People these days have very short attention spans. If you have kids, you know how it is. They’re constantly staring at phones, looking for the newest thing. The same thing happens with people. If you haven’t done something for them in the past few months, they have most likely forgotten you; they don’t mean to, it just happens.
Free Family Photo Sessions to Build Relationships and Your Business
December is a great time to reconnect with your clients and build strong relationships. If you can do something kind for them, not only will they remember you, they will also have a higher opinion of you and be more likely to help you. Sounds great doesn’t it? There’s a relatively easy way to make this happen and it only involves your time, and you might make some money in the end! So what is it I’m suggesting? Quite simply, you can offer free family photo sessions to build relationships!
Free? Don’t most people make money from family sessions in December?
Yes, you should still be offering family sessions and making money. That’s not what I mean.
These free family photo sessions are special. You are not giving them to everyone. You are only giving them to certain people, the ones you want to connect with, the ones that can help you in some way or someone you want to turn into a client.
How to Choose the Right People
Choosing the right people is a big part of this being successful. You will most likely be limited in your time, so you don’t want to offer it to too many people.
First, think about your past clients. Are there any that are just great clients? These people already love you, so when you do something nice for them, they will love you even more! Are there any clients that haven’t booked in awhile? This would be a good time to reconnect with them, and it’s a lot easier to offer them a free session than to have that awkward, “Please come back!” conversation.
Next, think about people that you currently aren’t connected with. Is there a really popular, stylish mother that you’re Facebook friends with? This might be your way to impress her and then connect with all of her friends. Is there a business that you interact with and could help you? Invite them and build that relationship.
I just did these sessions, and I found some perfect people to give them to. First, I offered the free sessions to the weddings vendors that I already knew and have done a lot of work with. Many of them have given me referrals over the years, and I just like them, so I want to keep them happy. Next, I offered the session to the wedding venues and wedding planners that I had worked but didn’t really have a relationship with.
How to Setup the Free Family Photo Sessions
Once you have your list, it’s time to reach out to those people. This is kind of important too. You don’t want to come off like you are just doing it to get something. When people feel like they are being used, they aren’t going to want to help you. You need to make the free session exactly that, free. When you contact these people, tell them you are doing it for free, and you just wanted to do something nice for them, which is true. You are doing something nice.
As far as the session goes, you can make them however you want, but I chose to offer 20 minute sessions. This allowed me to fit in more people. You could do longer, but really, 20 minutes should be enough time to get plenty of photos. I also did them all in the same day. I didn’t want to devote several days to this. I was able to get them all done in one afternoon.
Next, you need to figure out where to do the sessions. Again, this could be a great way to reach out and connect with someone. If there’s a business or a venue on your list that has an amazing setup, reach out to them. See if they would let you use their location. It would be good exposure for them, and you’ll have a place to shoot.
Now you’ve got all the details. The only thing to do is get the whole thing scheduled. I used Sticky Folios because it has a built in bookings. I just created an event and put all the times in there. Then I emailed it out to everyone. Pretty easy. There are plenty of other options out there, so if you don’t have Sticky Folios, you might check out Pixifi. It offers the booking pages plus a ton of other management features for photographers.
What to do After the Sessions
After the shoot, get them the digitals, and give them several. Remember, you are doing something nice and trying to impress them. Normally I try to deal with prints, but in this case, we don’t want to lose a bunch of money. You might be super nice and give each person an 8×10, but I’d still make sure to give them the digitals as well. This way, they’ll post them on social media, and you can connect to their friends.
At the beginning of this all, I mentioned you might be able to make money off of this as well. Yes, you can, but please remember, this is more about helping people than anything, so don’t get pushy. Once you have delivered the digitals and maybe the print, I’d give them some advice as far as making Christmas cards or ordering prints. Most will have questions at this point, and you can always offer them your services. It comes off much nicer than just asking them to buy from you.
When I offered the free sessions, I felt like it was a huge success. I offered it to maybe 14 people, and I ended up booking 4 people and 1 venue. Now, that might not seem like a lot, but there were several that had already done their photos, but they still thanked me for offering it. I bet the same goes for those that didn’t respond. Just seeing the offer builds a connection and makes them think highly of me. Out of the ones that did show up, I reinforced some good connections I already had. I also got to meet the owners of a venue and the person in charge of weddings. That by itself was worth it.
Other Ways to Use This Strategy
This strategy just doesn’t have to be for Christmas. You can use free photo session throughout the year. You can offer it around any major holiday and maybe even make it themed. Another idea is to offer headshots if you are dealing with a lot of business people. They’ll love that it’s free and it’s helping their business. I wouldn’t do this every month, but offering it every 4 months will make sure you stay connected throughout the whole year.
It’s amazing how a little thought and effort can go such a long way. Offering free family photo sessions to build relationships is one of those situations. If you offer free family sessions to your best clients and other important people, they will remember you and be much more likely to help you out. In the end, you might be out of 4 or 5 hours of your time, but that’s nothing compared to the thousands of dollars you might make from these new friends. Try it out and see what you think!