How to Become a Freelance Makeup Artist: A Step-by-Step Guide - QC Makeup Academy

If you’re pursuing a career in makeup artistry, you’ve very likely considered freelancing (of course you have!). Becoming a freelance makeup artist is highly desirable – you can set your own hours and pay rate, choose your clients, and build a fabulous brand that you can be proud of. What’s not to love?

But everyone who’s earned their makeup certification is in the same boat as you. Actually landing those freelance makeup artistry jobs is hard when everyone’s fighting for work.

Don’t worry – we’ve put together a step-by-step guide to becoming a freelance makeup artist, so you’ll have all the skills you need to start out. Plus, you’ll know how to stay on top of new makeup trends and practices!

1. Learn How to do Makeup Properly

A certification and some experience under your belt are invaluable as you start your career as a makeup artist. Hone your skills as much as possible through makeup classes online or offline. Formal education isn’t necessary for many aspiring artists around the world. But it can pull you ahead when you’re neck-in-neck with another artist who lacks professional makeup training.

2. Reflect on your Services and Makeup Skills

The key to reflection is being honest with yourself. When you’ve just graduated from makeup school, you’ve probably got a decent skill set that’s work-ready. But you’ve still got a ways to go before you can call yourself a master in the industry. Ask yourself these questions: What are you good at? What are you not good at? Where can you improve? What’s one thing you can offer that other makeup artists in your area can’t?

school for makeup artist practicing makeup application on herself

In addition to practical skills, you’ll also need the following things to succeed:

  • Organizational skills: These are huge when it comes to managing your time, keeping track of your clients, and ensuring you turn a profit in freelance jobs. Think about it – if you can’t keep a proper schedule of your appointments, you could end up being late, or missing them altogether! This will affect your reputation as a makeup artist, and you’ll lose clients in the process. And if you can’t keep an organized budget, how will you know if you’re actually making money? What if you’re undercharging for your makeup services or overspending in other areas? Being your own boss sounds like a dream, but it takes an extremely organized individual to be fully responsible for themselves, their business, and their clients.
  • Work ethic: Having a strong work ethic is an essential aspect of freelance makeup artistry that isn’t mentioned enough! Any business owner must work hard. But in the makeup industry, you’ll need to work even harder. Prepare to really hustle as you build a name for yourself. You’ll need to master the art of networking and marketing so you can gain important experience and grow your client list. The good news is, if you’re passionate about your career, this will be a labor of love and a journey you’ll enjoy. Be honest with yourself about the work involved – your current lifestyle will change and your freelance makeup jobs will become the priority, so know what you’re getting yourself into.
  • Tech Knowledge: You don’t need to be totally tech-savvy to become a makeup artist, but you certainly need to be comfortable with social media and online culture. If you don’t already have a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, create accounts as soon as you can. The same goes for a professional website—this is the central hub where all your marketing will point to. It’s where people will look first to find out your story and book their appointments.
  • Professional makeup artistry portfolio: Every reputable makeup artist needs a standalone makeup portfolio (that’s not on Instagram)! Invest in a good camera or arrange a shoot with others. Fashion stylists,  hairstylists, photographers, and set designers who are also in the early stages of their careers may be willing to trade their skills for professional photos.

3. Build Your Professional Makeup Kit

A makeup artist kit is a professional MUA’s most prized possession. As a result, it can be a huge source of stress for newly certified makeup artists who know how much of an investment these products can be. Those color palettes and skincare products are certainly not cheap! However, building a professional makeup kit is a necessary evil. You’ll need to show up to every appointment with items such as quality brushes, a range of eye shadows, lipsticks, foundations, and cleaning products.

Thankfully, most makeup certification courses will include a free makeup kit at the beginning of your makeup training. You’ll gain a head start on putting together a professional makeup kit while getting used to working with larger palettes and your various professional tools.

Organizing your kit is an excellent step on the road to becoming a freelance makeup artist. You want your clients to come to you, and you don’t want them to find you unprepared! There are many ways to build your kit on a budget, and a good number of products that can be purchased at the drugstore rather than at your local Sephora. The plus side of being thrifty while building your kit? You’ll gain invaluable experience with a variety of different products, and will develop a sense of which ones to splurge on and where to save!

applying highlight on makeup model by professional makeup artist

4. Set Boundaries for Your Makeup Business

When first starting out, many novice makeup artists make the mistake of taking on as many clients and freelance makeup jobs as possible. However, you don’t want to burn out! And you certainly don’t want to overbook yourself and run the risk of mixing up appointments.

Just as we’ve mentioned above, be honest about your makeup artistry skills and the sorts of services you’d be comfortable offering. Perhaps you’re comfortable with airbrush makeup, glamour makeup, and everyday makeup applications, but bridal makeup has never been your strength (or your passion!). Guess what? You can say no to bridal clients. Heck, you can even be picky about bridal parties and wedding themes.

This may seem counter-intuitive to an aspiring freelance makeup artist. After all, you’re responsible for attracting your own business. But saying no can actually be a smart move. When you say no to a client, you’ll free up your time to take on other clients with who you do want to work. You’ll be much more likely to do your best work if you’re focused on a few specializations, and this will build your reputation and client base quickly through word-of-mouth.

So, consider these boundaries as a stepping stone to becoming the best freelance makeup artist you can be. A good understanding of your own strengths and interests will serve you well in the industry and can result in more clients and a happier career!

5. Be Assertive

This is where your work ethic comes in handy! In order to land those freelance makeup jobs, you’ll need to be assertive. There are several ways to find new clients, including reaching out to models and photographers who are looking for a makeup artist, approaching event and wedding venues, wedding planners, hair salons, and even doing makeup for your friends and family. Never underestimate the power of industry connections!

In addition to pounding the pavement this way, maintain an active online presence. You’ll increase the visibility of your makeup business to potential clients. And if you’re looking to network with other professionals, you’ll show them that you’re not just sitting around! Schedule an hour or two each day to add new photos to your website and social media accounts, chat with potential clients, and network online.

Keep in mind that word-of-mouth is a key element to a successful career in makeup. A client who is happy with your work will tell their friends about you or share a review on your Facebook page. Be sure to have business cards at the ready so those happy clients can pass along your information, and encourage them to follow you on social media. These kinds of referrals can seriously impact your career as a makeup artist, and quickly! That’s why it’s so important to focus on the kind of makeup that you’re passionate about (and good at!), as you’ll build a reputation for being a highly skilled makeup artist. Good news travels fast!

6. Stay Current with Makeup Trends and Keep Learning

The best makeup artists are those who are one step ahead of new makeup trends, and who keep developing their skills. Just resting on your laurels isn’t good enough. There’s always going to be someone out there who wants to make it big and is willing to put in the work. Just because you’ve hit a groove in your makeup career and are earning a steady income doesn’t mean you should ever slow down. Clients are going to expect you to be on top of beauty trends and be in the know about the latest makeup looks and newest color palettes. They’ll be impressed at your commitment to improvement as a makeup artist, so don’t hesitate to enroll in more makeup artistry courses that will increase your skill-set.

If you continue learning and stay relevant, you’ll soon find that you’re well ahead of the competition. As a freelance makeup artist, this is where you want to be—it sets your services and knowledge apart from those around you. So keep building and sharpening those skills!

Do you have a couple of hygiene habits you’re not proud of? Check out these AWFUL makeup habits you need to break!

Author Victoria Begin

More posts by Victoria Begin

Join the discussion 35 Comments

  • Danielle martins carvalho says:

    I am doing qcmakeup artistry now,and I enjoy so much…my dream is to one day became a good makeup artistry but i need to learn more ,is a bit hard for me because my english is not really good but i will keeping trying not matter what..and if the end of day if became a makeup artistry dent happen for me ,i will be more then happy to keeping learning for myself 😉

  • Trisa says:

    I really appreciate n am surely going to fallow the given guideline. Thank you.

  • Ester says:

    This information was useful

  • Fatmu says:

    Becoming freelance makeup artist is not an easy task you will not only need skills but also a good amount of work, it’s better to do a certification course in makeup which will enhance your skills and will also offer you working opportunity.
    Thank you

  • nano says:

    being a successfull makeup artist of course needs extra hard work and determination 😀

  • Princess says:

    Thank you such QC Makeup academy. Very useful information

  • Allie says:

    Soon enough I will be taking my talent and love for makeup to a bigger step and this information was very helpful!

  • Alex says:

    Nice Post.

  • Paige Anderson has been a part of the makeup artistry industry for many years. That’s why she is known as one of the prominent figures among all the self-made beauty entrepreneurs. Thanks for sharing this kind of post..

  • karma says:

    i love makeup

  • Gemma Mannering says:

    Becoming a makeup artist is not easy and not for everyone, like in the blog you need the passion and ability to get clients plus say no to jobs your not excited about. The free makeup kit you get with QC is amazing and really helped me when I first started building my professional kit because it has a array of products that are the basics of any makeup for example eye shadows and a brow palette. Also knowing your techniques will put you ahead of other makeup artists in your area because you are not just copying a photo of a makeup look, your basing it off of their face shape, eye shape etc.

  • Jordan Garcia says:

    Wow, it’s so crazy to think about all the things that go into being a freelance artist. I’m not gonna lie, I’m a bit nervous that I don’t know where to start! I’m working full-time at the moment, and I want to make this my full-time profession. I think though that being a student in the program is definitely a good start, and this article reinforces that I’m at least trending in the right direction.

    Thank you Victoria for sharing your wisdom!

    • Sarah-Lynn Seguin says:

      We definitely agree that by choosing to obtain a professional certification, you’ve already taken a MASSIVE step in the right direction, Jordan! xx Getting started can definitely feel overwhelming at first, but you’ve got this! Don’t forget, we’re always here to help if you ever have questions or need some guidance. 🙂

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • AbhishekZoy says:

    Thanks for sharing valuable content.

    • Sarah-Lynn Seguin says:

      You’re very welcome! Thank YOU for taking the time to read this article and comment. We’re happy to hear that you found the information in this article so helpful. 🙂

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Ramsha says:

    Being a makeup artist can be so hard but practice makes it easy. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful article with us really loved it.

    • Sarah-Lynn Seguin says:

      We couldn’t agree more, Ramsha! Anyone who thinks that being a makeup artist is easy clearly never tried to DO professional makeup before. 😛 But you’re right – the more you practice this craft, the more effortless it will eventually become. We’re so happy to hear you enjoyed this article. We appreciate you taking the time to read it and leave such a wonderful comment! xx

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Nadperfumes says:

    Thanks for Sharing this Content.

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      You’re very welcome! Thank YOU for taking the time to read it, and for leaving a comment! 😀

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Becoming freelance makeup artist is a very good career choice. You can earn good amount with your any other job. For become freelancer makeup artist you can start with certification course in makeup which will enhance your skills and will also offer you working opportunity.

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      You’ve hit the nail on the head, Meribindiya! 🙂 Freelance makeup is a wonderful career paths for those interested in being a professional MUA, for SO many reasons! And we definitely agree that if one wants to know how to become a freelance makeup artist, the best place to start is by taking an accredited course and earning a reputable certification. Thanks so much for reading! xx

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Amazing knowledge and I like to share this kind of information. Thank You so Much For Sharing This information.

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Hi there, thank you so much for taking the time to read our article, and for leaving such kind words! We’re very happy to hear that you found the information contained in this post to be so useful and beneficial! <3

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • important information thanks for sharing this
    it will help me.

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Thanks so much for taking the time to read our article, and for leaving such a kind comment. We apologize for the delayed response, and we’re so happy to hear that you found the information discussed within it to be so useful for you! <3

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Tanya maheshwari says:

    How can we know that what is event is going nearby

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Hi Tanya, thanks so much for commenting and our apologies for the delayed reply! Honestly, the best way to know what sort pf events are happening near your area would be to look around online (such as on Google). For example, if you lived in New York, you might search on Google:

      -“Makeup shows near me New York”
      -“Makeup trade shows near me Yew Nork”, etc.

      We hope this helps! x

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Tanya maheshwari says:

    Becoming freelance makeup artist is a very good career choice. You can earn good amount with your any other job. For become freelancer makeup artist you can start with certification course in makeup which will enhance your skills and will also offer you working opportunity.

  • Garima Singh says:

    Makeup done by professionals gives you flawless look. They know the techniques like fx, airbrush etc

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      We couldn’t agree more, Garima! 🙌 Thanks so much for reading and for taking the time to leave such an awesome comment!

      All the best,
      The QC Team

  • Asif Gulraiz says:

    With makeup, you can change your appearance if it is done professionally. But it is important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Here you have given very informative tips on growing up a business based on this art. Great Job!

    • Sloane Seguin says:

      Hey Asif,

      We couldn’t agree more, you’ve hit the nail on the head! 🙌 Thank you so much for taking the time to read our article, and for leaving such a wonderful comment!

      All the best,
      The QC Team

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