If you’re pursuing a career in makeup artistry, you’ve very likely considered freelancing (of course you have). Becoming a freelance makeup artist is highly desirable – you can set your own hours and pay rate, choose your clients, and build a fabulous brand that you can be proud of. What’s not to love?
But everyone who’s earned their makeup certification is in the same boat as you. Actually landing those freelance makeup artistry jobs is hard when everyone’s fighting for work.
Don’t worry – we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to becoming a freelance makeup artist, so you’ll have all the skills you need to start out. Plus, you’ll know how to stay on top of new makeup trends and practices.
1. Learn how to do makeup properly
A certification and some experience under your belt are invaluable as you start your career as a makeup artist. Hone your skills as much as possible through makeup classes online or offline. Formal education isn’t necessary for many aspiring artists around the world. But it can pull you ahead when you’re neck-in-neck with another artist who lacks professional makeup training.
2. Reflect on your services and makeup skills
The key to reflection is being honest with yourself. When you’ve just graduated from a makeup school, you’ve probably got a decent skill set that’s work-ready. But you’ve still got some ways to go before you can call yourself a master in the industry. Ask yourself these questions: What are you good at? What are you not good at? Where can you improve? What’s one thing you can offer that other makeup artists in your area can’t?
In addition to practical skills, you’ll also need the following things to succeed:
Organizational skills: These are huge when it comes to managing your time, keeping track of your clients, and ensuring you turn a profit in freelance jobs. Think about it – if you can’t keep a proper schedule of your appointments, you could end up being late, or missing them altogether. This will affect your reputation as a makeup artist, and you’ll lose clients in the process. And if you can’t keep an organized budget, how will you know if you’re actually making money? What if you’re undercharging for your makeup services or overspending in other areas? Being your own boss sounds like a dream, but it takes an extremely organized individual to be fully responsible for themselves, their business, and their clients.
Work ethic: Having a strong work ethic is an essential aspect of freelance makeup artistry that isn’t mentioned enough. Any business owner must work hard. But in the makeup industry, you’ll need to work even harder. Prepare to really hustle as you build a name for yourself. You’ll need to master the art of networking and marketing so you can gain important experience and grow your client list. The good news is, if you’re passionate about your career, this will be a labour of love and a journey you’ll enjoy. Be honest with yourself about the work involved – your current lifestyle will change and your freelance makeup jobs will become the priority, so know what you’re getting yourself into.
Tech Knowledge: You don’t need to be totally tech-savvy to become a makeup artist, but you certainly need to be comfortable with social media and online culture. If you don’t already have a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, create accounts as soon as you can. The same goes for a professional website—this is the central hub where all your marketing will point to. It’s where people will look first to find out your story and book their appointments.
Professional makeup artistry portfolio: Every reputable makeup artist needs a standalone makeup portfolio (that’s not on Instagram). Invest in a good camera or arrange a shoot with others. Fashion stylists, hair stylists, photographers, and set designers who are also in the early stages of their careers may be willing to trade their skills for professional photos.
3. Build your professional makeup kit
A makeup artist kit is a professional MUA’s most prized possession. As a result, it can be a huge source of stress for newly certified makeup artists who know how much of an investment these products can be. Those colour palettes and skincare products are certainly not cheap. However, building a professional makeup kit is a necessary evil. You’ll need to show up to every appointment with items such as quality brushes, a range of eye shadows, lipsticks, foundations, and cleaning products.
Thankfully, most makeup certification courses will include a free makeup kit at the beginning of your makeup training. You’ll gain a head start on putting together a professional makeup kit while getting used to working with larger palettes and your various professional tools.
Organizing your kit is an excellent step on the road to becoming a freelance makeup artist. You want your clients to come to you, and you don’t want them to find you unprepared. There are many ways to build your kit on a budget, and a good number of products that can be purchased at the drugstore rather than at your local Sephora. The plus side of being thrifty while building your kit? You’ll gain invaluable experience with a variety of different products, and will develop a sense of which ones to splurge on and where to save.
4. Set boundaries for your makeup business
When first starting out, many novice makeup artists make the mistake of taking on as many clients and freelance makeup jobs as possible.
However, you don’t want to burn out. And you certainly don’t want to overbook yourself and run the risk of mixing up appointments.
Just as we’ve mentioned above, be honest about your makeup artistry skills and the sorts of services you’d be comfortable offering. Perhaps you’re comfortable with airbrush makeup, glamour makeup, and everyday makeup applications, but bridal makeup has never been your strength (or your passion). Guess what? You can say no to bridal clients. Heck, you can even be picky about bridal parties and wedding themes.
This may seem counter-intuitive to an aspiring freelance makeup artist. After all, you’re responsible for attracting your own business. But saying no can actually be a smart move. When you say no to a client, you’ll free up your time to take on other clients with whom you do want to work. You’ll be much more likely to do your best work if you’re focused on a few specializations, and this will build your reputation and client base quickly through word-of-mouth.
So, consider these boundaries as a stepping stone to becoming the best freelance makeup artist you can be. A good understanding of your own strengths and interests will serve you well in the industry and can result in more clients and a happier career.
5. Be assertive
This is where your work ethic comes in handy. In order to land those freelance makeup jobs, you’ll need to be assertive. There are several ways to find new clients, including reaching out to models and photographers who are looking for a makeup artist, approaching event and wedding venues, wedding planners, hair salons, and even doing makeup for your friends and family. Never underestimate the power of industry connections.
In addition to pounding the pavement this way, maintain an active online presence. You’ll increase the visibility of your makeup business to potential clients. And if you’re looking to network with other professionals, you’ll show them that you’re not just sitting around. Schedule an hour or two each day to add new photos to your website and social media accounts, chat with potential clients, and network online.
Keep in mind that word-of-mouth is a key element to a successful career in makeup. A client who is happy with your work will tell her friends about you or share a review on your Facebook page. Be sure to have business cards at the ready so those happy clients can pass along your information, and encourage them to follow you on social media. These kinds of referrals can seriously impact your career as a makeup artist, and quickly. That’s why it’s so important to focus on the kind of makeup that you’re passionate about (and good at), as you’ll build a reputation for being a highly skilled makeup artist. Good news travels fast.
6. Stay current with makeup trends and keep learning
The best makeup artists are those who are one step ahead of new makeup trends, and who keep developing their skills. Just resting on your laurels isn’t good enough. There’s always going to be someone out there who wants to make it big and is willing to put in the work. Just because you’ve hit a groove in your makeup career and you are earning a steady income doesn’t mean you should ever slow down. Clients are going to expect you to be on top of beauty trends and be in the know about the latest makeup looks and newest colour palettes. They’ll be impressed at your commitment to improvement as a makeup artist, so don’t hesitate to enroll in more makeup artistry courses that will increase your skill-set.
If you continue learning and stay relevant, you’ll soon find that you’re well ahead of the competition. As a freelance makeup artist, this is where you want to be—it sets your services and knowledge apart from those around you. So keep building and sharpening those skills.