Outside of 'what should I wear' it's probably the question photographers hear the most...
"Do you shoot Mini Sessions?"
Whether you're a seasoned pro... just starting to plan out your Mini Sessions for the first time... or you've never hosted them before, we're here to break down all of the ins and outs of hosting successful mini sessions time after time.
Photographer Lindsay Wiatt sat down with us to share just how she has boosted her business by offering limited Mini Sessions throughout the year. Lindsey has been a photographer in Oregon for over a decade, and has been hosting signature sessions like her watermelon and tulip minis for years. She limits her Mini Sessions to a few times a year, only schedules certain dates and times, and says the move is strategic.
"I never wanted it to look like I had a ton of them because then the people don't see the value."
Creating that value means not only spending time educating your clients and showing them the value in what you are offering, it means valuing yourself as a photographer, and the time that it takes to create a successful mini session event.
Mini Sessions are hard work. There are often additional factors like props and sets to take into consideration or location rental costs. It's also important to remember that mini sessions are not simply pint size sessions with your pricing slashed in half. (Or at least, they shouldn't be.) In order to stay profitable, it's important to know your own cost of doing business (CODB) and set a goal that is bigger than your normal session fee.
"Usually I set a number. Say I want to make $10,000 on this mini session go. How many sessions do I need to book? How much time is it going to take? My personal goal is I always aim to make double my normal session, because we're working in an hour block- my regular sessions are an hour long. I want to aim for double that number in a mini session hour."
While many of Lindsay's clients now return year after year, she says Mini Sessions offer photographers a unique way to create brand loyalty with previous clients and turn first time clients into repeat customers.
"I'd say 60% are new and 40% are my mainstays. And those 60% usually first find me through a mini event and then the following year they then become a full session. It's kind of like a 15 minute interview. My favorite is when the family leaves and they're like 'my kid doesn't smile for anybody and they've been giggling and laughing the whole time. I'm booking another session!'
Each year she hosts only three mini session events: Tulips, Watermelons, and Christmas Trees. Her mini sessions aren't listed on her website and she keeps social media chatter about them limited on her main page, instead directing clients to a special Facebook group just for that specific session. For Lindsey creating excitement about her upcoming sessions starts months ahead of time by sharing inspiration boards, color palettes and little hints on social media.
"They can ask questions, they get outfit inspiration, so just really creating excitement around this big event. And then you have this big reveal. I'll usually do a quick 'go live' and people start snagging the dates up and we make it really fun and kind of exciting. So it's just creating that buzz around something because it's not something that you do all the time."
But getting to this point didn't happen overnight. Lindsey says she fully understands the uncertainty and even desperation many photographers go through in the beginning; feeling like they need to share everything to social media, take on everything and every client. And while she says we've all been there, dialing in her process and what she offered, and focusing on her style and brand, helped ensure that her clients wanted to return time after time. She even took time to revamp her social media to ensure her followers were seeing her vision.
" I then stopped for 6 months, posting everything... everybody gets a sneak peek. I was then only posting the look, the aesthetic, the styling that I was inspired by. That I wanted to put out with my brand. Not that I didn't love every person that showed up with their tennis shoes and play shoes and not completely put together, but I wanted to show people putting more thought into it. So now, my brand is really established. People know my look."
That vision is what keeps her clients excited and coming back throughout the year. Lindsey says her business and mini sessions exploded when she stopped offering mini sessions year round. Many of her clients will book a full session when minis aren't currently available and will still come back for the mini session when it is. Her biggest tip: Make sure that you are creating connections and excitement with your clients that encourages them to come back year after year. Evolving your sessions between simple and something bigger year to year gives your clients something new to look forward to and allows them to keep traditions within their own families as their families grow and change each year too.
Want to know even more about Mini Sessions? You can see Lindsey's entire interview here.