If you’ve never run mini-sessions before (or have tried and they just didn’t book well), this one’s for YOU! We’re going to cover the ins and outs of how to book mini-sessions WITHOUT an existing client base.
There is a common misconception with minis that you have to have a huge client base to be successful. This is not true! I booked out my very first set of minis (16 spots) with ZERO client base. (Read “Lessons From My First Set of Mini-Sessions” for more on that.)
In fact, since then I’ve successfully booked minis with zero client base in Phoenix, Arizona and Nashville, Tennessee! So this thing isn’t just a one-time fluke. These strategies have worked time and time again for my own business, as well as for other photographers I’ve coached!
There are a few key things to do when you’re first starting to book:
BEFORE you start advertising your minis, make sure to get some promo shots or sample images in your portfolio. People are a lot less likely to book with you if you don’t have some examples of a real family. We went into a lot of detail about this in “3 Tips For Getting Promo Shots to Advertise Your Mini-Sessions”.
It’s a good idea to have other sessions in your portfolio as well, because someone wanting to book with you will probably visit your website or Facebook page. If you don’t have paying clients yet, you can take photos of friends and family to bulk up your portfolio. It’s important that the images you use in your portfolio are cohesive and consistent with your style so your potential clients will know what to expect from your minis.
When I wanted to do some fall family minis in the desert in Arizona, I first went out to shoot a friend of a friend there so I’d have some sample photos to show. As soon as that session ended, I edited all of the images, posted a few of the sample photos, and booked 10 minis within 24 hours (in a state I didn’t live in!!).
That leads us to the next step…
For me, local facebook groups are great for this! There are sooo many mom groups, garage sale groups, buy-sell-trade groups, etc. that would be a great start. When I knew I would be moving to Nashville, I joined several mom facebook groups out there so I could be where my potential clients are. If you know your ideal client does yoga or barre class, go to some local studios and ask if you can leave your mini-sessions flyer! If your ideal client shops at a specific boutique, see if you can partner with them to provide a discounted session to their clients in exchange for some headshots or product images. Get creative and see what you can come up with!
Another thing you can look into is targeted Facebook Ads. Facebook Ads Manager is great because you can target specific locations, as well as demographics, interests, and behaviors. (It’s a little creepy how specific you can get, but I’ll take it!) I’ll have to write a separate blog post about Facebook Ads because they’re VERY involved. But they’re a great way to get in front of your ideal client if you know them well!
I think this step is vital. People naturally want to book with someone who is booking quick. It’s just common buyer’s psychology. To make yourself look busy, share about your photo sessions as often as you can! If you don’t have any paid sessions, get friends and family to model for you so you have things to post. Post about prepping your gear, location scouting, shooting, sneak peeks, editing, and delivering the gallery. No one has to know it’s all for the same session (and that it isn’t a paid session)!
When you’re advertising your minis, make sure to create scarcity. This helps you look in high-demand as well. I get more into that in “3 Tips for Advertising Your Mini-Sessions”.
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