spots. I normally offer fall mini sessions, keeping in mind almost all of my clients use these images for their Christmas cards. For me, on the east coast, the trees turn pretty late in October. I try to time my sessions to coordinate with the changing leaves. This only leaves me 1-2 weeks to proof the images and turn them around so families will have enough time to purchase their images and create their Holiday cards.
Make sure you have a rain date and that the families are available for both dates! Be clear about your terms; is the deposit refundable? transferable? State so up front.
Where: Decide whether you want to schedule a day of mini sessions or set blocks of time. If you have a studio or an outdoor location really close to you, it may be less stressful to schedule blocks of time. In the fall I do all day mini sessions. I start around 9am and book in 30 minutes time slots until about 1pm. Sometimes in the summer I offer summer minis at a park about 2 miles from my house. Clients can only book a mini session Monday through Thursday between 6 and 7 in the evening.
Why: Offering mini sessions are a great, affordable way for your clients to stay connected to you. The best compliment clients can give you is to come back! Some may not be able to afford a custom photography session every year and some honestly don’t see the need. It’s nice to give them an option to get a current family portrait or document a milestone in their children’s lives.
Need some inspiration? Some of the CMPros are sharing how they promote their mini sessions.
Nicole Begley, Pittsburgh, PA is offering mini sessions for pets in September and November:
*template from Go 4 Pro Photos
Jenny Miller, Woodlands, TX is offering holiday mini sessions this fall:
Sarah from Sweet Aqua Photography, GA, is offering back to school mini sessions:
Candice Wong, Surrey BC Canada, is offering fall baby mini sessions:
Alicia Gould, New Jersey
CM Mentor | CMU Instructor
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Instructor of CMU’s newborn photography workshop, Alicia is a Canon photographer shooting with a 5d mark III and various lenses who resides in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and two pugs. While she’s always loved photography, she didn’t start her business until 5 years ago after the sudden passing of her father who inspired her. Specializing in newborn and children photography works perfectly for Alicia as she has been known as “the best tickler ever” and very patient. She also loves food, can’t resist a cold Pepsi or Slurpee, and goofing off with her kids. At 5’0” she is the shortest of the CMteam members.