Besides products, which I will cover in my next blog, one of the first things we worry about is how to kick start our business. Where do we find clients? How do we get busy enough to make this is a viable business? How do I get my name out there? How do I make enough to justify the cost of my paints? Sound Familiar? I am going to give you some advice on how to start building your business.
First, and most importantly, there is no easy way to do this! I cannot stress enough that this is a process and depending on how hard you are willing to work, will depend on how quickly you will build your business. If you first thought is that painters make $100 an hour and you think you can just pick up a brush and do that too, you are wrong. If I had to guess, I would say 75% of people are not willing to put the time and work into it, and if you are in the other 25% then buckle up. This is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs. You will at points feel like quitting, you will likely cry(I still do), you will be frustrated, you will feel like maybe you wasted your time and money, you will be exhausted, you will have to learn to handle angry people, you may say there isn't enough business, you will think you will never paint good enough, but believe me all of these thoughts are normal. However, I promise you, at the end it will be worth it, it is all worth it.
So you have your kit, you have been practicing and you have down several basic faces. You are ready to get out there and make a name for yourself, but its so overwhelming to figure out where to start, let me give you a couple avenues to try first. Please also note, this isn't really a pick and choose, you will need to use multiple avenues to build your business!
Promote, Network, Hand out business cards, Promote, Network, Hand out business cards!
Restaurants/ Kid's Nights:
Restaurants are my first choice. There are pros and cons, like they pay way less, but they are steady business and this will be vital to making a name for yourself. You will be able to build relationships with your regular customers, and those customers in return will refer work to you. When their friends talk about wanting to hire a painter, they will send them your way. You need to hand out as many cards as possible to the customers, shamelessly promote yourself. This is a great way to get "Exposure" without offering your services for free. You will be able to build muscle memory on the faces you are painting and you will be able to try new faces. You will be able to get lots of nice pictures to advertise yourself with, and this is key! Paint your face, go in on foot, sell them on why you are an asset to their business. You are going to get rejected, and that is okay, brush it off and go to the next place. Offer them their first night in exchange for food, once they see your work, and how happy their guests are, they will want you to come back!
Blast what you are doing everywhere! So you find a restaurant and get some awesome pics right? Now it is time to use them. Every time you work your restaurants post the pics. Post online where you are going to be, get more pics and hand out more cards and then post the pics online. You want a constant flow of pictures and post to always be fresh in your viewers minds. The more you paint, the more word of mouth you will receive. I have a Facebook friend that have never seen my work in person, but they have landed me jobs by referral, because they know I paint. I ask my Facebook friends for help, I ask them to let me know if they are at a company picnic that doesn't have a painter, I ask them to like my page, I ask them to comment and share my pictures, I am not afraid to shamelessly promote myself.
Networking is a key part of my business. There are many ways to network and I also plan to blog in detail on this, but for now I will keep it simple.
Networking with other painters. Check out the painters in the area, get familiar with their work, their prices, their networks. You will need to be at a certain level, most likely, to network with established painters. Put yourself out there to them, you will get rejected by some, maybe by most, but you only need one. If you can get in with just one, and let them know you are trustworthy and passionate, then the others may eventually let you in too. Please know they aren't trying to be mean by ignoring you, they likely have just been burned in the past or are concerned with more new talent in the area. You can also look to see if there are guilds in your area or jams to go to. Jams are great for beginners if there are any in your area. You can try products, learn new faces and make new friends.
My relationship with my local painters attributes to a large portion on my income. I need them to be successful and I work very hard to maintain good relationships with them.
You can also network with other businesses, you can network in Mommy groups and local Facebook groups. You can network with your server when you eat, in line at the grocery store. Paint your face and hand out cards to everyone you know. Can I mention shameless promotion again! I know it can be uncomfortable at first, but once you get used to it, it will start to be second nature.
Building business through business:
The more you work, the more you will work.I know that seems like a big task, but if you are patient and you promote yourself, your business should double(or more) every year. I cannot stress enough to you that this doesn't happen overnight. Every job you do, more people see you. They will remember a couple things about you, your art, your personality, your kindness, your appearance, your professionalism, so make sure you are on your game. Always be on your game. When you do a good job at a birthday party, that mom will be sharing your work all over their facebook and instagram with their friends, and their friends will think of you when they want to hire a face painter. Make sure you are handing out those business cards. Make sure you are taking pics and telling the parents to find you on facebook to see the pictures the next day, and make damn sure you post those pictures.
Work on finding some company picnics. Ask your friends if they have been to company picnics that didn't have painters. Try some postcard mailers for local companies. Do your research and find out who is in charge of hiring entertainment for those companies. You can potentially hand out hundreds of cards at a company picnic and hopefully have time to snag a bunch of pictures. They will also look good on your resume.
Reaching large quantities of people:
Pumpkin patches, indoor kids places and Farms. These are typically pay per face, and they can be a bust, but if you luck into the right one, this can quickly build your business. You will reach hundreds of people a weekend, every weekend for a month. Call all the places you can look up and talk to them about if they have a painter, offer them a small percentage of profits, and paint away!