Freelance Makeup Artist

How to Become a Makeup Artist

If you’re considering pursuing a career as a makeup artist, then you may have considered being a freelance makeup artist.

Being a freelance makeup artist can be considered a very glamorous lifestyle… you can choose your clients, set your hours and pay rate, create a brand for yourself and even travel the world! If you’re just starting your career as a makeup artist, the world of freelance makeup artists can seem daunting (and don’t get us wrong, finding jobs can be intimidating!) however never fear… it takes some hard work and determination and with a little bit of hustle, you can become your own boss as a makeup artist.

To become a freelance makeup artist, you’ll need to:

Understand your skills.

A certification and some real work experience will be invaluable as you commence your career as a MUA. You want to make sure to hone your skills as much as possible. Consider the following to help you find a niche:

  • Do you specialise in a form of makeup?
  • What is your favourite sort of client?
  • What do you offer that other makeup artists aren’t offering as well/aren’t as skilled at?

To be a successful freelance makeup artist, you’ll also need to have some serious organisational skills. To earn a decent living and get a decent client portfolio, you’ll need to keep track of your time to ensure you turn a profit. Being your own boss may sound glamorous but it takes hard work, management and a basic understanding of how to run a business.

Without an understanding of how to run a business, you’ll risk ruining your reputation as an artist if you’re unable to maintain a full book of clients. Although being your own boss is somewhat of a dream scenario for a lot of makeup artists, with great power comes great responsibility! So, before you venture into the world of freelance makeup, make sure you’re prepared for:

  • Having a strong work ethic. Others often fail to mention how essential it is to be a hard worker, but it’s the honest truth. Running any business is not easy and being a self-employed makeup artist is no difference. Be prepared to hustle, make a name for yourself and work hard to get clients. You must be truly passionate about makeup to be a hard working makeup artist. There will be long days, stressful situations and you’ll always be pushing your creativity to the next level.
  • Having strong technical knowledge. Keeping up with the latest trends is only the half of it! You’ll need to be consistently updating your know-how if latest trends and techniques, plus you’ll need to be savvy with promoting yourself on social media.

Develop a strong toolkit.

Your professional kit is your livelihood as a freelance makeup artist will be one of the biggest keys to your success. Many new makeup artists are surprised to learn how much they may need to invest into building their toolkit. This can understandably be a big source of stress – especially if you are still studying to be a qualified makeup artist or paying off a student debt!

However, this is a necessary part of the job as a freelance makeup artist and of course, you’ll want to invest in good quality products. High quality palettes and skincare products are certainly not cheap, plus you’ll need plenty of high quality brushes and of course, hygiene supplies to make sure every client’s face that your products come into contact with is given the highest level of cleanliness to avoid cross contamination and spread of infections.

You’ll also need to have a vast range of specialist products to ensure you’re prepared for every occasion, not just the basics!

Tip: Many retailers have makeup artist discount programs that will take a percentage off the price of your order when you buy lots of products at once. Even so, this can still add up so make sure you factor this into your business budget. Make sure too to speak to your accountant to learn exactly what you can claim when it comes time to submit your personal tax return and Business Activity Statement (BAS).

Know your limits & set appropriate boundaries.

Of course, you’ll want to have as many clients as possible. The more the merrier! But, when you’re just starting out you’ll need to use your time wisely and use each client as an opportunity to get a true sense of how long a job takes, how to factor in your travel time and where to set your profitability margins. You might be able to fit 10 clients in a day if you rush… but if rushing lessens the quality of your work, this can ruin your reputation so you would be better off fitting fewer clients in and taking more time (thus giving you a better reputation in the long run and increasing your ability to charge more for your time as your skills grow).

In terms of setting boundaries, you should also know the limits of your skillset and work accordingly. For instance, maybe your strengths aren’t in bridal makeup… whilst you may be tempted to take every job even if you’re not the best at it, you also have an ethical responsibility to ensure you’re only giving the highest quality work. Take this as an opportunity to build your skills on practice clients (these can be family and friends!) before you take on too much work in an area you’re not as strong in.

Remember, too – saying ‘no’ to one client allows you to say ‘yes’ to another client that may be a better fit.

Hustle, baby!

Your killer work ethic is going to come in very handy here! If you’re going to be freelance, you need to learn to be assertive. There are plenty of ways to find clients, so get creative and have a pitch prepared. For instance, you may wish to:

  • Reach out to models and photographers
  • Approach wedding venues (who have connections in the bridal industry)
  • Approach another makeup artist and set up a joint referral agreement with each other
  • Approach hair salons
  • Put out an ad on Gumtree or Facebook groups
  • Ask family and friends to refer you
  • Set up as an exhibitor at bridal, hair, beauty and fashion expos.

You’ll also want to make sure you maintain an active and strong online presence to help existing clients find and refer you, and new clients to discover you. Social media is a great starting point, however we also strongly recommend that you develop an online portfolio to showcase your work. This also adds an element of professionalism that social media alone can’t give you (as social media is filled with makeup artists without a qualification… and you definitely want to separate yourself as a professional!)

In the makeup industry in particular, word of mouth will be a key element to your success as a makeup artist. Clients that are happy with your work will tell friends and family, and you can ask them to leave you positive reviews online. This is also why it’s important to quickly define your niche and focus on honing your skills in one particular area of makeup!

Always be learning.

The best makeup artists are always learning and evolving their skills to stay ahead of the curve. When makeup trends become popular, clients will come to you wanting you to create them so you’ll need to be up to date and bringing your creative flair to every trend that your clients request. So, never assume that once you’re qualified that you’re done learning… there’s always more to learn and new ways to improve! Continuous improvement and skills advancement will also help ensure that you’re always in demand and relevant.

The freelance life isn’t always easy and it certainly isn’t for everyone… but for those who crave independence and full control over their career, the opportunities are only limited by what you can imagine and how hard you’re willing to work to get it!

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