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5 Ways To Create A Pro Makeup Portfolio Before Your First Booking


A lot of questions I get asked by new MUA’s starting their business revolves around ‘the chicken and the egg’ scenario. Problems that are based on…

‘I cant do that until l I do this’

‘I cant take paid work until I have so many years experience’

‘I cant charge this price for a job until I have a kit worth X amount’

How I started a profitable business as a makeup artist in 7 steps

When I started out, one of my biggest procrastinations was

‘I cant be a Bridal Makeup Artist until I do a bride's makeup for her wedding’

Followed by…

‘I would get lots of bridal makeup bookings if only I had a professional portfolio of images full of stunning images of brides’

Do you see where I’m going with this and does it resonate with you?

In this case I thought I can’t be a Bridal Makeup Artist if I haven’t worked as a Bridal Makeup Artist or don’t have social proof from real life brides.

Now I’m going to get a little bit real here and if you’re experiencing a similar problem with your MUA journey you need to hear this… all these seemingly big problems stopping you for starting or growing your biz as a MUA are just buffers, blocks and BS excuses!!!

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Everyone, and I mean everyone had to start somewhere and everyone had a first client. A first beauty job and a first wedding gig at some point inter career.

If they didn’t then they’re obviously now not successful MUA’s and probably spent a fortune in beauty school and then went to work in a an office because they never got past his first stumbling block.

Listen, even Ms Tilbury or Lisa Eldridge had a first makeup job and I’m guessing they were bricking it slightly too!… always remember that!


#1. First off, whether it’s a favour for a friend, a collaboration, a test shoot or just doing your Mum’s makeup for a family wedding, don’t be forth coming about this being your first or one of your first makeup jobs.

People will always assume you’ve been doing it for years (so why debunk this?) If someone asks you ‘how long have you been dong this? ‘Don’t lie, you can be vague and just count how long you’ve been into makeup and include any time spent training etc.

#2. The first images I took of my work were actually taken at beauty college. I went to the London School of Beauty and Makeup on Oxford street. We were encouraged (pushed into) going downstairs to the massive Topshop below and approaching attractive, potentially photogenic girls and asking if they’d like their makeup doing.

This was a real test for me as I’m an introvert but it was also a great exercise and confidence booster.

To be fair, nobody was mean to me and I always found someone happy to participate. I’d take them upstairs to the college have a play with their face and products and then take a few snapshots. A bit hit and miss, but I got a few good images.

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#3. I added more images to my portfolio taken on a Kodak camera and processed at Boots Chemists. I rounded up my younger sister and 3 of her friends who were up for it and made them over.

Nothing crazy or too creative, just natural and polished. I then used 2 borrowed veils and a tiara to make them look more bride like.

Strapless dresses were seriously in at the time so I either wrapped a white sheet under their arms or pulled their bra straps down for a head shot form the shoulders up.

This is great way of practicing on different faces (the key to growing as a MUA) and getting into the habit of taking photos.

It costs nothing but if you’ve a few quid you could always a buy a white dress and accessories from a charity shop.

Just have fun and you might get a few decent images. The number one point being that this is an example of your work and that you can create it…that’s what a portfolio is.

#4. I regularly teach the importance of PR and networking (there’s more on this in my MUA Business School ) One of my most popular and insider secrets when starting my business as a Bridal Makeup Artist was wedding fairs.

Now before you roll your eyes or shout ‘They cost loads!’ hear me out!… I never attended wedding fairs with the intention of booking brides! Yep, you heard me! This was an event full of my new industry peers, colleagues, maybe even competition and it’s those guys I wanted to spend my time talking to.

Through networking at wedding fairs I met wedding suppliers (some became friends) bloggers, magazine publishers and of course fellow MUA’s.

When starting out I would definitely recommend wedding industry collaborations and test shoots. Sometimes you may not get back what you wanted but equally you sometimes get amazing images and get further great opportunities.

I got lucky with one of first bridal shoot collaborations in the North East as the photographer happened to be renowned photographer Keith Moss. Consequently Keith and I have worked together on lots of exciting projects and we’ve even shot bridal fashion on location on Barcelona.

You never know where it might lead so for me this is a big win for your portfolio and your career.

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How I started a successful business as a bridal makeup artist

5. Now I’ve just mentioned wedding fairs and I can hear you shouting ‘but they’re not free!’ So heres a big tip to get you into fairs (and networking for collaborations) for free AND get you more images for your portfolio…

I approached lots of wedding fairs and offered to do makeup for their bridal catwalk in return for a free stand. Some said no, some offered a substantial discount and some said yes!

A lot of wedding fairs host a catwalk. It entertains the visiting brides and it gives dress designers a chance to showcase their dresses.

What about getting those all important pictures? Well a lot of photographers (exhibiting at wedding fairs) will often take images from the day and post them on social media. This is where again networking is important. Introduce yourself, have a chat and ask for their details because you would love to see the images and promote them too.

I’m going to conclude with the fact that I used all theses tips to build my bridal makeup portfoilo (before getting booked for a wedding) but please please don’t be discouraged when you’re either knocked back or receive any negativity, whether it be from models, magazines or wedding suppliers. It really isn’t personal.

For me it worked, it cost nothing and was a great start in the industry. Having a small but professional looking portfolio of bridal makeup images was social proof enough to help me get my first booking as a bridal makeup artist within weeks.

Don’t allow stumbling blocks to become excuses. There’s always a way and you really can do it!

As ever I’d love to know how you get on with this. so message me anytime and again reply to my question …

‘What’s your biggest challenge stopping you from being a successful makeup artist?’

Related articles:

Oh & I wrote an Ebook ‘Ultimate Pinterest For Freelance Makeup Artists’ and you can get a copy HERE.

If you want to know the exact step to how I became a successful award winning freelance makeup artist then you can get my FREE Guide HERE!

If you are REALLY serious about becoming a successful freelance makeup artist then check out my signature sell out course ‘The BOMB ‘Business Of Bridal Makeup’ over at the MUA Business School

FREE Courses At The MUA Business School

Let me know how you get on with this.

So what next…

If you like this sort of thing then KitKats & Clarte is for you!

I’ve put together a series of blogs, courses and a whole resource library of freebies to help you out. Have a click...

...& Why don’t you sign up to the beauty chat tribe to get all the latest tips, tricks & hacks HERE

Let me know how you get one and if you have any questions just shoot me an email

Much love,

Anna Cordelia

Awarded MUA | Wedding Boss | Chunky Chocolate Consumer

I would love it if you followed me on… Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest


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