3 Tips for Setting (or reviewing) your Rates

As we move into the new Financial Year (at least here in Australia), this is a great time to think about your rates. What should you be charging?  How do rates differ for different types of work?  And perhaps most importantly, how much is it actually COSTING you to be a makeup artist?  Do you know your numbers?  Remember, if you treat your business like a business, it will pay you like a business. Otherwise, you just have an expensive hobby!

Read on for my top three helpful tips for setting your makeup artistry rates.

  1. What is the job?

Firstly, your rates will depend on the type of job.  Bridal and Special Occasion (formals or proms), are usually charged on a per person (per face) basis.  Commercial jobs, advertising, whether that is print of TV/Video, are usually charged at a day rate, or half day rate.  Quoting per face for commercial jobs could show you aren’t experienced to know the correct way to quote those jobs, so be careful!

With regards to editorial work, most magazines have set rates they will pay makeup artists.  Some Fashion/Beauty magazines do not pay at all, but will accept submissions of fashion or beauty stories, which can be a great way to get exposure (more on that coming soon!).  Some magazines actually charge you to publish your story.

brisbane makeup artist, editorial makeup artist, Sue McLaurin Makeup Artist,

  1. Know your market!

Its important to know what the other artists in your area are charging.  You don’t want to undercut everyone else (which will only make you unpopular and ensure that other artists never refer work to you).  Do your research!  Check out the websites of other artists in your area, many of them will have their rates posted on their sites (especially bridal artists).  You should be able to get an idea of the range of rates, and there will be a range, depending on artist’s experience, and then figure out where your rates should sit.  Even after 15 years in the industry, I still keep an eye on what other artists are charging to make sure my rates are in the right ball-park.

Which brings me to finding out rates when other artists DON’T publish theirs on their website. Please don’t go pretending to be a bride or client and email or call asking for rates.  Its rude and unprofessional.  I would MUCH rather an artist called me and was open and honest about who they are and why they are calling.  Sure, you may come across some artists who don’t want to share that information, but you may also find someone who is happy to give you advice, (and who knows, they may even be looking for an assistant or someone to recommend work to).

brisbane makeup artist, editorial makeup artist, Sue McLaurin Makeup Artist,

  1. Don’t sell yourself short

As tempting as it can be, especially when you are starting out, to drop your rate for a job you really want, or even get tempted by the promise of “exposure”, well, exposure never paid your rent, or put food in your belly.  When I was teaching students would often say they would charge $25 a face while they were still studying, which is probably similar to what someone would get working retail.  However, working retail doesn’t have all the associated costs that freelancing has. Before you set your prices, think about your costs: Tax, Insurance, Kit supplies, Disposables, time spent driving to the client’s location, maintenance and petrol for your car, your ongoing education, electricity to run your computer for internet/emails, your phone, internet service, etc etc etc…  If you’re not sure how much your business is costing you to run, the start of the new financial year is a great time to put some habits into place for recording your expenses so you can gain a clearer idea of where you are spending your money. There are various subscription software services you can use to record your income and expenses, or if you want to keep it simple, an excel spreadsheet works great too. Whatever you decide to use, the important thing is that you are consistent with recording, don’t leave it all to the end of the financial year, putting all your receipts in a shoe box, or it becomes an overwhelming once a year task!

Once you know how much it is costing you to be a makeup artist, then you can work out how many faces you would have to do (or full days, or half days) to cover these costs and make a PROFIT!!  That’s ultimately why we do what we do.  Sure, we love it, but if we’re not making profit, again, we get back to that “just an expensive hobby” thing.

brisbane makeup artist, editorial makeup artist, Sue McLaurin Makeup Artist,


Did you like these tips? Feel free to comment, and share this post if you think others could benefit…  and subscribe to receive my next set of tips too!


Photo Credits:

  1. Real bride Priscilla, Photo: Evernew Studio
  2. Laud Magazine Editorial: Photo: Elisabeth Willis
  3. Elements of Byron campaign, Photo: Alex Buckingham
  4. Stockland North Lakes campaign, Photo: Alex Buckingham







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