How to make it as a mobile nail technician
Mobile nail techs are increasingly in demand as households spend more on beauty treatments than ever before. If you’re transitioning from working in a beauty salon or home-based set-up, going mobile can offer more flexibility, less overheads and, ultimately, more freedom.
There is a lot to consider before going mobile – from ensuring you have the correct kit, to managing your own finances and getting the right insurance. Here’s everything you need to know…
The pros and cons of being a mobile nail tech
Being a mobile nail technician gives you the flexibility to work whenever and wherever you choose. It can be learned relatively quickly – in as little as a week full-time – and can easily fit around other jobs, making it a good choice if you’re looking to make extra income.
Once you’re qualified, you’ll have your own business working in a hands-on, creative role – perfect if you like to work independently and are self-motivated.
The biggest downsides are job security and salary. On average, mobile nail techs reportedly earn between £12,000–£20,000 a year, going up to £25,000 for more experienced technicians, according to data from careers site How to Become.
Remember: being your own boss also means spending (unpaid) time managing your finances and various admin tasks.
However, another upside is that many nail techs also go on to rewarding roles such as teaching at colleges or in beauty salons. Others choose to work solely in television, theatre or the fashion industry, maintaining models’ hands for editorial photoshoots.
How to get your name out there as a mobile nail tech and build up a client base
Even if you’re planning to work as a mobile nail tech part-time, be prepared to put more hours in at the beginning than at any other time to get your business off the ground.
To get your name out there you can do everything from a local leaflet drop, adverts in the local press, setting up a website and launching a social media campaign. To attract as many clients as possible, you may want to offer an opening week or month special.
Make sure you’re also on beauty booking websites, such as Treatwell, if they serve your area. You can set up a business page for free and a commission is taken from every booking made via the site.
“Word of mouth is the key,” award-winning manicurist Roxanne Campbell of Revarnish London says. “Once you do a brilliant job the customer will become a loyal, regular client and tell their family and friends about your company. This will create a domino effect and it’s free.”
Metta Francis, founder of mobile nail business Nails By Mets, said building a great website was key to hear early success: “I spent a lot of time building my website and learning SEO (Search Engine Optimisation),” she explained.
“Back then, social media wasn't such a big catalyst and many first-time clients found me by simply Googling and looking for a mobile nail technician/nail artist. This was a massive win for me as it created credibility, simply by having a professional looking website and Google reviews. Encouraging clients to leave reviews and spread the word also helped me build my client base.
“I would network at events Nails by Mets were booked for too, which led to more industry events. I did a number of test photoshoots and to build up my editorial portfolio which led to session opportunities also.”
How to charge what you're worth as a mobile nail tech – and stick to it
Many mobile nail techs are undercharging for their services, according to a recent report. Make sure you know exactly how much your treatments cost per service, including products, disposables, travel time and expenses – as well as factoring in your wage itself.
It’s all about charging smarter, upselling, and offering a high-quality service to a handful of clients a day. Squeezing in as many clients as possible into one day will mean extra travel expenses and could mean you have to charge less for a more “express” service.
Read one salon owner’s advice on how to charge what you’re worth, no matter what kind of beauty business you are.
How to work out a set radius to work in
Analyse your service radius and make sure you focus on working within a certain area, charging extra for clients that live outside that radius to ensure you don’t spend too many hours on the road and wrack up too many overheads in travel expenses.
How to make retail sales as a mobile nail tech
As a qualified nail technician, you can purchase a range of products, including your nail varnishes, removers, boards, files, and lotions at wholesale prices. You can then sell these products on to your clients at retail prices to make a profit.
“Always discuss aftercare with clients during their service,” Francis says. “This creates a nice introduction to the retail products you offer. Make sure to focus on how the products you sell help solve your client's issues too.”
Campbell adds: “Use amazing products that sell themselves. If the product is great and your clients see results, they will buy it multiple times.”
Francis recommends using tester or demos during the treatment “so your client can touch, smell, and familiarise themself with the product and feel the results for themselves. Don't just restrict yourself to in person clients,” she says.
“Talk about retail products on social media and offer advice to your followers. Focus on a problem they may have, for example, cracked heels and which product you sell that helps alleviate/solves the problem. Have an online link so they can purchase directly – this really opens up your retail sales to everyone, nationwide.”
She adds: “Customers do not like a hard sell, but they might be persuaded to purchase a lotion or varnish if you recommend it to them as a way of maintaining their manicure.”
How to ensure your safety as a mobile nail tech
As a mobile nail technician, you’re responsible for the health and safety of your clients. As well as keeping all your equipment clean and regularly sterilised, you will also need to check the health and condition of your client’s nails and advise on appropriate aftercare.
You will be using a wide variety of chemicals in your work, and you need to ensure these are stored safely. These are the harmful chemicals in nail products to look out for.
Why social media is so important to growing your brand as a mobile nail tech
If used effectively, social media can be a powerful (and free) tool to market and advertise your business, attracting new clients and ultimately growing your brand.
Francis explains that social media is “often used as a search engine now for clients looking for nail art or bridal nails, for example. I try not to spend so long on social media but it's all in the planning. Content generally needs to be interesting, high quality and show off your best work.
“Stories, Reels, TikTok videos that show the process before/after, and even showing yourself tend to be the best performing posts. Static posts and photos also create a brilliant gallery/portfolio that clients can refer to.”
Are you about to become a mobile nail tech? Tell us about your journey below.