In today’s digital world the expectation is that a business’ will have a website. Everyone nowadays will go online when looking for a service, and makeup being such a visual art form is no exception!
The primary purpose of a website for an MUA is as a marketing tool – you may have business cards, adverts in magazines, a Facebook page or even your own TV show, but your website will be where potential customers go to find you. And the reason for this is because you will direct them there!
But why bother? We’ve already argued that word of mouth is the best form of marketing. Well even the most trusting of potential customers will want to get an idea of the kind of work that you do. This is especially true for weddings which are inherently personal occasions. Brides will want more than just a service – they’ll want someone who connects with their vision. And that means they want to know more about you.
So given the specialised nature of makeup artistry it’s probably safe to assume that if someone has made it to your site they’re interested in engaging your services – in other words at this point their business is yours to lose.
And this is made all the more true by them comparing you (and by association your website) with your competition’s. Ultimately, it may be the website that seals the deal. In “How To Become a Makeup Artist: Getting Started” Step 1 we encouraged you to check out the sites of your competition. How did they look? Were you impressed by how professional they were, or shocked by how bad they were. Needless to say they probably formed an impression.
In this article we’ll give you:
- A complete list of things that must be on any makeup artist’s website, and some optional ones to.
- A short guide to obtaining your website address and somewhere to host it
- An in depth comparison of the two options you have for building your site – hiring a develop or doing it yourself
- PLUS A BONUS – if you’ll sign up to our mailing list we’ll give you a template letter to send developers a comprehensive specification for your site for obtaining quotes
So let’s talk about your website!
Functional and Funky!
Whilst everyone will have a slightly different artistic vision for their site, the key requirements and pages will almost certainly remain the same. The website must:
- showcase your work/portfolio
- provide details about the services you offer and how to contact you
- be as beautiful as the makeup you do
Beyond this some nice to haves may include:
- an About page with more about you
- articles and content to generate organic traffic through search engines (for more details see our article on SEO for makeup artists) – i.e. a blog
- customer testimonials
- a booking form (check out our tool – TinyPA – to get a booking form designed specifically for makeup artists and customised for your business)
- sharing buttons and social links
- an opt-in form for your mailing list
- your prices (not every MUA likes to have these up there for all to see, but most potential customers will like it!)
So now you have a rough specification and combined with your portfolio some content to to populate your site with. It’s worth at this point (if you haven’t already) having a bit of a think about how you’d like the site laid out. Be flexible on this, as your vision my be beyond your budget but explore some other sites and get an idea for what you like.
Okay, with this done the question is how do you go from vision to reality and turn your ideas into a website…?
There are entire courses (indeed degrees) devoted to building websites, and so we’re not going to go too deep on literally how to build one today. Instead we’ll focus on likely costs, and pros and cons of the different options for now.
Before you even think about the site…
No matter how you build it, for any webpage you’ll need a domain name (e.g careerinmakeup.com) and hosting (the hard drive somewhere in the cloud on which all your files are located, and to which your domain name points).
Having a custom domain name unique to your business adds an element of permanence to your digital presence and suggests that you’re taking things seriously (as you’ve spent some money on a domain!). As discussed previously, you can even use existing services such as GMail to manage your email from this personalised address.
You can shop around for a good price, but there’s usually not a lot in it, and so we tend to stick with 123-reg.co.uk and you can expect to pay about £10 (~$15) a year for a .com domain (less for alternative suffixes). You may also find that a free domain name is thrown in with your hosting or website design plan.
When choosing a hosting plan there are hundreds of companies out there that offer similar services and prices. Critical therefore is a company’s reputation for minimising problems, and providing good customer service when help is needed. You don’t want your website to be constantly crashing or going down, and you want to be able to get some help fast if something does happen.
A good host will also ensure your website is fast – which is something Google considers when deciding how to rank your website in search results.
Historically we’ve worked with GoDaddy here at CareerInMakeup, and we’ve found their service solid and their hosting reliable. Their prices are about average but they usually have some nice introductory offers ($1/month!). You can expect to be back up to paying about £5 per month after the first year though. GoDaddy also offer the option of installing wordpress straight from set up (more about this in a tick).
Okay, so you’ve got a domain name (exciting huh?!), and you’ve found somewhere to host your website. What’s next? Well this is where things can get a bit more challenging. Now it’s time to build the thing.
If You Build It… Will They Come?*
When it comes to building a website you essentially have two options – build it yourself, or have someone build it for you. If you’re lucky like Ash you have a husband who spends his days writing code, and can put that experience to good use building her website (pretty good huh?). But unless you luck out with a family or friend connection then you’re either going to have to do it yourself, or hire a website designer.
Which route you choose will depend largely on your budget, and indeed your website development abilities.
Option 1 – Use a website designer
As with any purchase, it’s worth shopping around a bit before you commit to a designer. You can search for local businesses using google, or indeed use a web-based outfit. Costs can vary hugely and it’s well worth sending your specification to a few different designers and comparing their quotes and offerings.
To help you do this we’ve created a template email and spec sheet which you can use as free download for signing up to our list at the bottom.
You should outline the purpose of the page (e.g. advertising your business and showcasing your portfolio), indicate a style preference if you have one (and even links to some examples of styles you like), and map out the structure of the website (which pages you will want, the menu structure, what purpose each page will serve). Remember it will be your responsibility to supply all the content for the site, and so have this prepared.
You may also want to specify that you plan to manage the site when it is completed, and ask how this will work. You don’t want to be paying a developer £50 per hour to write some code every time you want to add new photos to your portfolio or update your prices. You may find therefore that a site built on an easy to use platform such as WordPress or similar gives you maximum flexibility.
A website designer may also offer some extra services at the point of creation, such as setting up your hosting plan, search engine optimisation or logo and branding design, as well as offering ongoing support for expansions and problems (beyond those you can manage yourself) – get some prices for comparison.
Ultimately expect to pay anywhere from £400 ($600) upwards for a simple site, and ongoing monthly costs for hosting and potentially maintenence.
Option 2 – Build it yourself
Inevitably a good website designer is not cheap, and costs can quickly spiral as your vision grows. When you’re first starting out it’s especially important to keep your costs down – every penny you spend may not yet be covered by what you’re earning. So in the first instance you should try to keep things as simple (and low cost!) as possible.
One great way to do this is, if you’re a little tech savvy and know your way around a computer, to build your own website. There are of course different levels of tech savvy…
For the most hardcore amongst you the deepest you can go on this is learning to code (in html and CSS), and up until ten years ago this would have been pretty much your only option. There are a number of great, free courses on CodeAcademy or Udacity.
There’s no arguing that website development is a great skill to have, but most of you will be reading this because you’re devoting yourself to improving your makeup skills, and learning website coding language is going to be a significant distraction.
That being the case a really good (and less technically challenging) option is to build your site in WordPress.
WordPress is a content management system, which means that while behind the scenes there is still all the html and css code happening, management of the site is presented to you as a relatively intuitive user interface (or back end) which allows you to control the appearance and content (or front end) of your site.
As discussed above GoDaddy will allow you to install WordPress straight onto your hosting server, meaning you can log straight in a get cracking from the word go. Out of the box WordPress is pretty basic however, and you will want to install a theme.
Themes can add extra functionality, levels of customisation, and will dictate the appearance of your site. The CareerInMakeup site for example has been designed using the Genesis theme from StudioPress. Whilst you don’t have quite the flexibility you would have if you were designing the page completely yourself from scratch, there are literally thousands out there, and many of them free so feel free to experiment.
Expect to pay $30 upwards for a good WordPress theme, with some of the more trusted companies offering their flagship themes (such as Genesis from StudioPress, and Canvas from WooThemes) for around $100.
As well as themes, with WordPress sites you can also install plugins to introduce extra functionality (much like apps on a smart phone). Want to add social buttons to all your posts? Yep there’s a plugin for that. Want to make your site a membership site? Not a problem!
But a word of warning – don’t add too many plugins, they can really slow down you site, and that’s a no no for SEO.
Option 2.5 – Drag and Drop
If even the idea of learning WordPress seems to daunting (it’s not for everyone) then there are many services that allow you to creat a website by just dragging and dropping elements into place. Our favorite of these is Weebly.
Weebly gives you the ability to pick pre-designed templates and then customise fonts, upload your own images and add critical functions such as a contact form and a portfolio page by dragging and dropping. With a bit of playing around you can very quickly get to a stylish first website.
You will need to pay a monthly fee to publish the site without a “weebly” in the web address, but the site remains editable through the Weebly system, meaning you can add those photos or change those prices whenever you like.
So it’s as simple as that?
Okay, building a website can be stressful – there’s a lot of options, it can be expensive (and therefore mistakes can be expensive) and even yours or your designer’s best efforts may fall just slightly short of your vision.
But remember this – whilst stylish and beautiful is good, it doesn’t have to be perfect straight out the gate. When you’re starting out the most important thing is to keep costs down and focus on what’s really important: getting experience, customers and a good reputation. If you can do these three things then the website will support those efforts regardless, and you’ll be in a great position in the future to spend a bit more money and time getting it just right.
*for those of you that don’t get the Field of Dreams reference, first of all boooooo, and secondly go here