The Academy of Make-up Guide to Starting as a Freelancer

Posted on January 01 2016

1. Don’t Wait, Do It Now

One of the things that holds us back when we are starting an ew venture is the belief that we’re not quite ready yet. The feeling that if we were only to learn a few more techniques or skills we would be at the stage to begin. The thing to understand is that everyone, no matter how qualified or experienced they are, still has scope to learn develop and change. everyone had to start somewhere the key is to get started.

2. Give Yourself a Start Date

You could just walk out onto the street with a big sign saying ‘I do make-up” and start offering make-up to people, but it might not be the best way to start things. By giving yourself a definite start date it gives you time to organise as many of the important details as you can before introducing yourself to the world as a new and brilliant make-up artist. Sit down and sketch out all of the different things you will need to do before getting started. This will likely include setting up a website, getting business cards made, getting adequate insurance and any other things along these lines. then tell people your start date, anything to give you bit of momentum to insure you stick to your plan.

3. Analyse yourself and where you want to sit in the market

It’s always tempting to want to offer every service and cater for every style, and although that’s something that you’re capable of it actually makes it harder to attract business that way. A good way to think about it is to think of a coffee shop. They sell cakes, sandwiches, biscuits and all other sorts of things, but their main drive is the cup of coffee. So with that in mind think about the sort of make-up artist you are and would like to be. Make this the main focus of everything you do. Wether you want to specialise in weddings, editorial, fashion or all out modern art the more that you can project that type of work out to possible clients the more likely you are going to attract that type of work. This doesn’t mean that you can’t make the occasional bit of extra money on a job that sits outside your main focus, but just be wary of feeding that work into your portfolio.

4. Ask for help and advice

We can’t always know and do everything ourselves, so asking for help is a must. Tell your friends and family about your new business, they might know people who would need your services. Talk to people you know who are doing well with their business, email make-up artists whose work you like and ask about assisting or if they can talk to you about what they did when they were starting out. Get in touch with photographers, fashion designers, graphic designers, wedding planners or anyone who can help you get to where you want to be. They might not be able to give you exactly what you want, but they might be able to help in some other way. Just make sure that your correspondence is never too pushy and that you show gratitude for any responses that you get. Even just reading up on different successful artists and their journeys can give you ideas of avenues to take.

5. Get Out There and Grab Opportunities

There are a number of different ways to make and grab opportunities. Keep a close eye on your local calendars for events, wedding shows, fashion shows, degree shows, photographic exhibitions, theatrical performance and make connections with people whose work falls in line with what you’re doing. You might also pick up leads from business breakfast meet ups It can feel daunting going up to a stranger and talking to them, but simply saying hi, introduce yourself, compliment their work and give them a business card and who knows where that will take you. University or College Degree or end of year shows are a great place to meet new fashion designers and photographers who are just starting out and looking to work with other skilled creatives.

6. Build Your Portfolio / Be Picky

Get in touch with photographers, stylists and models that fit your style of make-up and organise some test shoots. It’s always good to meet with the photographer and the stylist before hand to discuss the ideas, look and feel behind the shoot. Creating images should be a collaboration between everyone involved, so talk about your ideas and where you are aiming creatively. Throughout your career you’ll grow attached to images you create and inexplicably hate work that is brilliant, but it’s important that you approach your work with an objective judgmental eye and get the opinions of other people you trust.

Here are a number of questions you should ask yourself about every image that is in your portfolio every time you add new work.

  1. Does this image express me as an artist?
  2. Will this image bring me work that I am interested in?
  3. Is the make-up good enough.
  4. Is the photography and the quality of the image enough?
  5. Does the model suit the style of work I am going for (are they commercial, fashion, ETC.)?
  6. Are the clothes right/in fashion?

7. Build A Website / Be Picky

These days there are lots of free and low-cost portfolio building websites out there such as WIX, Format, Square Space, Krop and Cargo Collective, so it’s easier than ever to get your work organised and viewable by potential clients and collaborators. A temptation when building a website is to make a lot different galleries and pages to show off all of the different things that you can do, but most of the time visitors to your webpage will be short on time, so keep the number of galleries and pages to a minimum. Ideally you want to have a slideshow or gallery of your very best work on the first page, so that visitors get wowed immediately without having to click lots of times.

It’s also good to keep the layout quite simple without any flashing or ornate illustrations, buttons or backgrounds. The work is the most important thing here.

Here are some handy web building tips

  1. Use a portfolio hosting site that has a mobile friendly layout option if you can.
  2. Keep it as simple as you possibly can.
  3. Have contact information and social media links in the footer or header of every page
  4. Get someone else to look through your website for mistakes, broken links, spelling mistakes and to make sure the tone of voice is right. Don’t use any negative language if you can or put yourself down.

8. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

One of the biggest missteps freelancers make when they’re starting out is underselling themselves. If you are working as a bridal or evening make-up artist remember to factor in all your costs: make-up, travel expenses, website running costs, printing costs of business cards, rental costs and the money you’ve invested in your education. You are offering an amazing service and being a make-up artist takes a lot more skill and knowledge than it’s sometimes given credit for, so don’t sell yourself short. Always be aware about how much you’re making per hour. In some situations you may be asked to work for free, but take time to make sure that it’s really worth it, because inevitably you’ll end up out of pocket. Will it help your CV? Is it experience that would really help you hone a particular skill? Is everyone else working for free? Do you believe in the project? If it does seem worthwhile try and at least get your expenses covered.

9. Plan as much as you can

Plan, try and stick to it and then keep planning. Draw up a projection of where you want to be in the future with a rough idea of how long it will take you to get there. Use questions like ‘how many clients do I want to have?”, “what magazine do I want my work published in?”, “how much money do I want to make?” and then work backwards.

10. Feel Free to Say No

Saying yes is brilliant and the more you can say it the more opportunities you are opening up for yourself. Every once in a while, however, you might find yourself in a situation with a client or a collaborator that just doesn’t work for you. It’s okay to say no.

Some bonus thoughts

Having extra skills and knowledge helps too. There are a number of other skills that you can learn that could help you as a make-up artist. Having a preliminary understanding of photography and retouching, marketing, accounts, public speaking. Business gateway offers help and many resources for free and also advice on funding for new start ups. So it might be worth while getting in-touch to speak to an advisor on what’s on offer in your local area.




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