the freelance life : blogging versus micro-blogging (or barely blogging) …

April 7, 2014By stephanie

What I love about working with my team and being surrounded by talented artists is that it constantly has me thinking on an entrepreneurial tip. I guarantee you that the bp team is a very supportive and nurturing collective, so often times we turn to one another for tips, tricks and words of advice. And from there grows interesting conversations and ideas.

Today, I had a conversation via email with one of our talented MUA/HA and the topic of not being able to find the time to blog or update her website came up. I’m pretty sure many freelancers/entrepreneurs run into this problem – finding the time to properly market ourselves through our online presence, namely a blog.

I myself know that when I first started bp, I started my blog as a way to advertise and get my name out there. Ten years ago, it was popular to create your business through a blog – it made it really easy for small businesses and entrepreneurs to have a presence and the visual of a “website”. It was easy and quick to do … and fun! So that’s what I did.

Fast forward five years (or six, seven, eight) and trying to maintain the admin side of a growing business, actually getting our there to provide my services to a growing clientele, plus kids, home, family, life, etc … and blogging started to take a back seat to all the other things that running a business and raising a family/living life required. And the fear was/is : “if I’m not blogging … then I’m not marketing myself!  How are people going to learn about me?”

I bet me (and my colleague) aren’t the only ones who think/fear this, right?

Well, here’s the great news freelancers … there are other ways to promote yourself online even if you cannot find the time to blog. So don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t blogging all seven days out of the week.

When things started to really grow at bp, finding a moment to blog started to suffer. But I knew that my brand didn’t have to suffer with it. Here’s what I have come to learn in the past two/three years:

  • micro-blogging is just as effective : Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, and everyone’s darling, Instagram.  Our clientele – brides – are inundated with more information than ever. They no longer have the time to truly read through blogs and reviews and immerse themselves in more information that doesn’t pertain to what they need.  Most of the time they will rely on a referral from a colleague or friend, but when they actually visit the website to review our work (or to your website for yours), they are looking for quick visuals, maybe stop at a blurb or two from a short post, and that’s about it. They aren’t necessary going to read through a post last week about what’s in my makeup bag. No. They want to see a few recent images of past clientele and find a contact email or phone number. With that in mind, Twitter is great for sharing quick tips and tricks and engaging with other industry vendors who won’t hesitate to refer you; Facebook is great for sharing your promos and reaching your specific audience or clientele with short and sweet status updates; Pinterest is great for inspiring brides with your expertise by creating beautifully organized albums of your work; and Instagram is the tool to use for documenting your day to day happenings – so that they know you are the real deal. All of these you can do from your phone (so easy!) and you still maintain an online presence.
  • you can still blog, just not everyday : OMG … you didn’t blog on Tuesday. OMG! What are you going to do?!?!? Clients are going to stop calling (no they won’t); that bride you ran a trial run with yesterday isn’t going to book (that won’t happen); and your name will disappear off Google forever and ever (okay, seriously – no).  Well, you know what you are going to do? You’re going to blog on Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or maybe even … *gasp* … next week. You’re going to blog when you have time. While I don’t recommend going radio silent for a month or even two weeks, I also don’t think your freelance life is going to suffer if you can only find the time to do two posts a week. Aim to blog regularly enough that your name still pops up in a Google search and your website stays current, but also just enough that you feel comfortable, in control and not stressed. Just so you know – a client isn’t going to notice that you missed a day or two. Bottom line : don’t stress out over a blog and a missed post. Just. Don’t.
  • learn to communicate, personally : You know what clients like even more than your blog? Talking to you directly. I’m not even making that up. For serious. I heard once, that having an awesome email conversation or phone call with a potential client works wonders for growing your business and getting your name out there. No lie!  Okay, okay – enough of my sarcasm. Really though, a great blog might warm a client to you and spark interest in your services, but what truly makes them choose you is how they connect with you one on one. Replying to a tweet on Twitter, or taking the opportunity to respond to an FB comment they left on your business page or in your inbox is going to do wonders for you. I have had clients whip through a photo album on Facebook and message us privately to inquire about our services. All it took was a moment for me  to respond and engage them and boom : we got booked. Some of them never even visited the blog!
Alright, so there you go – your online presence doesn’t have to suffer because you aren’t blogging. Yes, blogging is fun and cheers to those who do find the time to work on their blog regularly. But like I said  – don’t stress over it because your brand isn’t going to suffer as long as you can incorporate into your routine some of the other fabulous online, micro-blogging platforms. Such platforms require a few clicks from your phone or tablet and can be done within two minutes! Everybody is on Facebook, everybody is on Instagram and so on. A status update a day (or two) will keep your name on everyone’s perfectly painted lips … trust me.

Have a great week freelancers!


motivation mondays : hard work pays off …

March 17, 2014By stephanie

I’ve been super-blessed to have been in the beauty, skincare, and
bridal industry for over ten years.

Waaayyyy back when … when I first thought “hey, I wanna give people great skin
and make them feel pretty all day long”,
I never once thought that it – my life-career – could be the way it is now.

Seeing my name in print, or having talented journalists and editors like Ava B. of Elle Canada reach out to me for “expert advice”, never gets old.

This week, I represented our sister studio, fresh.beautiful: the skin studio and
shared some tips about keeping your makeup and tools clean and fresh
in order to keep your complexion clear.

I hope you all enjoy the article as much as I enjoyed working with Ava.

Have a great week everyone!


the freelance life : hello, my name is … (pt. 2)

March 10, 2014By stephanie

Back in January, I shared with you my thoughts on consultations with clients. I’m sure there are plenty of freelancers out there who may disagree with “giving away their time”, and that’s fine … to each their own … but I do hope I shed some light on the fact that as a service-oriented provider, we need to bring value to the client.

Now I had teased, that there would be a Part Deux to that post … and here it is – the “how-to” when meeting with a client. Of course, my advice leans toward working with brides, but I am sure some of the suggestions can translate into other fields.

Meet when and where convenient for the both of you : I knew someone who would pretend they couldn’t meet on the client’s first and second date options to give the illusion that they didn’t have time to meet and were too busy fielding other clients, even though option one and/or two made more sense when it came to their schedule and whereabouts. Listen to how stupid that sounds. You rather disrupt your own schedule and inconvenience yourself to “impress”  a  potential client. The client already knows your good – that’s why they came to you in the first place.  Let your work ethic and achievements impress the client – not fake “busy-ness”. In addition, meet at the place or venue accessible to both. If they want to come to your office, then let them, that’s what you have an office for right? If they were hoping you can meet them in their home, and really, its no skin off your back – don’t say no! Starbucks near their workplace works best for all, go for it … and get yourself a brownie while you’re there. Yum!

Be prepared : The client wants to learn more about you, your style, your work … and ensure you’re not some crazy (fair enough!). Be prepared to list off your top achievements, to show your best work, and to answer why you are the right choice for them. I created both a bridal and editorial album in iPhoto that I keep on my trusty iPad and update  it regularly. If the client wants to see more of my work then what I have previously sent to them, it’s right there. I have a mental rolodex of where I’ve been published that I can recite to the bride if she asks. Same with the names of my favourite vendors should the bride ask if I “know anyone …” or who I have worked with previously. If you’re pulled together during the consultation, you’re letting the client know you’ll be on your A-game come the big day.

Listen, discuss, and suggest : This might be your 100th bridal client, but this will be your client’s first wedding (in most cases). You are definitely allowed to provide your knowledge and expertise, but the key is too listen to what they want and need – not to impart all of your judgment and call it a day. For example, I have a binder filled with magazine covers, specifically from Allure (great close-ups!!). When a client tells me they want smokey dramatic eyes, I don’t automatically register what I think smokey, dramatic eyes are. Instead, we start flipping through the binder and I point out what I’m thinking she means while asking her what SHE thinks it is. Depending on her choices, we can discuss what will work and not work, and I can suggest what we might need to add or subtract from the look based on my knowledge and experience. I also help the client to imagine the flow of her day – outlining a possible schedule, what to prepare, and most importantly I bring to mind potential obstacles (like the four aunties from out of town who all of a sudden want makeup and hair too) and how my team and I can help her resolve them.

Provide options and finish with the possibility to discuss more : Answer this – you hate the hard sale and pressure tactics for big purchases, right? What makes you think your client loves it and can’t wait for you to do it to them? Never insist that a client leaves your consultation with a firm booking or be in a huff if they don’t sign on the dotted line. Let everything you discussed sink in, give your clients time to think more, and let them breathe. Give them the option to call or email back with more questions. Chances are, the less you push the more likely they are to come back and book you in. Don’t be a stage five clinger. Or a stalker. It’s okay to send a follow-up email a few days later, but don’t hover. And here’s a final thought : if you conducted your initial communications and consultation properly, chances are they won’t leave your meeting without wanting to book your services anyway …

Again, the above is probably common sense to most and basic for the most part … but I hope it still helps.

Happy Monday people! Enjoy the rest of your week!



the freelance life : hello, my name is … ( pt. 1 )

January 13, 2014By stephanie 1 Comment

One of the things I think gets any freelance artist nervous beyond words, no matter how seasoned they are, is the consultation – not the trial run – the consultation. ( Side : if you are a freelance artist not willing to meet a client for a complimentary consultation because you aren’t getting paid for it, well … you should rethink that choice … ).

In an age of emails, Facebook / Twitter direct messaging, and form pages on a website, the art of communicating … really communicating … with a potential client is essential to placing you above the rest of the freelancers they are currently shopping.

Being a freelancer is like dating. Period. Consider the consultation as the initial meet up or the coffee date before the big first dinner date ( which in BlushPretty’s world could be the trial run, the beauty event itself, the wedding day … you get what I’m saying ). It’s the chance for both the freelancer and the client to make sure they mesh before dedicating any more of their time to each other. After all, if sparks aren’t going to fly at the coffee date … why would you sit and suffer through a movie and a dinner and a quiet drive home?! The consultation is a way of respecting each other’s time by not wasting any of it.

The consultation is the perfect opportunity to suss out some key details before agreeing to the larger project/event at hand and freelancers should use it as a means to assess the following:

what the client truly needs from you : an introductory email provides the key details but sometimes they need fleshing out. And yes, follow-up emails can do that but words, phrases, and statements can often be read two ways or remain unclear. Face to face communication will allow you to really read each other and understand what is being requested, and also, to ask questions and discover new pieces of information that didn’t seem relevant at first … but proved otherwise.

what the client thinks of your work : while images of your work can be found online in your gallery, showing your client your work IRL (i’m so on top of the short form) allows you to explain to them your work in detail and the concept behind each project / look. Every client is different, so even though a completed project in your portfolio was deemed awesome by the client who commissioned you for it, your new potential client might feel it’s not their cup of tea. If that’s the case, you can show them a whole new side to that project and speak to them about the techniques you used, how you learned from it, and how you can take that experience to better help them. This is so much better than letting them create judgement on the image/project alone.

what the client expects of you : so to backtrack a bit, yes, I relate the consultation to dating … but it doesn’t mean you and the client are exactly equals. The consultation is where the client will let you know the W5H and more of what they are looking for and what they expect of you, your brand, your team, or your company. While you have every right to say no to a client if the fit isn’t right, your job at the consultation is too listen to them and make mental notes on what you can and cannot provide.

I know that the above is common sense to most savvy entrepreneurs and freelancers out there, but its funny how when building your career hits full speed, you forget the importance of treating each client with the proper respect they deserve. The consultation is the first step is showing them respect.

Now this is only the half of it when it comes to successful consultations with clients … I have plenty more to say about how to conduct a consultation that I want to share with you but …you’re going to have to wait!

Thanks for reading up on the blog today, and I promise you, Part 2 will come soon!

Have a great week everyone,

the makeup artist life : can i have a swatch of lipstick for later?

October 30, 2013By stephanie 2 Comments

I once had a bride ask her bp makeup artist to have her full tube of lipstick from her kit …    she asked right in front of everyone, right as everyone was dressed and ready, and she didn’t even say please. Just “Can I have that tube of lipstick …?” She didn’t even offer to compensate the artist for it. Being ever so gracious, and perhaps somewhat stunned, the makeup artist handed over the tube of lipstick.*

As makeup artists for bridal clients, we completely understand that you’ll need to touch-up – especially lipstick – and normally, makeup artists offer three things :

  • to provide the name of the lip products used so that the client can purchase it for themselves;
  • to pick up the lip products used and the client can reimburse the artist; or
  • to provide a swatch or sliver of the colour used, free of cost (because really, a bride doesn’t need a whole tube to touch up).

More often than not, option #3 is what brides choose to go with and what makeup artists are more than happy to provide. The one issue – where to put that sliver of perfectly rosy pink lipstick?!? We often remember to pack the essentials : extra lip wands, mascara wands, cotton swaps and pads … but rarely a container to flip a chunk of lipstick into. Not necessarily because we are absent minded either … sometimes its because who really wants to carry one more thing in their kit? (Don’t lie MUAs  … you know you HATE having to carry unnecessary items.) Here are three things I use to pop a swatch into when the bride is ready to go:

  • Little bead/craft containers from the dollar store : the dollar store is nifty for stuff like that. I believe you can get 8 for a dollar and while the smallest size is still too big for a little swatch, it does the trick.
  • The plastic case from the set of fake lashes you used on the bride : I use this trick most often, because they plan to discard that case anyway. Reduce, reuse recycle, I say. I also like that I can swatch multiple colours across it and it won’t get messed up.
  • A square of tinfoil. This is a great option because a) if you have to bring it, a large sheet of tinfoil folded up takes up no space, b) if you are working in a bride’s home, chances are she has the tinfoil, and c) the lipstick stays in tact and doesn’t get absorbed in by the tinfoil.

Never get caught off-guard ever again and hold on to your precious tubes of lipsticks and glosses.

* For clients+brides : as makeup artists, we spend a lot of money developing our kit so that we can provide a selection of products, colours and brands to our clientele. In fact, plenty of our freelance earnings goes back into our kit, not our pocket. If you really want the full tube of lipstick and not just a swatch, it would be best to offer some compensation for the cost of the lipstick so that it can be replaced. Or, see option #1 or #2  so that you can enjoy a full tube of lipstick or gloss at your own expense and not the makeup artist’s. You wouldn’t ask the plumber for his wrench “just in case” before he left your home, would you? That is an essential tool for him, just as lipstick is to us.
For makeup artists :  always be prepared. The brides day is about kissing her new husband, so its not unreasonable for her to ask for a swatch or for some touch-item items. Use the tips and tricks above, or if you are okay with giving an almost empty, down to there tube of lip colour, go ahead. If a client asks for a product that is still pretty new, smile, say yes, and then request compensation for it.