I hosted my first brand minis five years ago.
(Non-photographer friends, brand minis is lingo for a one-day blitz where I shoot back-to-back headshots and 15-minute branding sessions. Whew!)
Those first branding minis? They weren’t great! I don’t remember how much I made, but I think only a handful of people showed up (maybe!).
After years of practice and a lot of trial and error, things are going better. This past January, I hosted a brand mini and headshot day that brought in $5k for my business!
That stat is incredible to me, and I’m so thankful. But remember that trial and error stuff I mentioned? She’s the real hero in this story.
Because whenever I put out a new service and it doesn’t go as well as I’d planned, my default mode is to give it up. If it’s not successful right away, I assume nobody wants what I have to offer.
But this is so not true!
It’s just that there is no magic easy button. There’s no way to figure out if an offer will be successful other than by…..
- Putting it out there
- Doing the thing kinda poorly at first
- Making mistakes
- Learning from those mistakes
- Trying again
So, if you have an offer that’s not exactly taking off quite yet, don’t give up!
You’re probably just in the trial and error phase! There is so much wisdom and insight and good things to learn here that will make this service all the better for you and your clients in the long run.
And especially don’t give up if you really, really enjoy this not-yet-profitable thing you’re doing!
The only explanation I have for why I didn’t throw in the towel on branding minis right away is because I loved doing them. (Still do!)
I wasn’t making a ton of money, but I was meeting people, having fun, building my portfolio, and slowly growing in confidence as a branding photographer. I figured what the heck! Why not keep it up?
I learned what worked and what didn’t. I tried new things to see what would stick. I remember eventually having my first $1k branding mini day and texting Jeff just freaking out with excitement because I’d made that much money doing this really fun thing!
If there’s something you care about and love doing, stick it out. Your clients will catch on. The sales will come. Don’t sell yourself short because you think you missed your easy button. It doesn’t exist.
With that being said, I know you might be curious to hear a few more details about the ins and outs and how-tos of exactly what I did to organize my $5k branding minis and headshots!
So, without further adieu, here are my best tips for creating a lucrative branding mini and headshot day. And, a quick caveat: I really think you can apply these tips to any offer you put out there as a photographer or service-based business.
1- Make sure this is an offer you enjoy spending your time on.
I think we covered this pretty well in the blog intro, but I still wanted to make it tip #1. If you love what you’re doing, it won’t feel so much like work as you go through that trial and error “Yikes! No one is buying!” phase.
Bottom line: If you’re going to spend the time on something, you might as well enjoy it!
2 – Be strategic about when you launch or host your offer.
Through (again!) trial and error, I realized that branding minis book well for me in January. On the flip side, they don’t go over as well with my audience if I run them in the summer.
I think it’s that New Year and fresh-start excitement that has more people thinking about their headshots in January. Plus, 99% of my clients are women and moms, and in the summer, when their kids and families are home more, they just don’t have time to add another appointment to their schedule.
January seems to be the best time to host branding minis for my clients, and for me! Those first few weeks after the holidays tend to be slower, so this is a good time to do something outside my ordinary routine and add a boost of cash flow to my business. The same might be true for you, too!
3 – Give your audience time to catch on to your offer and understand why it’s important to them.
The first few years I shot branding minis weren’t necessarily successful in terms of money earned or clients in the door. Still, I think they did a lot to educate my audience on what brand photography is and how it can benefit their business or career.
It takes time for your audience to know, like, and trust you. It might not be fireworks the first few times you announce an offer. But every time you put it out there, you’re educating your people and building awareness and trust around what you do. Your future clients can see that!
4 – Meet your clients where they are.
At first, I focused so hard on branding photos as the selling point for my mini sessions, because, as a brand photographer, that’s what I thought people would want.
When they weren’t filling up as quickly as I’d hoped, I started experimenting with adding an option to have just a headshot taken vs. the complete branding mini. That’s when these sessions really started taking off!
Not everyone will know what a branding session is or why they might need one, but everyone does know what a headshot is! Likewise, not everyone will understand why $350 for a branding mini is a good deal in comparison to a full branding session, but the price of a headshot is something they can justify spending money on no matter what season of business they’re in. By offering headshots, I was able to meet my clients where they were at.
Since my headshots are more lifestyle in feel, adding them was also another way I could introduce my clients to the world of brand photography and give them an idea of what a mini or full branding session with me would look like. #winwin
5- Know and state your boundaries.
This one is so important and something I definitely learned the hard way, but you have to put boundaries on your branding minis (or any service you offer). Know and state your boundaries on the number of images you deliver, the amount of time each session can last, the number of props and outfit changes you can accommodate, etc., etc.
You can make sure your clients understand these boundaries by setting up a series of email automations that go out before their session. These emails should educate your clients on what to expect, so there’s little to no confusion when they show up for their photoshoot.
One more thing here! Don’t forget to give yourself enough time between sessions, a lunch break, and anything else you need so your day runs as smoothly as possible.
6- Include upsells and make them clear up front.
For my last branding minis, the price included ten photos plus the option to purchase additional images.
I was upfront about this upsell right away in the contract and booking details, so my clients knew exactly how many images they’d get and that they’d have the option to purchase more.
I didn’t want anyone to get a gallery of photos and then be disappointed to find out that they had to pay extra if they wanted to order more than ten.
Letting your clients know about upsells from the start helps them budget and prepare, and I think it goes a long way in building client relationships too.
Additional image purchase upsells from my last branding minis accounted for about $1k in sales!
7 -Launch to a waitlist.
I’m going to have another blog post and podcast episode all about waitlist launching, but I wanted to put this bug in your ear here, too, because I think this has really helped me announce new offers with more confidence and higher success.
Waitlists are essentially customers who have raised their hands and said, “Yes! Let me know when I can pay you!” You can make being on your waitlist special by announcing your offers here first, so waitlist members get first dibs on scheduling with you. You can also offer your waitlist a discount that you won’t make available anywhere else.
Waitlist launching also really took the pressure off when I opened these branding minis to the public. Because I’d already sold a few spots to my waitlist, I didn’t feel like I was showing up and crossing fingers and feeling nervous about getting that first yes when I started talking about my offer on social media.
We made it to the end! I hope these tips were helpful to you.
The main takeaway that I can’t stress enough is to keep showing up for the offers you love.
Keep taking messy action and making mistakes. And know that this is a totally normal part of the process, and that you’re seriously on the path to building your best offer yet!
If you’re a photographer who wants to learn more about growing your business or pivoting into branding photography, or a service-based business owner who wants to keep hearing more tips like these, sign up for my weekly e-newsletter! It’s the best place to stay in touch with me and talk about all things business and personal branding.