#BizTalk – How Not To Promote

makeup to go blog how not to promote paul c brunson quote

found this on Instagram a few weeks back. Thanks to Paul C. Brunson for such an on time quote!

How Not To Promote

This post is inspired by a very earnest but very poor promotional email I recently received.

In the email, this young artist whom I do not know at all, started off by proclaiming how amazing the recipient of the email (me) is, how fortunate we all are to work in this industry (true) and grow together (not true, see below), and please share their information with friends and family.

*record screech*

Whoa whoa whoa.

This would be a bad email even if I knew this person at all for reasons I’ll go into in a minute, but I. Do. Not. Know. This. Person. At all. Hence I do not know anything about them personally or professionally. Nothing. Adding to the bizarro world nature of the email is it is written as if we do know each other. The language is very familiar in tone, the way it would be as if we were having an in-person conversation. The photograph – while very cute – is a personal candid, completely unrelated to makeup and there is no photo of their work in the email… It’s just *weird*. If this email was sent this to me, I’m willing to assume it was sent to a number of strangers. If this artist is fortunate, most will just politely ignore it. Others, however, may respond and I would have to guess that few would respond favorably.

As with most of my BizTalk columns, what I am about to write is born from experience of having made mistakes myself. Do not let your promotional efforts leave people shaking their heads thinking they’ve entered Bizarro World. Here’s some tips to get your message across more effectively.

1) Be friendly but STAY PROFESSIONAL

Back in the day, I got dinged once for being a bit too casual in my language when I emailed a photographer with whom I was interested in working. It’s true you do not want to be too stiff – this is the creative industries, not Investment Banking – but it is still a business and you still want to present yourself as a professional. Also, while including a photo of yourself can be a good way to make e-communication a bit more personal, you want to include an image of your work. One would think this wouldn’t need to be said but I will go ahead and say it; If you’re asking folks to hire you as a makeup artist, you should show folks Your Work as a makeup artist.

2) Know Who You Are Speaking To

This email could have been acceptable if I really did know this young artist and we were peers. I definitely would not send this to anyone in a position to hire me, nor is it an email I would sent to anyone who is my Senior. This artist made it sound like we are equals, striving to be makeup artists together. I really hate that. Anyone can see my work and see that I’m an established artist. Please approach me in that way. Looking at this artists website, I would not refer them to a job the likes of which I do, nor would I at all consider them to be my peer. I would consider an artist at that level as an assistant. A bit of research reveals that this artist just graduated from a makeup school within the last year. I mean, I have past students who have been out and working for longer than that. I have been a working as a freelance media makeup artist (no bridal, no counter, no “safety job”) for well over a decade.

Listen, I am NEVER going to address Pat McGrath as if we are “sisters in the struggle” together. I am always going to respect her accomplishments and position in her career and address her as the Senior artist that she is. Pat McGrath would not consider me to be her peer, nor should she.

I am not Pat McGrath, but I’m not a beginner so do not talk to me like one. Come again, boo. Come again…

3) You Need Multiple Marketing Campaigns

Again, if this artist were sending this email to their friends and family – people this artist actually knows – it could be fine. We all communicate differently to the different people and relationships we have in our lives. How I address my existing clients is totally different from my approach to cold calls. How I approach say an ad agency is different from how I approach a photographer, and so on. “One size fits all” promoting in my experience does not work. If you send a blanket promotion out to everyone, at best you risk sending something that’s too generic and hence not engaging and easily ignored. At worst you risk going into Bizzaro World.

4) Seriously, Learn How To Network

This email was going into “whatever”-ville UNTIL the part about looking at their website and referring this artist to people I know. That is a ridiculous request on multiple levels;

First of all, since I do not know this artist at all, why would I recommend them? On the real, I may as well just tell friends, family, or whomever to do a Google search. I have no way of knowing if this artist is any good, if they are professional, if they’re clean, if they’re nice. I know nothing. And sending a bad referral is just as damaging to one’s reputation as doing a bad job. I am not taking the chance of referring a wack artist, ever.

Secondly, asking for referrals is NOT networking. As stated in the image I used at the top of this article, that’s going for the ask WAY too soon. As has been said a thousand times: this is a relationship industry. You have to build relationships and build trust and then – and only then – will people start to refer you.

Lastly, most artists hate doing self promotion. I barely want to do my own promotions, why would I – or anyone else who is not an agent – want to do someone else’s promotion for them? LOL! I’ll pass, thanks…

5) My Friends and Family Already Know A Pretty Good Makeup Artist 😉

Translation: You should probably market yourself to people who are not makeup artists themselves (unless you’re approaching artists because you want to assist).

Chin Up. We All Make Mistakes…

Since I do not know this young artist I do not know how they found me and I don’t know if they will see this post. If they do, I hope they take this in the spirit in which its intended which is to educate (hence I’m not posting any specifics or identifying info). This is not a “shaming” post. We’ve all made mistakes, myself included. That said, sometimes a little constructive criticism is in order. Early early on I was trying to meet photographers and I had a (terrible) little promo with a (terrible) photo. Before mailing it out en mass I sent it to a couple of people whose opinion I respect and they did me the favor of telling me DO NOT SEND THAT TO ANYONE. My feelings were probably hurt at the time, but following their advice probably saved me both heartache and money (this was before email, when you had to print promo cards and send them out via post. AKA, the stone-age). It took me a minute to find my voice and approach in my marketing and I’m still not fantastic at it because it is just not my personality. However by continuing to evolve my promotions and taking advice where given, my campaigns are much better and more effective than they used to be. And who knows, maybe this e-promo worked for this artist? I doubt it, but I have no way of knowing for sure. One way or another they made a grip of mistakes that are best not repeated in the future. Hopefully this artist’s next promo will fab and it will put them in position to achieve favorable results.

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#BizTalk – Last Good Day of the Year

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Early on in my career, the end of the year would generally slow down for me so I would assume “Oh, Okay. There isn’t much work in the industry this time of year.” and settle for not working. It is easy to think this way what with the holidays and people leaving town, etc. Oh how wrong I was and if you are still thinking this way how wrong you are. People in our business are working year round. In the years since then I have worked right up until and sometimes ON major holidays (I did a job once actually on Thanksgiving Day) and then right up through the new year. This is a year round industry. If you are a junior artist there is a Key artist working who could use an assistant and if you are a Key artist, someone out there is booking a job right now. Even for those of you who focus on Bridal – in October I worked with a hairstylist who said that Fall is her busiest time and I have a bridal makeup artist friend who is booking into 2013. No matter what facet of the industry you are in, there is work happening all the time. Here are my thoughts on how you can stay in the game and prepare yourself for the coming year so you can keep working all year round…

1 ) Just keep marketing. If people are not interested they will decline to respond. Simple as that. Do not make the mistake of taking yourself out of the game by stopping your marketing plan. View Post

#BizTalk – The Art of the Freebie

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons art of the freebie Blank Magazine Issue 58 non paid jobs

© P. De Luna / Makeup and Hair Tania D. Russell

Don’t be duped, but don’t let opportunity pass you by…

There is a fabulous website entitled “Should I Work for Free” which features a flow chart of all the possible if/when situations that a freelancer might face when approached for non paid jobs from a client. It serves as a good reminder that it is not just makeup artists who are constantly approached for freebie “gigs” all the time. All freelancers are, particularly those in the Creative industries, particularly in a down economy. Basically, as you can see on the chart, most roads lead to “No” – which is as it should be. But why is it, as a freelancer, so difficult to say “No”? Because as a freelancer networking is part of the game and you really never know where or when opportunity might strike. People often say “well would your mechanic work for free” and the answer is rightfully No, but that hardline/black and white attitude doesn’t really work in a field where your success is greatly dependent upon constant marketing and networking. Here are my tips for deciding whether or not to take an unpaid gig.

1 ) Tests are Tests and Jobs are Jobs

I test as much as my schedule will allow and so do most of the working artists that I know. What changes are the how/when/why of doing a test but testing is a large part of the game. I am amazed at how many artists fail to realize that testing is not only about building your book, but about creating and building relationships. These are people who now know and have worked with you, hence the likelihood that they would hire you for a paying job is greatly increased over someone whom they do not know. NOW – here’s the rub: There is an absolutely terrible trend amongst newer makeup artists and this whole online “photo community” world of expecting payment (usually a kit fee) for tests. No No No. The only exception is that in certain situations, a modeling agency may set up a paid test. Those are usually with specific photographers and set up as such in advance. Most tests you will do are either for the connection or for the photos or both. The onus is on you to ask the right questions and get the information needed in order to make an informed decision on whether or not it is something you want to do. That kit fee thing pretty much automatically singles you out as a n00b (non-professional) and will alienate you from working with better photographers. Do the test or do not.

2 ) So When Should I Test?

This will change as you change as an artist and your career progresses. Nowdays I am very very specific with what I test. I know which market segments I work in and the types of clients I have and I am trying to attract, so there’s little point of me doing something random, unless I just want to have fun. Fun is fine – I love fun – but I’m a professional not a hobbyist so I have to stay relatively focused. Further, I try to work with talent with whom I am equally yoked or who are a little bit further up the food chain than I am so I can keep my networking moving along. Therefore for me, while I might get a cool picture out of it, I am less likely to work with say a student photographer because really I’m looking for both cool pictures and future work opportunity.

The game is entirely different, obviously, for an artist who is just starting out. If you are really really just starting out – either just finished with a school or if you’ve begun to DIY it – you should do every single shoot you can. You need to build a portfolio which is a very hit or miss proposition and you also need to keep learning your craft which means not only your technique at applying makeup, but being on set, communicating with a photographer and team, etc. etc. Trust me, you will make mistakes, and you want to make them on a test not on a job. Lastly, these folks with whom you are now testing are likely going to be the among the first people to give you a shot at a paid gig.

I wrote a whole thing about putting together tests in my So You Wanna Be a Pro Makeup Artist series. Go check it out 🙂

3 ) Jobs Are Jobs and Tests Are Tests

Didn’t I just say that? No. What I am referring to now is when things start to get murky and grey and when artists should have their Spidey Sense going for them so as to not be taken advantage of. Point Blank: People will try to get artists to work for free on projects that should clearly be paid. In my marketing classes I have a whole section devoted to how to read between the lines of online job listings. First of all it should be noted that most really legit jobs do not post listings. Most good jobs are obtained through marketing, word of mouth, networking, etc. In rare instances a good job will show up someplace like a Craigslist but that is not the norm. That said, when you are in the building phase of your career, obviously you have to start somewhere. Do not, however, be fooled and think that online job listings are the only places where bogus “opportunities” may appear or that this will only happen early in your career. I have been contacted by email from folks who clearly must have seen my website for “tests” that were actually jobs in disguise. I’ve even had people contact my AGENT to see if I would do a “test” that was actually a job in disguise. Lookbooks, corporate videos, promotional/demo videos, and certainly any kind of advertising should NEVER be done for free. Why? Because the entire purpose of creating a Lookbook or promo video or the like is so that a business can promote themselves to MAKE MONEY. Short version – they are trying to make money for themselves off of your free work. That does not sound fair, does it?

4 ) Someone May Very Well Be Getting Paid

There are also instances where someone is getting paid, but they are trying to get you to work for free. Say you get contacted by a photographer for a “project” and the initial email has no particular information – aside from the fact that it is not paid – and they are asking if you are available and interested. Before you say “yes” – Stop, Look and Listen. Upon emailing the photographer with an open-ended “what did you have in mind” response (leaving the door open, but not committing) they email you back with a bunch of concepts and looks and a model. Hmmmm…. Stop Look and Listen again. Tests should be collaborative. If you do not even have a say on the look or choosing the model then something needs to give. Do you like the concept? Do you like the model? Do you like this photographers work? If the answers are yes and you think this will add to your book and you want to maintain this relationship with the photographer then it may be worth it to go ahead and do the project. However, I suggest asking one more question: “How is this going to be used?”. Note that they did not use the word “test”, yet most artists will assume that’s what an unpaid project is and agree to it blindly. The most ‘red-flag’ point in that email scenario is that you do not know what you’re being asked to agree to. What is this “project”? It could turn out that this is a magazine editorial and those are often not paid but you get a tear so that’s great. It could just be portfolio development for the photographer and they have teamed up with a designer to have access to clothes and that’s great too if the project works for you as well. Worst case scenario, however, and one that comes up entirely too often is that this is a low budget project for which the photographer is being paid but they are trying to get a makeup artist who will do it for free so they can keep the money for themselves. This is what you have to determine. If you find out – or your gut is telling you – that the Worst Case Scenario is in effect, but it is a really great project that will really enhance your book then you might have to just bite the bullet. If they are already trying to take advantage of you then it may or may not be a relationship worth building but one great picture can send your portfolio into an entirely new realm. Whatever you decide, you should not bite the bullet too often and when you do, you should do so with your eyes wide open. You cannot allow yourself to get duped and then whine about it afterwards. You have to remember that you are a business as well and you have to conduct yourself as a business. Part of your business is vetting what a project is and whether or not a project is worth your time. One tip: If you have to play 20-questions to find out what’s going on, something is likely up. Keep your Spidey Senses on high and proceed with caution.

5 ) It’s The Opportunity Of A Lifetime – Don’t Be A Fool

I want to end on an up-note not just for the sake of a happy ending but because it is true and it has happened to me many times. Many of the best tears I’ve gotten and jobs I’ve done have been because of tests/free projects I worked on. This is why I believe the new mantra of “don’t work for free” that is permeating places like Model Mayhem is misguided thinking. It is particularly sad when you see these same people posting “why can’t I get anyone to hire me for paid jobs?!???”. Real Talk: I never had to ask to get paid or wonder when I should start charging. I focused on building my book and meeting people and before I knew it people were contacting me wanting to pay me. Even to this day I will still RUN out the door when an opportunity presents itself, case in point the editorial photograph at the top of this article. Here’s another shot from that editorial:

makeup to go blog makeup los angeles makeup san francisco makeup lessons art of the freebie Blank Magazine issue 58

© P. De Luna / Makeup & Hair by Tania D. Russell

Gorgeous, right? Something to be proud of in a portfolio and trust me, I am 🙂
This tear came about by seizing opportunity. When the photographer contacted me regarding availability, I didn’t start hemming and hawing about distance and kit fees. High-end fashion is very difficult to get in California as that is not our market. This was a clear opportunity to get something of value to add to my portfolio and meet and network with a great photographer, and I jumped at the chance. Do not shoot yourself in the foot. If they are doing the caliber work that you want to be doing but are not doing yet, why are you worrying about a kit fee or mileage or whether or not they are going to pay you? One great image can land you scores of amazing jobs. Don’t be a fool! Run, RUN! out that door and do that job!