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What is a Baby Plan?

Lesson 2 from: Baby Plans: Photographing the Early Years

Julia Kelleher

What is a Baby Plan?

Lesson 2 from: Baby Plans: Photographing the Early Years

Julia Kelleher

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Lesson Info

2. What is a Baby Plan?


Class Trailer



Class Introduction


What is a Baby Plan?


7 Steps to Baby Plan Success


Shooting Prep for the 4-5 Month Old "Smiling Stage"


4-5 Month Olds: Tummy Time and Headshots


4-5 Month Olds: Basket Shot


The Baby Plan Structure


Lesson Info

What is a Baby Plan?

Let's, get into it. What is a baby plan? Okay, this baby plans are so fun if you have, the newborns are great. They're extremely artistic. Excuse me, child sessions are great. Family says they're great, but babies are a good time there. Short, sweet sessions. They are, um, so timely, like a child changes so much in that first year that a baby plan like allows you to mark that time period for a client for a client. Because it's so fleeting. It's almost unfair to a mother. How quickly that first year goes by. I mean, how many of you are parents here? You got a couple of parents in the group. It is truly like depressing how fast? It's, almost like god robs you of the time. And so we, as photographers, have the blessing of being able tio change that, go against mother nature, right? And make sure we remember it, and I think that is really cool about basically in a nutshell. A baby plan is a portrait program that captures the dramatic changes of a child within the first year of life. It inc...

entivizes clients that's, the one key word it incentivizes plans to return from multiple sessions developing a long term relationship, and garner's repeat revenue from pre qualified customers. Now, are they always prequalified? Not always when I say that, I mean usually baby planners, at least in our studio because I happen to be a newborn photographer, most of our baby planners come from being a newborn session does that make sense? But not always so when I say prequalified that's, what I mean is you've already worked with this client, you know, they're going to be a good client and that's half the reason it's such a impactful thing is because you get to work with people you already know love now, can baby plans be successful without doing the newborn session the beginning? Heck, yes, and we're going to talk about whether or not you should include the newborn session in your baby plan because that's a huge question that people who are trying to make a baby plan go back and forth with her, like, should I doom attorney a newborn and four months, six months, one year in it? I mean, how many sessions should I d'oh? We're going to talk about all that today, actually, um so what client excuse me? As I fall over, my client doesn't have to be pre qualified. They could be a brand new client coming in the studio, but most of them, at least for us, our pre qualified and that's, one of the beauties of the system, so in a nutshell it basically records the first year of life this is little aria at four months seven months and twelve months old in the same bucket so you get to see her growth over the course of one year. Okay. Um the benefits of having a baby plan is number one it deepens your relationship with your client, okay? And really we are in the relationship business, right? The whole point of this is to flirt date court and mary the people you work with right you want them to want to propose that the end of the experience with you and keep coming back to year after year after year you get to see baby grow which for me is awesome. I actually get very emotionally attached to my baby planners and when the year is up I cry like a homo come back, come back if you just get really emotionally attached and it's neat it's such a joy to be so deeply connected to your customers it makes being in business fun and rewarding it makes you feel like you're making a difference. It really does multiple toys touch points with your client you know, over the course of the year it's a long term plan it's a plan to help you make sure you make more money from your studio and it grows your your product line now the drawbacks to baby plans are this the sessions can take away from higher paying sessions typically because the client knows they're going to be with you three, four, five times during the year. They're not spending as much now you all know that I have a plan to battle that, right? Yeah, and I'm going to tell you about it here in this class and it's worked pretty dang good for us. Our baby plan averages a thousand dollars a session a session, not the whole year. Okay, so I want you to get to that level or beyond with your baby plans as well and it's very strategic thinking and very strategic planning, pricing and product line to be able to do that. Okay, you can it will overwhelm you. How many of you have actually dropped baby playing clients? Because you did it by accident cause you things fell through the cracks. I've done it before I was organized. I used, like, not called in the last session would just kind of dropped off way would get lost and there was no planning organization and he was usually my fault because I had scourges grew up somewhere. Um, you know, we've all dropped bob displays and stuff like that. I mean, just starting a business is so intense, it has so much work involved with it that it it's it's almost like overwhelming means you guys ever feel like that like you, my big issue and ken and I were talking about earlier is howto like work life balance. My son is going to be four in july and he knows when I leave to travel movie oh, go, you know, but if it's about work life balance, but it also within your studio's about balance and really learning to create efficient systems that will help you run things on the conveyor belt. You guys have heard me talk about the compare about before you want everybody to go through the exact same process in your studio, even when you're shooting was always asked me, but don't my clients want creativity? Don't they want something different? No, they don't they want exactly what you produced for every other client you've ever done, because that's the product you're delivering to them, okay? And it's, the same thing with your studio is the same thing with your clients, you want repeatable systems that keep you organized and allow you to stay on top of things. Okay? The logistics could be challenging to maintain, you know, because what happens is, is it's all about stage and not age? You guys know that, so for those of you who don't it's not about, oh, four months old, come on in it's about can your baby push up on tummy time and smile at me? Sometimes that happens in three months sometimes it happens in five months. So it's a stage, not an age. So when we book a baby planner, we tentatively book all their sessions on the calendar throughout the entire year, but then we have to call and check with them ago is little suzy on tummy time, where we get recessions coming up, you know, how are we doing? Should we postpone it? So the logistics of trying to handle all that, making sure everybody's at the right stage can be overwhelming. So we're going to help you come up with systems for that as well. Clients can feel oversold. I mean, I've actually restructured our baby plan tto only include two sessions in the first year because I have found that the four months, six month and one year is too much for the client and they feel little oversold, and they tend to drop off and not finish because it's too much, too soon. Okay, so I'll talk about how we kind of have restructured and given clients options as well for a different session types okay, finally, you have to keep the value of it high in the client's mind, and this is all about client education and really elevate keeping that relationship and baby planners are a lot of work because it's constantly keeping that relationship and check with your client it's a yearlong process remember, you're thinking about huge that a plate with three different for different five different sessions on it that all encompass one meal okay, so you have to, you know, balance the proteins, the cards and the sugars, you know, saying you have to keep everybody happy along the line and make sure all the proportions are correct and the relationship is maintaining itself through that the nutrition is there the entire time? Okay, so why are baby plans not successful? Well, you launch a too soon before you're ready, okay? This is the kiss of death. If you launch a too soon before your internally ready to handle it, you will end up overwhelmed. You'll give up and you'll let it go by the wayside he'll try to revisit it. I need baby plan I gotta go, baby put again like and that's me e I feel your pain, it's what I did to weigh all do it, you know, we all make those, so I'm going to try to fix that, okay? We're going to try to make it so that you get your steps in place and everything set up so that when you launch, you are confident that it's gonna work okay that's a good feeling to have okay getting clients to finish it huge challenge, right? How many of you have had clients not finished, baby plan me. How did you actually have baby plants begin with right now? Are you just kind of looking to launch one? Some people do some people don't okay, my biggest thing was getting clients to finish it. I could not get them to come back for the last session it was killing me and it really took revamping our product line for that to happen okay luring clients to join how many of you can't get your clients to join the baby plan or can't market it well enough to get people to join that's really hard to sometimes that first step getting over that hurdle is the hard part then once you've got him, you know you can keep the relationship going to keep him there. Um, getting clients to spend on each session how's that that's tough like most clients, they know they're coming to you three or four times in one year so they don't want to spend a lot and they tend to be stingy and cheap, right? We're going to come out that you give away too much how much you give a free product at the end of the year, join the baby plan for two hundred dollars and get a storyboard of the year yeah, police were stop that dad's going away nixed that off your list right now, okay? Because what happens is they just want the free product at the end of the year, right? I just do like a sixteen by twenty collage print and that's how I got people to keep coming back because then they don't get it they don't finish but yeah, my daily are not what I want him to be, so it probably does that you're thinking correctly because yeah, you want the client to come back and finish the plan and so you think, oh my gosh, if I do a product at the end of the year that they have tio come back for the finish that's brilliant, but they're not spending at each session to get you where you need to go, so you end up getting measly sales to create this year in product and you feel a little deflated at the end of the year because you're like, well, it was fine, but I really don't make a lot of money off of it. Well, now we're going to shift that to think about doing things like incentives if they spend certain amount of each it each level they get the free year in products at the end of the year kind of thing um and then combine that with the product line that makes them come back, which is kind of a little dirty secret of baby plans. Then we're going to have some really powerful stuff to be able to run a business with you have no systems for efficiency, okay, bring signs all over the place, and actually, I'm still kind of like this. I will hate to admit if belinda was here she's, my studio manager, she just had a baby herself. So she's not here with us today, but how to blend a little kinsley? She would put me so hard right now, she's my organization girl and she keeps me totally on track, and she took one look at our baby plan filing system, and we've now fixed it, but she was like, joy, you've got this's of organized chaos mess like, yeah, I know, I know, so I'm right there with you. It takes a long time to do this just don't expect it all to happen overnight. I mean, it will it's growing it's growing process, but my goal is to at least give you steps to do it, and then you can kind of check them off one by one and get it done. Okay, uh, clients fall through the cracks this happened to me a couple of times, not much anymore, but when the beginning it really did happen a lot and I think even just in day to day sessions like newborn sessions and family sessions and senior stuff alter this falls through the cracks, so if you have a good system that fixes that and prevents that from happening, you will be a lot happier and so will your clients you don't communicate well with their clients before and after baby plan sessions, you kind of got caught up in other stuff, so the communication begins to lack lack of consistency between sessions and client experience. They have a really great session for the newborn or the four months, and then things kind of get a little bit lax a daisy kohl eyes you get into the eight, seventeen months on the one year stage, okay? And of course you discount too much. A lot of people say, well, they're coming back to me, you know, three, four times in one year I should discount this really just as much work to do baby plan session as it is to do any other session, right? So why would you discount it now? You can incentivize and give away things at the end of the year for no good, high paying clients, but if you discount, you're doing yourself a disservice and you're lowering the perceived value of your product in the client's mind okay and then of course you've been the rules with these clients this is hard especially I know a majority of our audience is women out there because women tend to be more into babies but there are some guys too, but the women especially we tend to get in a relationship with somebody and like, oh, some nice I'm just going to do this for them or bend the rules here there so sweetie, you know you just you want to do that because you're nice and I think the guys do it too I mean my husband is notorious for this he likes somebody loves me just what is give it to him you know, being a good person this ghetto wring his neck no, you can't do that and yes, I mean, am I a softie totally I give stuff away all the time and bend the rules but do it consciously if you're going to do it, do it consciously knowing what you're doing and knowing what the consequences are of bending policies and bending the rules for specific clients some clients to give him an inch they take a mile right so it's important to gauge certain clients and ask yourself okay, if I give them an inch, how much more are they going to take and am I willing to go there if you're willing to go there great but if you're not then be really careful and sometimes it takes giving that inch to figure out if there's a topical it it's going to take a mile or not I have a few of those two are you're like I did not think you were going to do that to me but well you know then you kind of have to rein things back in again okay, so those are the major challenges of baby plan and we're going to tackle all of those in the next three days which I'm really looking forward to. So the biggest question I think that most photographers asked me is what's the secret okay what can I do to prevent these problems anything was the secret grant's timing common trick question but you know where I'm going right what's the secret what would fix everything they're all going I don't know I didn't just tell mei you're so cute he's not quite warmed up yet we're all yeah yeah that's what you're here for we're here don't you think it's all about motivation guys okay and it's motivating your client okay it really is about motivating your client not only to spend but to be willing to come back to develop a relationship with you to get involved in the process. Okay, so one of the huge secrets to all this is developing a yearlong product overall three sessions people go what do you mean what if you were to give just pieces of the product away until the very end of the year when it's finally complete after completing all those pieces. So for example, I'll show you guys all we're gonna talk about all this stuff and show it off. But what if the client got a piece of the product at for months, a piece of the product at six months and a piece of the product at one year and finally at one year, they got something extra that completed it to make this final gorgeous year and mark the entire year of growth product that makes sense? I'm teasing a little bit. I know that I'm intriguing you because I want you to stick around and see what we have to do here. But this is powerful stuff because it's along the lines of what felicia was talking about is the same line of thinking, but on steroids okay, it's taking that to the next level in a way that's profitable to you, developed like a relationship makes the client happy with an amazing product line. It gets you where you need to be profit wise. Okay, so think about that we're talking about motivation, capturing the ages and stages consistently once you start thinking in this annual mindset, as I call it now, all of a sudden you start shooting differently right, you have to start shooting so that the images can make a final product at the end of the year. You have to shoot consistently, right? It's not just about bringing the client and with a bunch of different outfits and going for it, right? It's about planning. So now that brings in a whole host of stuff like pre consultations that we have to deal with because we got to know what we're doing for the rest of the year, which as you guys always know what I say, the pre consultation implies commitment. And now all of a sudden, the client's softly committed to this process and you all of a sudden are starting along the road of consistent sessions, consistent revenue, consistent product, happy client makes it, um, free year and gifts was spending, of course, and that cake smash session always motivates your client's. Really? Well, we're going to do that, but it really excited we have a cake maker here in seattle. I'm so sorry I forgot her name, but I've seen her work and she's amazing she's did like a monster cake for us, like a little like a scary little monster that the kid gets to just, um, colorful soak it. And then I believe for the little girl we have a ruffle pastel color too rough okay I mean, this woman is a talented cake nick I don't have a case like this in my studio I'm excited let this look it just smash it takes mass sessions parents love them okay that's is like the rite of passage for and this is something really critical to understand if you're not a parent that first year is a rite of passage you know? And I told this to someone earlier and I don't mean to sound it might come out like insulting to people who haven't had kids and I don't want it to sound like that but you don't really know what's gonna happen to you until you have a child like you don't really know what you're going to become like how different you're going to be and what it's going to do for your life until you actually go through it and give birth and have a child and experience that first year it's horrible and wonderful it's the hardest thing you'll ever do it seriously like taking your gut and soul and going like in letting it out there to face the world it is so vulnerable feeling and that first year of growth getting through the sleepless nights the colic, the reflux that crying and I don't know what the hell they're crying about issues I mean and the sound of your child's cry I don't know what it is but it's like ingrained instinctual in your head to just bring up anxiety like I don't I stopped crying I mean that's how you feel when your baby is crying and you don't know what to do and you can't think that you're like so when you get to the end of the year it's like truly this rite of passage and so as photographers if you can have some kind of understanding of what that's like and the milestones that you have made along with your child and I think that's more important than anything is the milestones that you as a mother as a parent have made just getting through that first year is so significant and life changing that when you can motivate your client with that purpose and that brand you're going toe it's not a problem to get them to come back I guess that's what I'm saying so that cakes mass session kind of culminates that year end wow we did it way made it in the first year is over and a holy cow now we're in the toddler stage you know on dh it's nostalgic it's like oh it's over you know when you have all these mixed feelings about it like you seriously want to cut your head off and screaming from joy at the same time you know it's it's so mixed emotions okay so if you can relate to that at all as a parent even not as a parent I think some of you who haven't had kids can can relate to that then that kicks mass session is so fun because it's happy but it's also means so much because it culminates in that finality of the first year that you did it you made it through you are officially a mother and you're going to be okay and your kid's gonna be okay you know I mean that's almost what it what it signifies it signifies keeping yourself organized and staying on top of it is a huge motivator to your clients I mean if you are on top of it and constantly providing that customer service to them it's going to be good for you and that means using systems okay? And we're gonna get into this very carefully in the next couple days but I want you to think about something you are not a retail business, you're not retail your service business, you don't have inventory that you keep that you have to sell it or to make money you're commissioned to create custom things you don't work unless somebody hires you, which means you're a service business that means that customer service is fifty percent year product if you're not giving good customer service that's over the top killer, you need to work on that because that's your product line that's what you're selling is customer service okay? Experience the experience of having the session done is half of what we do. We're selling the experience right? We're selling our ability to provide a service so customer service should be one of the things that you that's a priority in your studio who cares about campus and prince and metal and acrylic can wherever no customer service should come first, that should be what your clients scream from the rooftops of how beautiful products you have, so we're going to talk about customer service, how to improve yours howto make it amazing, and I promise you, once you do that internally in your studio, you're going to see a world of difference mainly and mortem out referrals. Have you ever heard these photographers to say, oh, I don't do anymore gets all weird about it your life because you've been working so hard to market your business here for obama, you know that's what you want to say, you sleep this one off I'm not your friend anymore that's my son's new thing is like if he doesn't like somebody who's, you're not my best friend anymore. I seriously want to say that people who say a word about but it's true word of mouth referral comes from good customer service those photographers have nailed customer service, which is half their product line because now I have said they don't really need to go out there and market because the customer service and the product is so good that they're getting these people teo talk about them it's huge murray we're goingto do a whole segment on customer service okay? Okay uh bragging rights of course clients who are part of your official club wanna brag about it especially if the customer service is amazing right? You want that in your baby plan you want but be such fun and when you brand and market from that purpose of that rite of passage so most photographers market from the standpoint of don't miss the first year right you should market from a place that's your why which for me and it's gonna be different for everybody communicates that message of this is a rite of passage you did it mom and that's a whole different message, isn't it it's a completely different message. Okay, okay. And then of course, like I just said the exclusivity in the club is a big thing. Now what I dio how we've changed it a little bit this week give a couple of options and we'll talk about more about this when we talk about structuring may be plain, but um I used to exclusively dio that tummy time sitting and standing stage those three stages but when I really discovered is that it's almost too much for the client to come back three times technically four times in the first year if they've done a newborn session with me as well. So we nicks and I'm not we're going to shoot four months today is in fact the next segment that we're gonna be doing is the tummy time stage because I still think it's an important stage but it's not my favorite to shoot why? Well, they can't really do a whole lot there's a few basic shots that you get and that's pretty much it so there's not a huge like wow factor with the client right off the bat on the first session, which to me made it seem like, okay, that may be a reason why they're not as enthusiastic about the baby plan because the images just aren't like the other cute they're sweet, but there's like the personality isn't coming out yet in the child on day, like I said, they can't really do a whole lot so there's not a huge variety and the images, so what we did is we decided, okay, nix the four month we're not going to do that session anymore. We're just going to dio sitting up unassisted so they can set up a kind of six to eight month range one year and then every baby plan it has a free complimentary family session anytime in your too that's how we market it, it's two sessions in the first year and then a free family session anytime in your two so they could do that in the fall right before christmas. They could do it in the spring. They do in the winner, they could do it right at two years old any any time they want in that first second year. Okay? And we send them little postcards. Oh, you know, let us know we just we keep in contact with him to keep that relationship going. So relationship now lasts almost two years, like eighteen months to two years, which solidifies their connection with us even more. I think okay, so we'll talk about the benefits of this as we go on, I don't wanna spoil all the fun right now, but, um, just doing things like that help motivate your client most people. I found a huge increase in sign ups when we did that for a family session in here, too, like we had such an uptick in sessions that I'm now like, oh, shoot, maybe we should stop, like, promoting the baby planets much because I can't handle all these baby planners, ok, a communication system that keeps the relationship alive, you know, doing handwritten cards, checking in with them, and I know that seems like a lot of work and a lot of your going oh my gosh, I don't have time to contact the current clients. I have let alone plan. We're kind of in the, you know, in the waiting wings for the next session if you have a system for doing that, it's not that hard, okay? And there's, plenty of systems and and software's out there that will automate this for you, okay? I'm not huge in the automation. I can't. I tend to like the handwritten card and things like that because nobody really does that these days. I kind of do stuff that nobody else wants to do anyway. Okay, so all what's neat about this whole what I'm talking about, you know, kind of this introduction to what we're going to be discussing here in the next three days is that all these principles applied all kind of sessions. They really do anything about it. It doesn't matter if it's, newborn, baby, family, child, senior it all applies to every single thing you do in your studio, which is what I think is really needs that you can transfer this over.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Customizable BP Postcard Templates
Customizable Recipe Tag Templates
Customizable Stat Card Templates
Baby Plan Images
How The Baby Plan Works
Baby Plan Resource Guide
Baby Plan Success Checklist

Ratings and Reviews

Natalia Malinko

I just finished to watch this course. And I confess: I've been struggled all the time during the viewing to say already: I LOVE IT! So, I LOVE this course! Julia is so nice teacher, and photographer, and person. And she is so incredible organizator of whole child's photography business. She is amazing, so meticulous, so persuasive trough all and each one of the important points of this business. And she is just great in the part of studio´s shooting examples with the babies. This is one of the best and most valuable courses I found in Creative Live, thanks!

Dawn Potter

I've been so fortunate to be able to be a part of the Live audience experience with Julia. She is an amazing person, photographer and teacher. She does a fantastic job of explaining in detail, the steps she has taken that have helped her success as well as the steps that have set her back. We are so lucky to be able to learn from her experiences and to have someone who is willing to put herself out there to teach us and help us to grow as photographers. For anyone considering adding a Baby Plan to their portrait offerings, this class is a MUST have. Julia, you are #awesomesauce !! xoxo - Dawn Potter

Student Work