I recently asked a group of seasoned professional photographers if they could change my mind on how I feel about running giveaways for mini sessions. I believe that while giveaways do help build email lists, the cons of a giveaway are that they can make full-price clients upset, can create the perception that you are giving away a spot you were unable to fill, and the winner may not value the free session.
Almost all of the professionals I polled agreed with me. However, one very savvy photographer disagreed. She has a history of selling out her mini sessions every time, and she said that timing is everything. If to promote mini sessions, "do the giveaway as a way to create buzz before you announce your session dates/times. Then, no one gets mad." Brilliant idea! I will add that in this case, it's much more likely for non-winners to book session spots after the giveaway ends than if you gave away an unfilled spot the week the sessions are to take place.
Mini Session Giveaway Pros:
Can help build your email list (only if you require an email address to enter)
Mini Session Giveaway Cons:
May upset full-pay clients
Create perception that you cannot fill your bookings
Winner may not value free gift
BUT, TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
What is your view? Have you had success with mini session giveaways? If so, how did you structure them?