How to Become a Freelance Makeup Artist
Have you ever wondered how to become a freelance makeup artist ? You may spend hours looking at Youtube makeup tutorials and have cheek contouring skills that makes cheekbones look so sharp, it could cut someone’s eyeballs out.
The beauty and makeup industry has been enjoying a steady rise, especially since the explosion in popularity of social media. People like to look good and they are willing to pay good money to make up artists who have the skills to make them look fabulous.
Making the transition from makeup as a hobby to makeup as a career has its challenges, but we’re here to guide you through the A-Z on how to be a freelance makeup artist, from the creative aspects, essential business elements, and everything in between.
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What is a freelance makeup artist?
A freelance makeup artist is someone who will doll up clients by applying makeup on a per-order basis, but isn’t tied to any organization or brand as a permanent employee.
This is opposed to non-freelance makeup artists who are usually working behind the counters at makeup stores or are in-house professionals for production houses, agencies, publications, salons, or vacation venues like cruise ships or luxury hotels.
Freelance makeup artists perform house/location calls or take clients at their own studios if they have set one up.
Benefits of working as a freelance makeup artist
The biggest benefit of being a freelance makeup artist is flexibility! As a freelance makeup artist, you are free to price your own work, set your own hours, and build your own brand.
You can accept or decline clients at your discretion, deciding on which jobs align with your personal style, brand, and goals.
- You can end up creating and selling your own products
Aside from being paid to play with pretty colors, getting to know cool and glamorous clients, and pursuing your passion, freelance makeup artists can even get into developing their own makeup products down the line.
- Brand collaborations = Free Products $$
Freelance makeup artists are also often presented with opportunities to collaborate with big brands, whether it’s through product endorsements, content, or events.
How much can you earn as a freelance makeup artist?
Freelance makeup artists charge clients based on:
- Level of experience ,
- Quality of products used, and
- The duration of the services required
Depending on all of these, freelance makeup artists can earn anywhere between $50 to $700 per job, or on average between $35,000 – $50,000 annually.
More prominent makeup artists can earn significantly higher, up to about $80,000 a year.
If you’re wondering how much should a freelance makeup artist charge, keep in mind it will also depend on factors such as:
- Number of clients you take on
- Type of clients – luxury, budget, students, etc
- Type of makeup job – photoshoot, wedding, event, etc
- Location – Local competition for makeup jobs in your area
- Extra income streams, eg: endorsements, classes, ads, product sales/affiliate sales
The best way to figure out how much you can charge is to look to your peers and competitors.
Survey the rates that someone of your level of experience and skill charges. Rates that are too low can be seen as unprofessional or cheap-quality, while overpriced rates might price clients out of your services.
How to Start as a Freelance Makeup Artist
If becoming a freelance makeup artist sounds like the dream job for you, here are the steps you can take to make that dream a reality.
Before we begin a step by step guide, here is a list of skills/experience you need to become a freelance makeup artist:
It goes without saying, but having the technical skills to apply makeup is the main criterion of how to become a successful freelance artist.
I am all for people trying new things but if the way you apply blush makes people look like they have a rash on their face, you may need to work on your skills before you want to monetise them.
Having make up technical skills means:
- Understanding clients faces,
- Knowing how to bring out their features- can you make cheekbones look sharper?
- Understanding what the client wants- do they want a natural or dramatic look?
- Translating different looks to different faces– an asian face has different needs to a caucasian one
- Advising clients on what looks or styles would suit their features, outfits, or event.
- Knowing your tools and products in-depth- is that a foundation or blush brush?
- Mastering different application techniques
Organization and Admin Skills
As a freelance makeup artist, you will be in charge of your own bookkeeping and time management. There’s nothing more damaging to your business reputation than being late or missing appointments!
Becoming a successful makeup artist involves a high level of organization and admin skills. This includes:
- Handling client inquiries whether it is through email, messaging, etc
- Managing booking schedules and keeping track of clients
- Tracking your business finances, budget, and accounting to ensure you are turning a profit
- Invoicing and receipts
- Filing your taxes
If you are just starting out, it is well worth it to know your books in detail. Once you are more established, you can hire an assistant to help you.
Being a freelance makeup artist means you will be working face to face with people most of the time. Good communication skills are essential to allow your business to grow and for clients to be comfortable and have faith in you.
Understanding your clients’ needs involves a good listening ear and asking the right questions. Making a client feel heard is going to set you apart from your competition and get you recurring clients who stay loyal to you.
Good communication will allow you to work with other professions seamlessly – whether it is brides, models, actors, photographers, producers, or anyone else. Don’t underestimate the power of small talk too – applying someone’s makeup in awkward silence is uncomfortable for all parties!
A freelance makeup artist needs to be familiar and comfortable with social media and online culture. Having a strong online presence for your business will help you land clients as this is where people first look to find you.
You should also know basic photography and lighting to capture your work to display in your portfolio. More on that below!
As with any freelance job, be prepared to hustle. Besides working hard on your technical skills, there are so many other aspects of your business you can constantly improve. Networking and marketing help you to grow your client list while keeping tabs on trends will keep you relevant and ahead of the game.
Makeup takes time. Applying layer after layer to perfect the look takes a lot of patience, and perfecting techniques take months or even years. Being a freelance makeup artist is a lot of hard work! Be prepared for the grind in building your name/ brand!
Passion & drive
As a freelance makeup artist, people will be watching you work, and your work will be out for everyone to see. Having confidence in yourself and your abilities is important so you are not dejected when faced with criticism or slow business, and so you continue moving forward.
How to Become a Freelance Makeup Artist- Step By Step
1- Decide on your niche
Deciding on a niche will help you focus your marketing and branding efforts. If you’re just starting out and are still trying to figure out what kind of makeup profession you want to pursue, work on honing your tastes.
Play around with different makeup styles to find the ones you are most passionate about.
Some makeup niches you can explore are:
- Bridal makeup
- Costume/ special effects/body painting
- Lip art makeup
- Eye art makeup
Determine what kind of makeup artist you want to be and focus on building a name and brand for yourself in that niche through a carefully curated portfolio highlighting your niche works.
2- Get your makeup tools
The makeup artist’s tool kit is one of the biggest and most important investments for a freelance makeup artist. Without your tool kit, you won’t be able to apply makeup. Invest in quality products that will last you a long time.
Building a makeup kit takes time, with a lot of experimentation, trial and error, and careful selection. If you are just starting, you should concentrate on the essentials, focus on quality, and aim for mid-range prices.
Your makeup kit should allow you to apply great makeup in a range of styles while still being wallet-friendly.
In truth, you never stop growing and refining your kit throughout your career. As your experience grows, you can opt for a mix of high-end and affordable products. Remember, price doesn’t determine quality! Many affordable options are on par or better than luxury goods. Do your research, watch reviews, and test out samples.
Knowing your niche will help you focus on the contents of your kit. If you are doing bridal makeup, you don’t need body paints or special effects makeup.
Here is a list of essential items you should have in your freelance makeup artist kit:
- Face mist
- Eye serum
- Skin primer
- Setting spray
- Color corrector
- Contour and highlight – cream/liquid and powder
- Loose & pressed powder
- Blush – cream & powder
- Eye primer
- Eyeshadow palettes
- Eyeliner – gel, liquid, pencil
- Eyebrow gel
- Eyebrow pencil
- Eyebrow powder
- Lashes + glue
- Lip balm
- Lipsticks – nudes, reds, pinks, peach, coral, mauve
- Lip liner/ lip pencil
- Lip gloss
- Makeup brush set
- Makeup sponges/beauty blender
- Eyelash curler
- Spatula + palette
- Cotton buds
- Makeup remover
- Wet wipes
- Lipstick applicator
- Hand sanitizer
- Alcohol wipes
- Business cards
- Portable lights
- Makeup chair
- Antibacterial brush spray cleaner
- Makeup case/bag
3- Build a portfolio
A portfolio is one of the most important aspects of a freelance makeup artist’s brand and marketing. Clients want to see your work before they decide to hire you, and having a portfolio showcases your skills, talent, hard work, and niche.
A good portfolio should feature as many faces as possible – this shows clients that you are adaptable and know how to apply makeup to suit different face structures, skin tones, ages, and features.
Make sure your portfolio content is high quality – invest in portable lighting and a good camera or camera phone so you can capture your work of art in the best way possible.
If you are in a niche, make sure your portfolio reflects that. While it’s okay to mix it up once in a while, make sure your niche is clear through the works you display.
Nowadays, a makeup artist’s portfolio is largely Instagram based. If you want, you can also set up a basic website.
4-Start your social media presence
Social media is one of the reasons the makeup industry has been booming. Use it to your advantage and maintain a strong online presence.
Your social media accounts connect you to potential clients and tells people about your business, skills, and personality.
A strong social media presence may also help you land brand collaborations, invitations to exclusive launches or PR events, and product endorsements.
You may choose to focus your efforts on one platform or diversify it. Think about which platforms your target clients use and hang out.
You can find quality makeup content on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Youtube, TikTok, and more. Here are some of the most common freelance makeup artist social media content ideas you can try:
- Portfolio of your works
- Sharing makeup tips
- Makeup tutorials
- Product reviews
- Makeup challenges
5- Grow your brand and business
A freelance makeup artist needs to always think of how they can get ahead of the competition while growing their business.
Experience, tools, portfolio, networking, etc are all things that you can constantly strive to improve. As your experience and business grows, you can increase your prices, work with bigger clients, and grab bigger opportunities.
Here is a guide on How to Make Money on Instagram with Only 1,000 Followers
What if I have no experience?
If you have little to no experience doing makeup, there are many courses you can enroll in to up your skill level, gain much-needed experience, and give you reputable credentials.
Here are a few online courses that will teach you how to become a makeup pro, from the comfort of your own home.
The prices of these courses are much less than if you received full blown training from a makeup academy.
While formal education is not strictly necessary for freelance makeup artists, getting certification from a renowned academy can give you an edge and help you stand out.
There are many programs or courses available to choose from, from short intensive courses to full-fledged master programs to professional degrees from your local community college.
Some of the top makeup academies offering certification courses worldwide are:
Shadowing & Assisting
Learning on the job and seeing how a professional freelance makeup artist conducts themselves is invaluable for any aspiring freelance makeup artist.
Getting a behind the scenes look at the ins and outs of the business, while learning techniques and skills from an experienced mentor will broaden your skill set and help prepare you for the leap.
Best Freelance Makeup Artist Kit
Any freelance makeup artist needs the right tools to get the job done. If you are just starting out, it may not be worth it to splurge on expensive products as you work on understanding color theories, application techniques, and experimenting with different looks.
There are several affordable makeup kits available online which newbies can try before building their own custom makeup kit with more quality products.
While these makeup kits usually come with eyeshadows, lip and cheek colors, and some contour/highlight products, they are far from complete.
Here are a few of the higher rated makeup sets available online:
Current price : $69.95
This sleek set comes with 4 eyeshadow palettes with over 120 shades, 2 versatile face palettes, and a lip palette containing over 30 shades to suit any makeup look.
Current price : $40
Over 170 eyeshadows of every color, this makeup set is great for experimenting with different looks. Coes with 6 lip glosses, 3 blushes, a mirror, and some applicators.
Current price: $85
If special effects makeup for tv/film/theater is your niche, this kit is perfect for you to create dramatic looks and transform your client into whatever role they are playing. Mehron products are vegan and cruelty-free.
If you’re looking to save yet still want to try more established brands, look out for gift or holiday sets.
These will normally contain some of the best selling products in smaller sizes, so you can try them out and buy full-sized versions later.
Current price : $90
This set features 14 of Benefit’s biggest sellers in a mini-makeup vault. The collection includes travel-sized beauty essentials for eyes, lashes, brows, and cheeks to create endless custom looks.
Current price: $220
Add a dash of luxe to your makeup kit with this high end set from Charlotte Tilbury. This kit comes with everything you need to create a seductive feminine look with tempting lips, defined cheeks, and smoldering eyes.
Current Price: $49
This set includes Too Faced’s favorites from their Better Than Sex collection. Comes with an eyeshadow palette which has nine matte and shimmer shadows, lipsticks, mascara, and liquid eyeliner to create a sexy sweet look.
How to Get Clients as a Freelance Makeup Artist
If you’ve been tied to a company or organization and are thinking of making the jump to freelance, you may be wondering how to get clients as a freelance makeup artist.
Social media / Website
Social media is a great way to get clients to notice your work. Hashtags and client reviews online can quickly gain traction and highlight your business to potential clients. Have all your contact details available on your bio so clients can reach you easily.
A great way to get your name and brand out into the industry especially if you are just starting out is through cold calls or emails.
Reach out to models, photographers, wedding planners, production houses, local studios, theaters, small fashion brands, and spas or salons and let them know you are available to hire.
Be professional and courteous, and include your portfolio so they can easily review your work
Word of mouth
Word of mouth is one of the strongest ways to get new clients. A client who is pleased with your work is most likely to recommend you to their friends and family or even post reviews online. Encourage your clients to tag you on their social media posts.
Some makeup artists even offer referral discounts to help grow their clientele. Don’t underestimate the power of a good word – it is one of the keys on how to be a successful freelance makeup artist.
Networking is the number one way to attract clients as a freelance makeup artist. Always have your business card available to hand out, whether you’re at an event or on holiday.
You never know who you will meet or who those people may know.
Be personable and presentable at all times, if you make a memorable impression, they will likely remember you and reach for your contact when they need makeup services. Building and maintaining relationships will help you land clients in the long run.
If you’re looking to break out of your social circle, job search websites or job boards are a great place to look for freelance makeup jobs you might not otherwise come by. Some examples of job search websites are SimplyHired.com, Indeed.com, glassdoor.com, and Craigslist. Or simply google “freelance makeup artist jobs” for more localized listings.
Tips to Succeed as a Freelance Makeup Artist
If you’ve taken all the steps above, there are still some tips to ensure your success. Here are top tips on how to be a successful freelance artist
- Always be professional in your customer relations – no matter what kind of client you are dealing with – from hell, celebrity, etc
- Ensure you emanate friendliness, comfort, and quality to attract clients.
- Ask your clients to review your services
- Never stop growing and keep on practicing even when you feel you are at the top of your game
- Pass on the knowledge – Be open to sharing tips and guiding aspiring makeup artists into the industry. It’s always good to give back!
- Pay attention – research makeup masters, trends of the past, and predictions for the future. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Things to be Aware of as a Freelance Makeup Artist
- When you first start out, it may be tempting to say yes to every job request. But knowing your boundaries and building on your niche will help grow your reputation in your target specialization. Plus, you can avoid burnout!
- The makeup industry can be ruthless, but it can also be a warm, supportive community. Seek out peers who will help you grow and support you mentally.
- If you are looking to branch out into more diverse skills such as manicures and other beauty-related jobs, make sure you check if your state requires any health and safety certification
- Always wear comfortable shoes – flats are recommended!
For aspiring creatives, becoming a freelance makeup artist holds infinite possibilities and opportunities.
If you’ve followed our steps on how to become a freelance makeup artist, you should be poised to flourish and start being a part of a wonderfully creative, competitive, and fun industry.
Making a living doing what you love is something that most people covet, so if you’re making the jump to freelance makeup artist, congratulations!
Hopefully, this article has inspired you and given you all the tools you need on how to start a freelance makeup business.
Note – Hey, if you are a beauty lover looking to make extra money as a freelance makeup artist, you might as well check out other beauty side hustles that can make you extra money today! If this sounds interesting, you can find more info here: 11 Beauty Side Hustles You Can Start Right Now!
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