As a makeup artist mentor and business coach, I chat with SO many makeup artists and hair stylists who are extremely talented at what they do, who do beautiful makeup and hair, and have loads of happy clients, but they are struggling in their businesses, unsure of where their next clients are coming from, how to charge for certain jobs, how to charge for travel, and all too often I see artists getting stressed out and contemplating leaving the industry and giving up on their dreams.
This breaks my heart!
The reason I left teaching Diploma of Specialised Makeup was because, after 4 years I realised that while we were teaching students how to be great technical makeup artists, who had the knowledge to make their clients look more beautiful, do the latest makeup looks, create monsters, simulate injuries, and what products to buy to stock their kits; what the makeup colleges were NOT teaching their students is how to run a successful freelance business. All too often I was watching talented students give up after just a few years (or even months) because they weren’t earning enough money to support themselves and their families. * Most often, this is NOT the fault of the trainer or the college, but of the curriculum they are obliged to follow.
Seven years ago, I went through a very traumatic separation, and found myself a single mother with two young boys (and a dog) to support (both in private school!! – the boys that is… the dog stayed home with me…) While I was dealing with all the mess that goes with a separation, including anxiety and situational depression, I also had to worry about how I was going to pay my mortgage and feed my family. When I was married, my husband earned a good income, and I never really needed to worry about how much money I was earning as a makeup artist, as it was just “extra” money for our family. But when I was on my own, all that changed. Suddenly it was important that I make enough money, REGULARLY. We all know, being freelancers, it’s usually a “feast or famine” situation when it comes to cashflow, and unfortunately, for a lot of artists, there is more famine than feast!
I have spent the last couple of years learning a lot about success, and what it takes to be successful. I have made my fair share of mistakes, and the biggest lesson I have learned is that while it’s important to be a good artist, and provide great service to my clients, it’s also super important to be a good BUSINESS WOMAN, and to run my business profitably. And that all starts with a good Business Plan.
This week I would like to share three tips on how to become more successful in your business:
1. Treat your business like a business
and it will PAY you like a business. Otherwise you just have an expensive hobby. I can’t remember where I first heard this quote, but it has really stuck with me. A hobby is something you do that you LOVE, but it costs you money. I love adventure sports (mountain biking and kite-surfing primarily) and the equipment can be really expensive, but I ENJOY those activities and never think about making money doing them. That is my hobby.
Too often I see makeup artists in “hobby” mode. They spend so much money on the expensive “equipment” (the latest celebrity-endorsed palette, or something they saw that influencer with over 100k followers on youtube or Instagram using – of course the product was gifted to the influencer, just so that artists watching would rush out and buy it). I get it! Those palettes look so pretty, and we want to have ALL the makeup to impress our clients (and perhaps our makeup artist friends???). But my question is: Does your client book you because of what’s in your kit, or because of what you do to her face? We all learnt colour theory in college, (or I hope you did!) it’s totally possible to mix any colour you want, without having to spend a fortune on EVERY new product that is introduced.
PAY YOURSELF FIRST. Hands up how many of you are putting away 10% of EVERYTHING you earn every week? Here in Australia it’s called Superannuation, and if you have a JOB, your employer is legally required to do that on your behalf, and you can’t touch that money until retirement. (actually it’s 9.5% of your ordinary time earnings, but what’s .5% between friends?)
I did a poll in a couple of makeup artist groups, and found that, less than 25% of artists were making regular contributions to their own retirement fund. Now, I know that when you’re in your 20’s retirement is the furthest thing from your mind, but trust me – blink, and you’ll be 50! The sneaky government recently changed the age when Australians can access their Super funds, and it wouldn’t surprise me if they did it again before you all reach 60. Personally, I can access my Super when I turn 60, but I don’t get a pension until I’m 67. (to find out your dates if you’re in Australia, click here:
And you might now be looking at your Super/retirement account (PLEASE… do this…) and wondering “Have I got enough money in there?” (To find out how much you will “need” in retirement, click here:
I was shocked to learn that to live a “modest” life-style with an income of $27K per year I’d need to have at least $500K in Superannuation. I don’t have anywhere near that, and I fully intend to be living a lifestyle that will cost me more than $27K a year!! (Can’t buy many makeup palettes on THAT income!!)
The bad news is that if you’re a woman, a freelancer, or both, you probably don’t have enough in your Retirement Fund. The Good News is (hopefully) that you still have TIME to rectify things. I strongly urge all freelance makeup artists to sort out their superannuation/retirement fund! If there’s only one thing you get from this post, let this be it. Most Super funds will allow you to BPay into your account. I have a Friday morning ritual, where I add up all the money that has come into my account in the last 7 days, and I transfer 10% of that over to my Super account.
What would you say if you applied for a job and they told you they weren’t going to pay you any superannuation? I’m sure you’d tell them to stick their job, so why do this to yourself? Please Note: I am not a financial advisor, tax agent or accountant, and I strongly recommend you get professional financial advice about your situation before making any investment decisions.
PAY YOUR TAXES! As a freelancer it’s up to YOU to take care of paying your taxes. Have a system in place so that at the end of the financial year you aren’t hit with a horrible bill. Even if you aren’t registered for GST you can contact the tax office and arrange to make voluntary payments throughout the year, or even quarterly, to lessen that burden.
2. Ask for Help
One of the biggest challenges for me in business (and life!!) has been admitting that I can’t do it all alone, I need to know when to ask for help. Athletes have coaches; can you imagine an Olympic athlete, or a Champion Tennis player becoming successful without a coach? Singers have voice coaches, property investors have mentors, stock market investors have brokers, and yet we makeup artists are struggling along, all alone, trying to figure this out for ourselves.
One of the BIG things I learned was that asking for help is NOT a sign of weakness. I’m not sure why I ever thought that, but I suspect it has a lot to do with growing up with an amazing father who could do anything (but never asked for help, even when he needed it!) I learned that I can not be the expert in everything, and in order to get to where I wanted to go, I needed to call in experts to help me, and that is a strength, and what would allow me to become even more successful in my life, and my business.
Do you have a Business Plan? Who is helping you run your business? Whether it help with your accounts and bookwork, your social media, your marketing strategy, setting up your website, there is someone out there who can help you, and take the pressure off so you can concentrate on what you’re best at, being a creative artist who makes people feel good about themselves.
If you’re feeling stuck and not sure how to get to the next level in your business, hire a business coach. I offer 1-on-1 and group coaching for makeup artists, and I love helping other artists feel more in control of their businesses by giving them the tools to focus on what’s important to them. Sometimes what you need is a fresh set of eyes to look at your business from the outside, and help you to work on that Business Plan, and develop strategies to move forward. If you’d like to chat about how I can help you in your business, please reach out.
3. Take Time-out to avoid Burn-out
This is a big one! As makeup artists we are often working weekends, and if you’ve got a “day job” as well, during the busy season, you might find you’re working for weeks on end without a day off. I try to take at least ONE day each week, where I totally switch off. No social media, no jobs, no answering enquiries. Yes, I have missed out on jobs because of this, but my sanity is important to me! I don’t feel that I can be as effective in my business if I am stressed out and haven’t had a break for ages.
Take care of yourself. Eat well (on the days you’re not working flat out and have to eat on the go!) do some light exercise every day (on the days you’re not working flat out and getting up at 430am!) and think about introducing a self-care routine that may include things like meditation, regular massages, or weekends away if you’re not booked. Taking time out to recharge will allow you to become a better artist, because you will be feeling fresh each time you approach your clients.
I hope this article has been helpful! Please feel free to share it with your makeup artist friends, repost to your makeup groups, and comment below with your feedback. I love hearing what you think.