Everyone starts somewhere, right? I love looking back and teaching the biggest lessons I learned from my very first set of mini-sessions. Let me set the stage…
I had been in business officially for 1 month. At this time, I had never shot anyone that wasn’t related to me or a family friend.
Yep, ZERO client base!!
So many photographers just starting out with minis worry that they won’t be successful if they don’t have a large list of existing clients. If that’s you, don’t worry! It’s definitely do-able. Keep reading!
It was a couple of months before Easter. I saw someone in a facebook group asking if anyone was doing Live Bunny Minis. You better believe I commented saying I was! (I had no intention of doing so before that post, but I needed a client!)
So I did what anyone in my position would do and I found a bunny. One of my sweet neighbors had one, so I asked if I could borrow it and I took my almost-one-year-old daughter over to get some “promo shots.”
I put that in quotations because it was literally some close-ups mostly of the bunny in their front yard. No set-up. No idea what my actual minis would look like. (In hindsight, not the best tactic…but I’ve learned since then!!)
Here was the ad I came up with:
That $125 price was literally a number I just pulled out of thin air. I had never run my Cost of Doing Business (CODB)…again, not the best tactic. But it was a start! (Read “How To Price Your Minis” for pricing guidance.)
I posted it all over local mom groups on Facebook and ended up booking 16 spots! GUYS! I was ecstatic! Not bad for my first try knowing literally nothing about mini-sessions! (If you want to see how the photos ended up, click HERE. The photos were much better than I ever expected!
Since then, I’ve come a LONG way (thank goodness). But I’ll always treasure that set of minis because of the valuable lessons I learned from them. Not only because it’s fun to look and see how far I’ve come, but because I’m able to share those lessons with YOU!
So here’s what I took away from those minis:
Don’t book 4 hours of minis in one day!
I shot these from 9am-2pm with a break for lunch. And it was brutallllll. Not fun at all! By the end I could barely walk and my whole body hurt.
I learned really quickly that I never wanted to shoot that long again.
Since then, most of my minis are done in 2-hour time blocks. Occasionally I’ll stretch and do 3 hours, but I really try not to.
You could be a superhuman and be able to shoot all day, but that just wasn’t for me.
Working with animals is difficult.
I should have known this, but I was definitely surprised. Originally we had 2 bunnies we were going to incorporate into the sessions. The idea was that we’d have them sit in a basket, and the kids would sit next to the basket so we wouldn’t have to worry about the bunnies being mishandled. Well after the first session, one of our bunnies decided that wasn’t fun and kept trying to run away! Thankfully the owner was there to catch him, but we had to continue with the other bunny alone.
That one did great for the most part, but by the last few sessions she wanted to roam around. For one session the bunny spent the entire time under one of my props. So we had to get a little creative with our posing to get her in the shot.
All of that to say…animals can be unpredictable! If you’re going to use some, PLEASE keep safety as a priortiy, and always have a back-up plan just in case.
Communication was KEY!
One of the best parts about these minis was that NONE of my clients were late!! Everyone was on-time, dressed beautifully, and ready for their sessions when their time slot came.
This wasn’t an accident!
From the beginning of my business, I have always been super intentional with my communication.
My famous “Final Info Email” was born from these minis!
Basically I send a huge email a week before their session that includes their time slot, reiterates that they CAN’T be late because my sessions are back-to-back and they will miss their time if they’re late (take away the option and it usually does the trick), gives directions for the location, and some final reminders for them to help the session go smoothly. (Want that exact email template that I use? Click HERE!)
Because I made sure to have excellent communication with my clients, everything went so smoothly. Seriously, it’s a game-changer!!
It helped to have an assistant with me.
Since I had never shot minis before, I didn’t realize how helpful this would be. Honestly I only had her there because the location was sort of far from the parking lot, but she ended up being very helpful in the overall experience!
I hired a high school student and paid her $10/hour to help me. Her job was to walk my clients from their cars to the spot we were shooting, then go back to the parking lot and wait for the next family. When they arrived, she’d walk them over to a waiting area near where I was shooting so they’d be ready to start as soon as the family before them finished.
This worked out perfectly because it allowed me to stay by the set-up and to shoot one family after the next without too long of a send-off.
If you’re shooting your first set of minis, I highly suggest bringing an assistant along!
Read “5 Ways to Use An Assistant” for more on this.
Overall, those minis were awesome! Were they perfect? Of course not! But I learned so much and was able to tweak and make my future minis even better.
Was this helpful for you? Comment below and let me know!!
You may also like…
“How to Up-Sell Mini-Sessions WITHOUT IPS”
“4 Reasons Why Your Mini-Sessions Aren’t Booking”
“Mini-Sessions Shooting Workflow”
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