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How to Create Content for Social Media

Do you struggle with coming up with images to post to your Instagram page each week?  We all know how important consistency is to the “almighty algorithm” but if you’re just starting out, or not working that regularly, or even if you’re just not that happy with some aspect of the images you have been creating lately, it can be hard!  I get it…

Many makeup artists and hairstylists are now turning to “content creation shoots” to produce a consistent flow of work to their Instagram page.  I always love seeing how the industry changes and evolves, and I believe that “content creation” is the next evolution of the “test shoot”.  Some of us old-timers still refer to collaborative shoots done for portfolio progression as “test shoots”  Many of you may know these shoots as TFP.  TFP originally stood for “Time for Print” where models and makeup artists/hairstylists would trade their time for printed photos from the photographer, which they could display in their portfolio (which, back in the day, was a physical book of images)

A look inside my physical portfolio (which I haven’t updated in probably 8 years!!)

With the advent of digital photography and websites, TFP evolved into TFCD, where the photographer would supply a CD-Rom of the edited images, and eventually TF-something else, where the CD-Rom was replaced by a Dropbox or Google Drive link so the creatives could simply go and download their favourites.  Whatever the acronym, the idea was always about trading your TIME for images in some form or other.

I’ve been around for all these changes, and while I can sometimes feel nostalgic for the beauty of a physical portfolio (and my book cost over $500 before I even started paying to print images for it!!), I must admit the convenience and quick turnaround of this evolution is really helpful with the industry moving so quickly nowadays.

Which brings me back to content creation.  For us makeup artists and hairstylists, particularly those of us working with personal clients (brides, formals, proms, debs and other special event bookings) the sort of images that seem to be the most popular on Instagram are simple “behind the scenes” close ups taken with our phone cameras.  I wrote about the importance of taking a good photo, and included some tips, in another recent blog post, so I won’t go over that again here, but what I do want to focus on here is how to actually go about getting these images in the first place.

The key is to get people in your chair.  If you don’t have paying clients, then find other people, who will be happy to sit for you and allow you to take photos for your Instagram page.  If you can find actual models who will sit for you, all the better. Network with models in your area, and reach out to them and ask them – lets face it, who wouldn’t like a free makeup or hairstyle?  Especially if it’s a Friday or Saturday afternoon and they are going out on the town that night.  If you don’t know any models yet, just ask your friends, while you are networking and building those connections with models.

If you are working on test (TFP) shoots with photographers, by all means, take some behind the scenes close ups of your work.  Just make sure that you don’t post anything too soon if the shoot is going to be submitted for publication. (Either way, make sure you get permission to post behind the scenes images.) I have found that often, I get more Instagram Reach and Engagement* on my behind the scenes shots than I do from the actually tear sheets, however, the Tear Sheets are vital for my portfolio as an editorial and commercial makeup artist.  I post both behind the scenes and the tear sheets to my Instagram and Facebook pages, but only the tear sheets on my website.

Behind the scenes close up, and finished client image – which will perform better on Social Media?


Now, I’m sure that some of you are sitting there thinking, “wait… why should I work for free?”  You shouldn’t!!!  Remember this isn’t “work” as much as creating content, which will actually BRING YOU WORK.  If you are setting up these content creation shoots, then YOU get to call the shots as to what makeup/hair styles you do.  I would recommend that you do offer to make adjustments for the model, especially if she is going out and has a particular look or style in mind.  Then it becomes a Win-Win for you and the model. One of the participants in my Mastermind program last year has been regularly doing content shoots and has built herself a thriving (and growing) personal client business – all with only around 1000 Instagram followers.

From time to time, you will get asked to “collaborate on a shoot for Social Media Content” – and while this CAN look like a great opportunity, BEWARE!!!  This is often a Job, which should be paid, in disguise. There are so many more people out there networking on social media, and sometimes, in their naivety, and confusion, and even excitement, makeup artists are agreeing to work for “free” on jobs that should be paid.

Just as we makeup artists and hairstylists need to create content for our social media, to promote our brand, so do other businesses, whether they be fashion labels, jewellery labels or whatever.  Shopping directly on Instagram is a thing now (look out for the little shopping bag icon in the top right corner of the image), and if the images you work on are used by the client to sell their products or services, (and hence make a profit) then you deserve to be paid for the work you contributed.

So, to clear up all the confusion: The only time you should be working without monetary compensation, is if you are working to build your portfolio (or if it’s a charity gig, like “Look Good, Feel Better”, or something like that). If you are not getting paid, you should expect that EVERYONE working on the shoot also not be getting paid. You should expect to get some images that will advance your portfolio.

If the purpose of the shoot is for someone to sell something, or make a profit, then you, along with everyone else working on the shoot, should be getting paid. This includes a look-book for a clothing designer, a headshot for a real estate agent, or “content for our Social Media”… no matter how “exciting” the job, if the purpose of the shoot is for someone to be making a profit, then you deserve to be paid.

All to often I hear stories about makeup artists doing jobs for “exposure”, meaning No Pay, but maybe a shout-out or credit on the companies social media. Sure, it might be great to be able to say you worked on a shoot for a nationally recognised brand, but it makes me sad that artists believe these “jobs” will actually advance their career… when in actual fact, all that’s happening is by working for free, sorry, for “exposure”, while someone else is profiting, you are undercutting every other working artist, and de-valuing the industry and our profession and craft.

We didn’t all spend thousands on our education and building a kit (and continue to spend, of course) to work for free or very little pay. If you want makeup artistry to be your career at some point you have to take a stand and know when to say NO.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for helping out other people starting out, and even after working in the industry for 17 years, I will sometimes reduce my rate to help out a designer who is just starting out… but one who has their clothes in umpteen stores around the country, or an online store and social media following over 100K? I don’t think so!

And then the other side of this coin is, if you are being PAID for working on a shoot, you shouldn’t actually EXPECT to get images from the shoot.  This goes for commercial shoots AND personal client jobs like weddings. If your paying client is happy for you to take photos and post them on your Social Media, then great, but you should always ask, and not just expect.  If the client says no, be gracious about it, remember, you are being paid.

I hope these tips have helped you and given you some ideas for creating more content for your social media platforms, and cleared the air around when you should be working for “free” and when you should be getting paid.  If you have any further questions, come and join the conversation on my Facebook Page.


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*Reach and Engagement are metrics used by Instagram (and Facebook) – you should make a habit of monitoring these metrics (along with Likes and Comments), so you know which posts are resonating with your audience.  You can find these metrics in your “Insights” – though you will need to have your page set up as a Business Page – a simple switch.


Photo credits:

Amy Higg Photography
Kirsty Duchet
Sam Simpson
Two Birds Social

and… ME!




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