Cherry Picked!

Hand-selected articles, guides, and more from the makers of Check Cherry, designed to help your business grow and flourish.

September 24, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Mini Session Packages & Pricing [Tips and Tricks]

Mini sessions present a fantastic opportunity for portrait photographers to earn more, attract new customers, and build their portfolio. They can also be a great way to get your name out there and reengage with past clients. 

What is a mini session?

Mini sessions are miniature versions of the full photography sessions you already offer. They are less expensive, shorter in length, and produce fewer final photos for the client. To make them profitable, photographers often group several slots back to back on a single day and location.

BTW, Check Cherry has some nifty features for scheduling mini sessions and promoting them to your audience via email or social media.

When should I offer mini sessions?

There are no set seasons for mini sessions. Minis can be an effective marketing tactic and help expand your client base by attracting new clients with a reasonable offer all year. Some photographers offer mini sessions several times a year, and it's become a staple of their business.

Other photographers only sell mini sessions at strategic times of the year. They focus on times when budget-conscious families need a great family photo. For example, the months leading up to Christmas, minis can be a great way to help families with a picture for their annual Christmas card. Doing mini sessions to raise funds for a good cause is a great way to get your name out there, build your brand and client base.

Why do clients like mini sessions?

While minis are less expensive, pricing is just one of the reasons people like buying mini sessions. They are also much shorter than full sessions and tend to last between 15 and 60 minutes. If you're a busy mom, have a restless toddler, moody teenager, or a husband who loathes taking pictures, you're going to appreciate the shorter session length. Minis also serve as a simple call to action to pick a slot, get those photos, and check it off your list.

☝️ The image above is an example booking page showing two dates and was created with Check Cherry. 

Packaging Your Mini Sessions

Now that we've laid some groundwork, we can talk about packaging those mini sessions. Here are a few tips to make your mini sessions packages attractive so your slots fill up fast. By using a combination of the items below, you can craft some extraordinary mini session packages.

1) Have a Clear Purpose
Make it clear why the person booking the mini should want to pick a spot. For example, if you think people will want some spooky shots of their kids in Halloween costumes, find a creepy location and offer Holloween Mini Sessions.

2) Leverage Location
As mentioned above, the location can add to the theme and purpose. However, the shoot location itself might be the reason to offer some mini sessions. Perhaps there is a particular time where a site is in it's prime for photos. For example, there are lavender fields in my area that bloom in June or July and tend to last 3-4 weeks. Mark it on your calendar, keep tabs on the field and get ready to offer minis when the timing is right.

3) Offer Multiple Days
One of the excellent characteristics of mini sessions is the minimal and flexible commitment for clients. It makes deciding to book so much easier. 

Consider offering two days back to back to increase the chances people will find a day that works for them. For example, if you want to offer Valentine's Day Mini Sessions, offer them on both Saturday and Sunday, each with multiple time slots.

4) Multiple Location Options
If you're doing minis for just a day or evening, you probably want to stick with one location. However, if you offer mini session slots over multiple days, you can offer multiple locations for clients to choose from. 

Keep your client's preferences in mind. Some people may prefer one style over another, and one location may deliver that better than another. Think of nature settings vs. urban backgrounds or rugged vs soft.

Another reason to offer multiple locations is you can get closer to two major hubs in your area and make it a lot more convenient for clients who want a shorter drive to the site.

5) Limit Session Length
While it goes without saying, keep session length on the shorter side. At Check Cherry, we see most photographers setup mini session slots for 15-30 minutes. Remember, it can be conducive to include a buffer between each slot. For example, you might set up eight 20-minute slots with a 10-minute buffer between each one to allow for the goodbye and how are you small talk.

6) Set Expectations

It's always a good idea to let people how many final photos they can expect from the session. We typically see this number under 10. However, we've also seen photographers offer all the photos they snap in the session for one price. Keep in mind your time it will take to edit the photos.

Specifying a maximum number of people for each mini session is smart more. You can always charge more for larger 8+ groups. The general idea here is you just want to prevent relatives from showing up and crashing your session. 

When can the client expect to receive photos from the sessions? While adding a time frame puts you on the hook for delivering, it will also help people know if they'll have the photos in time for their needs and prevent a log of messages asking: "Are ready yet?"

☝️ The image above is an example booking page created with Check Cherry. 

Pricing Your Mini Sessions

Mini sessions are often the first contact a new client has with your business, and it will set the anchor for your value. Naturally, the total price of a mini session should be priced lower than your standard sessions. However, that does not mean they need to be less profitable. By keeping your mini sessions profitable, you can over-deliver, set anchors for your value, and make full sessions seem like a better deal.

For example, a client may perceive the rates for two packages:

20 Minute Mini Session Package: 
     $75, includes 5 final images
     (perceived value of $225 per hour and $15 per photo)

2 Hour Regular Session Package:
     $360, includes 30 final images
     (perceived value of $180 per hour and $12 per photo)

In other words, they are going to get more value if they go with a two-hour regular session. The mini session can help them to know you, your works, and you can start the process of building a relationship with the client.

Some mini sessions will be much more popular than others. If you know the chances of selling out your minis will be high, price accordingly. If you're testing out a new concept and need images for your portfolio, you might want to be more aggressive on the price so you can be sure to fill out those slots.

Scheduling Your Mini Sessions

If you want to maximize the chances of people booking your mini sessions, make it easy for them to book. Use an online booking platform like Check Cherry to make booking mini sessions easy for both you and your clients. It's also a great way to send out automated emails or texts with helpful reminders leading up to the session date. We made a video for mini sessions to show you how it all works. 
August 20, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Custom Branded QR Codes

Let's face it: QR codes are rather ugly. I suppose it's one of the reasons I've never been a big fan of using them, especially for customer-facing purposes.  However, QR codes are a handy and downright amazing technology. With the COVID-19 Pandemic lingering, they are being used more and more by photo booth software providers to aid in contactless photo booth experiences.

Have you ever wanted to add your branding within a QR code? We'll there is an awesome website which does just that. Just upload your image, add some text, and it will generate a QR code.

Have fun!

July 29, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

How to offer online booking in 8 easy steps

Offering the convenience of self-booking is a great way to increase sales and make life easier for both you and your clients. By avoiding the back and forth texts of pricing, availability, and payments, you'll free up time to focus on more important things and make the process of booking you a breeze. Here are 8 easy steps to get your first online booking.

1) Create A Few Packages

Packages make it easy for people to compare and pick the best option for them. Offer at least two and no more than three packages for each service such as Newborn, Family, Boudoir.

For example, Family Packages might have:

  • The Budget Package (Bronze) - great for those who are price-sensitive, but still need you. However, that lower pricing point will come at the cost of lesser, but still a fantastic service. Perhaps they get fewer images or no prints.
  • The Most Value Package (Silver) - your ideal price point. By limiting your budget package, you can make your middle package more attractive by including more. If your base package includes four professionally touched up images, your premium package might include eight and only cost 50% more and offer print rights.
  • The Premium Package (Gold) - for those who want all the bells and whistles. Make this one meaningfully more expensive. It's also going to make your two other packages seem much more affordable. This package might include a lot of the add-ons offered in your lower-priced packages.

2) Optional Add-ons

While packages are a great starting point, offering optional add-ons can help your customer feel more control over the buying process and get just what they want. Add-ons also provide an excellent opportunity to upsell lower-priced packages. It's okay for your budget package to have a lot of optional add-ons while your premium package is all-inclusive or has very few add-ons.

3) Configure Your Availability

Define when you're available to shoot. If you have standing commitments like soccer practice or another part-time job, just block off those times of the week, so you're never double-booked. Defining the times you're available will open up the door for self-service bookings and make scheduling a breeze.

4) Upload Your Terms

It's essential to have clients sign an agreement when booking. A good set of Terms and Conditions will give your business some necessary protection and spell out some of the boring legal details of the service you provide. Often these terms are non-negotiable and the same for each client. Make it easy for people by offering electronic signatures.

5) Connect Credit Card Processing

Most people prefer to pay with a card these days. Avoid the temptation to tack on surcharges and bake the processing fees into your prices. It's easy to set up a Stripe, Square, or PayPal account and start taking payments. 

6) Configure A Booking Fees/Deposit

It's smart to get a financial commitment before adding a client to your calendar. More reasonable dollar amounts make it easier for the client to commit while still ensuring the client is serious about following through on their commitment.

7) Setup your online booking system

You're going to need a way to put it all together. Check Cherry offers easy-to-setup and highly customizable booking software for photographers. It makes it easy for your clients to pick a package, find an available time, pay, and sign electronically. Best of all, Check Cherry offers several tools to accomplish the tasks above.

8) Promote your new convenient online booking option.

It's time to get the word out. Add some links/buttons to your marketing website so people can "Book Now", "Check Availability", and "View Pricing".  Your clients are going to love booking you online. You'll also have more time to spend with family and developing deeper connections with clients after the sale.

May 8, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Photo Booth Business Checklist

So you're looking to start a photo booth business. We've got you covered with a checklist of things you'll want to consider as you progress from the initial inception to your first successful paid photo booth customer.Evaluate ViabilityWhy are you doing this?Take some time to evaluate why you want to start a photo booth business. Are you happy in your full-time job and looking for extra income? Perhaps you're unhappy with your current employer and looking to transition to running your business full-time. You might want to supplement your existing business with a new service.Market ResearchIt's a good idea to look at your potential competition. Do some google searches for "photo booth rental NEARBY-CITY-NAME" and see what comes up.

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January 30, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

The Most Popular Photo Booth Backdrops

A lot of business was done using Check Cherry's photo booth booking software in 2019. We thought it would be helpful to analyze and share some of the data with the community. This article will be helpful if you are new to the industry and looking to buy your first backdrops. After all, you'll want to get the most bang for your buck. For those more established, it may be helpful to get an idea/confirmation of what the market is doing. Perhaps you're missing out on an important option, or maybe you need to diversify so you can stand out from the crowd. Be sure to look at the smaller words below; you might spot an upcoming trend.This word/tag cloud is based on the name of each backdrop selection that happened on Check Cherry during 2019.

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January 23, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

See All Competitor Facebook Ads [Marketing Hack]

Have you ever wanted to see what your closest competition is doing with Facebook advertising? In this article, I'll show you how you can browse the ads of your competitors and cover some ways this information can be helpful and also how it might not be so important.A few things before we get started:The search covers all Facebook platforms, including Instagram.You can search by the name of a Facebook Page to see results.Only active ads will show.One does not need a Facebook or Instagram account.About Ad LibraryFacebook has been under meaningful pressure related to its business model, privacy policies, and the impact of advertising on social issues, elections, or politics for its platforms.

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January 13, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

2019 Highlights

I'm proud of all we accomplished in 2019 and motivated by the excitement and appreciation of our customers when they see each new iteration of Check Cherry. In my recap of 2018, I wrote Matt and I both felt that 2019 was going to be even better than in 2018. I'm happy to share, our instincts proved to be accurate. While it's been a lot of work, it's also been a lot of fun to see Check Cherry continue to mature and help more people.Our customers are continually sharing feedback while they use and implementing the Check Cherry's style of a CRM or booking management system into their business. I want to give a HUGE thank you to all of those who took the time to provide feedback (big and small) to help make the platform better.

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January 6, 2020 Judd Lillestrand

Photo Booth Rentals & Sales Tax [General US Guide]

Just about every state in the union imposes some form of sales tax. Among the few states who do not, some of them allow local counties, cities, and municipalities to tack on their own rates. As such, be sure to doublecheck because you may still be required to collect on that next booking.The intent of this guide to help you quickly understand some key concepts related to sales tax and how they might impact your photo booth business. It's important to note: taxes in the United States can be complicated, making compliance painful for small businesses. Often some areas need interpretation. After reading this guide, you'll have a better understanding of several important concepts.

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December 27, 2019 Judd Lillestrand

Managing Availability For Online Bookings

Happy Holidays! Check Cherry now has more advanced features around the concept of managing your company's "Availability," so you can be sure you have everything you need before taking that next self-service booking. 📷📦💻✔️Over the years, we've learned firsthand how service providers like you run unique businesses, and the standard inventory/equipment management concepts just would not have cut it for our online booking software.

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January 10, 2019 Judd Lillestrand

2018 Highlights

Looking back, 2018 was an amazing year for Check Cherry. With your help, we were able to continue improving the platform making it easier to use and more powerful. A sincere thank you to all of those who took the time to share their thoughts with us. Here are just a few things we accomplished together in 2018:Improved Tax SupportTax support in Check Cherry is rock solid. From managing different rates on a per event basis to allowing for only certain packages or add-ons to be be taxable. Your accountant is going to love what we did in 2018.PayPal PaymentsThis long requested feature finally hit production.

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