10 ways to generate additional income for struggling MUAs

We all come to a point in our careers where we face financial struggles. 9 times out of 10 it is within the first 5 years. But as a freelance makeup artist in the entertainment industry, that number varies significantly from person to person. I’ve come across many artists at all stages who seem to hit a brick wall and once they hit that wall, they give up. My reaction? Maybe they didn’t realize the many options we have as freelancers to either A. avoid those situations or B. understand that this happens to all of us. My goal is to offer as much help/info as possible to those who have come face to face to that wall.

Through the many, many interviews that we have conducted thus far filming What It Takes, one answer seems to be consistent with each of the most successful artists: if you feel the need to give up because of the lack of “financial reward” or “lack of work,” then you are not in this industry for the right reasons. **These words are a combination of more than 10 award winning tv/film/print artists that answered the question: “What would you tell an aspiring artist who felt like they wanted to give up?” ….Which artists am I referring to? Eh. I’m going to leave it open and let alllllll ya’ll wait until the film comes out 😉 hehe But, for starters, all artists have a combined 50+ award nominations and over 20 wins. Aka these people are the ones we should all be listening to.

This got me thinking...have I ever wanted to “give up?” As I thought more and more about it, the answer was absolutely No. Have I faced extreme financial crisis’? Absolutely…on several occasions actually. Have I become physically ill due to the stresses of not knowing when I will be able to pay my bills? Unfortunately, yes. But have I truly thought or said aloud, “This isn’t working for me, maybe I should do something else.” No. I haven’t. So I began to wonder: Why were there people that, once they hit the same struggles I have, give up?  Then I realized….one thing that I will say I am proud to admit is that I am a research freak…to the core. I always have been. This has lead me to find jobs that most people may not have found because I dig for work for hours on end. Plus, I am 97% of the time a very positive person. This past year was pretty damn rough..was I posting about it non stop that I thought I was always being ripped off or how awful this industry is becoming? Ha ha! No. (This baffles me that so many people focus on the negatives in this industry. We have the coolest job in the world, own it!)

I am a firm believer in the law of attraction/what comes around goes around/everything happens for a reason. While I have experienced times of financial struggle, I have still maintained a very consistent career as a freelancer over the past 5 years. Enough to live off of, which supposedly only 1% of the freelance world can actually do. Something I probably take for granted. But, today I wanted to share with all of you -beginners or seasoned artists who have come to hard times- what you can do to keep yourself in the industry and avoid financial hardships! These are 10 options/ways I have known to work very well, not only for myself, but for many many others. My apologies: this may be long, but VERY well worth your time if you are ever in this position! Enjoy 🙂

1.House calls/marking on social media: I have a cosmetology license, so this works very, very well to my benefit. I cut friend’s and family members hair in my free time if/when I need extra cash. Don’t do hair? Offer your makeup services to friends and family members. The best way to promote this is via social media, or something as simple as texting/emailing/calling. If you have an esthetician license, massages/facials/waxing are an option for you as well.

2.Uber or other app services: For those of you who have Uber or Lyft in your city, I have heard nothing but GREAT things about these services. Some people I know have made 3-4,000 a month just driving Uber. It’s pretty nifty. There are requirements for what type of cars they allow. Opportunities doesn’t stop there. Now, there are apps for dog walkers, errand runners, even makeup or hair services like Glamsquad or Priv. The last two are something to make sure you take in all considerations…I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about them such as how pay, not many appointments, etc. But if you are just starting out, those would be good for some extra cash!

3. Craiglists isn’t always a bad thing: I’ve gotten many great gigs off of Craigslist! A few commercials, some photoshoots here and there. Just be aware of the details and make sure you ask the right questions. I know a lot of the feature films I have worked on will post on Craigslist if they need extra help in any department, so don’t let Craigslist scare you! They also have really good posts for serving jobs and retail gigs (will get into those options later).

4. Serving/retail/temp work: I want to emphasize that these jobs, although they suck most of the time, are very very helpful. I -for the LONGEST time- was extremely stubborn about getting a retail job because I kept telling myself, “Well what if I get a feature film and I would need to leave for weeks at a time? Then what?” or
“What if I get a call to do a gig for some major show and I have to turn it down because I couldn’t get the day off work?” I have a feeling this happens to a lot of us. Just last month, I bit my tongue for once and applied to Bath and Body Works at the mall and landed the job. I am here to tell you…. ever since picking up that job, I have doubled if not tripled my monthly income. I was lucky that the manager I have is very very flexible with my weekly schedule, and I have been able to work on commercials and short films along with my part time job. There are Countless ways to pick up a part time job: Look on Craigslist, walk around your local mall and apply to every where you can see yourself enjoy working at, or google places you would like to work and call em up! (Tip: Apply to places that you know you would enjoy working at first. Ex. if you like video games and know all about them, apply at game stores. If you like reading, apply at a book store. If you like decorating, apply somewhere like Bed Bath and Beyond. You see the trend.) The worst that can happen is 1. they say no, or 2. they hire you and you end up getting a rad 2 month gig and having to leave. Not so bad, right?

5. Sell artwork: I’ll go back to talking about the apps that are so easily available to us. Things like Etsy or Ebay to name a few, are at the tip of your fingers. Don’t have a smart phone? Just load up some pictures on to your computer and you can sell these online! A friend of my sister just started a new upholstering business via Etsy and within a month or so of selling her work online quit her day job and now does what she enjoys full time. It’s a neat story! I think it’s safe to say that if you are a makeup artist, you mooooost likely have very artistic abilities in many mediums. So… while we have our slow days/weeks/months…ahem….free time…. get some stuff together and MAKE something cool! The best part? You can make money off that Sh*t! Bam. Easy as pie ya’ll.

6. Babysitting/dogwalking/house sitting: This is pretty self explanatory. We all have friends with either kids, dogs, or friends who have been fortunate enough to take time off to go on exotic vacations (oh how I can’t wait for my time to come!). Take advantage of that and hit those friends up! Negotiate some prices, and there you go. Extra money in your pocket according to YOUR schedule.

7.Assistant work: As a full time freelancer, I wouldn’t suggest assisting at a salon. Thats just my opinion, from my own experiences. It was dreadful being on someone else’s time 30+ hours a week in a place that I didn’t want to be while being offered 3-5 day gigs on something I would rather be doing. Sorry, but it’s the truth. But that is only for the salon world. Assisting is probably the best experience you can get-on any level. No matter how many years you have been doing makeup, you will ALWAYS LEARN SOMETHING NEW by assisting someone else. It’s so fascinating to me and I assist others all the time. Call up your friends from makeup school, see if they need an assistant. Take that extra step to contact your 5 biggest mentors and see if they need some assistance. You never know what you can happen if you offer your services to the right people at the right time!

8. Plan. I emphasize this word. Why? Because in the past 5 years, I have made the same mistake over and over again. This year is going to be different (desk slam, stern face). Why you ask again? Because I now know almost exactly how the freelance work fluctuates from month to month (more like season to season). Every year, I make the mistake of not setting extra cash in my savings during the December and January months. It destroys me every year, and I have suffered some awful consequences for not being prepared. So, my best piece of advice to all of you is PLAN your finances accordingly. My brilliant plan? Getting a retail job. Summer months are slow-steady weekly hours, while holiday times are busy-max weekly hours. For us freelancers, The slow months vary quite a bit depending on what direction you are going. For instance: December/January/early February for film is SLOW for tv/film gigs. But for fashion? Tends to be a little busier due to red carpet events for awards season. Busy months for tv/film tend to be (for me anyway) April/May/June. These months (according to a mens grooming stylist), are the slow months in fashion.

9. Health and Nutrition: Yes. I personally believe your health and nutrition can help your success with more cash flowing into your bank account. The reason is because when we do not take care of ourselves properly, this effects our moods. And MANNNNN do our moods effect our careers in this industry. Who wants someone to do their makeup who is cranky all the time, has bad odor, or is sick? I’ll give an honest example: I had an artist who shall remain nameless show up to a gig that I referred them to, and the director texted me the day of the shoot telling me, “Why would you send me someone with such a bad attitude?” He, obviously, never hired that person again. I had a chat with this individual via phone to see what was up, and her excuse was that she was “tired” and “hungry at the time.” Um…. what?! Do yourselves all a favor: Feed your body the right food, and get good sleep. Don’t sleep well? There’s a yummy drink that helps me sleep on nights I am wide awake before a 5 am call time: Neuro Sleep. Melatonin and Magnesium are both wonderful ingredients for sleep aid. Hungry? Make sure to get a good amount of protein during breakfast, it will keep your stomach feeling full for longer.

10. Overall wellness and positivity: This is something I really feel strongly about. Being positive will do wonders for not only your career, but your life as well. You never know who is watching. If you’re at the coffee shop and compliment your cashier, the person behind you may just be some major producer who notices and sees your positivity and start up a convo about a new project he needed a makeup artist on. When you are an overall positive person, people view you as extremely approachable. I try to be at least positive 95% of the time, and it’s always obvious when I am having a bad day because it tends to return negatively. It’s pretty interesting actually. What you put out will come back to you in return! Perfect example is when I kept telling myself that getting a retail job would hinder my chances of booking more makeup gigs. At that time, I wasn’t booking gigs frequently, it was pretty inconsistent. The minute I stopped thinking so negatively and switched my thoughts to a more positive outlook, I ended up getting the retail job and even MORE makeup gigs that worked perfectly around my new schedule, tripling my monthly income. Don’t underestimate the power of positive thinking!

Alright! Feeling a little better?  This concludes my 10 tips to generating more income for those of us who are or have experienced financial struggles. Like I said, I am a research freak, so I hope these options are valuable to any of you out there who feel hopeless financially and emotionally. Don’t let the slow times get to you because it happens to ALL of us. Keep your head up, don’t stop doing what you love, know that having a part time job elsewhere doesn’t NOT mean you are giving up, and that everything will fall in place for you when it’s supposed to.

Thanks for reading this extremely long blog. Have a stellar day, y’all!

xo, Amber

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