Christmas is undoubtedly an excellent earning opportunity for professional photographers!
We've spared you the Grinch's green costume, we don't want to ruin the Christmas atmosphere (we love it!) but we would like to give you some practical words of advice on how to plan, communicate and sell your Christmas 2020 sessions.
It would be wrong for us to take all the credit, however. We reached out to two highly seasoned photographers: Prisca Caroli and Gabriele Zani, both specialized in Newborn, Maternity and Kids photography.
Each year, Prisca's and Gabriele's agendas are filled with clients looking to entrust their unique style and professionalism for their Christmas photos.
So, who better to give us a few tips on how to organize successful Christmas photoshoots?
Here are 5 tips for Christmas Sessions
- Plan ahead. Well ahead.
Defining the project at least 6 months in advance is important when you are organizing a cut and run event like Christmas.
If you're thinking "I'm late", well you're right, but you'll still find lots of advice you can put into practice now, not just next year!
Start well ahead and give yourself enough time to organize appointments in the best possible way.
Photographers recommend you dedicate a well-defined period to Christmas sessions, so that you can concentrate sessions in a few dates and leave yourself enough time for the post-production of photos, the creation and delivery of any products.
What is the best way to organize Christmas sessions, especially in 2020?
It depends on the kind of setting you have and on how much time you wish to dedicate to this event.
For example, Prisca groups all her Christmas photoshoots in a 10 day period, in November; until last year all she needed was a week. Gabriele, on the other hand, has decided to revolutionize his Christmas sessions: this year he will do them outside rather than at his studio, on Saturdays, starting from October. Both of them do mini sessions which last 30 minutes. However, the difference in price compared to "standard" photoshoots is minimal.
This kind of organization enables them to dedicate a well-defined period of time to Christmas while ensuring the safety and distancing of their clients.
Clearly defining the photo shoot setting months before the Christmas session is another suggestion. This way you'll be able to source decorations for less and intrigue your clients with a little sneak peek.
- Build a relationship of trust with your clients
“We are always looking for new clients, but above all we should work well and hold onto those who already understand the value of the service we provide." Gabriele Zani's words of advice gave us food for thought. The importance of building a sincere relationship with your clients can never be stressed enough, whatever our profession. 80/90% of Christmas sessions by Prisca and Gabriele are booked by loyal clients who return every year.
Let’s not forget that winning the trust of your clients means economic security.
How can you build client loyalty?
By conveying the true value of what you do. This can be done with good communication (personal and distinctive), or by offering discounts for those who book sessions for next year in advance.
For example, Prisca applies a gradual booking system which prioritizes last year's clients, giving them the best slots. It goes without saying that "new" clients will have to make do with weekday slots.
Let's move on to another fundamental step of Christmas sessions: communication.
- Structure communication effectively
Communication for your Christmas sessions must involve different channels, according to your target audience: direct contacts (whatsapp), newsletters and social media.
Whatsapp is a direct and fast tool, recommended for contacting loyal clients or anyone who requested to be notified of 2020 shooting sessions.
Our advice is to start from a standard message, customized according to the recipient. If last year Laura thanked you for the wonderful experience, remind her of this anecdote in your message. If little Thomas had a whale of a time last year, tell his parents how you can't wait to make sure he has even more fun this year. This activity does take a little time, but you'll win over clients by making them feel as though they are more than a phone number in your agenda.
A newsletter is the fastest tool for reaching out to your client database.
The problem with emails is that not everyone reads them, so we advise that you resend your newsletter to those who haven't opened it. You can automate these processes to save time. How? You'll find full information in our e-book, “Marketing Automation for Professional Photographers” which you can download from the reserved area of the Album Epoca website.
With WhatsApp and newsletters you communicate with those who already know you. With social media you reach out to loyal clients and new ones in particular.
Social networks are the main channels for arousing interest and intrigue among new clients, with posts or sponsored ad campaigns. We have covered this topic in more detail in the e-book “How to get new clients with Social Media”, also available for download in the reserved area for Album Epoca clients, under the Marketing Materials section.
Prisca's advice for communication is to generate a brand for the Christmas event, to make it unique and recognizable. Hers is called "Merry Prisca" and, spoiler alert, it will soon have its very own logo!
Christmas photo sessions can be a rich source of income and we are right to invest time and money in communicating them as best as possible. Short videos or ads are a great idea as this kind of format attracts more attention compared to still images.
Prisca created a gorgeous video for Merry Prisca 2019 which you can draw inspiration from.
Videos generate more interaction which is why Gabriele's communication on social media is mainly developed in Instagram stories. He has also created story highlights, so that his followers can view them after 24 hours.
- Offer packages in line with client requests
Prisca and Gabriele both offer packs including the session fee + one or more printed products.
Specifically, Gabriele has created 2 or 3 packages which include an Event Book, calendars (single, 12 month or desk) and cards. His clients cannot remove any basic features from these packages, they can only add products. For him, the best moment for upselling is right after the photoshoot.
Prisca, on the other hand, offers a single package that includes service fees + one or more products up to a maximum value of €100. During or after the photoshoot of their children, her clients can browse a brochure containing all the products she offers. Prices, sizes and color options are all specified in the tailored list created by Prisca. This kind of package enables her to earn more thanks to the sale of products not included in the agreed €100 budget. Therefore it is a great method for upselling and boosting sales.
In order to facilitate and speed up the selection of products, Prisca sends the brochure in PDF format before the Christmas session.
- Don't represent Christmas, make Christmas represent you
Create photographic settings that are coherent with your style. All too often the colors and symbols of Christmas get the better of photography style, to the detriment of identity. Prisca and Gabriele both prefer clutter-free stages that do not distract attention from the subjects, who must always be the stars.
Prisca designs 4 settings, each featuring different moods, but with minimal decorations. This enables her to sanitize set props quicker, leaving her with more time for her clients.
A few years ago Prisca opted for hire as a solution and has since renewed partnerships with local providers. We suggest you do the same whenever possible, to reduce costs that are generally very high.
Gabriele prefers dynamic settings which enable him to create a story. It is no coincidence that 85% of his clients buy an Album he offers at a discounted price after the session. This is another excellent upselling practice you should take note of!
Gabriele's settings are never tied in with classic Christmas colors: last year's feature colour was mustard, evoking gingerbread.
You will have noticed that we have provided you with tips on how to organize your Christmas photo sessions, advice on how to communicate and sell them with interesting packages, but no inspiration on how to actually create gorgeous photo settings. This step is entirely in your hands. The style of the photos, the use of lighting and the choice of setting all define your style.
We'd like to end with one last piece of advice from our photographers, which in our opinion is the most important. Never stop studying and seeking out new inspiration for providing your clients with original and quality work that bears your distinctive personal touch.
Good luck with your work!