Tuesday Tutorial: Hosting a Boudoir Party
There’s so much that goes into boudoir parties/marathons that it’s really hard to fit it all in the comments of a post on Facebook, so here’s a Tuesday Tutorial on the subject:
Two months before your boudoir party (or marathon—call it what you will):
- Pick date(s) (If I’m doing multiple days I try to do a weekday and a weekend day, usually Fri/Sat or Sun/Mon.)
- pick location and confirm availability (put on hold, if possible; if they won’t hold it, I give my credit card info as soon as I’ve confirmed stylist and assistant availability)
- pick stylists and an assistant and confirm availability (pay retainer(s), if needed)
- make a flyer using pics from the last time I shot at that location (If I haven’t shot their before I’ll try to get in for 30 minutes or so to get a few shot for the flyer. If that isn’t possible, I use pics from the location’s website.) Here’s a flyer from a party I did a few years ago (before I re-branded):
4-6 weeks before* your boudoir party/marathon:
- start spreading the word: I post my flyer on FB, local mom’s boards, and anywhere else I can think of. I print hard copies to carry with me and I leave them wherever I can. I post about the boudoir party on my blog, and send the flyer (and a link to my blog, of course) to my email list. I also email everything to my friends and give them hard copies of the flyer, and ask them to share with people they know who might be interested. (For friends, I usually offer some free session time and a few web-sized digital files if they send me women who book.)
*Sometimes I get busy and don’t get them announced until 2-3 weeks out, and that does affect my bookings negatively, so I’m attempting to make time to get my marketing calendar finished, so that will quit happening.
As bookings come in:
- Collect retainers. (I require 50% down to hold a spot. I sometimes offer a reduced retainer of $100 to certain women if I think they’re unlikely to back out at the last minute, and a few times have required full payment up front because I think they ARE likely to back out if they haven’t paid it all.)
- I ask for best and worst time slots for each client, and any time restrictions—work schedule, babysitter deadlines, etc…), but I don’t promise any particular time slot unless someone is ONLY available at that certain time. I tell everyone I’ll email a schedule about five days before the shoot.
- As people sign up, I send them an informational email telling them the shoot address and any necessary parking instructions, and tell them to be expecting another email with info about the shoot itself. I also give them the names and web addresses for the stylists, so they can see who they’ll be working with, and I ask them to send me a photo to send to the stylists so they can prepare.
2-3 weeks before the party/marathon:
- usually in response to a question from the client (but sometimes I beat them to it…!) I send out an email with advice about what to wear/not to wear, and a list of links for places online that they might want to shop. (I’m still working on a list of local resources….)
About 10 days before the party/marathon:
- I send out an “Are you getting excited?” email with tips on what to do/not to do in the week before the party. (Please, oh please: if you’ve never spray-tanned before, do NOT try it out two days before your shoot! Ditto, for trying a new hair color….)
About 5 days before the party/marathon:
- I send out our “final” schedule. (If anybody wants in after this point, they have to take whatever is available, or hope that somebody else is flexible enough to switch.)
- I make a schedule for each girl, telling her when she’ll be in hair, M/U, and when I’m shooting her; I request that they arrive NO LATER than fifteen minutes before the earliest time on their schedule.
- I make a separate schedule for me and my hair and M/U girls, that’s easier for us to follow. (I now put thumbnail head shots next to each girl’s name so my stylists and assistant know who each girl is when they see her.) Here’s an example, from the party booked from the above flyer (so no thumbnails, because I started that after this party—because of it, in fact):
2-3 days before the party/marathon:
- Print the schedules
- Print invoices for each client
- Write all of my checks (stylists, location, assistant…)
- Paperclip each check and invoice to the appropriate schedule and put it all in a folder.
- Make a checklist of things to take with me, and clip that to the front of my folder.
1-2 days before the party/marathon:
I send one last email explaining/reminding:
- directions and parking info
- what to expect when they arrive
- how long they can expect to stay
- what to bring, and what they won’t need because I’ll already have it there
- that I’ll have an assistant collecting payment when they arrive,
- that I have a printed invoice for them (if they’d like an emailed copy, they can just ask…)
- that I accept cash, checks, and credit cards (using Square)
The day of the party:
- I have my assistant ride with me so we can go over everything.
- I hand out schedules and checks to my stylists and assistant when we arrive, and we all start setting up. (I handle lights and camera stuff, my assistant handles the food and drinks.)
- My assistant gives each client her schedule and invoice when she arrives, and collects payment from each
During the party:
- Once I’m set up, I kind of wander around aimlessly, snacking and drinking and chatting with whoever is there. I “check the light” a lot, in various areas around the location, to get the girls used to having the camera out while they’re half-undressed (because, as their info email told them to, they took their jeans off when they arrived, and they’re sitting around in silky robes).
- Once we start, things just kind of flow: I shoot, and I direct wardrobe questions to my assistant. She’s great at getting them relaxed and laughing, and I often end up shooting them while they’re laughing at her, and then having her walk with us to wherever we’re shooting, so they stay relaxed instead of tensing up.
- I always schedule breaks for myself, but I usually end up forgetting to take them. I DO remember to snack and drink in-between, at least….
For the party I’ve been using samples from, I booked five mini-TWO’s and one mini-ONE, plus one steeply-discounted session for a girl who has been wanting to do this for a really long time, but who really couldn’t afford me (but who had lots of friends who can, and now have…!). Honestly, I don’t think I’d have wanted any more than that for that day. If I’d gotten more interest (which I would have if I’d posted about it 4-6 weeks out, like I should have, instead of three weeks out), I’d have added a second day. (I’ve done nine girls at one party three times now, and I ended up sick each time, and I really don’t want to do that again….)
That’s about all I can think of right now, but please feel free to ask in the comments below if you have a question I didn’t answer, and if you have tips to add, please do so!