Perhaps you’re an aspiring makeup artist, just starting out, or you’ve been slogging away for the longest time and can’t work out what you’re doing wrong? Standing out in this ever growing industry can feel like a daunting task, and trust me, I’ve been there. I know how it feels… lonely, frustrating and expensive! From building your kit to getting yourself to different places, the cost of freelancing adds up quickly, and while I have no doubt you love what you do, I’m confident you’d probably love to earn some money, hell even a lot doing the very thing you love.

When I started out (nearly fourteen years ago) I had no idea that tags, seo stratergies and branding would become a part of my everyday life, but here we are! While you’ll be pleased to hear its not just about social media, I thought it might be helpful to share a few things I really believe have helped me move to Los Angeles, create the work I love, with my dream clients and get paid to do it.

1. Get specific about your goals

I fully appreciate at this point you might be thinking, ‘well I’m happy to do it all, hair makeup, special effects, body painting, remedial camouflage, you name it I’ll do it because I need the opportunity and the money’. What I’m asking you is to think about what it is you’re working towards and start to consider the big goal. What is it about the industry you dream of? Identify your big goals. Write it down, say it out loud, believe you can achieve it and then start to break down the steps that will get you closer tot the main goal/s. by creating mini goals that’ll get you closer to the big goal/s.  The truth is if you are always doing everything, and you dream of just working in music with artists, then it’s going to take you a lot longer to get to that goal when you’re not prioritising the steps that will get you there. Seek out the people and opportunities that get you closer to the dream and take action now. The more specific you are about your goals the quicker you will get noticed.

2. Collaborate

I recently heard the term collaboration over competition and it really stood out to me. There’s a huge myth going around that there’s this small pool of success thats only available to a select few and that there’s not enough success to go around! I call BS. As far as I’m concerned the more you give, the more you receive. Collaboration goes beyond collaborating with creatives in a work setting and building your book. Join Facebook groups with other makeup artists, talk about your kits, share what products and techniques work for you. The make up artists I’ve learnt the most from have been incredibly generous with their knowledge and they’ve only ever got more successful from doing so. By collaborating you’re also so much more likely to get recommended by other muas, it does happen I promise!

3. Think Of Instagram as An Extension Of Your Portfolio

The truth nowadays is that social media is one easy click to see who is doing what, who they’re working with and what they have to offer. I mention Instagram because its a visual platform and while I totally get it if you have a thing for twitter ,Instagram is an instant way for potential clients to see you’re work, and more often than not they’ll be more tempted to search your name on Insta than a google search if they’re trying to find you. At the very least make sure your instagram bio states you are a makeup artist and include a link to your makeup website, if you want to link to multiple platforms, perhaps you have a youtube channel too then use something like Linktree so you can direct people to what they’re looking for. Remember this is free advertising so make sure your best work is showcased here, use it to show what you excel at, why someone should book you, curate it like you would your book. Keep it professional, if you want to include personal/random stuff start a separate personal account that you can make private.

4. Know Your brand

You are a brand, whether you like it or not, that’s a word you’re going to have to get comfortable with. Keep this in mind when you’re on set, when you’re around people that are considering whether they will hire you again/recommend you. Think about it in terms of your social media too, be clear on what your brand looks like? Is it that you specialise in vegan beauty? Are you the best in the biz at graphic liner? Do you create flawless looking skin, think about what people will say about you and how you want to be known, in one way or another this is your brand. Be bold and let people know what you do best. Also think about how you arrive to each job and your demeanor, are you calm and collected or frantic and messy? First impressions count, be the best you you can be.

5. Attack Your Weaknesses

Think about the things that are currently holding you back, make a list and think of ways you can address them/make improvements? Perhaps you’re not the best at time management? If thats the case practice leaving early even when you don’t have to, set multiple alarm clocks, do whatever it takes. If its a practical skill such as symmetrical eyeliner then practice at it until you’re the best at it, make sure you’re standing out because you’re great at something as opposed to being ok at it or worse not great at it. If there’s things you’re not great at, get help with them, take courses, go to masterclasses and learn from the people you look up to. Maybe you want to work on your self belief or your confidence?  You could join a meet up group or get a fun activity where you meet new people. Perhaps you’re not great at keeping on top of your tax returns and need some help, look into an accountant or if you can’t afford it try using an app like Quick Books or something that does most of the hard work for you. Whatever you’re struggling with, its time to face it and go about changing it.

6. Get organised

This is a general one, but I want to get specific about your kit. A well organised kit is the difference between a good makeup artist and a great makeup artist, It doesn’t matter how big or small it is just as long as it works for you. The perfect kit is one that you can get out and pack up quickly and should not over complicate how you work. The main reason for keeping it organised is to make you more efficient and better at your job. I recommend developing a system that really works for you that you can personalise so you feel confident when you’re with a client, not sat staring into the abyss of a ginormous suitcase laid out on the floor thinking where the hell do I start? Go to every shoot with a game plan. Is there a moodpboard? Do you know what the model/celebrity is wearing? Use all the information you can get to help you prepare for each job to be seamless. Plan out a few ideas before you arrive at the shoot, take drawings with you, references of your own. Show initive and that you really care about this job/client.

Rethink Your portfolio, ask yourself how often you are updating your work? Make sure you’re people (namely potential clients) can see all your amazing new work. In the same way we talked about knowing your brand, apply this to your website, if you’re current website has a million drop down menus and isn’t obvious if you’re even a makeup artist, address that. A client should be able to tell just from looking at your homepage what you do and what you specialise in. I also have a digital portfolio on my iPad as it makes it really easy to tailor your portfolio to specific clients and edit with ease. I’ll cover this in another blog post soon. Until then, keep going. You’ve got this.

Photos Kayla Varley. All Makeup By Me