You’ve done the work, sharpened your skills, and now you’re ready to start a career in the makeup industry.

But… how do you get started when you’re, well, just getting started?

If you’re a recent cosmetology school graduate, first of all, congratulations!

At this point, you’ve probably already started asking yourself some big questions, like:

These are all important aspects for makeup artists to consider after they graduate. And while the answers aren’t the same for everyone, there are plenty of useful steps that every recent beauty grad should take. 

To help set you in the right direction, we put together a list of everything you need to know to start your own freelance makeup business. With these tips — and a little hard work and passion! — you’ll get your career off the ground in no time!

But first…

The Basics

What is a freelance makeup artist?

Freelance makeup artists are pros in the world of cosmetology. Instead of working for a salon or studio, they work independently. Given the word “freelance” in the title, these individuals work more off of requests from clients — instead of being permanently employed.

Can you be a freelance makeup artist without a license?

This one is tricky. Depending on what exactly your makeup services are and the state in which you are working, you may or may not need a license. And while each state is different, there is a handy website where you can read up on requirements for your state.

How to Become a Successful Freelance Makeup Artist

  • Find Your Market
  • Build Your Freelance Makeup Kit
  • Find Your Scheduling App
  • Build a Website and Portfolio
  • Flex Your Marketing Skills
  • Protect Your Business
  • Stay Current

Find Your Market

Before launching your business, you want to do some market research in your community to find out if there is truly a need for a makeup artist. You also want to look at specific areas within your community that may need a makeup artist to identify your target market.

Once you’ve identified your target market — such as photographers, events, and wedding parties,  — you want to outline the services you’ll offer, your specialties, and how much you plan to charge.

Then, ask yourself: 

  • Which makeup services are your best? 
  • And what’s one thing you can offer that other makeup artists in your area can’t?

These questions will help you find your niche as a makeup artist and set yourself apart from other makeup artists in your community.

Build Your Freelance Makeup Kit

You’re an artist, and an artist needs their tools! So when you start to build your freelance makeup kit, it goes without saying: Your makeup kit is essential. 

While product preferences vary — and you’ll learn along the way which makeup lines and brush brands work best for you — you’ve still got to start somewhere. 

The Must-Haves

  1. Primer for skin and eyes
  2. Foundation — inclusive range
  3. Concealers
  4. Contouring palette 
  5. Eyeliner
  6. Lip liner
  7. Eyeshadows 
  8. Basic lipstick colors 
  9. A brow kit
  10. Setting powder
  11. Setting spray 

When you’re just getting started and you’re on a budget, focusing on the essentials is a must. But that said, you should be sure to include a wide range of foundations to match all skin types. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget to check out our blog on how to build a freelance makeup kit, according to the experts!

Find Your Online Scheduling App

Since tons of clients out there use online scheduling apps to book makeup artists for weddings and photography shoots, having an online scheduler is a great way to bring in new clients and start boosting revenue.  

While there are a lot of great scheduling apps out there for makeup artists — check out our breakdown of the best beauty scheduling apps! — you want to find one that has all the tools you need and works best for your business.

Pro tip: With Schedulicity, you not only have your schedule, client payments, and marketing all in one place — you can also integrate your booking page right into your website. This way, clients don’t have to leave your website to book with you!

Build a Website and Portfolio

The first place a client is likely to come across your work is by visiting your website. They’ll want to learn more about your style to see if the work you do is a good fit for them. 

That’s why it’s so important to have your own website where you can not only let clients know about the work you do — you can also add a portfolio to your website to showcase your work.

When creating your website, be sure to include

  • A bio and picture
  • A list of services and rates
  • A portfolio to showcase your work
  • Contact information

If you don’t have a portfolio just yet, that’s okay! Ask your friends and family for a few volunteers to help you start building one. Just be sure to highlight your best work and include before-and-after photos!

Flex Your Marketing Skills

After you’ve built your website, portfolio, and set up your booking page, you’re ready to start getting the word out. In other words, it’s time to flex those marketing skills!

Social Media

Set up new Instagram and Facebook accounts specifically for your business and be sure to fill them with pictures of your work. Start off by promoting your business from your personal social media accounts to get the ball rolling, so people know your new business is up and running! 

And don’t forget: When it comes to social media marketing, it’s crucial to stay constant to help you build a stronger and wider audience for your business. Plus, staying on top of your social media efforts helps build a stronger online identity for your business, too!

Advertise Locally

Consider creating your own business cards to share with local businesses in your area. You can even leave your card with local salons that don’t offer makeup services to help you gain more traffic!

Google and Yelp

Both Google and Yelp are heavy hitters when it comes to clients finding your business online, so you want to make sure to claim and update your Google My Business listing, as well as your Yelp page. You can also point clients to these pages to leave reviews!

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Protect Your Business

Before going live with your business and accepting clients, there are a few things you need to do to ensure your business is protected.

  • Establish an agreement and conclude on paying a rate in advance.
  • Be ready to accept payment anywhere and keep a record of your earnings.
  • Take out insurance for your business.

As with any business, insurance is important for makeup artists to help cover any accidents that might occur on the job, such as smudging a dress during a photo shoot. General liability insurance policies are there to help you take charge in the event of any property damage or personal injury lawsuits.

Stay Current

Even though you’re fresh from beauty school and ready to take on the world of freelance makeup, there is always going to be something new to learn.

That’s why it’s important to keep your skills sharp as you progress and keep an eye on makeup trends. 

At the end of the day, clients are going to expect you to be their source for all things beauty, including the latest makeup looks and newest color palettes.

Putting in the time to research makeup trends will help you stay ahead of your competition and right where you want to be: crushing the freelance marketing game!