How to start a face painting business

I bet you didn’t know that face painters could earn so much until you have gone to book one for your kids party!

Okay so we charge good rates but that doesn’t mean its easy money, plus we work alot of hours unpaid i.e. taking bookings, advertising etc so the money works out. Face painting however is an amazingly satisfying job and working with children and families at a fun and interactive time is a blessing!

How to make money from face painting! 

I am providing the following information for people who are either thinking about starting their own face painting business or who are thinking about face painting at a fundraiser to raise money.

What do I need to make money from face painting? 

Face Paint Kit:

• Face painting kit

• A selection of designs for boys & girls

• Equipment (Table, chair, mirror etc )

• A selection of change if doing pay per face

Personal Skills:

• Patience & Friendly

• Creativity 

Good Conditions:

• Good/fair weather

• Lots of children and families with money to spend

PLI Insurance:

All face painters should have PLI insurance for their own peace of mind. If you are face painting for a charity or fundraiser ask the event organisers if they would cover you in case of a claim against you.

There are so many different events and occasions you can make money from face painting. If there is a constant flow of children or a high attendance of families with children expected at any event this is a good indicator that you will make a good turnover of cash from face painting. From my experience if there are children attending with pocket money to spend and there is a fun time ambience then you will make money. 

Money Making Opportunities

How to make money face painting for a fundraiser?

 Find a creative or willing volunteer:

The best way to make money from face painting at a fundraiser or event is to have a creative or just willing volunteer as this will make you pure profit after deducting the cost of material. However you may know someone with a face painting kit to borrow.

Pros: High profit margins & Cons: Not experienced at painting faces or dealing with queues.

Other option is to employ a professional face painter:

You can employ a professional face painter and on many occasions you can make profits giving the correct conditions for example a constant flow of families. The best place for this is at a fun day or school fate. In my experiences face painting and water sports and beaches do not mix however temporary tattooing is a great alternative for these types of venues.

Pros: Should have PLI insurance, High quality face painting & experienced & Cons: Low profit margins

How face painters work:

Most professional face painters will ask to be paid a set amount of money for their time, then they can keep a float on the day so you can regain your spending and possibly make a profit. However other painters may be willing to work on a pay per face basis and donate a percent of their takings. Either way face painting is not a risky option as long as you have children you should be on to a winner. Remember if the painter has another option like tattoos this a good way of maximising profits as those children who do not want their face painted will more than likely fancy tattoo instead. 

Tip: If you are a volunteering to face paint at an event always check your public liability status.

Tip: Depending on the quality of your face painting I would recommend that you charge £1-£1.50 for cheek art and £2-£2.50 for a full face.

Advice on starting your own face painting business.

Small business ideas – tips on starting your own business.

How much money can you make from face painting? And what to charge?

You can make various amounts of money from face painting depending on whether you are working for yourself, being employed, working for an agency or being paid for an one off job.

Charging for your time vs taking a risk on pay per face jobs.

You can either charge a set amount per hour to your clients or take jobs where you go along unpaid but get to keep the money you make. Or sometimes you can pay for pitches and stalls. When you are just starting out I would advise you try all types of jobs and take any opportunities as you will need to start gaining experience and get you name out their. You only learn by your own experience and mistakes so even if you take a job where you make no money! And believe me I did in the early days you will learn by this and be more picky in the future. There is always a risk of making little or no money at pay per face or pay per pitch jobs. I do not take these jobs now as I have a constant flow of paid work, however in the first 5 years of face painting I did take more risks and if I didn’t maybe I wouldn’t be in this position today. However back then I did not have child care costs to consider so you need to weigh up your own risks and gains from each job offer.

Things that can go wrong at pay per face or pitch jobs:

Bad weather and low turn out of guests. Or the event was not well advertised and again a low guest attendance. To much competition for example another face painter was there. You could be placed in a bad position. You could end up losing money after all you do have costs to consider: Travel, lunch, possibly childcare and PLI insurance.


Things that can go right at a pay per face or pitch jobs:

At a well advertised popular event where the weather is good and there are lots of guests you can walk away from a 10 am-5 pm day with £100-200 depending on what you charge per face, how fast you are and if you are busy all day.

What to charge for a set time?:

Be realistic and fair to you and the client when deciding on how much to charge, take in to account on the quality of your painting, how fast you can paint (how many children you can paint in the time given) and whether you offer other entertainment too. Here is a rough guide of what you should charge, these prices are if the location is near you and no more than 30 minutes travel one way.

If your painting is excellent and you are an experienced face painter: 2 hours: £80-100

If your painting needs practice you could charge less, I started by charging £60 for 2 hours. However different areas in the UK and USA has different rates for example London. So I would advise you ask your local face painters what they charge and go from there. You will know if you are asking too much – when you are not getting booked.

For an all day corporate event (approx.. 10 am-4.30pm) you could ask between £130-£350 depending on your skill level. If you are taking a job via a booking agent or entertainments agency expect a lower rate of pay after all they are doing all the advertising and admin work to get you the job and there is a good chance they will offer you more work in the future.

Part-time work or Full-time work?

Its unlikely that just face painting for birthday parties and events is going to bring you home a full time wage, however as a part-time venture this is a great opportunity to make good money and have lots of fun doing it. Personally I love it, so if you are like me: a creative person and a bit of an entrepreneur then you will love it too. Go for it, you will learn new skills, meet new and interesting people including other entertainers, you will make money and have your own business to be proud of. Face painting can become your fun part time job too.

Taking it further – Full-time work:

However saying that it doesn’t have to stop there. You can create yourself a full time business once to you start to expand. You could incorporate other entertainments like balloon modelling, henna, magic shows the possibilities are endless. You could eventually employ other people to work for you and make a commission from these bookings. You could add in a whole party package. At the end of the day its all about experimenting with new ideas and seeing what works for you in your area.   

Where to start: If your starting your business from scratch.

Make and take opportunities. Be aware of local events and places where kids go at weekends. Contact the organisers of upcoming events and contact managers of local kid attractions like jungle gyms or museums, zoos, farms etc. When you are starting out try everything you will soon get to know what works and at every face painting session you will be developing your face painting skills and confidence. You only learn from your experiences and mistakes so just put yourself out there.

Make posters and put them up in local libraries, kids shops, schools, play group just anywhere that parents will see them.

Once you have established yourself as a face painter and start to make money you can then start investing in more advanced kit and equipment.

 What advertising to start with?:

Start with free advertising:

• Free online business listings – Freeindex etc. Get a free listing in our Free Entertainers Directory.

Search in google ‘Free party business listings’

• Make a website – You could pay a professional web designer to make your website however at the start either create a free website or learn how to make a website yourself. I did – and I learnt so much about SEO and I believe this is what aided my success. Little Party Heaven’s Website Design. Just remember whoever designs or makes your website for you make sure they pay attention to search engine optimisation (SEO). There is no point in having a great website if no one can find it in the search engines.

• Create a business face book page  Update with upcoming jobs and photos from your jobs.

• Business cards  Get business cards you will always be asked for a card when out painting so do not miss a possible booking, get cards and give them out. You can get free business cards (you just have to pay for posting) and other promotional items at online. 

Paid advertising vs word of mouth:

Advertising costs can vary depending on how much money you are prepared to spend. My advice is to keep cost low, do not get talked into to every advertising opportunity you get offered. Advertisers will often contact you offering all sorts of options but when you are starting out opt for the free options and see how you get on. The only advertising I have ever paid for is Google Adwords, which I only did for a trail. The best advertising is word of mouth.

Tax returns, records and registering as self employed:

Contact HMRC to register as self employed and find out what your tax responsibilities are, if you are making money you need to declare your earnings. Every self employed person can earn a certain amount each year without having to pay to tax however you still need to register and declare your earnings.

I fill in a tax return online yearly to declare my earnings, its simple and only takes an hour or two to do. It is advisable to keep a log off all outgoings, costs and earnings throughout the year to make this process easier. If your earnings are small you will be eligible for national insurance contributions exemption too. Plus getting a separate business bank account is a must, ask at your local bank for more info, it only took me an hour to set mine up. 

General face painting business set up costs: 

To start with just concentrate on this list of important things to get your face painting business started. 

• Kit  invest in some good quality face paints, glitter, design book, brushes and equipment.  I use Snazaroo face paints however there are a few other brands out there. So try them out  and stick with the brand that works for you. I personally choose Snazaroo because they are not too expensive, last a long time and look great.

• Public liability – always protect yourself financially if something was to go wrong.

• Kit maintenance

• Web site hosting, designing.

• Business cards

• Other advertising options

• Percent of phone bill

• Percent of car costs

• Mileage 

Tip: Be aware of your public liability status. 

Tip: Advertising: Do not be hasty and take any advertising especially at a high cost. Go for free or very low cost listings and free trials see what works best. And when you get an enquiry ask them where they heard about you.

Above all have fun and experiment with new business ideas to take your business forward.  Your imagination is your only limitation.