Becoming A Commercial Makeup Artist – Part Three

If you have read Part One and Part Two I will assume you now have your own domain name, your own website, and a great portfolio online. Now you need a "hit list."

Your "Hit List"

Let’s address testing for your book. Your book is now online of course, this is 2017. Your images, as I mentioned earlier, must be very good. Everything about the images you show must be very good. One bad image can ruin your chances at a job. I can hear you now – "I need better photos!" How do you get better images if you can’t get the jobs and shoot with better teams?

This is where you need to be persistent. I suggest you make a "hit list." A "hit list" is the top 10 photographers in your area, the ones you assume will never work with you because they get the major commercial work and have great teams already in place. If you don’t know who the great photographers are you need to start Googling and get your hit list together. Please forget the newbies unless their work is what you would picture in your book. When you visit these successful photographers' sites, gather their email addresses.

Narrow your hit list down to your top 10 photographers and start emailing them. You need to email them all. Let these photographers know that you are willing to test on any project they might have coming up in the future. Show them a small sample of your best work. Now sit back and wait for the phone to ring. LOL! You’ll be waiting a long time because one email probably isn’t going to work. It will probably take about six emails to all 10 photographers to get a single response. Until they issue a restraining order you need to keep emailing, about one email per month. The subject line of this email is very important. 

Example Subject line:

  • Makeup Artist Mary Erickson

The reason I put my name in the subject line is to stamp my name on their memory, I want them to think of me and my name when an opportunity arises. I put the word "Makeup Artist" in the subject to make it searchable if and whenever the photographer happens to search their emails for "Makeup Artist," in case they forget my name. 

Example of the email:  

Dear John Doe,

I found your work while browsing the Internet and I wanted you to know I admire your work. I’m a local makeup artist (I also do hair). I’m sure you have good teams with which you work. However, I would like to be considered should you have any test project in the near future. I am working on updating my portfolio. I would be happy to meet with you anytime to discuss this in person, or you can call me at 555-555-5555. Attached you will see just a few Images I’ve worked on as a sample of my work.

Respectfully,
Mary Erickson

Testing is a great way to meet good photographers and show them (in person) that you’re a good artist, you’re reliable, trustworthy and easy to get along with. Of course, when you do get that chance, should you prove otherwise, you lose that chance with that photographer forever. 

Let’s say your book is already awesome. Use the same repeating email strategy. It shows you’re humble, willing to work free at least once to establish the relationship. Keep in mind, the purpose of the "hit list" and the continual emailing is to burn your name into the photographers' memory.

Now what? You emailed your "hit list," so now you need another "hit list." This one is for the best Makeup Artists in your area that do commercial work. You need to know who they are and you need to establish a relationship with them. I know they’re your "competition," but they really are your allies in the business, makeup artists without friends in high places don’t generally get far. In fact, the ones who have a hold of the commercial market in your area can keep you out with just a few negative comments to others.

Repeat what you did with your Photographers "hit list" with the best artists in your area, but change your email. Again, the subject line is very important. 

Subject Line examples:

  • I admire your work!
  • I’ve heard great things about you
  • Your work is beautiful!

Example Email Body:

Hello Jane,

My name is Mary Erickson. I live in San Diego, and have been working as a Makeup Artist for a few years. I was searching the Internet and found your portfolio and I admire your work. (Say something nice about an image in their book to show them you really did look at it) If you should ever need an assistant I would love to clean your brushes, carry your bags, whatever you need. I’m sure you get these requests frequently and you take a real gamble working with people you don’t know. I would love to meet you for coffee or take you to lunch, at your convenience of course. My number is 555-555-5555. You can call me or text me anytime.

Respectfully,
Mary Erickson

Now let’s get started! Even if you’re an established artist who wants to get into commercial work, these emails are crucial. These relationships are crucial. You must have allies and friends. Most cities have a very small group of artists that do commercial work.

Most makeup artists never break into this commercial area, it takes diplomacy, professionalism, persistence, allies and hard work. If you’ve already burned bridges in this area you need to start rebuilding them. It’s time to swallow your pride, send flowers, or do whatever you need to do. You can’t succeed without the help of the major players in your market. 

While you mend those bridges, and work on your hit lists, I’ll wait right here.

Part 4 coming soon! Please sign up for my blog below: