Most photographers have a love or hate relationship with mini sessions. I don’t blame you. There are a lot of strategies that go into mini sessions that photographers don’t talk about. The fact is, there’s a lot of money to be made with minis, so if you aren’t fully booking out your mini sessions or haven’t figured out how to make them profitable yet – listen up.
I did my first mini session in 2018 and it was a total flop. I maybe made $500. Since then, I’ve mastered my mini-session strategy. Last year I made 5-figures from just 2 days of minis. (That’s right, 2 days of shooting!)
Now I’m ready to tell you 5 of the strategies I used to start having profitable mini sessions.
This first tip is key. If you want to book more mini sessions, you must show real sample photos of what people can expect from the session. That means – you need to do a mockup model call before launching the minis for sale.
Let’s say you’re trying to book holiday mini-sessions. Holiday photos could mean a lot of things. You could be doing pictures with Santa or family photos next to the tree. Your job as the photographer is to not just tell people what kind of photos they’ll get (let’s be real, nobody reads the fine print anymore) but to show real-life samples of the set-up.
By holding a model call and getting photos of the exact background and setup you plan to use for your holiday minis – you are more likely to get bookings.
Accessibility is important when planning your mini-sessions. Most minis only last 20-30 minutes per client, so it doesn’t make sense to host your sessions 45 minutes to an hour away. Your client would spend more time driving to and from the session than the session itself!
That could definitely affect how many people book!
I like to choose locations that are central to my clients. Since I mostly photograph women in Jacksonville, that means choosing somewhere near downtown. It’s about the same drive time to get there as anywhere else. For you, that may mean finding a studio downtown or it may mean choosing a rural location willing to let you host minis.
Do the distance calculation! Whip out your Apple Maps or Google Maps and start looking for where the central point is and what’s around there. Let your audience know you’re thinking of hosting minis and ask what area of town they want to go to. (It’s ok to let them do some of the planning for you!)
While you’re at it, look for locations with other accessibility features like wheelchair access from the parking lot into the building, ramps, elevators, signs that include brail, etc. It’s a nice touch that helps your minis stand out when they’re accessible to all.
Remember, people buy minis from people who make it convenient for them.
(PS: Nowadays I host minis at my studio in Jacksonville, FL. We rent to other photographers, so consider us the next time you’re looking for a mini session location in JAX!)
I made this mistake too. Because most of us ask for 50% deposits on regular photography sessions, it seems pretty natural to do the same for minis. Wrong! So, so wrong!
To start, your mini session is a one-time, special session at a reduced rate and timeframe. It’s not a regular session. Do not be afraid to ask for the full payment upfront. If they were getting a full session from you, the price would likely be more expensive for even the depot payment. They’re getting a steal, so own it and ask for money upfront.
That’s the first part. The second problem with not collecting the full session amount up front comes when your client needs to pay the second half of the payment right before the session. I’ve found they are more price-conscious when they are asked to buy images and/or products after just paying the second installment.
Money spent is money forgotten.
This isn’t about being sneaky. It’s just a fact that I have noticed, tested, and lived by over the last 3 years. And this leads me to my other money recommendation…
On top of charging for photos, it’s time to start increasing your mini-session profitability by upselling products. I do this a lot with holiday minis, but you can use products to bump up your numbers for any theme you choose.
Let’s use the holiday mini-session example again since it’s right around the corner from us. Once my clients see their photos, they can choose which ones they want to purchase and choose whether they want to create certain products on the spot. Things like holiday cards, calendars, albums, and other items. This is convenient for your client, especially if they’re looking to make holiday cards because they can do it all in one place and the quality is amazing.
I use Pixieset (my gallery company) to offer holiday cards, calendars, and other products outside my premium product assortment. Pixieset has the designs right there and they’ll ship the products straight to the customer for you.
Imagine getting a couple of thousand dollars extra every time you throw a mini session? Yasss, please! I will happily take the extra cash any day!
I know I said Tip #1 was crucial, but if you don’t know how to properly market mini sessions you won’t see the profits. So, Tip #5 – start marketing your minis early – is probably just as important as Tip #1.
And don’t feel bad if you’re confused about how to market your minis. I did a horrible job marketing my minis the first couple of times. (Remember that whopping $500? Terrible marketing!) So, take it from me, marketing is something you can learn and master!
That being said, the biggest reason photographers can’t get profitable minis is because they just announce they’re doing minis out of the blue. If you took the time to do a model call beforehand and still didn’t book your sessions, chances are your audience wasn’t ready to buy minis. Shoot, if you’re a super new photographer your audience may not even know what a mini session is.
In the early days…
✓ I never thought to tell people what a mini session was.
✓ I was guilty of only announcing minis once or twice on Facebook (I didn’t want to seem salesy).
✓ Past clients told me they weren’t going to book because they weren’t expecting to be able to get minis for that holiday, so they booked another photographer to do a full shoot instead.
I took those lessons to heart and start teasing the idea of minis to my Instagram audience about a month to a month and a half before I planned to let people book. I talk about mini sessions several times, across all my channels, before I actually open my books for the session.
Now, I have an entire workflow that leads up to my mini sessions now – from Instagram Story topics to marketing collateral to profitability calculators, to email workflows to send to my mini clients before the session. It’s a whole thing. And it’s tested, proven profitable, it includes marketing strategies, and it’s easily repeatable each time I want to do minis. If you’re serious about using minis to add profit to your photography business, you need to get your marketing and selling strategies down.
Mini sessions are your secret weapon. They’re a great way to inject cash into your business and create repeat clients that remember you and refer you. I can’t say enough good things about them.
But I feel like many photographers don’t talk about mini-sessions. There’s no book to tell you how to run a profitable mini session, so…I built a boot camp to teach you how!
You heard me!
I’m throwing a 3-day live boot camp that dives deeper into all these tips plus more. I’ll teach you my exact minis marketing strategy, including a calculator to determine pricing, and gives you the actual workflow that has let me book out mini sessions for the past 3 years! It’s called Mastering Your Minis and it’s happening soon! You can get on the pre-order list today!
Head to my sign-up page to learn everything you’ll learn and all the tools you’ll get that you can start using right away to sell out your mini sessions.