makeup artist business, business coach, makeup artist blog, makeup artist business tips, sue mclaurin makeup artist

How to Stand Out in an Overcrowded Space

I’ve been chatting with a lot of makeup artists recently, and they’ve been telling me their dreams for their makeup artist business, why they want to achieve that dream and what’s holding them back.  One of the things I’m hearing a lot, is that artists are struggling to stand out in this “overcrowded” space.  To be honest, I’m not really sure the space IS overcrowded…  although I agree it certainly appears that way.  The increase in social media means that our “competition” is very visible, not only their profiles on Instagram, but we can also judge by the number of responses to every facebook post where someone is looking for a makeup artist. It can appear as though this “overcrowding” leads to price competition, which in the end, nobody wins!

Why competing on price is a bad idea

I have written a lot about price competition, (see my post on setting your rates HERE), and while there will always be those clients who try to find the cheapest artist, there are also those who value a luxury, professional service.  Just like there are those who buy their clothes in Target and Supre while others shop in high-end department stores and designer boutiques. There is a client for every makeup artist, and every price point, it’s simply a matter of knowing who your ideal client is, and finding her.

fashion, fashion photography, adrift clothing, sue mclaurin makeup artist, rachel jackson photography

Yes, there’s definitely a lot more makeup artists around (thanks to the Australian government’s VET fee help program, YouTube, and heck, lets blame the Kardashian’s too (you know, for popularizing contouring and all that), BUT, there are also a lot more women and girls looking for makeup artists to do their makeup now.  When I started out 16 years ago, it was pretty rare for girls to have their makeup done for their formal, let alone have a TRIAL…  and a significant part of my business now is regular women having makeup done for special occasions.  So while there is definitely an increase in the number of makeup artists out there, there is also an increase in demand for our services.

How can you stand out?

Competition will always be there, and in order to be a successful artist, you need to find a way to stand out, and the best way to do that is not to follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing (unless you are the BEST it’s hard to get noticed), but to do something different, something unique, something YOU.  I have talked before about avoiding “comparitis”, and I think it deserves a reminder:  Focus on what YOU are doing, and what you can control.  You can’t control what other artists are doing, or their clients. Stay in your lane, focus on YOUR makeup business, and your strengths.

1.  Determine your Unique Selling Point, or your Point of Difference

Marketing gurus talk all about your “unique selling point”, your “personal branding”, and it is important to look at these parts of your business, because this is how you will stand out.  Ultimately, what it comes down to is providing VALUE.  Focus on the value that you are providing to your clients, both existing, and potential clients.

So what is it about YOU and your business that is different and unique? Imagine that your prospective client is sitting across from you and asks you “Why should I book you?”  Know the VALUE of the service you provide to your clients, is it your years of experience? Your on-trend knowledge? The high-end products in your kit? You luxury studio?  Your customer service or listening skills?  Even if you are just starting out, you need to identify what that is.  Determine that value, and actively communicate that to your prospective clients, through your social media, and also your networking and direct communication.

2.  Show your prospective clients the “real you”

People will do business with those they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST.  One way to develop your “KLT” (know, like, trust) factor is to let your prospective clients get to know you as a person. Give them a glimpse into your life… people are interested!  They do want to know you.  This can be as simple as putting up pictures of yourself on your social media pages. I don’t necessarily mean to show a makeup look that you’ve done on yourself, but to give them an idea of WHO YOU ARE as a real person.  For example, a couple of weeks ago, my son had his Grade 12 formal (this is the Australian version of a Prom, for my North American readers).  I put a photo of the two of us on my Instagram page, and this image has had DOUBLE the number of likes of any of the 5 posts before and 5 posts after it.  (I actually had no idea that post would perform so well, and I didn’t even think about it consciously when I posted it.)

#proudmummy !!

Allow your clients to get to know you as a person, as well as an artist. Let them like YOU as well as your work… Your clients are a lot more likely to trust you when they know YOU as a person, and not just your work.  As artists it is easy to almost hide behind our work, remember that old saying “My work speaks for itself”?  As makeup artists we get right up close and personal with our clients, we are touching their face, so always remember there needs to be that element of trust there also.

Of course, this doesn’t mean every second picture you post needs to be of you, your kids, dog or cat, but I think its important to show your real self every now and then.  This could even be on Insta-stories, or doing a Facebook live.  One of my coaching clients was recently very brave and posted a “before and after” of herself, with her problem skin, and again, this image has almost double the engagement of the last 10 images in her feed…

So I invite you to post something real and see what sort of response you get!  Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to check out your posts.

3.  Develop your “tribe” of “raving fans”

One of the best ways to stand out is because of your excellent customer service, which will ensure your clients keep coming back to you, AND that they are likely to refer you to their friends and family too.  Developing “raving fans” is a sure fire way to create a sustainable business.  I have been fortunate over my long career to have many clients who have become “regular” clients, and who often refer me to their friends and family.

Just last weekend I did two weddings, both of which were booked because the bride had been a bridesmaid in a previous wedding where I had done the makeup (actually, at the first wedding, the lady who referred me, Annabelle had been in my chair three times before, twice she was a bridesmaid for friends, and once was her wedding, and this time she was a bridesmaid at the wedding of her sister).

Annabelle and her bridal party in 2015 (Photo: Nicola Lemmon)

You might be the best makeup artist in town, but if you’re unreliable, late, or don’t look after your clients, you can bet they won’t hire you again or refer you to their friends!

Once you have some “raving fans” then leverage their support.  ASK them to leave you a review on Facebook or Google.  Ask them to refer you to their friends (you could even incentivise them to do so).

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What can you do to provide better customer service to your clients? What can YOU do to develop and display your personal brand?  What is different about YOU as an artist and as a business person?  Think about WHY your clients should book you?  What is it about you and your business that could be attractive to your potential clients?  Why should a client choose you rather than someone else?  If the only reason you can think of is that you are cheaper than the next artist, you need to think a little harder!

When you have determined your point of difference, its time to stand out and communicate that difference – and take an active approach to growing your business.  So many artists seem to be taking the “passive” approach, putting up their beautiful images on Instagram and waiting for their clients to come to them.  If you’re doing that, its all too easy to get caught up in the numbers game, and explain your lack of clients on your low follower count.  Remember, followers do not necessarily mean dollars, or clients.  Know your value, and the value that you provide to your clients.  Go out there and tell the world!


I hope this post has been helpful!  Please feel free to share it on your Facebook page if you think it could help your friends too.

Photo credits:
Rachel Jackson Photography
Nicola Lemmon Photography

and… My ex-husband…