February 20, 2023
Do you know the feeling when you’re in business, and suddenly everything seems to fall into place as if the missing piece has finally been found? That’s what happened to me in 2017. I was consistently booking birth clients and newborn clients, I was really profitable, I had a studio –everything was going really well.
The problem was clients were booking me for birth and not newborn. I was so frustrated because they know that I offer both, but why aren’t they booking me for newborn too? And to make it worse, they were always booking the same newborn photographer who was very similar to me.
And I started to make it mean that I was too expensive or not good enough or not a popular enough photographer… but none of those things were true (and deep down I knew it), but I had to figure out why only a few of my birth clients would hire me for newborn photography.
And it was around then that I mentored with a well-known newborn photographer at the time and I brought this problem to her. I showed her my birth photography and newborn packages and let her know of my big problem, which is my birth clients are not booking me for newborn.
Her answer to me was so simple, and this is why I value paying for mentorship so much because quite often the answer is staring us right in the face, and we don’t even realize it because we’re so deep into our own issues and problems, right?
She said, “Why don’t you just include your newborn session fee with your birth package, so everyone that books a birth package is automatically getting a newborn session.”
We all work relatively hard to fill our calendars, right? And to find clients who believe in what we do and who value us, and to have to do that over and over and over is exhausting. So what if instead we can take each client and just increase the amount of times they can work with us, increase their lifetime customer value, so that we’re not having to work so hard to make money doing what we love with photography.
I learned a lesson that’s so valuable, and that is I have to make it easy and a no-brainer for my clients to take the next step with me. I already had a system set up to offer a baby plan to my newborn clients, but I was booking a lot more births than newborns at the time. So once I connected that missing piece of getting the people hiring me for my specialty (birth photography) to my newborn sessions, the lifetime value of my client increased from about $1000 to $3000-$5000+ per client. That’s a MASSIVE difference!
The clients who were once just coming to me for birth and then leaving to go to another photographer for the rest of it then became lifelong clients and I was able to photograph their newborn, 6 month, 12 month and beyond.
It was a GAME CHANGER! I was still known as a birth photographer and I was still niched to birth photography, but with this baby plan system, I was able to continue to photograph the family every 6 months or so over the course of a couple of years.
Here’s what’s great about that:
In 1 month, I might have 3 birth clients which would mean 3 births and 3 newborns, which would equal about $6-$8k depending on how much they ordered. Which is incredible, but my goal was higher than that, so how do I get an extra $5-10k so I’m hitting about $15k/month?
The answer is baby planners! While baby plan sessions wouldn’t always spend as much as newborn or birth, it would easily be an extra $500-$1000 per session and they would help fill gaps in my calendar.
So I might have 2 or 3 births, 2 or 3 newborns a month, but also more baby plan clients to kind of fill in the gaps there. So I want to share with you a strategic way to offer baby plans, because I see photographers and I have students who have come to me saying that people aren’t taking them up on their baby plan offers, and typically it’s this…
The way I offered baby plans was at the newborn session, we’d offer the baby plan, which was 3 sessions for $150. That didn’t include anything except the session and they’d have an ordering appointment at the end of each baby plan session.
But because that was simple for them to understand and they have just had an incredible experience at their birth and newborn session, it made it an easy yes to add on a baby plan to their newborn order to continue working with them over the next year or so, and then we’d reach out to them each time it was time to schedule the sessions.
The sessions were usually 6, 12, and 18 months and could include siblings and family.
We intentionally offered it at their newborn ordering appointment because I didn’t want to overwhelm them, and that’s a big mistake I see photographers make with baby plans and it’s a mistake I made for a long time too: someone would inquire for birth photography and I’d send them ALL the info on birth, newborn, maternity, and a baby plan – WAY TOO MUCH INFORMATION!
So I started taking them step by step. If they inquired for birth, I’d go through my process to get them booked for birth, THEN offer upsells like maternity, and offer the baby plan only after their newborn session was complete.
This also gave me the chance to work with them for a while and see if I wanted to commit to working with them for another 18 months.
What’s great about the baby plan for the client as well, and this is important whenever you’re mentioning it to your client, busy moms don’t have time, and they don’t remember to schedule their sessions. Before they know it, their baby is a year old and they’re like, “Oh yeah, I meant to do a three-month, a six-month,” and they didn’t do it.
And so that’s something that we explain to them in their newborn ordering appointment:
“When you add this onto your newborn order, we will reach out to you to get the session scheduled. We’re going to take care of everything. So by making this one decision, now you know that you’re going to have photos of your baby at 6, 12, and 18 months.”
And we make sure they know that they can include older siblings or make it a whole family session if they want to, but when they add it on, it’s just like taking something off of their to-do list.
“Okay, Tavia, this all sounds good, but what if I don’t have a studio? I want to offer a baby plan, but I don’t have a place that they can come back to every six months.”
I’m here to tell you, I did not have a studio when I very first started offering a baby plan. So I would either go to their home or meet at a location outside, like a park or wherever you would do family sessions, but also now you have so many options.
At least around here we do, I assume that you probably do where you live too, where photographers are renting out their studios, or there’s places that you can rent out as well. You could do all of your six month sessions or all of your baby plan sessions, rent out this place for a couple of hours and knock them all out. You have a lot of options these days if you don’t actually have a studio.
And if you’re a lifestyle photographer, if you normally do lifestyle newborn sessions, all the more reason to continue with that and continue to do lifestyle sessions for their 6, 12, and 18-month sessions. So I don’t really see any changes that are needed if you don’t have a studio.
So whether you already offer baby plans or this is something that you want to add to your newborn or birth photography business, I want to give you some next steps:
1. Decide what type of sessions you want in your baby plan
We did, for many years, Newborn sessions, 3-month sessions, 6-month sessions, 9-month sessions, and 12-month sessions.
It was okay, but there’s not a lot of difference in my opinion. The baby doesn’t change a ton from 6 to 9 and from 9 to 12. And a three month session felt a little rushed because there’s a lot of change, but also they just did a session, when they’re coming in for their three month session.
I personally decided it was a better use of everyone’s time, especially for the investment, to clear out some of those sessions and just do:
• Newborn sessions
• 6-month sessions
• 12-month sessions
• 18-month sessions
You can do whatever you want. You can test it with your people, see what they like, what they think, but that’s going to be your first step with the baby plan is decide the frequency that you want for your baby plan.
2. Decide what your baby plan offer is
If you do in-person sales like we do: We only charge them the session fee. At the newborn ordering appointment, they only pay the session fee for the three sessions, and they’re placing an order after each session. So that’s where the revenue comes in, is that for their six month session, they’re placing an order even though they’ve paid the session fee.
If you have like more of an all-inclusive model: One thing I might consider doing, and this would be a really awesome way to have consistent revenue coming in, that would be to set them up on a monthly payment plan to where they’re paying every month towards their baby plan and towards their photos.
For example, your sessions include digital files and their $400, and you’re doing three sessions, so that’s $1,200. They’re paying you a hundred dollars a month in order to have those sessions to pay it off and get the digital files at each session.
And then, hello! You have X amount of dollars coming in every single month because somebody did the baby plan and is paying a hundred dollars a month. That would be really cool to have that reliable income in addition to birth payment plans.
3. Decide when you are going to offer baby plans in your process
Now I’ll tell you, we’ve done it a lot of different ways, and the best way for us has been to offer at the newborn session.
I really like having the option to offer it or not, depending on what kind of workload I want to commit to if I vibed well with the client. Because there have been times where we don’t offer it because I’m too busy. I don’t want to commit to them for the next 18 months to do these sessions when I don’t have the bandwidth to do that.
So consider that whenever you’re thinking about when to offer it in your process. And also consider the fact that you do not want to overwhelm them on that first inquiry email before they booked you for the primary session. This is a hard rule to me because it’s too overwhelming.
Ninja Tip: Offer exclusive products for Baby Plans
Could you show them something at their newborn session that is a finished product with a newborn, si-month, and 12-month session all in one. So think albums or multiple albums that come together in a pretty box or framed portraits, and they get one at each of the sessions, but they all go together.
One of the things that we offer is these heirloom hoops, and they’re kind of hard to describe, but basically it’s printed on canvas and the way that it’s bound is in those like sewing hoops, the wooden hoops, hopefully, you know what I’m talking about. And there’s three of them in their different sizes.
And so it’s kind of a boho look. And so for somebody who has that style, they’re really, really popular with our clients because they’re unique. That would be a really cool thing to offer. A newborn photo, a six-month photo, and a 12-month photo in something like that.
So whenever you have specific baby plan products that you can show them at the newborn session to paint this picture for them of what they could have after their baby turns one, this completed set of sorts, it makes it even more irresistible for them to want to book the baby plan because they see what they could have.
I hope you see the power of offering baby plans now not only for the bottom line of your business but also as a way to serve your clients and build those relationships that last a lifetime and bring in quality referrals!
If you’re enjoying this podcast, if it’s been helpful to you at all, it would mean so much to me if you would take a minute and leave a review wherever you’re listening. The more ratings that we have, the more resources that I can pour into this podcast. So thank you for sharing, rating, and telling your friends about the show. It really means so much to me.
And remember my friend, if you have a passion, it’s not an accident. Not everyone loves the thing that you love. So whatever your passion is, it’s there for a reason. And I hope that you will pursue that passion, get out there, and make it happen. Have a great week!
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