Yet I know of lots of photographers who open up a set of mini-sessions and then can’t fill them.
Then there are others who fill their sessions, but then don’t actually get repeat clients from them and don’t get any additional sales beyond what was in the initial package.
So what is going wrong? Why aren’t your mini sessions successful? What can you do to rock them?
1. You aren’t getting the word out about your Mini Sessions
Many photographers simply post about their mini sessions on Facebook and don’t use any other method of getting the word out and they just don’t book as many sessions as they want.
While there’s nothing wrong with using Facebook, this should not be your only method of marketing to clients.
In addition to Facebook, email your client list (if you don’t have one, I highly recommend starting one now) and ask your network to help get the word out (even better, partner with a local business to do sessions).
2. You’re not attracting your ideal clients
Mini Sessions can be a great way to get new clients in the door, but you have to be careful not to simply attract deal seekers who aren’t the kinds of clients that you really want to have for your business.
Deal seekers hire people based on price alone and want everything for nothing. They’ll complain that your prices are too high (even if they aren’t) and switch based on a small price difference and don’t take quality into consideration at all.
You don’t want them.
So, instead, you need to make sure that you’re appealing to your ideal client and not simply using mini sessions to compete on price with other photographers, because that will never benefit your business.
Yes, mini sessions should cost less than your typical session, but they should still be priced to make it worth your time. If you’re not sure about how much your time is worth, check out this free pricing guide now. Which leads us to our next mistake…
3. There’s nothing special about your mini sessions except lower price
You’ve got to do something to make your mini sessions special. Themed mini sessions that are only available on a certain day are a great way to get people to book. Doing a very limited number of sessions will also encourage people to book now as opposed to waiting. Or maybe you want to offer an exclusive product that is only available for your mini session clients.
Find a reason for people to book the mini session beyond just “it’s cheaper” and “you get less” because those reasons alone aren’t very motivating to the type of clients you really want.
4. You are giving away too much for too little
Let’s say your normal session length is about an hour. If you’re doing 20 minute mini-sessions, it’s not a third of the work of a full session, yet people often price them as if they are a third of the work. You still have to go through your entire workflow, and while you’ll save a bit of time shooting and editing, the rest of it will still take almost the same amount of time.
Because there’s so much more to this than just editing and shooting, I’d recommend putting your mini-session price around 2/3rds of your normal session price. So if you charge $199 for a session fee normally, you might charge $129 for your mini-session fee.
5. You don’t give them the reason to book a full session
I’m all about over-delivering. It’s really great business to give your client more than you say you will and surprise them with the extras.
But with mini-sessions, it hurts your chances of getting them to book a full session later if you over-deliver too much.
For example, if you promise 10 images in a mini-session but deliver 25, why would they ever want to book your full session that says you deliver 25 images? They’ll see that and know that you can actually do that in a mini-session and not have a reason to ever book a full session.
They may not know that in your full session you actually deliver more than the promised number of images and decide to stick with mini sessions in the future.
6. You don’t give them the opportunity to upgrade
When someone contacts you to book a mini session, they’ve already got their foot in the door and decided to book with you. Awesome! That’s half the battle!
If your goal is to get more clients and turn mini session clients into regular, full-session clients, why not offer them an immediate upgrade on their mini session?
This is especially effective if you’re not marking your mini sessions down too much.
Let’s consider the example above. When they ask to book a mini session for $129, you could ask them if they’d like to upgrade their session to an hour-long session for only $70 more (and then list the additional benefits, like getting to choose a date that works for them better, choosing a custom location, more time and images, etc.)
If they say yes, then you just converted them into a full-paying client and still have an extra space for another new client in your mini session marathon. Awesome sauce.
If they say no, it’s not a big deal. You still get the mini session.
People are used to being asked if they’d like to upgrade or add extra things onto their purchases, so it’s not something that will bother them at all.
7. Your packages limit your sales
If you give them all the digital images as part of the mini-session price, they have absolutely no motivation to buy anything else from you and you’ll only make the initial mini session fee you charged.
Instead, give them something small and then offer them additional add-ons after they see their images. You may be surprised at how much they order if they are in love with their images and want more than what you offered in your session.
8. You’re not doing in-person sales
I know, I know, it takes a lot of time to schedule in-person sales and go through images with each client.
However, you will make WAY more money if you do this than if you simply put up an online gallery for them to view and order from.
When they book their mini session, take the time to book their in-person viewing and ordering session at the same time. Then it’s not extra hassle, and they’ll know up-front that this second appointment is when they will see the images for the first time and that they’re expected to place an order at that time.
You can read all about doing in-person sales here. I know, they’re scary, but you’ll make way more than you think by doing them and they aren’t nearly as bad as you’re imagining.
9. You’re not preparing your clients for their sessions
Mini sessions are often run back-to-back throughout the day and your schedule can easily get thrown off if someone is running late.
You need to be properly setting expectations with your booked clients about when to arrive (I’d recommend 20 minutes early or more depending on your location), you need to send out reminders about their sessions, and you need to tell them what happens if they are running late (no session, lost fee, etc.) It’s also important to tell them where to meet you and ideally to have an assistant there who can greet them and reassure them that they’re in the right place so that you can focus on your current clients and the photography part of the day.
10. You’re not telling these new mini session clients about your other sessions
There’s two parts to this one.
First, you’re not telling them about the other products and services they get when they book a full session with you or explaining the benefits of the full session as opposed to the mini session.
Second, you’re not marketing to them in the future. The best way to turn these clients into repeat clients is to put them into a client email list and be marketing to them regularly. This is by far the most powerful tool you have out there, as you can almost guarantee people will get an email from you, but you have no idea if they’ll ever see your social media posts or look at your website ever again otherwise.
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