You’ve probably heard the saying “Work Smarter, Not Harder”. Have you ever wondered how you can apply that to being a freelance makeup artist or hairstylist? Are there tasks that you do, over and over and over again? Do you sometimes wish that you could set up things to work on auto-pilot? It IS possible, there are several things that you can do, that might take a little bit of setting up, but once that’s done, you can sit back, relax and sip cocktails on the beach. OK, maybe the bit about cocktails on the beach isn’t exactly true, but there are certainly some processes, software and apps out there that will make life easier for you.
Think about the most common enquiries that you get. Is it about your pricing? Your availability? If you set up an enquiry form on your website, with an email auto-responder pointing to your pricing page, that will help out with the first query. A link to an online calendar showing your availability will help with the second.
Now, there are two schools of thought around putting your prices on your website. Those who argue against it believe that if you actually get the chance to speak (well, email or message) with your enquiring client, they are more likely to book with you. I have found that if people are enquiring first and foremost about your pricing, then they are shopping on price and are obviously looking for the cheapest price they can get! Unless you are happy to price-match everyone else, why would you spend your precious time answering these enquiries?
I am a firm believer in prices on your website. I am definitely not the cheapest makeup artist in my area (nor am I the most expensive), but I am not marketing myself on price. My potential clients can look at my work, see the style of work that I do, see my level of experience AND my prices, and then make an informed decision about whether to enquire with me. I’m not wasting my time, or my potential client’s time if I am not the right artist for her and she can’t afford me. Yes, this does mean that I get less enquiries than when I didn’t have my prices published, however, my CONVERSION rate is much better. Ultimately, what is more important to you: enquiries or bookings? Remember, enquiries only equal money after they convert to bookings!
If you have an enquiry form on your site (actually, you don’t even need a website, you can create a web-based enquiry form for free and put the link on your Instagram), you can save a lot of back and forth with your prospective client gathering information about her wedding or event. By asking all the right questions on your enquiry form, again, you can go back to your client with an accurate, detailed quote, again, saving time for you and the client.
You should be able to set up a simple enquiry form from the Contact page of your website, which will send you an email once someone fills it out. If you want to get even more automated, AND be able to continue to market to people who enquire with you, use an email marketing program like Mailchimp, where you can set up a series of emails to go out to that client once they “sign up” or fill out your enquiry form. You can use these emails to build your “Know, Like and Trust” factor with your enquiring clients, by offering them valuable information in the lead up to their big event.
Templates for commonly sent emails & messages
Another way to save you time is by setting up templates for commonly sent emails. You can save these into your email program, or even into the notes in your phone and then it’s simply a matter of copy and pasting that information when you have a question. HOWEVER – be aware of sounding impersonal. Nobody likes talking to a machine! I see a lot of responses to Facebook posts where people have just copy & pasted their standard response as a comment on the post. This is really obvious, and I’m sure not that attractive to the enquiring client. Have a form response, yes, but take some time to personalise it, even if it’s just adding in the person’s name, rather than using “hun” or something like that. Remember as Dale Carnegie says in the classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, a person’s name is the sweetest sound (to her) in any language.
I find using the notes section on my phone great for storing groups of hashtags too. I have several sets of 30 hashtags for use on my Instagram posts, then rather than typing out 30, or even thinking up 30, every time I post, I simply copy paste them over from my notes. I(f you saw an earlier tip of mine showing how to save groups of hashtags as a keyboard shortcut (on an iPhone) be aware that Apple have now limited the number of characters in keyboard shortcuts, so this no longer works.) Also, be aware that if you use exactly the same 30 hashtags on every posts, the algorithm will note that and reduce your posts reach.
More and more makeup artists are setting up home studios now, and the ability to have their personal event clients book their own appointments online is such a time – saver. No longer are they spending time on the phone, having to get back to people because they don’t have their appointment book with them, or worrying about double booking. Even as mobile freelancers we can make use of an online booking service, at least for clients to check our availability, and many online booking services allow you to place a buffer on either side of booked appointments which would cover your travel time. Simply placing a link on your website (or even on your Instagram page) means more automation, and less time spent back and forth booking.
Some of the popular online calendars and booking services you can check out are:
- Schedule Once
Most of these run at around $20 a month, although at the time of writing Shedul is currently free – and will remain free for anyone who signs up in their early stages, so it might be worthwhile to sign up now, even if you don’t use it yet. What is important for me when choosing an online booking system is that it syncs with my Calendar on my phone and computer (I’m an Apple girl, so I use the iCal), and that it syncs both ways. Not all these services offer a 2 way sync. I like a 2 way sync so that if I put something into the calendar on my phone or computer, that time appears as blocked out to any clients trying to book with me. (I actually use my online booking system for my coaching clients, and just have a “check availability” link for my prospective brides and makeup clients). Whichever one you choose, just make sure when you set it up that all your devices are talking to each other properly, so you don’t end up double booking yourself!
Stay tuned for next time, where we talk about online invoicing and account keeping apps!
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Stock image from Canva
Thanks to our client Heather for taking these great Behind the Scenes images and sending them to me!