Do I really need a website? Can’t I just have a Facebook or Instagram page? These are questions I am often asked by makeup artists and hairstylists, even those who are very busy with regular bookings. Even now when it seems “everyone” is on Social Media, I do believe there is definitely still a place for a website for a freelance makeup artist or hairstylist, alongside social media pages. They both have their functions in communicating your message to your prospective clients.
A website can show a higher level of commitment and professionalism. You’ve taken the time and effort to actually have a web presence. Anyone can start an Instagram or Facebook page but a website can show you are more serious about your business. (Of course, this may not be the case, but perceptions are pretty important.)
You can add a lot more information on your website, that you simply can’t put on your Instagram page. Information like your prices for bridal clients, formals or proms and other special occasion services. I do recommend you put your prices on your website, especially as you become busier, as it will “pre-qualify” clients, and lessen the amount of enquiries you get from people who can’t afford you. There is an argument for NOT putting prices on your website, so you can actually have a conversation with the client and maybe charm them or convince them to book you, but personally, I would rather not waste my time (and the clients time) with those who are not my ideal clients anyway.
On your website you can also link to an enquiry page that is set up in an email marketing platform like Mailchimp which will allow you to collect email addresses from potential clients and continue to market to them, and if you are adding value (for example, with a regular newsletter with useful tips in the lead up to a wedding or event) you are more likely to stand out in the minds of those clients. Remember that most people need several exposures before they make a buying decision and this is another way for your prospective clients to get to know you.
So what work should you display on your website?
I keep my BEST work on my website. I try to update it every few months, but work ONLY goes onto my website if it is better than the work that is currently on there. Your website should be targeted towards your ideal clients, and show who you are as an artist now, and also who you are going to be in the future. Often artists will say “but I want to do bridal AND commercial work”, and this is the beauty of a website, that you can have separate pages, or galleries for each category of work, and a client looking for a commercial artist doesn’t have to scroll through bridal images to see what sort of commercials you have worked on before.
One of the best pieces of advice I received when I was first starting out was “All Killer, No Filler” when it comes to images for your website. Your work will be judged as much on your weakest images as your strongest. And this is where building your portfolio really starts. You need to develop the ability to be self-critical of your work. As you progress as an artist, you will need to replace images in your portfolio as you get better images. Sometimes that is hard, but it is important for your progress. The key here is not to be emotionally attached to the images in your portfolio.
Your website should consist of professional images. NOT the images you’ve snapped with your iPhone or behind the scenes images. The only exception would be a “before and after” section on a bridal site. Keep your website professional, with professional shots.
So what makes a “killer” image? It’s not just great makeup (unfortunately). Sometimes it’s the things outside our control that can turn a great makeup into a weaker image. You need to consider ALL the aspects of the image, Model, Photography, Hair, Styling, Lighting as well as makeup. They all need to come together to create a beautiful image.
Brides and commercial clients want to see that you can do a beautiful, natural makeup, so make sure your portfolio has plenty of those images. Don’t fill your portfolio full of Avant Garde looks, with lots of colour and diamantes and feathers stuck all over faces, unless you’re a creative editorial artist and these images are really great quality (or tear-sheets from published work), this sort of work screams “student makeup artist”
Having said that, I do believe it’s equally as important to have diversity in your portfolio, as it is to show your prospective clients your “style” of makeup. So, have the majority of your images your preferred style (or a style that is commercially viable!) and then add in some diverse images to show that you have that capability too.
When reviewing your portfolio, I do recommend that you get help, another set of eyes to look over things objectively and make suggestions. Last time I put my physical book together, I spent a morning at my agent’s house, and we had the images spread out all over the floor, as we moved them around to create flow, adding some in, taking some out, and getting the book just the way we wanted it to reflect my style. Similarly, when I did a big overhaul of my website a couple of years ago, I asked a fellow makeup artist who I admire and look up to, to have a look at how I had it, and I took her suggestions on board and made a few changes.
Remember, it’s important to take the emotion out of the situation when you are doing a portfolio review with someone else. I have had countless artists ask me for advice and help with getting their portfolio in order, but I found they weren’t actually open to hearing the constructive criticism – I wonder how they expect to grow as an artist?
So take some time this week to review your website… does it need updating? Is it accurately reflecting who you are as an artist? Do you actually need to START a website? If you need help with your portfolio, get in touch via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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