Whether you’ve been practising since you were 14, or just walked off a makeup school course, there are a number of options open to you once you’ve developed the makeup skills (and the associated portfolio) enough to start charging for them. Getting going as an MUA is not trivial and requires hard work, dedication and patience – but the most important thing is that you have to get going! Perhaps one of the most straightforward ways to do this is by setting yourself up as a bridal makeup artist.
Don’t misunderstand me – bridal makeup artists are by no means less skilled than their fashion and film peers – but in fashion and film the expectation can be that you have qualifications and an established track record, which can cost money and take time. In some countries (such as the UK) you can set yourself up as a bridal makeup artist with no formal qualifications, and with the only initial outlay required being your makeup and a few administrative bits (insurance, website etc), your business can be up and running fast!
In the USA you will need a state cosmetology license, and these can certainly take time to obtain – but even so bridal makeup artistry can represent the fastest route to turning your makeup skills into a money making business.
Sounds simple huh? Well in fact it can be – and so if you’ve got some experience and you’re ready to go your own way as a professional bridal MUA, here’s our list of things you’ll need to do to get started. Yes you will ultimately need to build an eye popping portfolio, and yes, you will 100% need to develop your network – but taking these first few steps can give you the momentum you need to get going.
1. Get the kit ready
This will undoubtedly be your biggest one off spend for setting up as a makeup artist outside of a formal education. Even if you’ve spent time accumulating makeup while it was just a hobby you may wish to put a specific kit together for taking out on the road. Not only can this make staying on top of what’s in it a lot easier, but if you keep and maintain brushes and tools just for clients this can lower the risk of cross contamination.
I suggest you start to build your kit slowly. You can join makeup forums and often other artists are clearing out their kits of products they aren’t using, so you can grab a bargain there.
Save your pennies – my advice is get two colours in Neutral and warm tones on the light spectrum and dark spectrum each. ie. 1 Very light Neutral Foundation and 1 Dark Neutral and same with the warm versions. No need to buy every colour of foundation.
More often than not, you can go to a makeup counter in i.e. John Lewis and ask for a sample colour of foundation (to test out) without having to buy a full product.
Brands such as Kiko, Inglot, you can get lovely colours in eye shadows etc, for a fraction of the price of other brands. Also look online, you can find bargains everywhere.
Not sure what to stock your kit with? Check out our handy makeup kit check list here.
2. Set up your business online
Everyone nowadays is online – and makeup artists are no exception. That said, you don’t have to get carried away in the first instance. You just need a page you can point people to, that will have your contact details and some examples of your work.
If you decide to set up a website straight away don’t spend too much. You can follow our guide for setting up a website here – but the key thing is that when you’re starting out keep things simple and cheap and make sure you’re focussing on finding customers.
With this in mind a simple Facebook page will often suffice! You can also quickly set up a Google+ Page, enabling Google to index you in their business listings. Its as simple as setting up a Facebook page and looks professional.
You should also take the time to add yourself to local business listings – it will take time for people to start finding you in Google – but this is an important first step on that path.
3. Set up you business offline
When you begin there’s not much you need to worry about except getting customers – having to do a tax return would be a nice problem to have right?
But you can make things easy for yourself by setting up a separate bank account and just doing everything related to your business through that – it can save you a ton of time in the future and will take you 15 minutes tops to set up.
Another thing to organise is insurance – specifically public liability insurance that will cover you for any worst case scenarios. Sites such as simplybusiness.com allow you to compare providers.
For a complete guide on setting up your makeup business so you’re operating legally and safely see our article here.
4. Decide on pricing
This can often be tricky at the beginning as you won’t know what the market rate is – and if you’re starting out most people feel reluctant to charge even that.
A good place to start is by seeing what other makeup artists are charging locally. You may then prefer to start lower than them, and gradually increase your rates. This is what Ash did, and she’s now on almost double where she began.
Here’s a link to our three top tips for setting your rates.
5. Find some clients
This could (and probably should) be number 1 in our list – in theory you could use finding a client as the catalyst to go out and buy/complete your kit and get a website set up.
Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family in the first instance (although they might be more likely to expect a freebie). You can also ask them to refer you to brides to be that they know – make sure everyone is in your corner and primed with your contact details.
It can take time before a trickle turns into a flood so don’t get discouraged – use all the spare time you have to practice your skills and market yourself.
Still not sure – you can find a more in depth guide on finding your first paying customers here.
The main point here is to GO FOR IT! Yes – it’s scary moving into the unknown like this, but isn’t the idea of never doing it even scarier?