Mini-Sessions do not have to equal mini-profits.

Author Recent Posts Nicole BegleyNicole Begley, M.Photog.Cr., CPP, is a zoological animal trainer turned pet photographer and educator. She created Hair of the Dog in 2012 to empower pet photographers to turn their dreams into reality by helping them improve their craft and grow their pet photography business.Nicole has authored a book “Pet and Equine […]

Written By Nicole Begley

On September 20, 2018

I’m addicted to education.  I believe that we ALWAYS have more to learn and that we can pull nuggets of gold from many different areas.  When one of my fellow Pittsburgh photographers was putting on a workshop on how she runs her Mermaid, Fairy, and Santa mini-sessions…I quickly signed up.  Why?  Because Maria Sampaio of Studio M Photographic is a business ninja.  

Now, I have zero intention of ever offering Mermaid, Fairy, or Santa sessions…but I do love profitable minis so I was sure to find some incredible nuggets that would quickly give me a return on my investment.  Boy, did I ever! 

My biggest take away was that just because you are offering a “mini-session” you don’t need to offer a special discounted product menu!  My cost of goods sold is still the same, so why would I discount that?  The motivation to book these sessions is in the limited edition aspect (as in they aren’t offered at other times) and/or it can be the discounted session fee.  This was a major lightbulb moment and it completely restructured how I offer “mini-sessions.”

#1 – Don’t call them mini-sessions.  

That completely devalues them and makes people compare the sessions with the 8,000 other photographers offering “mini-sessions” for $150 that include 10 images.  I chose to call mine “Artisan Sessions,” as the main focus is a great piece of artwork.  You can go with “Limited Editions” or something like “Bay Days” (if shooting on a bay…haha!), “Dog Days of Summer”…whatever…just no “mini-sessions.”

#2 – Make the barrier to entry low.  

My Signature Sessions have a $500 Reservation Retainer.  That is a pretty big hurdle for some people to jump as it’s still a large investment before they see what the results will be.  Even though I tell them that I work with hyper dogs all of the time they will still think, “yeah, sure she can photograph that dog…but not mine.”  My Artisan Sessions are only $50…and even that is a Reservation Retainer that becomes a product credit.  Now, there is literally NOTHING on my price list anywhere near $50 so I’m not worried about anyone purchasing just one thing.  The education process of these sessions is the same as my full sessions, so clients are familiar with my prices and we discuss what they want to do with the artwork during the booking process.

#3 – Create urgency.  

This can be done by offering a type of session that you usually don’t offer, maybe studio sessions if you only shoot on-location.  I chose to make the Artisan Sessions at some of my most popular locations, but locations in which the light will still look good for a few sessions back-to-back and they are only available on certain dates and at pre-determined locations.  So…if they want to have flexibility in location and dates they choose a Signature Session.  If they are willing to be flexible so that I can shoot a few sessions back to back at a pre-determined location on a certain date, they will choose an Artisan Session.  As another point of difference, I should mention that a Signature Session creates 35-45 images for them to choose from, and in the Artisan Session I show 10-20 images.

This helps me be super profitable as my favorite locations are usually about 30-40 minutes away in the city.  I can drive and park just once and photograph three 30-minute sessions back to back.  Since they are purchasing from my regular price list, my averages are similar to what a regular session may be.  The lower Reservation Retainer simply removed that barrier to entry of parting with $500 before the session was held.  

The Results:

I held 6 Artisan Sessions this past summer and these were the sales totals.  As you can see, the smallest one was still over $500 and the largest was almost $2500, which is pretty close to my average sale from my Signature Sessions.

  • $2135.00
  • $1135.00
  • $2476.00
  • $799.00
  • $552.00
  • $1195.00

That equates to a $1,382 average for “mini-sessions.”  Wouldn’t you rather have that instead of $150 for the same amount of work and a handful of digital files?  I hope that this post inspires you to think a bit outside of the box for special sessions that you are going to offer and really consider how they can be profitable for you while still maintaining your brand standards of offering quality artwork. 

Looking for some more pricing training?  Forget what every other pet photographer is charging -- the best thing you can do for your business is set your prices based on YOUR business and YOUR goals. It’s time to stop following the pack and let your rates lead you to a sustainable business!

Here’s what you’ll learn:

  • The #1 thing you need to know BEFORE setting your prices
  • My simple formula to set up your pricing structure for success 
  • How to increase your prices without losing customers

Oh, and did I mention this is a free training?  Grab it below.

Nicole Begley

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  1. Gloria

    Awesome tips!! yes name it mini is discounting from the moment you present it… thanks for presenting this message is such clear manner

    • Nicole

      thanks for reading! 🙂

  2. Teann Dhariwal

    Great information, thank you! I have been playing with this idea as well. I am curious if each of these sales were from individual clients? So you had 6 clients?

    • Nicole

      Hi Teann, Yes. I just did two locations in July and those were all individual clients. Since I just moved in August I haven’t had a chance to do anymore but I’ll be offering them once I’m up and running in NC for sure!

  3. Michael Jackson

    That’s an excellent way to look at “mini sessions” and their pricing. I also hate calling them mini sessions, however, I don’t have a Branded Name yet.

    I’d love to hear your thoughts about working with Rescues; which is similar to mini sessions. I typically make the booking “open” and charge some amount; say $25, or $50. I’ll either give all or part of it to the Rescue and then charge clients for prints.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks for the great advice!

    • Nicole

      Hi Micheal, that is certainly one way to do it! It’s all in the education process and the inquiry process to set the sessions up for what the pricing will be. Remember that we don’t want surprises of price at the end!

  4. Nicholas Elian

    Nice piece of information! and good to see your earnings, those are really surprising for me 🙂

  5. Carla Scornavacco

    Do you automatically include right to use images for advertising and sales in your general agreement or is that a separate contract? Does it differ for the smaller sessions?

    • Nicole

      It’s always in there….all sessions.


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