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Build Your Portrait Business by Booking Tween Sessions

By Tanya Goodall Smith on December 15th 2015

I first came across the Tween Booking Blueprint in a Facebook ad. I generally never fall prey to Facebook ads by actually clicking on them, but this one I couldn’t resist. Book 12 tween sessions after sending out one single email? I didn’t believe it. I had to hear more. So I signed up for Lisa Wareham’s free webinar, The Tween Booking Blueprint, and I was blown away by her ideas for augmenting a portrait business during the slow winter months by booking Tween sessions.

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So what makes this idea of booking tween sessions so appealing? Why tweens? (In case you’re totally clueless about what a tween is anyway, it’s a term used for pre-teens. Generally ages 10-12). In her Photo Bacon Blog article, Lisa lists five ways booking tweens for a portrait session can make you money. In a nutshell, nobody else is doing it (hello open market!), it can lead to tons of repeat business (think, younger siblings, senior photos, family photos, etc.) and it’s a way to fill the time during your “slow” season if you’re primarily a wedding and high school senior photographer.

That’s all fine and good, but how do you convince parents to bring their 10 to 12-year-old kids in for a session “just because?” That’s where Lisa’s brilliant plan comes in. During her free webinar, she gives you a plan for kickstarting your tween booking campaign and shares tips for doing it all through email, blog and social media marketing. No cold calling required.

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Lisa books tweens by offering special sessions as part of a project designed to boost the self-esteem of 10 to 12-year-old girls. In addition to the portrait session, she secretly asks the parents, coaches, friends and family of the tweens to answer some survey questions, which she uses to create an impactful, emotional sales session and unique products parents can’t get anywhere else for their kids. It’s more than just a photo session, it’s a powerful experience for these families. And it all takes place in-studio, so you don’t have to worry about weather holding you up.

But what if you don’t have a studio, and you live in the middle of a freezing northern winter wonderland like myself? Don’t worry. When there’s a will, there’s a way. For tips on how to shoot in your own home or the homes of your clients, check out our NO STUDIO? NO PROBLEM! series. It’s full of ideas for shooting in the space you have with minimal gear.

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If you haven’t mastered basic lighting techniques (which you’ll need for shooting indoors during the dreary winter months, even if you do have a massive window at your disposal), I highly recommend our Lighting 101 and Lighting 201 video workshops. Lighting education is invaluable when you need to shoot indoors. If you know how to use light properly, you don’t even need super expensive lighting gear and modifiers. I use one or two Canon Speedlites, which I bounce off the ceiling or a reflector. Sometimes an inexpensive umbrella modifier. That’s it!

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So, now that we’ve established you should be booking tween sessions, we’ve eliminated any excuses as to why you can’t do it without a studio, and you have a free webinar with information to get started, what are you waiting for? Do you stink at writing emails and blogs? Have no fear.

After Lisa’s free webinar (which is full of valuable ideas and info anyway), you can decide if you want to join her master class, which goes into more detail about the sessions and includes all the pre-written emails, blog posts, Facebook posts, graphics, in-person selling strategy, a planning and success guide, pricing guide, product ideas and lots of printouts. It includes everything Lisa herself has created over the years to book her winter schedule full with tween sessions during times of the day that work for her and her family. After the course, all you have to do is plug in your own info and send an email to your client database and wait for the bookings to pour in.

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Visit http://www.tweenbookingblueprint.com to sign up for Photo Bacon’s next free Tween Booking Blueprint webinar.

CREDITS: Photographs by Lisa Wareham are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

Tanya Goodall Smith is the owner, brand strategist and commercial photographer at WorkStory Corporate Photography in Spokane, Washington. WorkStory creates visual communications that make your brand irresistible to your target market. Join the stock photo rebellion at workstoryphotography.com.

9 Comments

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  1. Armands Sprogis

    I was reading about tweens market few weeks ago. Here is UK it is not huge market and I think it has huge potential. I recently started to work with local ballet school and it is been very busy. I started as project and now I have photographed many tweens and got new market to approach. Great article.

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  2. Tanya Goodall Smith

    I welcome constructive feedback and questions. As a writer, I try to anticipate what a reader would want to know, but sometimes I miss things. This is why we have the comments section. I think you have some valid questions so here are my answers:

    Was the information concise enough to make it a foundation for your own marketing, yet flexible enough to be adapted to your specific situation? Absolutely. The principle behind secretly sending surveys to the friends and family of the tween in order to include emotional quotes in the sales session could be applied to any portrait genre, especially for high school seniors, boudoir or women’s portraiture. The email marketing principles she covers are solid and make sense.

    How was the fluff/good stuff-ratio? I found Lisa’s educational style to be very “to the point”. I’ve sat through several courses that droned on and on and repeated a lot of stuff (hello, boring!) but this course held my attention. The modules were fairly short with specific homework assignments after each. She does include a lot of background and reasons behind the “why” of her methods, which some might have found to be boring but I did not. She wants you to understand the principles behind them (I believe knowing these could help you adapt them to other genres, but honestly, this course is about booking TWEENS so if you’re not interested in that, maybe this course is not for you????)

    And, most importantly, did you get the promised results? Did bookings actually start pouring in? If not, do you have an idea about why? Something that was not covered in the course, something that did not work in your market, suggestions that required special knowledge or perhaps too much time or monetary investment to be practically possible? I did send out an email from Lisa’s template (which was so easy to do, I just replaced names, dates and pricing details in the email and was done, so easy!) with one critical mistake. I sent it the day before Thanksgiving. The open rate was terrible (I think they probably got lost in black Friday emails). I did have about 5 inquiries, which is good for me (my usual email campaigns usually result in one or two). Lisa was kind enough to draft an entirely new follow up email for me, which I’ll be sending out in January. Did I mention there’s a facebook support group associated with the course? Anyway, one thing I should mention is that this email marketing method works best for those who already have a solid paying client base and an email list. If you’re just starting out trying to find clients this may not work for you. I mentioned that to Lisa and she is considering adding a section to the course with ideas for building a client base and email list for this target market.

    I hope that info was helpful. For the record, I DID randomly come across this course from a Facebook ad, I listened to the free webinar (which was full of valuable info) and I wanted to share it with you. I appreciate your questions. See how much easier it is to get what you want when you ask nicely? As long as you don’t insult me again we can still be friends ;)

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    • Anders Madsen

      Believe it or not, but my original comment wasn’t meant as an insult but more like a “Oh fer chrissakes come ON!”-comment.

      I enjoy reading SLR Lounge very much and probably tend to hold the writers to a pretty high standard so perhaps I get a bit over ambitious on your behalf. ;)

      That, and perhaps I was simply in an overly sensitive post-Christmas commercial-fatigue state. But I still think the added information in your reply above made the complete piece so much more valuable – thanks.

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  3. Anders Madsen

    So, let me get this straight: If you have a slow season in the cold months right after Christmas, all you have to is take an online class, follow it up with a master class and the wait for the bookings to pour in?

    I’m sorry, but…seriously?

    An article that is one long endorsement of a commercially available product, leading in with a description of how the author “came across” a Facebook ad but otherwise giving no indication of the quality of the information offered or no tangible proof for the closing statement (“bookings pouring in”).

    I’m sorry, but all this is missing is a guy in a cheap polyester suit with a fake tan and the whitest smile on earth yelling “Start a brighter future NOW! Limited time offer only! Call now!”

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    • Tanya Goodall Smith

      I took the course and found it to be very valuable. It would be copyright infringement for me to divulge the full contents of the course to my readers, but I wanted to share it with you in case you might like it too. The free webinar was full of great info. I encourage you to listen to it. I write for SLR Lounge for a small per-article fee and it’s a labor of love for me. I pay more per hour for my childcare while I write than I’m making to produce great educational content for anyone who cares to read it here because I enjoy sharing photography knowledge with others. If you don’t like it, please keep your negative comments to yourself.

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    • Anders Madsen

      I’m sorry but I stand by my comment, but I’d like to elaborate a bit:

      I understand that the content is the property of the author and that is not something that you can share openly.

      However, I would REALLY have read about how you found it to be applicable to real world scenarios? Was the information concise enough to make it a foundation for your own marketing, yet flexible enough to be adapted to your specific situation? I’ve paid for at least one online course that turned out to be pretty useless because the examples and advice was – although probably correct – within a very narrow scope and not easy to adapt to my part of the world.

      How was the fluff/good stuff-ratio? Some of of e.g Kelby Online’s courses takes a very long time to get to the point and repeats a lot of information through the segments so an edited version with all the relevant information could have been significantly shorter.

      And, most importantly, did you get the promised results? Did bookings actually start pouring in? If not, do you have an idea about why? Something that was not covered in the course, something that did not work in your market, suggestions that required special knowledge or perhaps to much time or monetary investment to be practically possible?

      All that would have been very valuable and have made your piece so much more than what I felt it was.

      As for keeping my comments to myself: Not going to happen. I don’t troll and I don’t harass, but I do call things like I see them and try to be constructive (and, granted, my first reply failed at that), so unless you have the admin revoke my account, I’m staying.

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  4. Mike Upton

    These are great ideas, and the photos are fantastic.

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  5. penelope peralta

    Great ideas, but it is more for the American market…it is hard to have parents book their child(ren) in a photo session in France.

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