The beauty industry is packed with potential career paths and employment opportunities. We’ve actually touched on a lot of them before! Further, our industry is growing at an absolutely incredible rate right now.

Barbering is making the trendiest of comebacks, nails and manicuring are all the rage for the movers and shakers of the professional beauty world, and the demand for cosmetologists and estheticians is growing rapidly. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is showing growth for barbers, stylists, and cosmetologists at a rate of 10%, which is quite a bit faster than average.

Despite all of the opportunity out there, an increasing number of budding AND seasoned beauty professionals are opting for the path of self-employment and choosing the freelance space. Truth be told, that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, even though many of the job opportunities available can be highly rewarding in their own right.

So why exactly is freelancing so attractive to beauty professionals, and how do you go about starting down that path yourself?

Professional Values

The beauty industry often allows for a lot of flexibility that you just don’t get with other career paths. Part-time positions are a norm, the multifaceted skill set of beauty pros allows for a lot of side-hustle potential, and you’re not necessarily confined to one physical setting to do your work the way you might be in an office or other professional settings.

With that in mind, though, you have to consider the changing values of the generation that’s entering the industry’s workforce right now. According to Forbes, millennials are putting greater and greater emphasis on the desire to be their own boss, set their own schedules, and experience a broader sense of work-life integration.

A lot of the employment opportunities in the realm of cosmetology and esthetics offer these things to some degree, but freelancing is the ultimate catalyst for these goals, without the time or financial commitment of launching a brick-and-mortar business like a salon.


Pursuing employment can sometimes limit creative and professional freedom when it comes to specialization (or lack thereof).

For example, a makeup artist might want to focus on building partnerships with certain types of models, agencies, or photographers, or build a name in the world of bridal makeup. A cosmetologist or esthetician might want to focus on one or a few areas of their broad skill set, and become an absolute master at them.

Working in a salon setting, could severely limit someone’s potential to hone the skills they find most useful. After all, salons attract diverse clientele quite frequently.
The opposite might be true for another individual. Maybe they want to learn a wide range of skills and practice on a variety of client types, but their employer focuses specifically on barbering or certain types of hairstyling.

inside of a newly renovated salon

It might seem counterintuitive thinking about someone being picky about their clientele, but it is an understandable reality in the world of beauty, and freelancing can afford you that type of flexibility.

Getting Started

All of this may sound well and good, but how exactly do you dive into a freelancing career the right way? Self-employment is always going to come with its risks, but that doesn’t mean that following some of the basics can’t help you immensely.

Build Your Book of Business Immediately

If you’re just getting started, and especially while you’re still in school, build your client-base from the ground up. Don’t put too much pressure on it; it’s good to have goals but businesses are built one customer at a time, and no one starts with a full schedule from the get-go.

Chances are you have the opportunity to work in a student clinic or salon, so take advantage of the networking opportunities that gives you! Build rapport with people, learn what makes them want to come back to you, and be personable during your appointments. It’s never too early to start making a name for yourself with the people you interact with.

Choose Your Focus Area

For some people, this will mean choosing a niche. For others, that means deciding an approach that’s more all-encompassing. Whichever camp you fall into, figure out what you like and make yourself an expert.

This will make it easier for you to communicate how you stack up against your competition, and why you’re best suited to help your target demographic.

Make Sure You Have a Killer Portfolio

You probably know this already, but it can’t be overstated enough. Take high quality before-and-after pictures, highlight your very best work, and consider investing in a professional photoshoot to get some dazzle in your portfolio. Most importantly, that brings us to…

Get Online

Your portfolio should be on your social media and a website. It doesn’t have to be crazy complicated, but it should be sleek, easy to find, and easy to navigate.

woman on a computer sharing beauty industry tools on social media

Further, post all of your stuff on social media, from your pics and portfolio to your appointment openings. Word of mouth is powerful in service-based industries like this one, and people will respond to it when an opportunity arises. Further, making use of social media best practices and hashtags, especially on platforms like Instagram actually works really well.

Build a presence, build a following, and use it to snowball your client base.

To Freelance, or Not to Freelance?

There’s a world of opportunity available to you in the beauty industry, but that doesn’t mean there’s only one path. For some, freelancing makes the most sense. For others, it’s pursuing employment or opening a business. Heck, maybe it’s a bit of both for someone else.

If you aren’t sure which path is right for you, get in touch with us here at College of Hair Design! Our goal is to help aspiring beauty professionals gain an education they can use to launch a successful career, and provide any guidance we can with our years of experience.

No matter what you do, get out there and hustle!

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