We survived Halloween 2018! I didn’t take on quite as much work as I usually do this year, and it was lovely to be able to spend some of the evening with my family, so it was a successful one all round for me!
This week I want to talk about magic. Face painting has the potential to bring genuine magic to a child, and yesterday I experienced this in the most amazing way. I’ll be honest. I’ve been in a bit of a ‘funk’ recently… I’ve got a lot of stuff going on with my extended family, I have a 16 month old who seems to need around 5 hours of broken sleep per 24 hours, I’m in my annual ‘post-summer blues’ period, and I’ve been really busy with work. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been working away and painting my very best wherever I can, but on some level, I’ve been coasting. I had a super busy Sunday planned, including a venue dressing (we also provide balloon décor / event balloons) so I was up until the wee hours on Sunday morning preparing balloons, and then up at 6.30 am to do the rest, then spent a few hours dashing around delivering and setting up my venue. In-between times I was up several times with the baby, and was properly exhausted. I left the venue at 12.30pm and was to return at 3pm to provide face painting, with another job in-between. When I was on my way back to the 3pm job I honestly felt like crying in the car because all I wanted to do was get home, and unwind / sleep! When I arrived I was greeted with about 5 times more people than I expected, the room was packed and there was no room for me to set up, other than a small space by the doors, which wasn’t ideal. A queue formed while I was setting up, and I (and my set up) was constantly getting bumped into / jostled around with the crowd. Things weren’t looking great for an ‘easy’ job. But… the music was good, the vibe was great, and I got stuck in and was getting through the queue at a good rate, and was happy with my work. Around an hour into the job, a little boy sat in my chair. He was quiet, shy, and his mum was there to help him. She explained that Darragh, 7, (not his real name) was a huge fan of the movie ‘Mary Poppins’ and asked if I had any suitable designs for him. His request was leaning towards having a flower on his cheek, like the one on Mary’s hat. I could have painted a simple push petal flower on his cheek and sent him on his way, and to be fair, he would have most likely been happy with that. But I had a quick think, and offered to paint Mary’s actual hat, with the little flower and berries in the centre. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t amazing work. I didn’t even ask for a photo at the time because it was just ‘okay’ and because I didn’t know what was about to unfold- it was just another ad hoc, un- practiced, slightly dodgy painting. However, he was THRILLED. He immediately transformed into Mary herself, in every way possible. He had a helium balloon on a ribbon from one of the tables (which under normal circumstances gripes me a little as its ‘ruined’ one of the displays!) but for Darragh, this was not a balloon. This was Mary’s magical flying umbrella, and he was MARY! He floated around the room greeting people with ‘Good Day Madam / Sir’ and visited me several times, asking if I had any ‘unruly children’ who needed a good Nanny, and demonstrating how he could remove that giant invisible coat stand from his imaginary bag. The whole thing was magical. Mesmerising. I couldn’t take my eyes off him, and I honestly felt so privileged and blessed to have been able to bring that magic to his day.
You know how it goes. There are the children who look in the mirror when you have painted them, nod, and slide off the seat to go on about their business. There are the children who smile, thank you and say ‘I love it!’ before going on with their business. There are the children who hang around, interested, asking questions and in awe of what you do… appreciating the art, and really enjoying the experience... but sometimes, there is genuine magic. It’s that magic that turns a potentially stressful or difficult booking into the best job in the world. I left that booking like a different person. I was full of the warm and fuzzies, and feeling so incredibly lucky to be able to make a living from some paint, some experience and some ‘hocus – pocus’. Mostly though, I feel so blessed to have been able to create something that transformed a shy little boy, into his idol. He WAS Mary Poppins yesterday. He had the hat, the umbrella, all of the invisible accoutrements that make Mary Mary, and he was loving life. He won’t forget that feeling for a while, if ever, and neither will I. There has been some learning in this for me. I’ve never painted a Mary Poppins hat before. I knew before I started that given the queue, the jostling, the time pressures, my mood, this was not going to be anywhere near my best work. I could easily have said ‘I’m sorry, I don’t have a Mary design, how about a superhero / dino / dog?’ and none of the magic would have appeared. We all want to be at our best, demonstrating our skills on the little human advertisements wandering around the venue, sporting our best, well refined and executed designs, but sometimes, stepping out of our comfort zones in a pressurised situation, is the absolute best thing we can do for our own growth and development.
Today I feel like my funk cloud has cleared. I’m inspired, am aware of how lucky I am, and I want to do this again and again. And again. I have the best job in the world.
I guess the moral of this story is that we should embrace the hard jobs. Pretty much like life itself, that’s where the growth happens, and the inspiration and the strength comes from. It’s easy to walk into a dream booking, paint lots of happy children, feel good and move on, but there is the potential for this magic at every single job and we should be actively seeking it at all times, maybe even more so where we don’t feel particularly happy. It’s what makes the job properly worthwhile. It’s where the real job satisfaction lies, and it’s where the ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious’ happens!
I would love to hear some of your magical on the job experiences -so when this blog post is published I will open a thread on the group page so that we can share.
Buy from the High street? Think Again!
Hey y’all! Halloween time has been and gone already and I hope you have survived, with backs intact and pockets heavier! Is everyone Halloweened-out? I hope not…..
This week I thought I’d have a little fun. Whenever I’m out shopping at the high street or supermarket, I’m always drawn to the Halloween displays, I love looking at the costumes, seeing if there’s any cool little accessories I can buy, and then CRINGING at the Halloween ‘face paint kits’ or ‘special effects kits’ they sell. When I first became a Professional Face Painter and I learnt about good products, I really used to become really quite annoyed at these kits, I think I may have even dropped a few remarks out loud to people buying them (ha ha!!). Now I look at them with bemusement, maybe give a knowing smile to myself, but I still cringe for the poor children who will end up looking like they’ve been covering in toothpaste and/or attacked by Slimer from Ghostbusters.
So I thought I’d buy a couple of these kits, and give them a roadtest! Do they do what they say on the packet? Can you achieve the looks that are portrayed on the packaging?
I decided to test three ‘kits’. These beauties……one from a well know supermarket chain and the others from a cheap and cheerful nationwide high street store. I won’t be using any of my own products, brushes, sponges etc.
First up, the day of the dead make up – apparently. This came with no instructions of how to apply, just three small pots of ‘paint’, a square of sponge, something that resembled a brush and what I think was a type of eyeliner – but could’ve been a crayon tbh.
The base for this look was supposed to be an opaque, powdery white as seen on the front of the packaging. Imagine my surprise then when I had smeared the entire contents of the white supplied all over my face, with the supplied sponge and it looked like I’d just put a bit too much moisturiser on. No amount of pouncing with the sponge or any of my normal blending techniques was going to make this base look smooth. Worst still, it felt so WET, and unfortunately it stayed that way. When I added the black, again it felt sooo wet and heavy. Because of the consistency of the paint it was impossible to get a nice coverage – it just kept smearing every time I added more. The bristles of the brush kept falling out too which was just LOVELY to work with - urgh (not quite your pink tip standard!).
As for the detail – using the eyeliner/crayon, I carefully drew around the eye sockets and then added a web- but as the faint line went on it scraped a layer of the wet, sticky white base off. Just gorgeous. How they expect anyone to do dots with the supplied brush with the purple paint (which, by the way is a completely different shade to the one on the packet).
So here we are, the finished look. Needless to say I couldn’t wait to get it off my face! It felt heavy, wet and just gross – and would completely slide off your face the minute you got hot or anything touched you. The picture on the front of the packet is certainly not done with these products, so it’s a case of false advertising too. Poor!!!
Next up, the vampire bite. I knew this was going to be bad when my 8 year old, who is TERRIFIED of anything scary, bloody, etc saw the wound and fell about laughing “it’s a piggy snout Mummy look! That’s not a vampire bite!”. But, I diligently followed the instructions, determined to make this dirt cheap wound look great with my amazing special fx skills. Latex is latex right? Wrong. This latex had half solidified in the packet (still sealed), so came out in lumps and runny bits despite me trying to give it a good mix beforehand. There was no implement to apply the latex so I used the end of the brush and smeared the lumpy mixture on the best I could. Zombie skin this was NOT.
On applying the hilarious pig-snout vampire bite, the edges of the wound were so raised and thick that no amount of (substandard) latex was going to stick them down so unfortunately they stuck up proudly, and then the lumpy latex didn’t dry clear -so it was all looking like a bit of a mess on my arm. I thought - it’s ok, the blood will cover all this. To some extent it did, but gosh it was super runny. If you’d have applied it on your neck like the packet suggested the blood would’ve dripped down to your ankles by the time you left the house!
As you can see, it’s car crash special FX – and not in a good way! Although this was not at all expensive, it’s not worth even spending a penny on – the wound was ridiculous-looking, impossible to blend into skin and the products were substandard. Avoid!
Lastly the horror clown.. If nothing else I get a comedy red nose from this right?
I tried. I really tried! I’m not purposely doing these really badly! I managed to get a ‘bit’ more coverage from the white paint that came in a tube but it took a lot of careful dabbing with the tiny postage stamp of a sponge. As you can see it’s still extremely patchy.
There was no blending out this hideous red greasepaint into the never-drying white base – it all just missed into a kind of pinky sludge under my eyes and applying the black – with the supplied brush was an absolute joke. You can tell I’m not a happy clown. Worst yet came when I removed this make up – five minutes after I applied it. It left me with a red, sore face and I do not have sensitive skin at all. To think it could easily be used on children, and left on for hours is unthinkable.
So there you have it. Cheap ‘face paint’ from high street shops is pretty awful, and I suppose this nothing we didn’t already know. What I didn’t know was just how bad it was, even if applied with a professional hand. How deceiving and unachievable the photos on the front of the packets are. I’m even tempted to contact the suppliers and show them this blog and ask them to explain how they achieved the looks shown on the packaging. Watch this space.
For now I’m returning to all my lovely kit, easy to use products and brushes, and feel much more justified in my frequent splurges at The Face Painting Shop :-D! The experience of road testing these products also makes me feel even more justified in charging clients a decent fee for individual Halloween appointments – and just in general. We are worth it! And on that note, I hope you all had a busy and profitable Halloween season this year and are having a teeny rest now – but not for long! The chubby guy in red and white will be here before we know it and I for one am EXCITED!!
Thanks for reading,
Making Your Own Rainbow Cakes
Making your own rainbow cakes isn’t as hard as you might think and once you start it’s pretty hard to stop, you can create the colour blends you want and it’s satisfying seeing the amount of cakes you can get from just a few solid colours. It’s a good way to use up any spare paint and if you haven’t got any empty containers just use lids.
Here’s a quick guide;
Before ordering your colours think about what faces you paint the most and what would be useful combos.
Consider the consistency of the paints and how suitable they are to work together in a cake. It might be better to keep to the same brands.
Mixing shimmer or pearl paints with matt gives a nice effect but the pearls tend to be creamier and may not last as long.
Once your paints arrive the fun begins! Cut them into strips (making sure you don’t cross contaminate the colours) and arrange in the order you want. I squeeze and squoosh mine into their containers but you may prefer to be more precise.
Keep a note of what paints you used so you can re-order and top up your rainbow cake when needed.
Consider sharing the cost of buying your solid colours with a fellow face painter, you’ll make lots of cakes with similar colours so it’s good to share them, use them in workshops or sell them in kits to students.
Good tips are to use the strongest colours you can for the dark colours (good old Global dark blue is perfect) and strong whites for the contrasting light – DFX white works well. If you’re stuck for ideas you can’t go wrong with bright TAG neons, pink is always a firm favourite. Some cakes will be a success and some will be disasters, it doesn’t matter, it’s all good learning and they will look lovely in your case.
If you find this easy why not try making your own one strokes? It is way more fiddly and you do have to keep the paints level but once you get the hang of it you’ll be away. A one stroke with global red and dfx white makes the best roses, a black and white one-stroke is great for dogs and skulls and dark green and white works for leaves and dinosaurs. Try and keep the dark colour to a minimum though or it will dominate and you’ll lose the contrast.
Face Painting By Joni
A few weeks ago I wrote about how you can add to your income by running children’s ‘learn to face paint’ workshops. This week I’m talking about teaching gore and sfx because kids ABSOLUTELY LOVE it no matter the time of year. There are several reasons why your workshops will be a success;
Children are fascinated by blood and yucky stuff and are amazed what they can do with just a few products. We used Mehon wax and Fresh Scratch for the cut finger, Ben Nye bruise wheel for black eyes and Zombie Skin for peeling flesh.
Kids can be as creative as they like with no worries about things looking ‘perfect’, look how delighted these students were with their work!
Young and older children can work side by side because each child works at their own level, the younger ones like to use lots of blood and the older ones can spend up to an hour sculpting a realistic wound. They can team up or just be on their own, its up to them.
The photographs at the end are fun.
Running a gore workshop is simple because there is no water, paint or brushes involved, I put out a small selection of wax, blood and the tiniest amount of bruise creams on paper plates and that’s all that’s needed really. Metal teaspoons are useful for moulding wax cuts and some children enjoy applying Mehron nicotine stain to their teeth.
You can sell mini kits so they can continue the fun at home.
There are so many ways to keep the money coming in during dry spells. Keep a lookout for future blogs about my new Prosecco and Face Painting nights for adults..
Face painting by Joni
Stencils are lifesavers. You know this. They’re the best way to beat a queue, get a design on a squirmy child AND they look incredibly effective when done right. No, they’re not ‘cheating’, no they’re not ‘the easy way out’ and no, they’re not ‘simple to use’ (who hasn’t overloaded their sponge and dabbed on a watery mess? I know I have.)
Quick guide to using stencils;
Use an almost-dry sponge, it has to have the least amount of water on it, otherwise you know what happens – the water runs everywhere….and no stencil pattern.
Use quick tapping motions, don’t overdo it!
Peel the stencil away carefully.
The stickier the paint the better, some brands just don’t work well and are tricky to use.
So what stencils should you have in your kit? Because I’m an on-the-job working face painter I need to paint a lot of young children fast. The best stencils are designs that you just can’t do quickly on a squirmy 4 year old. Think footballs and superhero logos. Done on the arm is even better, they love being able to see them and you can knock out a ‘tattoo’ in seconds. If you want to get more creative the tyre stencil is good for gore and sfx. Mermaid and reptile scales are essential, large and small. Any geometric pattern is great for adding texture over a one stroke for grown up eye designs. Graffiti Eyes by Leah Selley is perfect for this. Your stencil can be a main feature if you prefer; the Frankenstein is one of my most popular and can be glammed up with glitter or smothered in fresh scratch.
The stencils I’m looking forward to trying are the new Oooh bar stencils, designed by Clayton James from Marvellous Masks. They’re circular so crowns and crescent eye design stencilling will be so much easier. Keep a lookout for a review of these in a future blog.
What stencils do you swear by? Any tips? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you.
My Top 5 Tips To Dealing with Difficult Customers
By Jane Harding
Hello everyone! Welcome back... who saw my ‘Pennywise’ tutorial on The Face Painting Shop YouTube Channel? Did you like it? I hope you found it helpful. If you haven’t seen it, ‘Go check it out!’
Today, it’s all about those dreaded difficult customers!
We’ve all been there, doing our best and still we seem unable to please some people. First off, let me tell you, sometimes you can try everything… including the tips I am going to share now and it still won’t be enough!
I say, do your best and then ‘Let These One’s Go’, don’t dwell on one person’s bad experience. If you have provided the best customer service possible and they are still not happy, it’s probably more about them than you… move on!
So what do I know about dealing with difficult people?
Well, in my former life/career, I spent almost 20 years working for the Local Authority and can safely say I have had my fair share of ‘Difficult’ Customers/Clients (whatever you want to call them).
IMO, there is nothing harder than working with/engaging/building relationships/and changing the behaviour of people that didn’t want you there in the first place! I have been trained to my back teeth in every counselling approach, lone working practices, dealing with aggressive people, managing risky behaviours etc. etc. So, I would say I have some knowledge on the subject.
Ultimately, it all comes back to good customer service, being fair and professional.
Here we go…
MY 5 TOP TIPS TO DEALING WITH DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS
(Could also translate to ‘difficult situations’)
The thing I find most common in “difficult customers”, is their need to be listened to. Just listen to them, let them get out what they need to say and then try replying with something like, “I hear what you’re saying”, or “I’m sorry to hear that”… keep in mind; you are not agreeing with them, you are just acknowledging their feelings. On a psychological level, just by doing this, they will feel you are taking them seriously and that’s all most people want. Especially when people get agitated and angry, these simple sentences can help to calm things down. STAYING CALM is probably the most important thing you can do. It’s very easy to rise to (or ‘mirror’) another person’s emotional level, but think of this in reverse. If you remain calm, they are far more likely to ‘mirror’ your emotional level and meet you back down there, and subsequently becoming much easier to manage.
2. FIND OUT WHAT THEY WANT
Customers that complain, tend to be angry and want to let you know about it. So, once you have LISTENED, don’t be tempted to be defensive or begin to offer explanations (they will only see this as excuses) and it’s most likely going to just escalate to an argument. It takes two to tango! Instead, get straight to the point… try saying something like, “I’m sorry to hear that you are unhappy with……., What would you like to see happen now?”, A question such as this in itself will appease most people, this is because you are showing that you have listened and that you are indicating your intent to make it right. I have always found that 9/10 people will say, “I don’t want anything!”….. NOTHING?! That’s what you’ll be thinking. After all that, they don’t want anything!! They literally just needed to vent, and whether you agree with them or not, ask yourself, ‘Is it worth getting into this argument?’. The damage they could do to your business if you decide to give a counter argument is much more damaging than your need to have your say.
The way I look at it is; my business is everything to me. This person is a customer (also important), BUT they are not someone I hold dear to my heart, so it doesn’t matter if they have a different opinion to me or if they think I am wrong… I know I am right and I am going to protect my business first and foremost.
Oh… and that 1/10 person… well, they will tell you what they want! Maybe they want a discount or refund? At this point I would use one of my counselling techniques, which in a nut shell would be as follows. Paraphrase everything they have just told you into something short and sweet like, “I am hearing you’re not happy because..… and you would like…..”. (It’s very important to start that sentence with “I”) This helps on two levels, one, you are proving you have listened and taken on board everything they said, two, they will think you are considering their request.
Now that doesn’t mean I am going to give them what they want, that would depend on a lot of things; i.e. What the issue was, was I in the wrong, do they have a point and what are they asking for? If I was actually in the wrong, hypothetically let’s say I double booked them and couldn’t get cover. Personally I would give them a full refund and apologise profusely! I might ask if there was anything else I could do to put my mistake right… id consider a discount for their next party or possibly offer to provide a 1 hour face painting experience for the birthday boy/girl and their siblings if the children were very upset or disappointed.
However; If it was a customer kicking off because I refused to paint a child under 3 at their party and their friend was upset, I would apologise (for the upset) but advise, unfortunately I am not in a position to offer a discount, as I have already provided the service I was booked for and calmly point out, that I can see they ticked the box on the booking form to say they had read my full T&Cs and that they do clearly state my policy on age restrictions.
Or, if there was another issue not covered by my T&Cs, I may offer a partial refund, if I felt this would prevent any escalation or negative impact on my business.
3. BITE YOUR TONGUE!
This is much easier said than done, but ultimately this is business… when you think of it in those terms you are less likely to take what people say personally. It’s when things are taken personally that we are most likely to react defensively. Your first instinct should be to protect your business and you do this by providing excellent customer service. So avoid at all costs, engaging in an argument with a customer, even if they never book you again. Who knows who might be watching or hear what’s happening. This is how bad reputations start, even if you were absolutely in the right, it won’t look that way from a distance. I stand by the fact that ‘word of mouth’ is your best source of advertising, so present yourself in a professional manner at all times.
4. CHANGE YOUR MINDSET
You may feel what I am encouraging you to do is ‘panda’ to people or ‘let them get away with treating you badly’, but I am really not, I reiterate, its business, try to shift your mind set to see it as ‘managing a situation,’ rather than the former. Here’s an analogy for you; if a child is having a temper tantrum because they have been told ‘no’, implementing ‘planned ignoring’ is the best behaviour management strategy and it’s important to remember, you are not ignoring the child; you are ignoring the behaviour! If the behaviour receives the desired response, the behaviour will continue. If the behaviour does not receive the desired response, the behaviour will cease. It’s the same thing here, you won’t get anywhere arguing back, or giving explanations/”excuses”… you need to be the bigger person, let it go and ‘Manage the situation’.
5. STICK TO YOUR GUNS!
I know what you are thinking, and you’re right, it’s not ALL about letting things go; it’s actually the age old saying of ‘choose your battles wisely’. Some battles you won’t win, so there’s no point escalating it out of all proportions, let them go. BUT sometimes we have to stick to our guns, i.e. for Health & Safety reasons! Let me tell you a story;
Once I was working at a PPF event when a grandad brought his grandson (6-7yrs) up to my chair. He climbed up; all appeared well, he had a big floppy fringe so I proceeded to put a hair band in his hair as he wanted Spiderman. As I did this, I revealed a forehead full of crusty chicken pox! You know it… my stomach dropped… I was going to have to turn this child away and possibly really upset him. But that’s life!
To give you the best example I can, here’s the basic transcript of what happened;
Me: Oh! Have you had Chickenpox?
Me: Aww, I’m so sorry but that means I can’t paint you today.
(The child didn’t appear bothered at all)
Grandad: (In quite a stern tone) Well he’s ok now, he had them last week, they’re dried up!
Me: (In a calm tone) Yes, I see that, but unfortunately that doesn’t change my policy, I’m sorry about that, but I can’t paint him today.
Grandad: (In a defensive tone) They aren’t even contagious now, they are dried, he’ll be fine.
Me: (Still the same calm tone) Yes, I appreciate they’re most likely not contagious, I’m aware they are most contagious before the spots even develop. But unfortunately I am not in a position to put another child at risk or contaminate my kit.
(At this point I notice the people waiting in line start to pay attention and I began to feel the pressure to just back down and paint him, thinking they probably think I am being ridiculous!)
Grandad: (Very sternly, said something along the lines of) Well he’s going to be upset because he wants to be Spiderman
(yep, he tried to guilt me into backing down!)
Me: (to the little boy) I am so sorry I can’t paint you today, but I will be here again another day, so next time I’ll paint you to be anything you want.
(In all honestly the boy didn’t look the least bit bothered!)
Grandad: (whilst taking the boy down, in a frustrated tone) Come on… she won’t paint you and then continued to grumble as they walked away.
As he did, the next child’s grandad came right up to my face and said, “Well Done”. He went on to say he thought the other man had been very naughty asking me to paint his child, he also said had I have backed down they would have left the line… he took my business card.
In all honesty I believe if I had reacted to this situation by snapping back, being overly defensive or used a different tone of voice, this would have gone on much longer, the man would have caused more of a scene, people would have most likely left the queue and the man probably would have complained to the manager of the event I was at.
As it was, he left without a fuss and someone took my business card.
They are my 5 top tips! I hope it’s helped and that you managed to stick with me and reach this point! If you have any questions or examples of your own, then please leave them in the comments below.
Finally – I have just launched my own YouTube Channel, so please head over and SUBSCRIBE if you would like to see me paint, so some FX Makeup and offer more tips & tricks. Thanks guys!
Let’s talk about Instagram, Part One
When I first wrote this, it came to about 3 and a half thousand words, and even I couldn’t be bothered with reading it, so I have split it into 2 parts. This ‘part’ is going to talk about getting started with instagram and how to overcome that pesky little algorithm, and part 2 will talk about Instagram business tools and tips.
Important information to include on your page
There are a few things you should think about including on your profile to make yourself more searchable, visible, and to make it easier for your audience to understand you and your business. The user name should be your business/trading name, or the closest thing to it if the one you want has already been taken (possibly something to think about if you are just starting up and haven’t decided a business/trading name yet!)
Have your location on your profile! If not the specific village, then your nearest town or city. This, again, makes you more searchable, and will help you market to people in your area, and also gives you a higher chance of popping up on the explore page for that area. You only get a limited number of characters for your information, so use them wisely! Use the space to tell people who you are and what it is you do. You can include your email and mobile number as direct links, so don’t waste those precious characters! The same goes for your website (and if you don’t have a website, that should also be next on your to do list!) It’s where people will go to find more information about what you do if they’re not quite ready to get in touch with you. People might want to book you directly through Instagram, but I find people use it to get an idea for what I do first, or it’s where they ‘find’ me.
The Algorithm (as I understand it)
Once upon a time, Instagram (and Facebook) used to show you everything everyone posted in chronological order, but not anymore! It shows you content it thinks you want to see, and therefore shows your followers what it thinks they want to see. This is based on engagement, which is when we like or comment on someones post, click on their profile, click on their website or any other interaction. If we don’t engage with someones content, it will stop showing it to us. If you get a low rate of engagement on a post, next time you post, instagram is less likely to show as many people, the ones who don’t engage with your content, your post. The more people engage with your content, the more other people will also see your content. Have you ever noticed on facebook that when your friends likes something from a group you don’t follow or a post from someone you aren’t friends with you see it? It’s vey similar with instagram. This is really important to take into consideration when you post content and when you interact with other accounts.
What to post
It’s really important to have a separate profile for your business and a separate profile for personal photo’s, you need to keep your business profile relevant to your business! (more on this in part 2!)
To maximise your use of instagram, you need to post good quality images, and have good quality engagements, it’s quality over quantity! If you’re a frequent poster, you’re posts are likely to have a lower rate of engagement and therefore you will have a lower ‘reach’ (the amount of profiles that see your post). Personally, I also unfollow people who post too often, I need variety in my newsfeed! If you post several photo’s in a short amount of time, the first photos you posted will get lost, and your posts will each have a lower rate of engagement which will result in a lower subsequent reach (those grid photo’s you can post look great from your profile but can have a huge negative impact on your engagement and reach!). You will get a much better engagement by spreading your content out, and taking more time over your captions and hashtags (and it means you can save photo’s for those quiet patches too! As much as you don’t want to post too often, you need to maintain a presence)
Before you take a picture of that perfect butterfly face paint you just did, take a minute to think about the image. If it’s really sunny, make sure the person is facing the right way so the sun doesn’t cast a shadow over their face and they’re not squinting, and if you’re indoors, try to take the picture facing a window so you can make the most of natural light. Also try to make sure there isn’t too much background clutter, the focus needs to be your beautiful work, (instagram actually decreases the reach of ‘busy’ photo’s) . The back camera on your phone is fine, and if you have a DSLR and have time to use it then great! Just try not to use your front facing phone camera. It can produce really grainy images that might not perform so well on social media, and you might not want to use for your website.
What to include in your post
This is just as important as the quality of your image. If you don’t caption and don’t hashtag your posts, no-one is going to see it! And if no one see’s it, you get lower engagement, and lower reach and lower engagement and blah blah blah. Engage with your audience. Tell them what you painted, ask them if they like it, ask them if they’ve made their minds up about what they’re going as for halloween! And hashtag! You get up to 30 hashtags per post, so use them and use them wisely. Hashtag something relevant to your post, don’t hashtag something completely unrelated just because it’s a really popular hashtag. It can come across as spammy, and your post can get lost in a sea of other posts and won’t have as high a reach.
“But Mazz, I don’t know how to hashtag?!?”. Ok. So when you are typing in the caption box, on the keyboard, at the bottom right of the screen there is a little #. Click this and then type your hashtag next to it, but you have to type it all as one word. If you put a space, it only recognises what you have put before the space , for example, if I posted a butterfly face paint, I would tag #butterflyfacepaint not #butterfly face paint, it would only register the word butterfly. If you’re not sure what to hashtag, what you can do (what I often do) is look at posts in your newsfeed that are performing well and see what those people have hash tagged, as long as it’s relevant of course.
Don’t forgot to also add the location to the image. As I said earlier, this will make you more visible to other people in your area. You can actually click on the location (on a posted image, not in editing mode) and see all of the other posts that have been tagged with that location and surrounding areas. You can then engage with other people in that location, which will in turn increase engagement with your posts.
Engaging with other accounts
Engagement makes the social media world go round! On my ‘The_pixie_tribe’ page I follow other face painters, and a few other related accounts. This is because I want to see images that inspire me, and because this is the best way I can support other artists. Short of just giving anyone any money, the best thing we can do for each other is regularly engage with each others posts. This helps boost our reach to the other people who follow us, but also helps us to reach our target clients by increasing our exposure under the hashtags and location tags, and gives you a higher chance of reaching the explore page.
It’s really important to support the painty community, but you also want to be engaging with your local community and potential clients. Click on that location button on your posts and have a snoop at what people in your local area are posting, comment on the cute pictures of their dogs and that delicious looking cake they made! They will wonder who you are and click on your profile. Boom. Potential new client. If your painting at a PPF or birthday party and handing out business cards, and one of those people follows you, follow them back, and engage with their posts!
Don’t forget to check your inbox!
Yes, that’s right, people can slide into your dm’s without you even noticing! When someone you are connected to on instagram messages you, you will get a notification, and a little red dot on the paper aeroplane in the top right of your newsfeed. But when someone you don’t know messages you, you won’t get a notification, you won’t get a little red dot, and if you don’t actively check that paper aeroplane, you won’t know that you have a message request waiting for your approval. I have missed potential bookings and photoshoots from this before, and it’s infuriating because this is where messages from your potential clients (and potential repeat clients!) are going to end up. I check mine every day now, and no I don’t have a dm every time I check, but I would rather check and not have any messages than not check for like a week or a month and miss out on a booking.
It’s ok to lose followers
Well, you can’t force someone to be interested in what you do, but that’s not the main reason you will gain and lose followers. A lot of Instagram accounts are fake, or spam, or managed by robots. You will probably notice a lot of accounts called ‘get more likes’ or ‘instagram followers’ etc etc will follow you. There might not be a real person behind that account, it exists solely to gain as many followers as it can. You will also get people following you in the hopes that you follow them back, before they unfollow you to build their numbers. You can get apps that tell you how many followers you have that you follow back, how many people you are following that follow you back, show you all your new followers, and show you all the people that unfollow you, and then should you wish, you can unfollow them on the spot. It can be a useful way of analysing what kind of accounts are following/unfollowing you, wether its clients, other small businesses or just spam accounts
I hope you’ve found this post useful. I know social media can be a bit of a minefield, but it really is so important to our businesses, it’s often our first point of contact with a client. Part 2 will focus more on the business tools and extra features. If you have any specific questions on that, please let me know in the comments here so I can incorporate them! Equally any other questions or topics you want covering, please do leave a comment!
If you are coming to our christmas party please make sure that you grab a free ticket from this link - https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/the-face-painting-shop-christmas-party-tickets-51959407988
Hi everyone! By the time you read this you are probably in the midst of the Halloween madness, knee deep in latex and fake blood! I hope it’s a lucrative period for you all, and look forward to seeing the amazing faces that you have all created!
This week I am going to talk hygiene. Everyone has their own ideas about what best practice means for them, and as there is no actual official rule on what we should and should not be doing when it comes to working, it is ultimately up to each individual painter what way they choose to do things. I will freely admit that it’s a bug bear of mine, and as such, my practices may seem extreme to others, but for me, it is about taking all reasonable steps to minimise the risk of cross contamination, and reduce the chances of being the reason that someone becomes unwell or suffers a reaction from work that I have carried out. People are covered in germs and bacteria, none more so than children, so it’s not possible to completely eliminate this from face painting, and that’s not the aim here. The aim is to reduce any risk as much as is practically possible, while still being able to work fast, and efficiently, and doing what you feel is right for your business.
Let’s start with your kit in general. I deep clean my kit after every day’s work. For me, this involves wiping over every paint surface, container, cup, stencils and poofer etc, giving my brushes a good clean and machine washing my sponges. I use a fresh towel and tablecloth for each job. It really doesn’t take that long... maybe 30 minutes on average, and for me, it’s crucial that I arrive at every job with a clean kit. I have had many parents / clients comment that they are pleased to see that my kit is clean, and this is one of the things that sticks in client’s minds and makes them remember you when it comes to booking entertainment for their next event. We have all seen photos of horror-kits online, or in real life, and it genuinely baffles me that any parent would allow their child to be painted by products that look so unsanitary. It’s also about taking pride in your work, your working environment and your tools. I love my kit. I invest heavily in it, and I want to look after it – my livelihood depends on it after all!
Did you know that all of the paint products that we use have a limited shelf life once opened? For most paints, this is 12 months. After this time, they should not be used. You can find this information on the label as shown below. While our paints do contain antibacterial agents, these are designed to delay any mould growth in damp paint, and do not kill viruses / prevent cross contamination. After 12 months, these agents will not be providing the protection from mould growth that they previously would have, and therefore the paint is likely to be less sanitary than before. I’ve talked about repotting before, and mentioned that I keep a note of all batch numbers and expiry dates. If you repot your paints, it’s a really good idea to do this, so that you can keep track of what expires and when.
Jane posted a fab blog post recently about how to clean your brushes between gigs, so I’m not going to talk much about that, and will instead focus on on the job hygiene practices. Face painting water gets mucky. There is really nothing that we can do to eliminate that due to the amazing array of pigments in our paints, but there are easy steps that can be taken to ensure that your brushes stay as clean as possible during a job. Rule one… never leave your brushes standing in water. It damages the bristles, the ferrule, and it leads to cracking flaky paint on the handles... never a good look, and a perfect breeding ground for nasties. Personally, I operate a 3 cup system, and while it took a little getting used to at first, it works well for me now, and doesn’t slow me down at all. The first cup contains water, and is used as a first rinse. The aim here is to get as much paint as possible out of the brush. The second cup contains water, and a brush sanitiser. I use Brush Bath by Silly Farm, which is 100% organic and smells divine. You only need to add a few drops to the water, so it lasts for ages and it will not damage your brushes. My third cup contains only water, and is only used to rinse after the second cup, or to load a fresh brush. I can work a long and busy job, and the water in this cup stays clean throughout as it is never used for a painty brush.
So...the great sponge debate! There are two very different schools of thought on this. Lots of painters use a ‘one sponge per colour’ system, where the same sponge is used to apply paint to lots of faces, before being washed. Alternatively, others use a ‘one sponge per face’ system meaning that sponges are not used on more than one face before being washed. Personally, the idea of sponge sharing doesn’t sit well with me. While I am sure that no one is painting over open gaping wounds, or visible infections, it is important to remember that the majority of infections are contagious before they are symptomatic, so there is usually no way of spotting that someone is brewing up something you don’t want to share! Also, just because it hasn’t happened, doesn’t mean that it never will, and if you are ever in a situation where a client has raised concerns about infection or reactions, you need to be able to prove that you work as safely as you possibly can. I want to minimise any risk of cross contamination and therefore I can’t get past the knowledge that I could be passing cold sores, conjunctivitis, impetigo, chicken pox or God knows what else, along a line of little people. Also, I don’t want those things in my paint, or on my hands if I can avoid it! I have loads of sponges, (I tend to cut regular face painting sponges in half which instantly doubles my stock!) and I have 2 mesh bags – one for clean, one for dirty. My sponges come out of one, are used, and go into the other, where they stay until I wash them after the job along with my towels and tablecloth. I add a laundry disinfectant to the load to ensure that they are squeaky clean before being reused. Interestingly, I have noticed that reusing sponges seems to be more common in the US than the UK, and can only assume that this is because there are a number of high profile American painters who do so. Again… this is a decision that only you can make, but it is important that you research both techniques before deciding what you are happy with. I have had parents comment that they are pleased to see that I do not reuse sponges, and that alone is a good enough reason for me to have a single use policy. Clients notice more than just the end result of our work! Any professional face and body painting organisation that I could find all have a ‘clean sponge per face’ criterion in their working guidelines, including FACE – The International Face Painting Association. There are also some regions within the UK where individual councils have constructed a policy on safe face painting practices and again, any that I could find online all stated that sponges should not be used on multiple faces. Some countries like Canada have super strict rules on face painting that mean that even brushes cannot be reused without being ‘properly’ cleaned.
It’s not just the kids who are walking buckets of bacteria… we are too! Our own personal hygiene is important also, and where possible, I always wash my hands before setting up my kit. I carry antibacterial hand gel to use between faces, and (now that I’ve mostly ditched my baby wipes thanks to Nat’s campaign) I have a clean cloth for my hands. I can be a kind of messy painter, especially on long and busy jobs and I think it looks bad to be painting and handling face, brushes and sponges with painty hands, so a quick wipe between faces really helps.
People see messy and think dirty. While your table itself is unlikely to get dirty during a job, it may (if you are anything like me) become untidy during a busy gig. Don’t be afraid to take a few minutes to do a quick tidy. I usually allow the next person into the chair and tell them that I am just going to have a quick tidy up. I’ve never had anyone complain about that, and it’s good that your clients see that you are making sure that everything is clean for them.
So there you have it. It’s pretty simple! Start with a clean kit, take steps to keep it clean and safe on the job, and clean properly when you are done, and you shouldn’t go too wrong. If you wouldn’t accept it from a MUA working on your face, then it’s not ok to expect your clients to accept it from you! If you are interested in reading some more opinions and experience about hygiene, I posted a poll in the Face Painting Shop Tips & Tricks group on Facebook which has had over 200 inputs from other painters on how they manage cross contamination risks. It always good to see what other painters are doing and why, so feel free to have a read and add your own comments!
Kit Essentials-cake paints
This week I thought I would continue my ‘kit essentials’ series and talk about my essential cake paints to take on a face paint job.This is pretty much all the cake paints I’ll take on a general paint job, but if I have a themed event I adjust my kit accordingly. I don’t like to take much more paint than this out with me as I use a lot of rainbow and split cakes, and it also helps keep set up and break down times to a minimum.
So this is my set up of my cake paints. They always come out in that order, and then they go back in the bag in this order! I keep the black and white next to the water and arrange them in colour order going away from the water with UV’s on top.
DFX White: Ok, so I’ve tried a fair few whites, and for me, this one comes out on top. I use it for both linework and spongeing on the job. HOWEVER for private appointments,I prefer to use white or very pale foundation (The Stargazer one is fine). It feels much nicer on the skin and takes paint well on top, and won’t sweat off as easily as a painted base.
DFX Black: This is my go to black for on the job. It’s great for line work, and blends out really nicely, and, like the white, I have tried several other blacks, and have come back to this one. However I am yet to come across a matter black than Mehron Paradise Black, which I use a lot for body painting, and for things like skulls and zombies on private bookings where you want more than just linework.
DFX Metallic Silver: Ok, if I’m honest, I don’t use this a lot, but it is useful to have a silver in your kit. I use it for the odd bit of outlining, or if someone wants a robot or something, but mostly, it’s there incase I need to mix it with a flat colour to make it shimmery.
Superstar Glitter Gold: This is such a beautiful colour. I love the softness of Superstar paints, and I love the pigmentation! I have tried a couple of other golds, but since I came across the Superstar Glitter Gold, I haven’t gone back to any other gold paint for face painting.
Global Pearl Baby Blue: This is such a great colour! It makes such a great blue tiger (combined with Cameleon Victorious) as well as the base for my galaxy design, and is great for outlining things like butterflies.