Leaving the security of a full time job to pursue your dream of working for yourself can seem scary – but with careful planning it really doesn’t have to be. Here are 6 simple tips to help you budget, plan, and make your dream a reality.
Unlike working for a company as a full time employee, a freelance MUA’s income can be erratic – especially when you’re first starting out. This is why it’s so important to consider your finances, and plan as much as you can prior to starting. It takes confidence to make a break from full time employment and launch a successful freelance career, here are six tips to help you on that journey;
1) Make sure you’ve got the skills you need
The first step to being ready to be your own boss is to get a set of in-demand skills. Think carefully about what area of makeup you want to pursue. Is it film and TV? do you need hairdressing skills also? do you need to be able to do basic special effects? If you identify any gaps in your skill set make sure you get additional training, find a mentor to help you or simply practice until your confident.
If you want to focus on bridal makeup consider having a trial with a competitor you rate. You’ll be able to see how they work, assess their skills and know if you match up, or indeed exceed them!
Clients and companies are constantly on the look out for talented people that stand out from the crowd so make sure your proposition and skill set helps you stand out.
2) Consider keeping your day job
This may sound contrary to going freelance but hear me out. If you have bills to pay or your household relies on your income, consider splitting your new freelance career with a part time job. Have you explored reducing your current hours to part time, or getting a part time job to supplement your freelance work in the early days?
It takes time to build up your portfolio, network and secure clients so having the safety net of regular income can make the transition that much easier. And your part time job doesn’t have to be unrelated, consider becoming an associate for one of the big cosmetic brands, not only will you get training and product discounts, it’s also flexible enough to fit around your freelance work.
And, of course, once you feel confident that you’ve got clients, started to establish a reputation and have a good idea of where to find work you can make the transition to full time freelance.
3) Plan, plan, plan
Deciding to go freelance and work for yourself can be as exciting as it is nerve wrecking! Exciting it is and it’s easy to get carried away with buying things you don’t need and going head first out there, only to find a short time later that
When you go freelance you are your business and, just like any other business start up, you need a plan. Taking the time to put together a business plan will help you to quickly see where to focus your energy, spot potential problems, set out your goals and measure your progress.
A basic business plan should include;
What’s your business name and locations covered
What you specialise in
How you plan to make money
Who your potential clients are
How you will find your clients
Your competitors
What type of marketing you will do to get your name out there
What results you are looking to achieve with your marketing
How much you will charge
How many days of the week you will work
Your expenses
How you can diversify your income
4) Use an accountant
It might seem a luxury to pay for an accountant when you’re just starting out, but a good accountant will save you time, stress and money in the long run. They will make sure that you establish your freelance business in the most tax-efficient way, and that you comply with all your financial obligations. They can also suggest ways you can boost your income, with different business structures and tax for example.
Some accountants will also offer bookkeeping services which can be beneficial when starting out. By allowing someone to take care of the financial record keeping you can free up your time to focus on driving your business, securing clients and making money.
5) Budget well
With no guarantee of a regular income, it’s important that you know how to budget as a freelancer. Many freelancers keep a pot of savings stashed away to cover their basic outgoings for a reasonable time – in case you suddenly have a spell without work. But for most new freelancers, a savings pot is a luxury they can’t afford. Instead, you need to get very good at watching the pennies and putting by a little here and there when you can.
A good way to start is by tracking your income and expenses over a few months (you can start this before you go freelance). From there, work out how much you need to cover your absolute essentials, such as mortgage, utility bills and insurance. Also calculate how much you need to enjoy a basic lifestyle.
And finally, remember to budget for tax. Unlike salaried employees, your tax isn’t deducted regularly from your income at source. Instead you need to complete a self assessment or company accounts once a year and pay any tax you owe on your earnings. If you don’t put aside money for tax regularly throughout the year, you could get a shock!
6) Get your pricing right
Last but very far from least, if you want to be a successful freelancer, you need to charge the right amount. Charge too much and you risk pricing yourself out of work completely. Charge too little and you’ll soon feel resentful at slaving away for so little – you’ll also attract more poor quality clients who don’t value what you do.
So what is the right amount to charge? A good place to start is by finding out what other freelancers of your standard and experience charge. Don’t assume that just because you are starting out that you can’t charge the same, you have to take into account the amount you have invested in training, the hours you have spent practicing and the money you’ve spent building your kit. There are lots of variable to consider when choosing what to charge, but my advice is to be confident and ask for what you feel you are worth. Don’t sell yourself short!
If you’re really stuck as to pricing, see if you can find any friendly makeup artists who are happy to give you some guidance. Either contact them directly, see if your friends or business associates have any idea or contacts, or ask in industry forums.
Whatever rates you decide on, as a freelancer you need to get comfortable around the topic of money – you’ve worked hard to get to this point so be confident and move forward knowing you can ask to be paid properly for your passion, dedication and skill.

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