It's that time of year when photography mini sessions start to become popular among photographers. You have the fall mini sessions, Halloween themed mini sessions and Christmas mini sessions to name a few. Maybe you want to jump on board, but you want to make sure it doesn't end in disaster. Here are my top 10 reasons that photography mini sessions fail and how you can avoid them.
1) Your mini session pricing is too complicated. Keep your mini session packages to one, simple package price. Of course you can always up-sell additional products at the sessions, and I totally recommend this, but just keep in mind to keep the entry price simple.
2) You schedule too many sessions within the allotted time frame. If some of your appointments arrive late, this can cause delays. If you are trying to shoot closer to sunset, you don’t want to run the risk of running out of light and then having to reschedule the sessions. Make sure to schedule them with enough time to allow for the unexpected. When you market your photography mini sessions you can emphasize that there are only a few slots available. This will imply exclusivity and scarcity and should help you book up faster.
3) You shoot at a new location. You’re probably going to be stressed enough as it is, so be sure to shoot at a location that you are already familiar and comfortable with. If you do shoot at a new location, scout it out first. Take some test shots and be prepared.
4) You choose a high-traffic location. Remember, like I mentioned at the beginning of this post, this is high season for photography mini sessions. Try to find a place that is secluded, because the last thing you want is to arrive only to find other photographers have taken your favorite spot – or even worse – to discover that there is a public event going on. Consider finding a location that you can pay to reserve. If it doesn’t cost a lot, you can build it into your mini session pricing. For example, in my area, we have some beautiful orange groves at a church on the east side of town. They allow photographers to pay a nominal fee in exchange for permission to shoot there. If you do choose a paid location you're more likely to be able to charge more for your sessions because you can advertise that you’re shooting at a “premium spot”. And since you’ve paid to reserve the place, you don’t have to worry about anyone kicking you out during the middle of your session. That would be inconvenient and just plain embarrassing!
5) You let customers run over their scheduled time. Even though you may enjoy shooting, be sure to keep to your schedule. Remember, your photography clients are paying an abbreviated fee for your time, so don’t discount yourself by over offering. People may take advantage of you and expect the same in the future.
6) You offer discounted rates. I think offering lower rates for a photography mini session is fine, especially since they are abbreviated sessions. But if you discount too much, people simply develop the misconception that you are not as qualified, experienced or just not as good as the photographers who charge a premium rate. When you advertise your mini sessions don't lead with the price, instead lead with the benefits. For example, maybe these are great for people who are busy during the holiday seasons and don't have time for a full custom session. Or maybe they just need one or two photos for their holiday cards. Keep the focus on the benefits instead of the lower price.
7) You don’t bring help… make sure to bring an assistant to hold the reflector, pass you the camera or help with posing and other details. Factor in the cost of an assistant into your mini session photography pricing. It is well worth the cost!
8) You offer photography mini sessions too frequently throughout the year. The point of mini sessions is that they are exclusive. If you have them several times throughout the year, people will think these are your regular session. If you do want to offer more than one during the year, make sure that you're offering themed mini sessions so that your photography clients will still have a need to upgrade to a custom session at a later time.
9) You don’t limit them. You need to limit them your mini sessions to a certain number of spots. When they’re full; they’re full. Don’t’ keep opening up spots just because you have more people that want them. Instead, offer the extra people to be on a waiting list. The next time your mini session comes around and you say “Limited Spaces Available”, they will know mean it and they will book with you sooner.
10) You don’t follow up. You just photograph the session and give them what they agreed upon, but they never hear from you again. Try sending an email to ask how they liked the mini session,, or you can even make a phone call, or a handwritten thank you card. Tell them if they enjoyed their session and liked the photos that you have a referral program.
I hope these tips help you have a successful mini session event. If you have any other tips for mini sessions, post in the comments. I'd love to hear from you!
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