Content in this article has been transcribed from Taylor Jackson’s “How To Make $5000 in a Day with Mini Sessions” video. Click this link to watch the original: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VxqHcBwCoq8&t=600s
Now, I thought I would take a few minutes today to talk to you about my experiences with mini sessions and generating a lot of revenue, specifically in the offseason months. Around the holidays or maybe around this time of year when you're not really collecting any deposits or final payments on weddings or maybe commercial projects, it is a way that you can just instantly generate revenue for your business.
It is important to keep the parameters a little bit tighter here. A mini session could be around a specific event or even a time of year: Holiday season, people need holiday greeting cards, whatever it might be. Typically, a mini session is somewhere between 15 to 30 minutes, and 5 to maybe 20 final photos are delivered. You can deliver the entire every single photo you take on the gallery, there's again, no rules.
Now you might be saying to yourself, “why don't I just run full proper sessions and collect my $3,000 after the in-person sales session?”
And the quick answer, in my experience, is that it is a heck of a lot easier to book many sessions, and you will make a lot of money if you do them properly.
There are also a number of other benefits to running mini sessions. You create a lot of client advocates that they're coming back, I would say many sessions also have a huge return rate. For example, if you do a wedding for a couple they're like, “hope you do a family session with us sometime”, add them to your email list. Let them know what you're doing minis. Now all of a sudden, you're going to be the photographer who documents the growth of their family over time. Now they're going to refer your name for other mini sessions for friends, weddings, and commercial jobs.
As I mentioned above, I like to run them around specific events. Holiday sessions, Valentine sessions, Mother's Day sessions, Easter/Spring sessions. But don't let me tell you how to run your business. You can run anything that fits you and your brand. Fall family sessions are amazing, as are summer beach sessions, ski or snowboard sessions, etc. There are a lot of opportunities, and you can really do anything within this “mini” style of environment that you find interesting, or you think might sell in your area.
Now if you're all set up on Focal, it's really easy to get your mini sessions going. You can do this with either a full website, or simply the back end option. Now I could explain how to do it all myself, but they actually already have a guide for it, which you can read here: https://www.bookfocal.com/knowledge-base/how-to-book-mini-sessions
Now there are calculators out there that will be like, “Hey, you want to make $5,000 in a day, here's how to split it up .'' Then it will prompt you to break down your costs and spit a number back out. Those calculators, in my opinion, are kind of dumb. I don't really like them, I don't use them, I don't recommend them.
What I do recommend, is having a look around your town right now and seeing what mini sessions are typically priced at. If you try to go against the market rate, and price your minis at say $1,000, you're probably going to find a lot of resistance. On the flipside, if you price your minis at $25, people are gonna think you're a scammer, or that you're going to screw them out of the hundreds of dollars in post-sales. This is why it makes sense to fit within the bounds set by the general going rate. You can either go low, or on the higher side depending on where you're at and how you want to market yourself. If you have a studio, or multiple different sets, maybe you’ll want to be on the higher end. If you’re a newer photographer, it might make sense to start a bit lower. Just getting people in the door of your business is extremely valuable, because many of the people at these sessions will come back over and over again over many years if they enjoy the experience.
I personally shoot on location when possible. This comes with one unfortunate side effect: The weather. If you’re looking at the calendar and you have 10 sessions booked, and it's going to rain that day, all of a sudden you have to reschedule 10 different sessions. This means trying to work with 10 different people's schedules, which is very annoying.
What I would typically do in that situation is open up two or three other Sundays that are available. I always schedule these on Sundays because as a wedding photographer, I'm usually booked on Saturdays, especially in the nice weather season. Again, keep in mind that you want to give a good customer experience, and you want people coming back over and over again. The quick way to get around any potential weather is to rent a studio. There's probably some in your area, and you can even rent non-traditional spaces. You can partner with a local wedding venue, gets your foot in the door if you’re trying to become a preferred vendor.
My key is to always make the space or venue that you’re using as easy as possible. If you can go to a park in the shade, or somewhere with great natural light, that’s awesome. Avoid doing things that are too complex: it’ll cost you too much time and post-processing. You want to get everything as correct as you can in camera so you can minimize your post or use AI tools.
As for how many sessions to actually run, I like the number 10. Now I know that seems like a lot of sessions; it’s definitely a full day, but it is manageable. If you have a few extra dollars, it is very nice to have someone there to help you out and even just to manage your cell phone. People are going to get lost on the way even if it's the simplest location, or they may show up late.
Now your mini session fee, at least for my business, comes with a specific number of high-res, edited photos. But just because it might come with 10 edited photos doesn't mean that's all we're going to take. Take 100 that are worth delivering within that time frame. You can get a lot done in 15 minutes to half an hour when you know the space or you have some sets arranged that you can easily bounce between and get a lot of variety very quickly. Your clients know what they signed up for: They paid their $150, and are getting those 5 images. Now, you can make a fee for additional images. I’d make sure to put this in your Focal package description, and in an additional email prior to the day.
Another option is to do a full gallery buyout. Say for instance, your session fee is $300. I’ll set my buyout around that mark or maybe a bit lower, $200. I feel a little bit scammy if the full gallery buyout is drastically more than the session fee, but if you feel comfortable with that by all means, don’t let me tell you how to run all the pricing in your business! But say the full buyout is $200, and maybe 50% of my sessions end up converting into that. Now a mini session is worth $500 and you do 10 of those a day, that’s $5,000.
And as I mentioned, please be completely transparent that this is the pricing model that they've signed up for. The basic idea is that you want to convert any of the couples, clients, or families that come in for these mini sessions into lifelong clients. You want to be with them for the next five or six years. Rather than just going for that quick sale, that's going to leave kind of a bad taste in their mouth when they leave the experience.
Time to bring some people in the door. If you went through Book More Weddings, which is my flagship wedding photography marketing course, there was a section in there about building an email list, which is super critical. If all of the people from your first year and maybe a couple of your wedding clients end up on your email list; over time, you will begin to generate maybe even, I would say an email list of 100 past clients who will very quickly book you one or two mini session days if you're running 10 sessions a day. So definitely make an email list; it’s very, very important in the mini session game.
Next up, you’re going to want to build some social media ads. There are templates that you can use easily. I'm sure Canva is a good place to start or Photoshop in general, if you're skilled in that. What I would say though, is to definitely make them part of a moving situation of some sort. As you know if you're on Instagram at all, it really penalizes static images, it's not going to show them to nearly as many people as you would like. So if you're able to include those in a reel or a video story of some sort, definitely do that; you're going to find a lot more success in your marketing.
Now Facebook. You might be like “Facebook? That sounds terrible. Why would I be on Facebook? No one’s on Facebook anymore.” The truth is the 50+ crowd is MASSIVELY on Facebook right now, and are probably the key demographic there. The amazing thing with that as marketers is that you have access to basically everyone's mom and dad, and they're going to buy for their family. When it comes to weddings, you're not targeting an ad at the bride and groom; you're actually targeting their mom or dad to get it passed down to them, getting that internal referral. So don't be too limited by how you're thinking and targeting within your local area. You're going to probably find some pretty good success and the tools are definitely there for you to find those people.
One of the keys with mini sessions is scarcity. If there's only 10 available, people are going to jump at those pretty quickly especially because they're at a discounted price. So definitely queue the campaign up with a pre-release. Don’t just say “Hey! Mini session day! Everybody come through!”. You’ll find that people will come through but it’s not as effective as at the beginning. If you do a good pre-release, you rely on that email list going into year two, you get people very excited and knowing that these mini sessions that there's a limited amount available, and you tell them exactly when they’ll be (10am on the 10th of the month, for example), you’ll have better results. People are going to be waiting and actually refreshing their browser waiting for these mini sessions to come available. You’ll notice that a lot of them are going to sell out within the first couple of minutes.
I would say for a pre-release strategy, do it over time. It's not just a one day thing. Don't just be like “hey, many sessions coming up tomorrow, make it a bit of a lead up, especially if you have other clients following you on Instagram, maybe pass on wedding clients and commercial clients, a lot of commercial clients have families.
Another thing that I’ll mention is how the Focal Marketplace plays into this. So you've built your back-end on Focal, and you built the package like I showed you above. All of a sudden, if that's a public package, it's going to be on the local marketplace, which means that if people are searching for a photographer in their local city, you are going to be the person that pops up. A great thing about the marketplace is that your listing will rank on Google as well. Just make sure to name the package appropriately.
So there you have it! Mini sessions. If you want the easiest way to set them up in a couple of clicks make sure you get all set up on Focal. Other than that, see you next time!