Before considering a career as a makeup artist, you must do field research. That’s the primary way to avoid pitfalls. Is there room in your geographical area for another makeup artist? What is the competition like? Are you willing to travel for, say, a wedding? How far? Is your car dependable? If you don’t want to travel, is your city big enough for you to get the client base you need?
Also get the scoop on pay in your area. It will vary, even in one town, depending on your clientele. Working for a wedding planner, you will make more than working for a mall photography shop. Find out what the highest and lowest income opportunities are.
Freelance or Corporate: Perks and Pitfalls
If your research gives you a green light, the next step is to decide between the freelance life and the employee life.
Working for a company, perhaps being a sales rep for your favorite cosmetics brand, or being the on-call makeup artist for a film production company, you can count on a regular paycheck and perhaps even benefits.
Joining the growing group of freelancers, you’ll need to spend at least 50% of your work day on marketing yourself.
In either case – freelance or corporate – the next step is to become accredited.
Get the information on the legal, health, and educational certification required by your state, county, or town. Take classes from an accredited beauty school (many have generous scholarship programs).
How to Get Work
Now you’re ready for the most critical part of becoming a professional makeup artist: marketing yourself.
If you want to work for a company, you can send resumes to spas, beauty salons, and specific cosmetic companies. Once you get a job, you are on your way to a career. You can make contacts, work your way up in the organization, acquire mentors, and get that most magical benefit of all – experience. If you get a job with a specific cosmetic company, they may require you to take additional classes focusing on their products. Usually they will pay for that.
A plum job with great pay would be one with a special effects makeup company that does film and television work. Getting that job will require additional training, lots of pavement pounding, and living in the right city. L.A., Atlanta, Chicago, and New York are important film industry hubs. Other cities, like Austin, Texas, attract film professionals, but these people often bring their own makeup artists with them.
Choosing the freelance route means that self-promotion becomes a way of life. But once you reach a point where you have a little bit of paying work, you’ll find that word of mouth will exponentially increase your customer base.
Freelancing: Special Considerations
As a freelance makeup artist, you can approach wedding planners, photography studios, film production companies, ad agencies, and theatrical groups. Make sure, too, that all talent agencies in your area know about you.
You’re creative – that’s one reason you’re going into the makeup profession. And you can use that creative mind to make a list of marketing ideas. Here are a few to get you going:
- Print up business cards and always have them on you. Leave them with everyone you meet during the day.
- Join a networking group. These groups are extremely effective. You’ll meet perhaps once a month either for lunch or happy hour (some troopers have breakfast meetings!), and there will usually be an agenda, followed by a social time of mingling. Some networking groups are free, some charge a fee. If you’re just starting your networking experience, definitely join the free groups. You will have to pay for your meal and drinks, though.
- Walk tall and exude success. It always shows. Read books on your own. Study magazines. Try makeup techniques on your friends and read makeup sites on the Internet. Get your confidence up as high as it will go!
- Make a list of all your contacts. You have more than you realize. Friends, your accountant, your church or social groups, the shopkeepers you see regularly. Don’t worry, you’re not going to hassle these people. But you can send them a cute postcard announcing the opening of your new makeup business.
- Which brings us to the next item. Print up some eye-catching postcards (you can do it on your computer), and send them out. Always have extras so you can send them to new people as you meet them.
- Get yourself to any and all beauty-related events in your area. Whether it’s a trade show, a trunk show, a store opening, or a book signing, be there with your business cards.
- Put up a website. It’s easy, even if you’ve never done it before. Today, a website is more important than a business card! See Website – Do It Yourself to get started.
- Design and print up a resume-type introduction that you can give to the local spa directors and wedding planners. It must be unique – not bland like a business resume – and colorful. Use your imagination. Make it irresistible.
Today’s Freelance Makeup Artist Needs:
The other requirement of being a freelancer is that you’ll have to stock your own makeup kit. This is an investment, and if you make money, chances are you’ll be able to deduct the costs of your cosmetics.
Many women are going “green” these days, so be sure your makeup kit is filled with earth-friendly, skin-friendly, and non-animal tested products. If you want to specialize and use only vegan products, you could use that as a compelling marketing tool.
Being “known” for a unique niche is also a great way to catch business. You could specialize in makeovers, anti-aging looks, head shots for actors (although many actors prefer to do their own makeup), or runway and catalog makeup for models.
Whether you apply to work for a company or go freelance, remember: there is no guarantee that you will immediately earn enough money to live on. Go into the process with enough money saved up to keep you in the black for at least six to twelve months. And decide ahead of time how long you’re willing to go without clients. Market your services with an organized plan, and be persistent.
Going into the makeup artist business can be an awesome life change – financially and emotionally. Do it with care, do it with intelligence, do it with a plan – and you could be living your dream.