“How do I become a personal stylist?”
I get this question about 2-3 times a day. Usually through email. And I honestly don’t even know where to begin in answering that question. Why? Because I think I took over 10,000 steps, if not more, to get where I am today. So how do I explain that to someone in an email?
I put together these 6 essential tips for people who’ve been asking how to become a personal stylist AND be successful. Obviously, this article isn’t a complete step-by-step on how to become a personal stylist – you can actually get that here, but they give you the broad stroke ideas of what you’ll need to run a styling business.
The one thing that so many personal stylists, and artistic people in general, forget about is the business side of this endeavor. So I’m not going to tell you that you need to know how to style and create a fabulous image for your clients. That goes without saying, especially if you’re looking to become a personal stylist.
1. Your education is ongoing. Forever.
I know that sounds like a very long time. But it’s true. For your business, and in life really, you will be forever learning, if you’re a savvy little go-getter. It is not just about keeping up-to-date with styles, trends, designers, and fashion in general, you also will have to keep up with the latest business and marketing trends.
Like Mark Zuckerberg said in “The Social Network” movie, Facebook will never be finished “the way fashion won’t be finished.” Same with you. Fashion is always changing and business is always changing. You will be a forever student having to keep up with it all.
What’s Google doing with their new search algorithms? How do you advertise with Facebook? How do you advertise with Facebook when they make changes to their rules? How do you advertise with Facebook when they reject you? What are the new, up and coming platforms to market on? To make videos on? To write guest blogs for? How do you hire employees? Or outsource the right people? You get the picture.
You should be learning new skills, sharpening your existing skills, and continuously discovering what skills your customer base needs from your service. You will forever be learning and having to figure out the next level of your business.
2. Be authentic with your brand and live it.
Branding. You might have heard of it. You may be a little in the grey area about it. I certainly did not have a clear idea of what it meant for years. And because of that, my marketing, my advertising, even my website didn’t serve to communicate what The Shopping Friend was really about. What I was really about. And that made my bottom line suffer.
The consequences of not being clear in my brand was attracting the wrong types of customers, clients I didn’t necessarily want to work with, and confusing the people I was actually trying to target. I made the mistake of trying to serve ALL people, when there were very specific demographics I was skilled at working with and preferred to work with.
Your branding does double duty. It conveys who you are, as well as attracts the customer that you would best serve by letting them see some of themselves in your branding and relating to you.
3. You must figure out your Procedures and Systems for your business
Set up a system? That sounds like a lot of work for a personal styling business.
If you’re thinking that, be prepared to not make very much money. You are running a business. The most successful businesses have systems and processes in place because you can’t possibly do everything yourself. Especially when you’re hopefully going to be spending most of your time styling clients.
What are systems? A system is a set of processes that can run without you. Setting up automated systems and processes for as many elements in your business will be a beautiful thing for you in the future as your business grows. Depending on how big your business will be and what you intend to sell (you might also sell physical products along with your services) you might need to build accounting systems, hiring systems, distribution systems, inventory systems, customer acquisition systems, marketing systems, payment systems, outsourcing systems, etc, etc…
The bigger the company, the more systems will come into play. Some corporations have thousands of systems in place that all figure into their one huge system. The more you can figure out how to automate all of these so they can run independent of you, the more chance you have of scaling your business successfully. Your systems can consist of people or automated software helping you out.
You most likely want to be able to spend most of your time personal styling. Not dealing with website issues, bad customer reviews, social media strategies, financial planning, accounting, taxes, legal stuff, and much more.
During your first couple years in business, you will probably have to wear almost all the hats in your business and your success will be determined on what you personally do and the services you provide. After you have set up your system in the first couple of years, however, you definitely want to stop trying to do everything. Hire smart people and assist them in setting up your systems so that things can happen when you’re not there.
4. Selling isn’t optional, it’s necessary.
Whenever I say to someone they have to be good at sales, I get cringes, shrugs, and outright shrieks of outrage. “I hate selling!” is the common response. But the image of the slick and smooth-talking sales guy is outdated. Today’s modern, successful salesperson barely does any “selling” at all. If you ‘live your brand’ like we discussed above, that will help you with your sales as well.
I know. You’re a stylist. You don’t want to sell. You want to dress people. You want to improve people’s confidence. You want to help people with their dating lives. You want to maximize people’s wardrobes. You want to help them get the job of their dreams through the right image. You want to shop. You want to style. Okay, I hear you.
But without the selling, you will have no one to style.
I’ll give you one tip that will help with your selling. It’s all about listening and connecting. And getting to know people for real. Making your client feel heard and understood. In fact, you probably don’t have to say all that much with your clients, as long as you know the right questions to ask, and then sit back and just…listen. Then offer your best solution, based on what they’ve said, in an authentic way.
5. Marketing. You MUST engage in marketing that gives you ROI.
Personal stylists, fashion stylists, hair stylists, interior designers, all these people I know who work in the styling industries often tell me that they don’t have a real grasp on marketing. How do they do free marketing? Should they spend money on paid ads? Does any of it work? Where should they spend their money? Should they advertise online or offline? How do you know what kinds of ads reach your target audience? How do you even know if you’re getting ROI on your marketing? HOW???
As a stylist, you are also a small business owner. So you must think like a business owner. Start in places where you can market for free and it’s easy and simple to set up. A good place to start is to network with local businesses and business owners who work in your related field. I get 3-5 emails a day from designers and retailers that are located in the cities that The Shopping Friend is in. They introduce their businesses to me and offer ways to collaborate.
The Shopping Friend has been around for awhile so we are fortunate now to have great partners reaching out to us everyday. But in the beginning, if you don’t have that, you might want to introduce yourself to local shops, hotels, and concierge services who can partner with your services and help market your brand. You could even network with other personal stylists but many are lone wolf businesses and don’t really want to share their market with other personal stylists.
You will, of course, have a website. This is your digital storefront and it’s a must. Use your website and Google Analytics (don’t worry, it’s free and very useful) to discover how people find your website and where they are. Whenever clients contact you, ask them how they heard about you. That will give you insight on where you should market.
6. Become great friends with data management.
To know what marketing promotions are successful you have to be able to measure the results. That means tracking data. Aaaaah!
When you advertise, you must figure out how to track the advertisement, otherwise you will have no idea on the ROI. Do not spend money unless you know how to track the results!
The more you know how to track data and use that data to make better business decisions, the better your results will be.
You might feel like you can use your gut feeling but you will be surprised at what actually resonates with your clients and what doesn’t. There have been promotions I have run that I was certain would generate tons of traffic and conversions. Crickets.
Then there have been ideas that I just wasn’t sure would work because they didn’t appeal to me, and the numbers just rocketed skyward. So you just never know. You need the data to keep you on track.
Are you ready to pursue your personal styling career?
If you are just starting to build your own thriving styling career or business, you can have a booming business without years of struggle with proper business guidance and education.
Unlike most style schools that only teach you the fashion and networking side, Stylist School Online teaches the business and marketing side as well. And not just in one or two lessons. Half the course is dedicated to Marketing and Sales. So you can grow your styling business and make a living doing it.
When I was first building The Shopping Friend, internet based online courses were not around yet. Business education wasn’t so easily accessible. Today it is. And it’s a phenomenal thing.
Pursuing a career that embraces both your artistic and practical talents can be rewarding and lead to great success. Live your dream and love your life! Learn how to become a personal stylist now.
Our personal styling courses can walk you step-by-step on how to quickly and efficiently get your personal styling business off the ground.