Have you ever thought of going freelance as a hairdresser? Depending on who you are, the thought of being entirely self-employed might seem daunting or fill you with excitement!

It is however, a highly popular path for hairdressers to take. According to research by NHBF, over half of those working in the hairdressing and barbering industry are self-employed – 54% in fact!

From salon owners to stylists looking to take that next step, freelance can be a career-making choice to make.

What is freelancing like? Is it right for you?

For some, a working day in the salon is all they need – catching up with co-workers, gaining experience and having a sense of security are all huge benefits to being employed as a hairdresser.

However, some stylists feel as though it is time to spread their own wings.

Knowing the right time to go freelance is essential for making a success of it. You need to have the confidence in your own skills to sell yourself to new clients. You need to be prepared to think like a business person, to invest in yourself and keep motivated.

Going freelance or self-employed as a hairdresser can open numerous new doors for you. But it also takes a lot of hard work.

So, before you throw yourself into an exciting new adventure of freelancing, do some research first. Ask other freelancers what it is really like and consider whether this is the lifestyle you want.

What are the benefits of being a freelance or self-employed hairdresser?

The reasons for going freelance or self-employment are often personal to each stylist or hairdresser.

However, many freelancers choose to become self-employed for benefits such as…


Some freelancers feel as though they have more control over their work/life balance, as they can decide their working hours. Those with children often find this easier for juggling all their commitments.

Freedom for self-development

Do you have a passion for a certain niche of hairstyling, but feel as though your salon is holding you back? Freelancing can give you the chance to follow your own career path.

Turning a side-hustle into a career

Some experienced salon workers already have some freelance opportunities on the side. Going fully self-employed allows you to fully make the most of them.


For those working in salon chains, you sometimes have to follow certain styles and training programmes. Going freelance can allow you to stretch your creativity in the direction you want to.

Reduced costs

For many hairdressers, their ultimate goal is to own their own salon. However, with costs becoming increasingly difficult to manage for new and smaller salons, going freelance can be a lower cost alternative. There are fewer overheads and no need to pay any staff. It might even be a good way to build up your reputation before you make an investment in your own salon.

Is there a downside to freelancing?

Before making the decision to go freelance, consider some of the potential downsides, such as…

Working alone

Typically, freelance hairdressers work alone when it comes to their business. While you can fill your days with different clients from all walks of life, the responsibility of making your business a success will come down to you alone.

Extra admin

You might love the idea of being able to unleash your creativity and discover your new potential as a freelance hairdresser! Just remember, you will also need to spend a lot of time on administrative details – tax returns, expenses, budgeting, marketing and so on will all also need your constant attention.

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Relying on yourself

Your livelihood will depend on you making a profit from your hairdressing skills. As a freelancer, you may not be entitled to statutory sick pay, holiday leave or a workplace pension. So, make sure you are prepared for the pressure and responsibilities you will begin to put yourself under.

Tips for making a success of your freelance career…

So, what else do you need to know to ensure going freelance is the best move for your hairdressing career?

Get enough experience

It’s important that you have enough experience before you leap into a freelance career. You will need to deal with every client personally without the support of your colleagues to fall back on. Can you handle every request and issue with confidence? If not, you might want to spend a little more time gaining experience, first.

Build up a strong portfolio of work

If you are looking to branch out into TV, events or other specialist areas, make sure you have a strong portfolio of work. Get professional photos where you can and build yourself a website showing off your experience with your contact details.

Use social media to brand yourself

When it comes to finding new clients for yourself, social media will likely play a huge part. So many clients now look to Instagram to discover their next hairstyle, so use this to your advantage. Publish as much content as you can to show off to the world what you can do.

Make sure your prices work for you

Have the confidence to price your treatments according to what you know they are worth. At first, you might have some quiet months but it’s still important to not undersell yourself – you still need to make a living! Take into account your costs, your time and your experience to ensure you stay profitable.

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Find your own niche if you can

There is a lot of competition out there. So, it’s sometimes a good idea to find a niche that you are both passionate about and there is a good demand for. It might be bridal hair, creative colouring or your stunning balayage techniques. Become known for your speciality and you will begin to attract the right clients.

Continue to train and network

As a freelance hairdresser, it’s more important than ever to keep on top of your game. Make sure you still take the time to continue to learn, investing in training courses where you can. Find networking opportunities or events you can attend to get yourself out there and grab opportunities – partnerships or business contracts, for example. If you really do have strong skills and experience to share, you could even look at becoming an educator yourself.

Find support where you can

It’s easy to feel lonely when it’s just you building up your business. So, it’s vital that you find the support you need where you can. Find Facebook groups where you can connect with other freelancers to share advice. You can also join organisations such as the Freelance Hairdressers Association.

If you need to take some pressure off, look at outsourcing some areas, like hiring an accountant or even an assistant. Remember to give yourself a break – it’s easy to fall into the trap of pushing yourself too hard. It might be hard work, but it’s not worth it unless you enjoy the whole journey.

If you are looking for professional hair supplies for your freelance business, see our leading range online at Salons Direct today

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