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.
Related Article: Mini Session Ideas
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.