How to Host a Successful Photography Mini Marathon
I wish I could sit here and tell you that I'm a mini session pro but the truth is - mini marathons are very new to me! However, I can tell you that the first marathon I did host was not only booked, but went incredibly smoothly! This post is designed to tell you exactly how I run mine and why I plan on hosting more of them! I wanted to write this post to give you a little insight into my last mini session experience. If youʼre considering offering mini sessions, or changing up the way you already do them, my goal is to help shed some light for you on what worked and didnʼt work for me!
So how do you host a successful mini marathon?
How are you currently marketing your mini sessions? Are you giving people enough time in advance to make the session a reality? If you're like me, I host mini sessions to appeal to local families, which typically involves children. I've set up my mini sessions in a way that parents can choose specific times slots, easily. For the first round I did it a little bit differently than this but the idea is the same. I wanted parents to be able to pick a window that works best for their schedule and their children!
I put the sessions all over social media and talked about them all the time. When I ran into people in town that I thought might like to participate, I gave them my business card. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there are TALK about your upcoming event! Clients won't book if you don't put it out there for them. ALSO - the reality of sharing on social media is that our content is not seen as easily as it was before. Now there are algorithms and it's more difficult than ever to get our content out to our audiences on social platforms. So keep posting and sharing! Also, if you really want you can pay for Facebook ads to hit your audience more directly.
As mentioned above, make it easy for clients to book you! I use the commerce features in Squarespace to set up my mini sessions and have found it to be a little tedious, but FABULOUS once I get it all set up! Other photographers I know use specific software programs for scheduling. I block out my sessions in 30 minute increments but making sure clients know that they are 15-20 minute sessions! This ensures that I have a little window before the next session.
This brings me right into my next point in how to host a successful photography mini marathon... COMMUNICATION! If you don't tell your clients what to expect and exactly what they will and won't get up front, they won't be as likely to book with you. I lay it all out on my website with what's included and not included, etc. I also have a canned email in my gmail specifically for mini sessions (included as a free download at the end of this post!) that helps me communicate with my clients about their upcoming session, wardrobe suggestions, etc.
THE SET UP AND/OR LOCATION
If any of you follow my work, you know I'm a fan of clean and simple photography! I'm not very into props, but mini sessions give me a little more freedom to get creative with a "scene", especially in my studio space. I believe in the power of simple and like to keep that in mind when I'm planning these! For my fall minis, I used my couch with white pumpkins and a gold wreath in the background - that's it! While I wanted to "fall vibe", I also wanted my clients to be able to use and enjoy their images year round. When shooting, I reminded myself to grab shots that don't include any of the pumpkins as well as images with the pumpkins. For my upcoming winter minis, I'm going to have a small Christmas tree with gold pinecones for kiddos to decorate, fake snow, and beautiful greenery (a wreath). That's all I'm saying because while I might add other little "things", I'm letting my clients know just enough to be able to prepare for the scene.
While I haven't done minis outdoors simply for the factor of weather in our area... (yes, we get 90+ inches of rain per year) and because I have a beautiful studio BUT I will say if you are planning them outside just make sure you have figured out all the logistics when prepping you clients like location, where to park, etc. to ensure everyone is on time!
I believe in setting expectations with clients, always. I make it very clear from the get go that my clients cannot be late or it will eat into their session time and because these are back to back sessions, I will not run their session into the next one because they are late. I explain this on my sales page, in the product description, online when marketing and in my prep and final emails I send!
So in summary, here's a few things I learned from hosting a successful mini marathon:
1. Be organized and have a plan.
2. Strong communication with clients is key.
3. Just because itʼs a mini session doesn't mean that you canʼt be just like you would on a regular shoot. Remember that this is also an opportunity for you to gain a client for life. Also think about how images are shared on social media. One of your images shared on social media can lead to future bookings and new clients.
4. Encourage your clients to leave you a Google review in your final image delivery. In every email I leave a section about how Google reviews help keep me in business and it would mean the world to me if they would take two minutes to leave a review of their experience working with me!
5. Just because they are mini sessions, be sure you price yourself to make it worth it. I include anywhere from 5-8 digital images with my mini sessions with the option to purchase more. Just because I offer fewer digitals than I do on a normal session, it is still a lot of work. Be fair to yourself!
And lastly, have fun! I will most likely continue to only offer minis during the holidays or if I decide to donate to a cause or charity throughout the year. Mini sessions are a lot of fun and can be extremely rewarding! Go into each session with realistic expectations of what you will gain and have a clear idea of what you want to offer but HAVE FUN!
Grab a copy of my mini session email template I send to clients before our session to help them best prepare!
This email template is for photographers who are looking to better communicate with their clients for mini sessions! This email template is what I personally use before any mini session in my studio and it has completely helped me best prepare my clients with what to expect so there are no surprises along the way!
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