I often get asked this question by potential career-changers who are thinking of following their dreams and becoming an MUA and/or hairstylist. The actual figure can vary dramatically so I thought I’d put together a post about what I think the average cost is to get to the standard where you can get bookings through the door.
Courses are just the beginning of your journey and so many more pieces have to come into play for you to make it big in this busy and wonderful world of bridal and occasion beauty.
To date we’ve trained close to 200 students on a one-on-one basis and continue to follow a lot of their journeys. As part of our courses we make recommendations for a basic starter kit and also help work out a business plan so we have a pretty good idea about the costs associated with choosing this career.
If you’re thinking of becoming an MUA/hairstylist in the wedding industry but don’t have any training yet then the things to consider and the associated costs I’ve covered below…
Choose your courses carefully. I get tons of messages/e-mails every day from new MUAs/hairstylists telling me how disappointed they are having spent lots of money on makeup/hair courses and leaving the schools without any reasonable ability to actually go and do makeup/hair in the real world, on real brides and clients.
If you’re a career-changer especially, you don’t really want to study alongside college graduates as the time they have to yet discover which areas of makeup/hairstyling are of interest is very different to yours.
You’ve already had a career and know exactly what you want – you don’t have time to waste. You want the fastest, most straightforward route to your destination.
If you’ve gotten to this point in the blog post you’re most likely thinking seriously about a career in bridal makeup artistry/hairstyling. Intensive small group or one-on-one courses, given by tutors whose skills are constantly in demand in the UK and internationally, are what you need.
It’s the tutors that are important as they are the ones who will not only teach you but guide and mentor you long after the courses are over and when you’re in need of some hand-holding.There really is no comparison to the value of private tuition. Course prices vary quite a lot but where you choose to study will directly affect your success within your new career and how well-paid it’ll become.
Choose wisely. Our courses start from £395 a day. If you’re a complete newbie, for MUAs I’d recommend a 5-Day Starter Bridal Makeup course, followed by a Bridal Perfection Makeup Masterclass and Portrait Photography Masterclass. If you have the time and the budged then our 10-Day Complete Bridal Makeup course would be perfect and give you a definite head-start.
For hairstylists we offer a very comprehensive 5-Day Bridal Hairstyling course.
These courses will all give you some very strong basics training from which you’ll be able to start practising with a purpose and carving out your new career.
Another considerable expense is a good camera – every MUA should also be an excellent portrait photographer. Your images are your biggest advert, they sell your work. You might be able to write the most eloquent and enticing words but it’s within the photos where the magic really happens – igniting the imagination of potential clients and removing the word “potential”. They showcase your skills and the transformations you’re capable of – as I mentioned in my most popular blog to date which I recommend you read after this one: 5 Reasons Why Makeup Artists Fail (So You Don’t Have To).
Basic DSLR cameras and a portrait lens start at around £400 but if you can stretch to it cameras priced around the £1,000 mark mean you’ll be kitted out to take some really great images.
Take a portrait photography course – you have a camera now you need to learn how to use it to take some amazing images in various lighting situations. This includes knowing how to relax your clients into flattering poses and how to quickly capture your work on wedding days when there’s not much time for you to take pics. These are some of the key skills you’ll need in order to take great images that will be consistent in style and keep your portfolio and Insta timeline fresh, exciting and inviting. The cost of our Portrait Photography Masterclass is £180.
Starter makeup kit – expect to pay around £500+. Expensive products do not compensate for insufficient skills. Don’t go crazy buying too many products thinking they’ll help. Instead invest in time spent practising and honing your skills in order to get your hands to listen to you.
Because of my experience I can confidently prepare beautiful makeup creations with 8 to 10 different products and 5 to 6 brushes. It’s really not the quantity of stuff in your kit but the right product choices and the quality of your skills that make a difference in how well your work will be liked and recommended. Starter kit recommendations are part of our makeup courses.
The cost of a hairstyling kit is similar and you’ll need a good sturdy suitcase to carry these kits to your clients.
Website – one of your biggest marketing tools. Google is still the number one search engine and a huge chunk of work will come your way via it. You have to plan your website carefully but you don’t need to spend loads of money on it. There are plenty of web-design companies out there offering inexpensive yet effective templates that you can fill in yourself.
Make sure your website is clean, not too colourful and definitely not cluttered. Let your images and your own authentic words speak for themselves. Expect to pay around £150 for a basic template plus hosting fees (£100 or so a year). If you need help with filling out the template then you might have to pay web-designers – peopleperhour.com and fivver.com are full of such service providers at reasonable prices. That’s also where you can order inexpensive logo designs as well as help with copy-writing. Logos can be very simple – it’s not the fancy logo that will sell your services, it’s the quality of your work, images and recommendations.
Instagram – this social media platform has huge potential to sell your work FOR FREE if you know how to do it right. Occasionally you might want to run sponsored adverts or boost your posts and you can choose how much you spend.
There are plenty of cost-effective possibilities to market yourself, you just need to schedule some time to learn about them, how they work and therefore how to use them properly.
Insurance – you have to get insured, no ifs or buts, and the average cost is between £50 and £100 per year depending on the level of cover.
To go to clients you may well need a car or to rent one (car-clubs are a great option) as some wedding venues (and client’s homes!) can be in far-flung places and nowhere near public transport links. Most MUAs/hairstylists start out by going to clients for trial sessions as they don’t have the budget initially to hire studio/chair space. Take this into consideration when setting your prices.
And the obvious – a computer for your admin work and a good quality smartphone for client calls, social media, messages, etc.
I also recommend that every year professional MUAs/hairstylists attend at least 2 to 3 workshops/masterclasses with your favourite MUAs/hairstylists/photographers/business gurus. It’s essential to continually improve and grow your skills so more satisfied clients and more recommendations come your way. The costs of these vary but are approximately £150 to £250 on average per group masterclass per day.
If you follow the above and get things right, especially learning how to take advantage of free marketing possibilities on social media as well as participating in relevant Facebook groups, networking events, etc., there won’t be too much extra cost associated to building your business.
Paid marketing is temporary – you pay, the campaign finishes, it might bring you some temporary results. What is permanent however is building up your skills to the level where you keep producing outstanding makeovers, blowing your clients away. With not just fantastic end results but making the whole customer experience lovely and friendly and soon you’ll have work coming your way through client and wedding supplier recommendations, Instagram and Google.
It won’t happen overnight though and it won’t happen without a lot of time and effort put in to bettering your craft as well as marketing, social media and photography skills.
Just remember though – when you do what you love your work becomes your favourite pastime. And it really pays quite well to do what you really love if you get the right training and guidance.