12 ways to run successful mini-sessions (without killing your full session bookings)

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If you market and run your mini-sessions well, they can be a GREAT addition to your photography business. But how do you make sure your mini-sessions are not as good as your full sessions that your potential clients just wait for them to come around and never book a full shoot with you? This video is about how to run successful photography mini-sessions without killing your business!

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Let’s talk mini-sessions! 

These are just very short portrait shoots usually done back to back over the course of a day or a couple of days. It’s a great way to get an income and exposure boost when things are a little quiet or you’re just starting out.

Clients who book a mini-session with you are obviously going to pay you substantially less than those booking a full photo shoot. 

However, because you can fit more into a short time frame, if you’re savvy, you can make them work very well for you financially.

Will you get bargain hunters? 

Yes, some will be looking for a bargain. But that’s totally ok - we all do that sometimes, right? 

And, because you’re going to be very careful with your time when it comes to these shoots - you’re going to make sure it’s worth it for you.

However, if you get your marketing right, you’ll also get some of your ‘ideal’ clients booking a mini-session. 

Maybe you’ve been on their radar but they haven’t quite got round to booking a full shoot with you yet. 

Or they aren’t quite convinced to part with that money yet. 

You want to impress these guys and leave them wanting more of you.

Because If you’re not careful then your minis will be so appealing and so satisfactory to these potentially great clients that they have no reason to ever book one of your full custom sessions. 

Why would they? They’ll just wait for your next round of mini-sessions.

And so will all their friends!

Believe me, I learned this the hard way…

You don’t want to end up with a business that’s just one never-ending cycle of mini-sessions 

That would be utterly exhausting!!!!

Some photographers actually stop offering mini-sessions because of this or they only do a very small number of them once a year.

But you can totally incorporate mini-sessions into your photography business and still get those full session bookings.

Here’s how to run successful mini sessions (without killing your business)

1.Don’t schedule mini-sessions for a time of year when you are usually busy with full shoots

If you get lots of full shoot bookings in the lead up to Christmas, for example, then why offer mini-sessions? It’ll just take you away from your great clients and add to your stress and workload!

2. Keep your mini-sessions short and sweet 

Drastically shorter than your full shoots. So if a full shoot with you is usually around an hour then 20 minutes is probably perfect. If your custom shoots are even longer, maybe 1.5 to 2 hours, then maybe you could stretch to 30 mins for your mini-sessions.

3. Don’t do too many sets of mini-sessions per year

If you do you’re much more likely to get people waiting for them to come around. I’d say 2 lots per year is probably perfect but 3 at the very most.

4. If your full sessions are special and tailored to each client's needs then your mini-sessions shouldn’t be

You should have complete control over where the shoot takes place and you could even consider having a theme like ‘mummy and me’ or a special ‘set-up’ like a toys tea party.

5. Limit the number of people you’re willing to photograph during a mini-session

Some photographers limit their mini-sessions to children only, others will accept families of up to 5 or 6.

6. If you have mini-sessions with full families - don’t take every possible family grouping like you would for a full session 

Be selective about this. Maybe just the kids individually, the kids together and the whole family together.

7. Consider a lower age limit for mini-sessions 

Young babies can be so unpredictable and generally need a much longer shoot with time for settling and feeding. Personally, when it came to mini-sessions, I only took babies who could sit unaided.

8. Talk about your full sessions during the shoot

Don't be embarrassed to talk to them about your full sessions and how awesome they are. This can be done conversationally and doesn’t have to sound sleazy and salesy at all.

9. Don’t give them a huge choice of images

Whilst I’m a big advocate of over-delivering in terms of images, do not do this for mini-sessions. If you say you’re going to let them choose from 10 edited images of your choice then stick to that. 

If you end up showing them 25 gorgeous images then why would they book a full shoot with you in the future? 

Yes, there will probably be more than 10 keepers but be disciplined with yourself when you’re editing - you’re playing the long game here. This is business!

10. Knock their socks off with how friendly and professional you are

Yes, hold back on what they get for their money in terms of images but NOT on service. Make the whole experience seamless with respect to booking, communication, organisation, the shoot itself, delivery of images and follow-up. 

Leave them thinking, 

Wow if this is what her mini-sessions are like, I bet her full sessions are amazing!!’ 

Leave them wanting more.

11. Decide afterwards which of your mini-sessions clients you would love to do a full shoot for in the future 

Send them a voucher with credit to spend on a full shoot experience with you. Make sure you put an expiry on that.

12. Keep in touch with them with regular emails and updates 

And, if you’re willing, friend them on Facebook and keep in touch that way too. Not everyone likes to have clients as friends on social media but it’s a very powerful way of staying top of mind - I love it!

By the way, did you know that creating a waiting list for mini-sessions is an insanely effective way to sell them out quickly? We have a detailed Waiting List Strategy course inside my Togs in Business membership.

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about mini-sessions.