Slow Season Survival: 11 Things to Make Your Downtime Productive vs Panicky

It’s November and for a lot of artists, especially those who focus on private clients and weddings, this is the month where business begins to wind down.  By January, your calendar is wide open and things don’t start to pick up again until mid-April.  This year, MMA is bringing you a bi-monthly series: Slow-Season Survival, where we’ll focus on things you can do for your business to prepare for next season like kit condensing, portfolio building, client management, and more.  Instead of spending the slow season wringing your hands and irrationally fretting about how you’ll have to go back to retail or a desk job because you think you’ll never work again, let’s make that downtime work for you!  Keep reading for our first post of the series: 11 back-burner things you can do this slow season to get your business ready for next year!

1.  Build/Update Your Portfolio

The slow season is for the test shoots you couldn’t make time for in May or August because you were drowning in weddings.  In fact, if you want to minimize your slow season all together, start working on a commercial portfolio that can help you get year-round commercial bookings.  Take this time to reach out to photographers, wardrobe, models, and other creatives to set up styled shoots for the images you need or want in your portfolio.  Have an amazing idea for a concept shoot or avant-garde makeup?  Now’s the time to do it!


2.  Update Your Website

MMA Graduate:

The slow season is the perfect time to look at all of your marketing tools, especially your website, and see if anything needs refreshing.  Does your bio need updates?  Do you have new images to upload or cull?  Are you thinking of re-branding entirely — updating your logo and other graphics?  This is the perfect time to do that!  Stay tuned to our blog to check out our upcoming post: “A Place For Your Photos To Live:  Surprisingly Affordable & Simple Web Platforms Perfect for Makeup Artists”!

3.  Build Your Network

Referrals from other creatives are a huge help in staying busy, so now is the time to reach out to them to build your network.  Be on the lookout for industry gatherings and events in your area and attend armed with business cards.  Send out comp cards or business cards to creatives you’d like to partner or set up styled shoots with.  Even just getting together with other creatives for a casual lunch date can help expand your network. 

4.  Inventory Your Product

Why have a list of every product you own on hand, either in your kit or in overstock?  There are so many reasons!  Here’s a short list:

  • You know exactly what you have and how much of it
  • You know when you need to reorder and when you don’t (so you don’t keep buying lash glue only to find out you have 4 tubes at home that are in the back of a drawer somewhere)
  • You can easily sell off what you don’t need
  • You’ll know if something is missing from your kit

Yeah, it’s a pain to pull out all of your product and write it down somewhere, but in the end, it’s totally worth it!  Trust me.  

Only Pat McGrath can get away with bringing 200lbs of makeup to a shoot.  Not you, babe.  Photo:  Sola Rey

5.  Condense Your Kit

Guys!  I. Love. Kit. Organization.  I love it!  It’s my very favorite topic.  Condensing my kit, making it lighter, more compact, and more versatile is one of my favorite things to do all year round, but especially when business is slow.  I might just be a nerd, but really, the benefits are plenty.  A lighter kit is easier on your body, more professional, and just easier to manage in general.  When I first started doing makeup, I had a three-foot tall Yazmo case that weighed approximately 75lbs – possibly more.  It was a nightmare to use and transport.  All these years later, barely anything in my kit is in its original container. Almost everything is palletized and products are chosen specifically for their multi-use capabilities. If kit organization is your jam, too, you’ll want to read our upcoming post in this series: “Size Does Matter:  10 Resources for The Things You Need to Lighten Your Kit.”

Me with my kit in 2010…. Jk.  Sort of.

6.  Update Your CRM

You should be capturing information on your inquiries and your bookings.  If you’re backlogged, now is the time to input all of that data or update the partial records you have entered.  This information is CRUCIAL to making business decisions, sending thank you/holiday cards, or requesting images from photographers.  Watch out for our upcoming post: “Awesome CRM Solutions for Makeup Artists (That Won’t Be Horrifically Boring or Complicated)” in this series!

Nerd Team Assemble!

7.  Learn from Your Data (Business Analytics)

Continuing with the theme of exposing what a giant nerd I am — I love business analytics!  I know — it sounds super boring, but knowing things like what month you get the most inquiries or where the majority of your brides get married can help you make important business decisions.  Once you get your client data updated, it’s time to look at it and see what’s up!  Who is your primary client?  When do you get the most bookings?  Should you invest in location-specific marketing?  Your analytics have the answers!

8.  Create Your Budget For Next Year

Maybe it seems boring, but you’ll thank “Adult You” later when you are deciding whether or not to buy a Makeup Light or a new camera.  Knowing exactly how much you plan to spend on things like advertising or training helps you make better business decisions.  Budgets will be different for each individual business but should include, at a minimum:  advertising, training & education, marketing materials, products & equipment, and business services such as tax prep, legal, and licensing.  Another benefit of having a budget is to prevent the feast or famine that happens when all of our money is coming in during a few months of the year.  Have you ever looked at your checking account balance and were like:


Knowing when to spend and when to hoard your money will help prevent that.  🙂

Bust into next season with new or updated service offerings!

9.  Add a New Skill or Take Refresher Training

Want to learn to style wigs or hand-lay facial hair?  Ever considered learning fx makeup or maybe basic photography?  The slow season is the time to add to your skill set and bust into the next season with an updated service menu!  It’s a tax-write off and it expands your offerings!  Winning!

10.  Create Your Marketing Plan for Next Year

Want to do an Instagram campaign for Halloween or start a monthly series for your brides?  Planning to start advertising on ProductionHub or The Knot?  Now is the time to write that all down and figure out what you’ll need to do for each strategy.  Will you need photos, flyers, banners, or other marketing materials?  Will you need to partner with a photographer or other creatives?  Make a plan now and you’re much more likely to execute your plan later.  

11.  Prepare for Tax Season

Do you have all of your income and expenses logged and receipts ready?  If not, this is a great time to start wading through all of that stuff.  Going forward, I recommend using a program like Shoeboxed, Expensify, SmartReceipt, or Certify to track your expenses and receipts.  If you’re using Quickbooks or another accounting program, use one that integrates seamlessly so your tax prep is practically done for you!   

Me when I have to total all of my receipts for the year.  And when I find out how much I owe….


Subscribe for more business tips and ways you can make the slow season work for you!  What are some things you like to do for your business during your downtime?  Leave us a comment and let us know!

Tips & Lessons for the Aspiring Professional Makeup Artist. Sign up Today!

similar news

Scroll to Top