How to Market Yourself as a Face Painter
For many of us who fell into face painting, we may not think of ourselves as small business owners. But think again! If you are being paid to face paint, even if it’s just a weekend gig, then you are already building a business and a brand. And while you probably already know a thing or two about how to market yourself (otherwise you wouldn’t be where you are now) you may not realize that by implementing a few new marketing strategies you can expand your client list.
Marketing advice may seem abstract and difficult to tailor specifically to your face painting business. So in this post I’ll take some common marketing ideas and give you examples of how you can use them to add a few more gigs to your weekend or possibly even double or triple your bookings over time.
And don’t worry if you don’t have a big marketing budget set aside. Most of the tactics covered here cost little to nothing.
Have a Great Face Painting Display Menu Board
If you already have a regular gig, even if it’s volunteer work, make sure you have your work on display for all your customers to see. That way everyone waiting in line for face painting can admire your talent. And if you have a special festival board full of simple designs, include a message like, “Ask about special birthday party designs!”
Make sure your board includes designs that appeal to the clients you want to gain. For example, I recently added a row of one-stroke arm designs that were a little more sophisticated than the usual super hero designs that appeal to younger kids. All of the sudden I had a line of older boys who usually ignore face painting. They were excited about getting cool arm “tattoos.” A few days after that gig, the mom of one of the boys hired me for her son’s party. It turns out he really liked the dragon arm designs! So just by including some different designs on my board, I opened the door to some new clients that I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Also think seasonally. In September, for example, start displaying ghost, spider, and pumpkin designs on your menu board and you may find yourself booked for a Halloween gig. In November, switch them out for more festive holiday characters to show potential clients that you’d be great entertainment at a Christmas or Hanukkah party.
So how do you make an affordable and easy-to-carry face painting display menu board? One of the least expensive ways to create a menu board is to use a poster frame (make sure the cover is plastic, not glass) to display photos of your designs. Take pictures of yourself, your kids, or customers (with their parents' approval) modeling your best work and print 4 x 6 photos for just a few dollars.
Another way to create a display board is to just use pieces of foam board and attach pictures (preferably laminated) using velcro. Just hot glue one side of the velcro to the back of your photos and the other side to the board. That way you can easily switch out pictures as needed. Just remember that foam board can’t take a beating, so make sure you have something to attach it to so it won’t get knocked around. Using a sheet of painted plywood is another (heavier) option but will require a little more DIY skills.
Keep in mind that by showing designs that appeal to boys, girls, and even older tweens (think swirly eye designs and festival glitter), you can create a bigger market for your face painting business.
Get Business Cards
When I first starting face painting regularly at a farmer’s market, I didn’t yet realize that I was just beginning what would become a business. Parents would ask, “Do you do birthday parties?” If you answer yes, then the next question is likely going to be, “Do you have a business card?” So have them ready! It took me a while to pull the trigger on ordering business cards, but as soon as I started handing them out the work offers started coming in. Don’t worry too much about having the perfect design just yet. The most important thing is that your name and contact information is on the business card. You can even buy inexpensive business card stationery and print them out at home until you finish the next few steps.
If you don’t have business cards, at least make sure that your contact information is visible in an easy to photograph rectangle on your display menu board.
Create a Name for Your Business
You may find yourself with several face painting gigs under your belt before you even consider a name for your business. But once you begin regularly booking clients, it’s time to officially name your business.
Think of something that represents your style, your brand, and your desired market. If you hope to face paint at both boys and girls birthday parties or at sporting events you might not want to name your business something like Fairy Twinkle Faces, for example. But if you are in a big enough market and want to focus only on face painting at fairy-themed parties then Fairy Twinkly Faces might be perfect. Another thing to consider is whether you might expand your business in the future to include something other than face painting. Give yourself some wiggle room and choose a name that isn’t too specific.
Do some research online to make sure the name is original. Then run it by friends and family to get their feedback. My advice is not to rush the naming of your business. You don’t want to go through the process of buying a domain name, printing up business cards, registering your business name, and opening up a bank account only to change your mind later.
Get a Website
Most parents asking me to face paint at their child’s birthday party don’t request to see my website. But clients organizing bigger gatherings like festivals and company picnics usually want to see pictures of my work. By directing them to a website that contains a gallery of my face painting designs, I come off looking professional. There are many ways to get a website up and running for little to no money, but you’ll need to purchase a domain name. Luckily, this isn’t going to be a huge cost. You can purchase domain names for a small annual fee.
Yes, you can advertise on a very small budget! Once you have a business name, website, and business cards, you can start thinking of other ways to promote your face painting business. Remember, one of the best advertisements for your business is going to be those little works of art on kids’ faces. So getting out there and face painting at regular gigs will remind people of your business. If you don’t already have a regular face painting gig at a busy event, I highly recommend getting one. Even if you have to volunteer or work at a reduced rate, it will likely be worth it. Ask the event organizer if you can put out a tip jar, charge per face, or find a sponsor if they can’t pay you.
There are other creative ways of advertising like offering your services at fundraisers. Most organizers will be ready to offer you advertising on their social media in exchange for the donation of your services. Don’t be shy about taking advantage of the offer. People like supporting business that give back to the community.
They say word of mouth advertising is the best and I agree, but it takes time for word to spread so be patient. Think of every job you do as a potential to book several more.
The Truth About Social Media
While using social media may seem like an inexpensive way to get your face painting business some attention, there is a time commitment involved. Being consistent is key to gaining followers. If you aren’t gaining the following you had hoped for on Facebook or Instagram, ask yourself if you are posting regularly. And quality matters just as much as quantity. If you are posting face painting designs that you aren’t totally proud of just for the sake of keeping your social media accounts active, you’re not doing yourself any favors.
Focus on the brand you are working hard to develop and make sure that the pictures and words you are using on your social media accounts represent that brand. Let’s say your face painting clients are mostly parents of small children. You may want to think twice before posting pictures of your creepy clown faces. You want to gain clients, not scare them away.
The good news is that it’s not necessary to have a huge social media following to get booked regularly. Remember, you’re competing on a local, not globa level for face painting gigs. I’ve yet to meet a potential client who cared about how many followers I have on Instagram. Then again, if you enjoy using social media, use your skills to your advantage and include links to your accounts on your display boards, website, and business cards. You may also want to mention to potential clients that you will advertise their event on your social media accounts as a perk.
If you're interested in learning how SEO can work to your advantage, then carve out some time in your schedule to do some research. There's tons of SEO advice online.
Marketing your face painting business can be a fun and affordable way to expand your business. Have fun and get creative while building your brand.
Have any of these tactics worked for you? Do you have any other tips to share? Please tell us about it in the comments section! We love hearing from you.
Vanessa Tsumura is a face painter and writer in Milwaukee, WI.
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