THE ULTIMATE SALARY GUIDE FOR
Are You Working More and Making Less?
You’re likely a professional in the beauty industry for a lot of different reasons, right? For starters, you love it. Maybe, for you, there’s nothing better than spending your days wholly devoted to helping your clients look good and feel confident. Maybe there’s nothing more rewarding than day-in-and day-out perfecting your craft, devoting your life to your creativity, and training yourself up.
All of that might be true, but that doesn’t mean your salary isn’t a part of the equation.
And guess what? That’s totally normal. If you’re working (full-time, part-time, or any time at all) in the beauty industry, of course, your salary matters because it’s your livelihood—who says you can’t love what you do and try to make really good money doing it?
The reality? Making a ton of money doing what you love simply because you’re talented at it doesn’t always work out the way we wish it did— boosting your salary and making what you want to make takes hard work, dedication and a little savvy.
The good news? That’s exactly what we’re here to deliver.
Welcome to the ultimate salary guide for stylists—a collection of tips and tricks, dos and don’ts, and tried-and-true methods that all are here to help you work how you want while making the salary of your dreams.
In this guide, we’ll talk about it all—figuring out your niche and the right clientele to help boost your business, how you can avoid wasting resources and energy, some proven tips for increasing salary, how to make more money even if you’re working for someone else, and of course, some post-moneymaking advice about how to best allocate your boosted salary.
Even better, this guide is filled with tips on how to become a successful stylist or beauty pro, as well as shining some serious spotlight inspiration on money tips and tricks, too.
Sound right up your alley? That’s what we thought.
If you’re ready to learn how to make more money, waste less, and achieve the stylist salary of your dang dreams, then buckle up, honey, you’re in for a treat—get to reading!
Figuring Out Your Ideal Clientele
Look, we know how tempting it can be to try to be a jack-of-all-trades.
Whether it’s color, cut, total repair, updos, modern styling, edgy transformations—you have the skills, you have the creativity, and you have the talent to be a stylist who can do it all.
But even if all of those things apply to you and even if you have an interest in every aspect of the industry, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should try to do it all. That’s probably not something that’s been preached to you before, so we’ll say it louder for the people in the back: Don’t try to do it all—even if you’re really, really good at everything.
Of course, we’re not saying you should curb your artistic and creative talents and abilities, but we are saying that if you’re trying to increase your salary and make more money, focusing on too many niches or too many types of clientele can end up being exhausting, wasteful and even detrimental to your goals. If you’re working more and making less, you’re doing something wrong.
Obviously, we’re going to dive deeper into this point, but that’s honestly the gist of it and the general rule you should follow—if you’re working more and making less, something about your equation is off.
Finding your niche in the industry is one of the most poignant ways to start making more money right now. If you’re able to focus on your niche, your brand, and your market by deciding what you’re good at and what’s most productive and profitable for you, you’re taking the first step toward increasing your salary and boosting your business.
And don’t get us wrong—we know finding a niche isn’t easy. Especially when you have a unique talent for being good at everything.
But, the way we see it, it’s better to focus up all your attention and efforts on one (or two or three) things so that you can become the expert in that niche. This way, you’re putting yourself in the position to be the ultimate stylist in that arena. When someone thinks of highlights or pixie cuts or epic transformations, they’ll think of you.
When you develop a niche, you’re better able to target a market, create a specified and effective brand, and focus on what you’re best at—in the end, all of those things should help you fight the "working more and making less" issue.
Wondering about how you can possibly start narrowing down your skills and finding your niche? Ask yourself questions like:
Once you start asking yourself those important questions, the ball will really get rolling. Soon, you’ll be on your way to developing and honing a niche or two—and further, you’ll be on your way to making more money.
Wasted Expenses for Beauty Pro
It goes without saying that one of the easiest and most immediate ways to start making more money is to stop wasting money.
We know what you’re thinking. You’re probably running all your expenses through your head and saying, “I really don’t think I waste much,” or “I can’t think of any expenses that are inhibiting my salary.”
And you know what? You might be right. But in our experience, even the most frugal stylists and beauty pros are still wasting money.
In the grand scheme of things, you might not have many wasteful expenses, but if you’re really focused on your own hustle and are looking to make bank, you will want to keep reading.
Truthfully, professionals in any field have wasted expenses, and some of them exist just by the nature of the industry—but we’re here to help shine a light on some of those expenses you maybe haven’t thought of.
If you’re on the grind to make that six-figure salary, we suggest looking at wasted expenses like:
The reality of the industry you’re in is this: no-shows are going to happen. They just are. Whether a client does it on purpose or simply runs into some kind of unavoidable issue, they’re always going to exist. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something about them.
The best part about being a beauty professional is that you— for the most part—get to run the show when it comes to your schedule. If you want to get a handle on no-show appointments, make sure you’re spending adequate time and effort confirming with your clients before their appointments.
Confirm the day before (or even the morning of) your client’s appointment to ensure that you’re not wasting time, effort, or are left hanging with no work for an hour when a client was supposed to show up.
Another way to handle this? Create a no-show policy for clients. It’s not out-of-the-ordinary for professionals to require a deposit (seriously!), so if you find you’re consistently dealing with no-show issues, it might be time to implement a non-negotiable no-show policy.
Lunches, Snacks and Coffee
It’s so easy to take a lunch break at the salon and walk to the cute café right down the road for a sandwich, salad or mid-afternoon caffeine jolt.
But you know what? You’re probably wasting a ton of your hard-earned money by eating out every few days.
Think about it—if you’re spending $8 for lunch three to four times a week, that’s about $24-$32 weekly. Monthly, that looks more like $96 to $128. To put that in even more perspective, ask yourself this: How many cuts do I have to schedule to pay for just my lunches?
Think about coffee for a second. Are you bringing your own? Making it at the salon? Or are you paying $3-$4 every day for a latte? And no, we’re not saying you can’t enjoy a delicious cup of caffeine from your favorite place, but if you’re buying coffee every morning, you’re probably spending anywhere from $21 to $28 weekly, which roughly translates to $84 to $112 every month—on coffee, you guys.
The solution? Brown bag it. Buy a coffee maker for the salon. Be stricter about how you spend your money on lunches, dinners, snacks and caffeine.
Trust us—the money you’ll save will be worth it.
Back Bar Product
We’re going to keep this short and sweet because we can bet you already know this— only order products for your back bar that you know you’re going to use. Start looking at your back bar products and think of them as “money on a shelf” instead of an array of fun products.
Sure, having a ton of products on your back bar can be really appealing to new clients (and a great way to draw them in in the first place), but spending money on things just to draw people in (that you’ll probably never use) is a huge waste.
Professional Liability Insurance
We know you’re probably thinking, “well, sure, now they’re here to sell me on something,” but hear us out.
If you’re losing a ton of money on terrible coverage, that’s a huge wasted expense. Why pay $250 for a year of professional liability insurance when you can get insured for so much less (think $179 yearly) for the same—or even better— coverage? Honestly—kind of unfortunately—liability insurance is something you really, really need to have.
Imagine the amount of money you’d lose if you didn’t have liability insurance and something went wrong. We’re talking court bills, possible financial restitution for clients and more!
Want more tips to counter these expenses and to learn about other expenses you should address?
Check out our blog that dives deeper into wasted expenses and how you can use our verified pro tips to diminish wasted money!
Tips to Make More Money
Listen: Money talks, guys.
Just because you want to amp up your salary doesn’t mean you don’t love your craft—do you think anyone truly wants to be a starving artist?
We’re here to tell you that doing what you love and making bank WHILE doing it, is the dream—not something you should be ashamed of or embarrassed by. That’s why we put this guide together in the first place—we want you to do more than just reach for your dreams; we want you to attain them.
So, in this section, we’re being as direct as possible and teaching you how to stand out, market yourself, and allocate your resources to make more money.
Focus on a Niche
That’s right, we’re coming right back to the point we already made, and honestly, it’s for good reason.
Focusing on a niche allows you to develop a skill where you’re the verified expert in that arena—you’ll be the professional everyone turns to when they need a specific service done. That’s valuable.
You will avoid wasting time, money, energy and effort on a myriad of services that might not be as profitable for you.
Once you’re able to focus on a niche, you can target a more specific, lucrative market; you can create a brand that functions with a goal in mind (attracting people to your niche); and you can appropriately allocate money for resources and marketing to bring in the audience you need to make your salary dreams come true. We also have killer insurance policies for most beauty niches, like esthetician insurance.
Referral programs, discount codes, special deals and limited offers are awesome ways to build up loyalty as well as attract new clients to your salon—which, in turn, means making more money, right? If you want to build a brand and create loyal brand followers, then it’s vital you’re offering your clients something valuable.
Referral programs can be the perfect way to do that. But don’t get too sucked in without math-ing everything out, first. Before you get wholly invested in a referral program, err on the side of caution. As easy as it might be to offer discounts and deals willynilly, the reality is you simply can’t.
Carefully strategize pricing and figure out a plan that’s beneficial for your customers’ loyalty as well as your financial integrity. We wholly encourage creating a referral program that gets clients buzzing about your brand, but we absolutely recommend being careful and cautious.
Raise Your Prices
This is often a sore or sensitive subject for professionals in the industry, but we don’t think it should be. Prices, no matter what you want to believe, are not static. You probably already kind of understand this, right?
Think about when you first started out in the industry—your introductory prices were probably pretty cheap. Why? Because you were brand-new. You didn’t have any—or very little—experience under your belt. You weren’t an expert and you weren’t the ultimate master of your niche. Your costs were probably pretty low, you weren’t offering discount or referral programs, and you were doing anything to get your foot in the door.
Take a look at yourself now.
Are any of those things still true? Probably not.
Your costs have to change and increase because your skills and offerings have changed and increased. The secret to making more money is to charge more money—especially when it’s entirely within your rights to do so. We’re never saying you should gouge your clients, but we do believe it’s hugely important to charge what you deserve to be paid. But, we definitely recognize how that can be a tough pill to swallow.
If you know you’re ready to raise your prices but aren’t entirely sure how, start thinking about the below changes:
- Changing Your Mindset
- Consider the Cold, Hard Facts
- Create Realistic Rates that Cover Costs
- Treat Your Time as it Deserves to Be Treated
You might be thinking, “OK…this isn’t really concrete advice you’re offering me here—how does this help me change my pricing?”
Trust us. It does.
If you’re sitting there thinking that your pricing should be based entirely off of what’s going to draw in the most customers or what’s going to beat out the competition, you’re doing this all wrong.
And we know that’s a harsh way to put it, but if that’s your entire mindset, then you’re never going to make the money you truly deserve or desire. Lower prices are all well and good, and to some degree, you’re right—you’ll attract clients because of your affordable, dare we say, low prices.
But, is that fair to you? Is that an accurate representation of your skills? Think about the services you’re offering to clients—we’re talking hair, skin, nails, etc. These are things people are willing to pay top dollar for if they’re actually high-quality from a verified professional.
Before you dive into facts and figures and real numbers, you need to first take a look at what factors to consider—in other words, the cold, hard facts.
When we say this, we mean consider the indisputable truths that apply to your business that affect how you price your services.
- My time is valuable—it’s hugely important to pricing structure.
- I have costs to cover.
- I’m a talented professional who deserves to charge a rate that’s fair to me.
There are probably tons of indisputable facts you need to go over before you start readjusting your pricing, which is why we recommend this as one of the first steps!
This is probably the most pragmatic part of the pricing structure. When it comes to raising your prices, take a look at the costs you need to cover.
Think about basic costs like rent, products and time, but then consider other smaller, pertinent factors, too (miscellaneous salon costs, back bar costs, unforeseen client costs, marketing costs, etc.). Don’t miss a single detail. The more thorough you can be when it comes to costs, the better you’ll be able to set your pricing.
If you do the math and it turns out your current pricing isn’t covering these costs, it’s obviously time to revamp your pricing structure.
Even better, take a look at what your competitors are charging—we swear this isn’t sketchy, it’s a real way to understand the market you’re in. Get a good idea of what the competitors around you are charging and try to understand why. Take all of this into account when re-setting your prices.
This is probably the most important factor when it comes to raising your prices. If you’re not including the time you spend working with your clients—from start to finish—in your pricing, then your pricing structure is never going to be fair to you.
Time is the factor to consider when it comes to your pricing because, in essence, your time is what you’re offering your client.
Sure, maybe you’re trimming bangs or dyeing hair or creating the perfect updo, but what you’re really doing is investing your time into helping someone—if you’re not considering that, then you’re not really creating fair, accurate pricing.
Your time is endlessly valuable— make sure you remember this when it’s time to calculate your prices.
Truthfully, if you want to make more money, the best thing you can do is draw in more clients. And the best way to draw in more clients? Amp up your marketing.
We want to be clear—when we say amp up your marketing, we absolutely aren’t implying that you should just throw a ton of money at someone to solve your marketing problems. But we do mean that you should put in significant effort (whether you hire someone or tackle this yourself) to boost your marketing practices.
The good news? There are tons of ways to tackle this.
With the way digital marketing and social media advertising strategies work nowadays, it’s not incredibly difficult to get the hang of this kind of stuff. Market yourself both harder and smarter using digital marketing strategies as well as old-school techniques.
Why? Because no matter how much work you put into your craft, no matter how dedicated you are, and no matter how skilled you are, you’re not going to draw in clients unless you’re making it easy for people to find you!
Working in a Salon (For Someone Else)
A lot of stylists are probably reading through this and thinking, “Sure, that makes sense—if you have your own salon. How can I possibly make more money as a stylist if I’m working for someone else where the rates are set?” That’s a fair point. You’re likely a lot less flexible if you’re not running your own salon and spa, but that absolutely doesn’t mean you’re out of luck.
In fact, you’re entirely capable of making more money even if you’re working for someone else in their salon or spa.
And a lot of that has to do with how you’re presenting yourself—both to your current employer when asking for a raise and when you’re interviewing. If you’re aspiring for a higher salary, you can absolutely make that happen—but you have to understand your value. It’s also valuable to have a strong grasp on the cold hard facts and figures surrounding your value, skills and talents.
Think about your salary when you first started working for the company. Now, compare that to your skills now.
Ask yourself some questions:
Odds are, if you answered yes to any of those first few questions, you’re in the market for a raise.
Our best advice? Approach your employer honestly and directly—if you truly deserve a higher salary and you have the evidence to back it up.
You’ve Made More Money—Now What
You’ve made more money, and that’s great. But now what?
If you’ve been workin’ hard and dedicating time and effort toward building your empire, you’re definitely going to get to this point. All that hard-earned money has to go somewhere, and even though we want to recommend you put it straight into a sweet new ride, that’s not financially responsible, right?
Your money, in the end, is your money, so know these are only suggestions—but in our opinion, all that hard-earned cash should go toward something that’ll benefit you in the long run (that’s right, we’re talking about retirement) or should thoughtfully be invested into something that’ll make you even more money.
That’s why we’ve gathered up some helpful tips on how you can start investing, saving and creating a retirement fund.
Check out some of our suggestions, here:
Get Rid of Debt Quickly & Reasonably
This probably makes sense, but you can’t reasonably start saving until you’ve paid off all your debt.
So, before you can really dive into saving—you gotta get rid of that debt. Take a look at your various debts—student loans, credit cards, etc.—and start figuring out a schedule for paying it all off.
While it might feel like you’re putting off saving for your retirement (which you might be super keen to start doing), it’s really more of a necessary first step to take before you can really get into it.
Without debt weighing you down, you can invest a lot more into your retirement plan!
Start Thinking About Retirement
If you’re working at a salon or studio with a 401k or retirement plan (or have your own salon or studio set up this way), then you’re already a few steps ahead of the game.
Check into them, make sure they make sense for you, and enjoy the ease of this entire process. But, if your salon or studio doesn’t offer this, that’s okay!
In fact, over 35 percent of private-sector workers don’t have access to an employer-based plan—but it’s not the end of the world! There are so many different retirement investment plans that you can dive into. For example, look into Individual Retirement Accounts—otherwise known as IRAs.
There are several types of IRAs, but the main two types are traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs—both offer their own set of benefits. For example, a traditional IRA offers you a tax deduction for the year a contribution was made, while a Roth IRA gives the investor the chance to invest money after taxes and then take the contributions and earnings out in an environment free of taxes.
Our advice? Partner with a professional to learn more about what makes sense for you!
It can be tough to figure out which type of IRA or retirement investment plan is right for you. Don't fret, we have an all- access guide for beauty pros about how to handle retirement funds here!
Get Going ASAP
Here’s the good news—there’s no bad time to start saving for retirement.
If you’re reading through this as a total newbie, it’s time to start saving for retirement.
If you’re bookmarking this article as a seasoned pro, guess what? You can still start saving for retirement.
But, we will say this—the sooner the better. Wherever you are, whatever point you’re at in your career, whatever your age, it’s never ever too late to start saving.
Here’s the bottom line—there’s no patented secret formula to making a six-figure salary as a stylist right off the bat. (If there was one, we probably wouldn’t be here writing this out for you guys—just kidding, we’d share for sure.)
All of these tips we’ve shared with you? They’re tried and true methods. They work. But they require patience, time, dedication, effort, and of course, tons of hard work.
But if this is your passion—if this is your chosen career and you are wholly dedicated to putting in the work, we have no doubt that you’ll be a successful stylist.
To sum it up, it’s really rather simple.
You’re a badass stylist and we believe in you fully—that’s why we put together these tips, tricks and more to help you become an even more successful, even more badass version of yourself.
You’ve got this! Now get out there and make that money—we believe in you!