Have you been dreaming about starting a makeup artistry business? If so, you are in the right place! I have so much information to share with you! Let me start with my own story, which — let’s not lie — has quite a bit of context behind it and really merits its own blog post. I’ll spare you the nitty gritty details though and try to keep it short and simple.
Once upon a time in mid 2014, I decided I wanted to start a side-hustle makeup artistry business because I thought it would be fun and I could have a creative outlet. I had been doing makeup for friends and colleagues my entire life so I thought to myself, “no big deal! I’ll just do it.”
After making sure this decision wouldn’t put a huge financial strain on our family (I googled what I needed to do to start a small business), I just did it. I literally jumped in and figured it out as I went. Lots and lots of wins and mistakes were made during this time. Little did I know I had entered a cutthroat, fierce, and unapologetic industry.
Obviously, I already made sure I was legally allowed to do makeup artistry – so find out what you need to do wherever you live to make sure you can do it legally. Because it is different everywhere in the world (and I’m not a lawyer), I cannot really help you there. I will say I started my business in California and registered as a sole-proprietor. Only after I had my business license did I start on my website.
Four years ago, I was old school and wasn’t really “on” Instagram or Facebook outside of connecting with friends and family. I wasn’t even really “on” YouTube. I was still in the mindset that I needed to have a professional-looking website first. You will eventually need one, but don’t let that hold you back from just doing the work! However, in my experience, it’s best to do it right and start with a website (hey, that rhymes!)
There are many companies who will sell you a domain and host your site for you. Let me tell you, the best accidental decision I made was to keep these two separate. Of course, I had heard of GoDaddy.com and HostGator.com, but GoDaddy bought up a domain I had been looking at on their site. Seriously. When I was ready to purchase it, I realized THEY had already purchased it and they raised the price. Not cool GoDaddy… not cool.
Once I realized that some companies really suck, I needed to find a new, trustworthy place to buy a domain. I will say, I am THRILLED with my choice — it’s still where I buy ALL my domains to this day: hover.com. With the exception of one semi-rude interaction with a customer service person, I’ve been so happy. I am a loyal Hover customer for life!
Check out Hover here.
(Updated 14 February 2019)
I started my business on Wix. Why? Because they had catchy ads on my Facebook feed and they kept offering 50% discounts several times a year. Wix was great. I really can’t complain at all. I think if you are going to establish a business in a place where it’ll be for the long-term, it’s great. It’s all drag and drop, you can have a website up and running in a day, and you can get kinda techy if you want to really dive in. Their support is pretty good and overall, it was a great starting place for me.
So I went to the place everyone said to go… WordPress.org (hosted by Bluehost)
Why did I end up switching, you ask?
I got to a place where I wanted to do more than Wix was able to do… (even though Wix has since improved so much, I probably could’ve stuck it out).
Some of those things are:
I hired a web developer / graphic designer to migrate my Wix site into WordPress.org. This wasn’t cheap but I knew I couldn’t do it myself. I found a “theme” called Uncode I thought would fit my new brand perfectly. I pretty much gave up all the reigns to my web developer during this time because I was literally clueless and didn’t have the emotional fortitude to deal with it.
The good thing is he saved me a lot of money with Bluehost… but he blocked me into a 36 month deal with BlueHost (I’m still paying for it although I don’t use it). While I don’t have anything really negative to say about them (I love the 24/7 Live Chat feature), I felt like a drop in a bucket. That’s not the best feeling. But it’s also good to know they are so big and have lots of resources that smaller companies might not have.
FYI — I host my travel blog with Lyrical Host and I love them. I plan on moving my site over to them after — or maybe even before — my time with BlueHost is up. They are helpful and responsive. I feel like I am their only client (but I know I’m not!) and there’s so many perks; free stock photos is a huge one. They’ll also handle the move from BlueHost to LyricalHost, which makes me happy. You can try Lyrical Host out 10% off with the discount code BWB10.
If I had to do it again… I wouldn’t unless you have a lot of extra time to give a WordPress.org site the attention it needs.
So then meet the site you are on today, powered by Showit! I love love love it. I bought a STUNNING theme from Tonic and well, customized the hell out of it. If you don’t love my site, then we can never really be friends 😉 If you’d like to make the switch to Showit and you want to save some money. You can use my referral link here and use NATALIESETAREH for 10% off. These sites rarely go on sale… and it’s not super easy to find a discount, just saying!
I used to use the free version JotForm, which would send queries straight to my inbox. I would respond individually to each client, send invoices through PayPal or I’d bring my free Square reader to events. Truthfully, I was mostly paid in cash in the beginning, so this worked great… for awhile. Even though I created email templates and I personalized them, I knew I would miss something important one day. It was too hands-on and a little cumbersome.
I kept reading and learning about Client Management Systems and well, it got overwhelming. One of the first places I turned was Honeybook because they make The Rising Tide Society possible and I love the Rising Tide Society! I love it so much that I volunteer as a leader for Wiesbaden’s chapter. This is an organization with heart and compassion, with a true “community over competition” mindset. It is so welcoming, and this group has been instrumental to my success as a creative entrepreneur. So yes, I trust Honeybook with my client management. It’s been my holy grail as far as client management, branding, professionalism, and getting paid!
This is one of the biggest hiccups. While this may be a turn off for you, I have several workarounds! First, I still have quite a few American clients who can make payments in USD to me, so I can still use 100% of Honeybook for these clients with US addresses. For my clients who do not pay USD, I use Honeybook for everything EXCEPT invoicing. For invoicing, I use PayPal or attach my own invoice to these clients.
Again, my non-USD paying clients are still in the same project planning and tracking pipeline, which I’ve modified for my specific needs.
Interested in trying Honeybook out for yourself? My referral link gets you 50% off your first year! You can test drive it and see how it can work for your business. There are so many fun features and integrations, and I’m happy to chat with you in person about them because yes, I’m a real person and I can really give you some insights on this!
Test drive Honeybook out 50% off for an entire year with my referral link (pure gold, you guys!):
There’s no denying how valuable email marketing is. Social media platforms do NOT belong to us and if anything happens or changes to our accounts, the algorithms, or the platforms themselves, we could potentially lose everything we’ve built and all our followers! Therefore, it’s important to build your email list, at a minimum, in case of emergency.
There are so many options when it comes to email marketing, I know! I started with MailChimp because it was recognizable, trustworthy, and free and easy to set up. It was FINE. Really, it was.
But I wanted something easier and more intuitive! So I switched to MailerLite. I exported the files per the instructions and voila! It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers. You can use my referral link to get a $20 credit when you sign up and if you upgrade you’re account, I’ll get a $20 credit too. Everybody wins! Check out MailerLite here.
Originally, I thought I needed to show up everywhere in order to be a “legitimate” makeup artist. But, I quickly learned there is NO way to do it all, and there’s really no point in trying. Just pick 1-2 social platforms that you want to focus on and really try to nurture an audience by sharing helpful and informative content.
Of course, you need to set up and optimize your profile with a strong bio, and post consistently using engaging captions and optimized hashtags that will attract your dream clients. I know it can be overwhelming, which is why I created my 30 Minute Instagram Audit service, which you can schedule by clicking here!
Now, onto some of the more makeup artist specific things that you’ll need to know when you start out:
This is sticky. Because I live in Germany, getting all my favorite products delivered to my doorstep is quite expensive and challenging. However, I do go to the States at least once a year and I stock up hard core on my kit essentials. There are times, though, where I need to place an order and have the swag delivered to the next visiting family or friend 🙂
Here in Germany, I find myself stopping at Douglas for all my last-minute makeup purchases! Here are some other favorites:
It took me over a year — and signing a contract with the wrong person — to find my right hand girl. You might not need someone at first, but eventually you will be so busy doing #allthethings that you find you need help.
If you’re like me, you chose this career because you love the makeup side of it. However, the honest truth is the business side of it will end up becoming just as much a part of your day as the makeup. If that doesn’t sound fun to you (or you have a family, like me, and it just isn’t possible for you to do it all) you will want to look for an assistant or a way to outsource some of the work.
I hired a virtual assistant in 2017, Kari Perlewitz, who has been instrumental to my growth. I don’t know what I’d do without her! If you are getting swamped, outsource sooner rather than later. You do NOT want to burn out!
When I wanted to rebrand a bit and also develop my Makeup Reset Workshop Series, I hired MaryBeth of The Egino Community and she has been nothing short of amazing!
Lastly, you’ll need professional headshots and photos. If you don’t have at least one professional photo of yourself, make this investment stat! In this fierce and competitive beauty industry, you need to put your best face forward. Selfies are NOT going to hack it!
International Makeup Artist Trade Show (Free to Apply)
I applied and received my pro-card which has so many perks. You can read all about it online. I really should blog about my attendance at IMATS London and what I learned at Kat Von D’s Behind the Veil Masterclass with Tara Buenrostro…
Female Entrepreneur Association ($37/month)
I will be writing up a blog post on my experience of one year with FEA and more importantly, why I left. I’m not saying don’t do it (I was in the group for one year) but I’ll mostly be saying why I left. Stay tuned!
Tuesday’s Together (Free)
I discuss in detail how and why this group has really helped my makeup artistry business and mindset in this in the Merrily Show Podcast episode here.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! I’ve also created a freebie checklist that strips away all the wordiness and just lists out all of the resources I recommend for aspiring makeup artistry business owners. It features referral links (not affiliate links) and many of these links will get you free trials or discounts on these resources. My referral links are WIN, WIN. You win some, I win some. Click here to download it!
I’m Natalie, an American born makeup artist & makeup educator based in Wiesbaden, Germany. I truly believe that makeup, when applied well, can transform us in so many ways. My page is a space for inspiration, education, and advice. Thanks for being here & I’d love to connect with you!