Makeup Artists: Here’s How to Get Your First Customers

Mariah Bliss
Business insurance can make it easier to get customers, like this makeup artist working on a client.

When you’re starting out as a makeup artist, it might feel like you have to shout from the rooftops to get people to notice you.

It’s no wonder: A simple Google search for “makeup artist” can pull up dozens of videos and listings from other professionals in your area.

So how can someone who’s starting out get noticed by customers?

The Inside Scoop on How to Find Your First Customers

Wonder no more: We scoured Facebook and asked our own SB community to get the inside scoop on how makeup artists found their first customers, including what they did to continue growing their clientele base.

Here are their top tips:

  1. “Make the most of social media, especially Instagram.”

    You’re going to hear this a lot, but the majority of makeup artists agree: social media — especially Instagram — is a great place to find new customers.

    Here’s why: Your customers are probably spending most of their downtime on their phones, scrolling through Insta and Facebook. If you have posts showing off your makeup skills and how you’ve transformed people’s appearance, they may opt to follow you for more content. In some cases, people may be ready to send you a message asking you for more details about your work and rates.

    When using social media to find customers, don’t forget to:

    • Brand your posts with your website address
    • Use clear and upbeat language to describe each post
    • Use a fair mix of imagery, videos, and more
    • Use local tags to increase the odds of finding customers near you
  2. “Talk to everyone.”

    It’s simple advice, but it works! Talk to everyone you can about what you’re trying to do with your new business venture. You never know when you’ll end up chatting with someone who knows someone who’s getting married and wants to hire a makeup artist, or a photographer looking for a makeup artist for photo shoots.

  3. “Attend events, expos, and parties.”

    If you live in a larger town or city, chances are there are plenty of expos and conventions nearby, and as a makeup artist, you want to take advantage of every wedding expo or special event you can. This is your chance to shine, network, and show off all the amazing things you do.

    Even if you just go as a guest, you can get a good feel for how other makeup artists in your area are using these expos and conventions to get clients.

  4. “Try out project-based services.”

    Sites like Thumbtack can be an excellent place for new makeup artists to find work, especially if they’re looking to specialize in wedding or special event makeup sessions.

    Here’s how it works: You post your profile on the site, along with your portfolio, information about your rates, and any other information clients need to know about you. Prospective customers can reach out to you directly, or you can “bid” on projects posted by clients.

    It’s recommended that you spend about 30 to 60 minutes each day searching through projects and reaching out to people. After awhile, you should have generated enough interest in your work that you can begin to acquire a few customers.

  5. “Post tutorials on YouTube.”

    It’s no secret that makeup artists can build a serious following on YouTube, but it’s also a fantastic platform to get customers to check out your work. Focus on uploading tutorials for both popular and classic makeup looks (hel-lo, smoky eyes) with an emphasis on helping the average person master those looks.

    Once you’ve created a YouTube channel with three to five makeup tutorials, share the videos on your social media and website. The goal is to show prospective clients that you have a good eye for makeup and you genuinely care about helping people look their absolute best.

  6. “Show off your portfolio.”

    Even if you don’t have a single client yet, create an online portfolio where you can show the world what you’re capable of doing. Have family members or friends model your makeup, or just apply it on yourself and post the pics online.

    This will show prospective clients the kind of makeup you specialize in so that they’re more likely to give you a call. Feature your portfolio on your website, social media, and anywhere else you’re online; it can generate a ton of interest in your work without your having to lift a finger.

  7. “Say yes to everything.”

    When you’re starting out, it pays to build your portfolio by taking on as many projects as possible. It’s not only great for expanding your skills, but makeup artists say it’s also one of the fastest ways to build a clientele base who may hire you for future work.

    Additionally, taking on all this work when your business is new means that you can get a better idea of what you want to specialize in.

What Do You Do Once You Have Customers?

  1. “Be kind.”

    This may be unusual advice to start off with, but a lot of makeup artists noted that being good with customers is fundamental to their success. And not just good with their makeup; what we mean is that they’re kind, patient, and able to build the client’s trust in them.

    After all, if a client doesn’t trust you, it doesn’t matter if you’re the best makeup artist in the world — you’re going to lose their business.

  2. “Go above and beyond.”

    If there’s something you can do to give your client a fantastic experience, do it. Offer a glass of champagne during consultations. Take a beautiful branded robe with you that they can wear during makeup trials. After their special event, follow up with them via text or email to see how they liked the makeup.

    These small details matter, and if you’re trying to build consistent business, going above and beyond creates a customer experience they’ll want to have again and again.

  3. “Grab their email addresses.”

    Having their phone number is one thing, but getting their email address means you can quickly send out email updates on new products you’ve added to your palette, special discounts, and your schedule during wedding and holiday seasons. Building an email list makes it easier for you to stay in touch with past customers and definitely increases the likelihood that they will reach out to you with more work.

  4. “Offer customer-only discounts.”

    Want to get past customers back? Email or text them enticing discounts, especially during the holiday seasons, when they’re more likely to need makeup for special events or photo shoots.

  5. “Make the most of the holidays.”

    Apart from the wedding season, the holidays can be a serious boon for makeup artists. People want to look their absolute best for the cocktail parties, company events, and holiday pictures, and that’s where you can pick up on repeat or even new business.

    Whether you offer a special holiday discount or plan an email marketing campaign at the beginning of September, be sure to let your customers know that you’re booking ahead for the holiday season. A lot of makeup artists said that it’s a great way to fill up your calendar through the end of the year.

  6. “Keep notes on your customers’ preferences.”

    Let’s say you’re hired to provide makeup services for a bride and her bridal party. You have the initial trial, where the bride tries out different looks for her big day. You take notes, writing down her preferences, what colors she selected, and how she felt about each look.

    The next time you meet, you recap what she liked and didn’t like, as well as recommendations you came up with based on your last appointment together. She’s so impressed that she books you for even more work — and so does her bridal party!

    To bolster your reputation, give each customer a personalized experience that truly makes them feel special and beautiful. When you show that you care about a customer’s makeup preferences, you’re creating the kind of irresistible experience that may keep customers coming back for more.

About the author

Mariah Bliss
Mariah Bliss
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!

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