Archive for October, 2013

October 12, 2013 10:38 am

How to: Build a Professional Portfolio

Develop a professional portfolio

Ask any seasoned professional working in a creative field, and they’ll tell you just how important it is to have an impressive portfolio. A portfolio is something to show potential clients as proof of your skills and past success. And in extremely creative fields like makeup artistry, event & wedding planning and interior decorating, having a strong portfolio is a huge asset. Potential clients want to see what you’re capable of right off the bat, and a portfolio showcasing your best work is the best way to do this.

Here at QC Career School we understand that an attractive and well-designed portfolio can go a long way in helping secure clients and run a profitable business. So, we consulted with our team of creative professionals, and here’s what they had to say!

Document Everything

The whole point of a portfolio is for your clients to see proof of your past projects. Word of mouth is great up to a point, but a picture is truly worth a thousand words when you’re trying to prove yourself to a potential client. So as a professional in a creative industry, it’s important to take advantage of every opportunity.  At every job you complete, always be aware of possible opportunities to capture stunning photos of your work. And we suggest taking pictures of everything. No detail is too small, as you never know what a future client will want to see.

Now, we know that many of you reading this article are currently students with QC Career School, and may not have had the opportunity to work in a professional setting as of yet. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start documenting your work and building an impressive portfolio. We simply suggest creating a mock client scenario in your own home and setting up a small, informal photo shoot. Makeup students can apply makeup to a friend or family member, design students can stage or decorate a room in their own home, and event students could stage a small tablescape in their dining room.

Now chances are you’re not a professional photographer (hurray if you are!), and for the purposes of building up your portfolio we suggest hiring someone who’s skilled with a camera. They will know how to capture your subjects in the most flattering way, which is essential. Potential clients will immediately be able to tell the difference between a photo you took with your digital camera and one taken by a skilled professional. Think about approaching your local college and seeing if a photography student would like to use this as an opportunity to expand their own portfolio!

Presenting Your Work

There are multiple ways to do this, but we suggest beginning by creating a print portfolio (in the form of a book) as well as an online portfolio (i.e. a website). Having a physical copy of all your work is great when meeting with potential clients, as it’s nice for them to be able to flip through the pages of your portfolio while you discuss your services and fees. That being said, having an online presence will only benefit you, and these days it’s almost mandatory if you want to be successful in a highly competitive creative field. People now expect information to be readily available at their fingertips.

Creating a Physical/Print Portfolio

The important thing here is to present your portfolio in a professional manner, and in a way that allows potential clients to clearly see your photos without the chance of them getting damaged. Invest in a black leather binder (or something along those lines) as well as plastic sleeve inserts. Photos for this type of portfolio are typically 9 x 12 or 11 x 14.

Once you have your photos edited and printed (we suggest staying away from a gloss finish as it doesn’t read well in all types of lighting), there’s a bit more work to be done before you slip them into those plastic sleeves. We recommend matting your images in black, white or taupe. Spending some extra time on this step will add a lot of pizazz to your finished product; just be sure to keep all images and mattes uniform in size and color.

Another thing to consider with matting is the adhesive. Never use tape. We prefer using high quality spray mounts, as you’ll never need to worry about the corners of your images curling up or bending. Just be absolutely sure you’re happy with the placement before adhering your photo down to the matt, as chances are it won’t come off cleanly. We suggest making a few copies of your photos in case you make a mistake or two. And always keep your originals!

As you’re just starting out it’s perfectly acceptable to have a single print portfolio. But as your business expands you should build multiple portfolios for different subject matter. For example, have one for florals, one for tablescapes, one for wedding ceremonies, etc. Another option is to build one large portfolio that encompasses everything, but keep things organized and include a table of contents. Make sure your client can navigate through it with ease.

Creating an Online Portfolio

This type of portfolio will be an investment of your time rather than your money. Long story short you’ll need to purchase a domain name, set up a website (or blog), and post your images to your site.

Choose a Domain Name

The domain name is one of the most important elements of your site. It should be clear, easy to interpret, and memorable. You want potential clients to know exactly why they’re visiting your page and what they’re looking at, and you want it to make an impression. This step might take some time, as you will need to first find a domain that isn’t already taken. Be prepared to get creative! If you’re a current student of QC , you can find more information on searching for and obtaining website domain names in the business components of your course.

Website Design

If you’re not already a coding pro you might choose to hire some professional help for this next step. It’ll cost you, but it’ll be worth it. Another route would be to sign up for a free, user friendly blogging platform like Blogger. There are also many websites that cater specifically to this need. At the end of your day you’ll just need to make sure you do some research and find a site that best suits your needs. Online portfolios usually come in three different forms – a website, blog, or dedicated solution (something like this).

Post Your Images/Content

When posting your original images online it’s best to make it clear that it is your property. Before uploading content to your site watermark all your images with the copyright symbol and your name, or simply include your UR – something as simple as what’s been done in the image below. It’s important to remind your site visitors that none of your images may be used without your permission. Some of our favorite (and free!) photo editing sites are Pixlr and PicMonkey.

Building a Professional Portfolio

We’ve obviously only covered the basics of creating an online portfolio in this article. There are in fact many other elements to consider, especially where building connections is concerned – it’s important to link your site to various social media platforms in order to boost your online presence.  So stay tuned! We’ll be covering those topics and much more in the coming weeks here on the QC Blog.



October 11, 2013 1:18 pm

MAKEUP CONTEST: Get Spooky with QC!


Congratulations to our winner Crystal Gray and runner-up Kylie-Elvis Schmoulianoff!

And we’d like to say a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who participated! We were overwhelmed by the number of entries we received, and are wildly impressed with the level of skill and creativity shown. We wish you all a very happy Halloween!

Makeup Contest


Show us your very best Halloween makeup for a chance to win an Urban Decay eyeshadow palette and personalized audio feedback from celebrity makeup artist Nathan Johnson!

To enter this makeup contest, simply create a Halloween makeup look on yourself or a friend. Then head on over to QC Makeup Academy’s Facebook page, “like” this post, and message us with a photo of your spooky creation!

Nathan will be selecting the top 2 looks himself, and providing audio critique for both. The winner will receive the Urban Decay Vice 2 Palette, and the runner up will receive the Urban Decay Deluxe Eyeshadow Palette. Check out the image below to see exactly what’s up for grabs.

Contest begins today and runs until October 30th. The winners will be announced on Halloween. Good luck!

Halloween Makeup Contest with QC Makeup Academy


One of the most frequent beauty dilemmas a makeup artist encounters is perfect lipstick application on dry, irritated or chapped lips. Lipstick can enhance the face by adding color and freshness, but if it grabs on to dry or chapped areas it will do exactly the opposite. It is part of your job to know how to overcome this obstacle.

When caught in this pinch, many people grab a chap stick or a waxy lip primer. Yes, this will allow you to put the product on, but it will not last long or give your client any knowledge as to how to prevent the problem in the future. As a professional, it is not only our job to resolve the issue (to the best of our ability), but it is also our responsibility to educate our clients so they can prevent it in the future.

Don't let chapped lips get you down this fall

In the old days, people would grab a toothbrush and rub the dead skin away. This is acceptable as an at-home do-it-yourself, but as a professional, there are much better options. The Fabulips collection by Bliss will not only make the lips super smooth and supple, but it will also prevent any future dryness or irritation. The foaming lip cleanser is the first step on the road to flawless. It is a bubbly cleanser that lifts away debris without stripping or drying. Work this over your client’s lips and any of the residue that causes irritation will be wiped away. Step two, the Sugar Lip Scrub, is a delicious combination of finely ground sugar, almond shells, walnut shells, and hydrating oils. A light buff of this soothing exfoliator will turn your client’s chapped lips into a soft, perfectly smooth pout. Step three is a peptide packed Instant Lip Plumper that will immediately rejuvenate the lips with a lush, hydrated plump. To make sure the word chapped is never used to describe your lips follow the plumper with the Softening Lip Balm. Shea butter, jojoba and grape seed oil protect and penetrate, leaving the mouth soft, smooth and kissable.

A simple, smart routine, focused on protection and rejuvenation, is all you need to take the chap off your client’s lips.


nathan johnsonWritten by Nathan Johnson

Nathan Johnson is a film, television, celebrity, and real women’s makeup artist with 18 years experience in the industry. Nathan believes in education and empowerment – his personal mission is to make America more beautiful one woman at a time. He brings product reviews, makeup tips, and personal experience to the QC blog.


At a certain point in a writer’s career, he or she will be faced with a professional dilemma: should I get an agent? At one time, the general consensus was that every writer needed an agent if they wanted to experience any kind of success. That’s not necessarily the rule of thumb today; the rise of e-publishing and self-publishing are giving writers a lot more options. Many writers have been published without the help of an agent, and many writers with agents are still waiting to see their names in print. In this post, we’re addressing the most common concerns on this topic to help you wade through the uncertain waters of signing with an agent.

What can literary agents do for your writing career?

What does an agent do?

An agent works on your behalf to sell your manuscript to publishers. Among other things, they act as the liaison between the writer and the publisher. They will advocate for the creative integrity of your work, keep you on track with your writing schedule, help with the editing process to meet publishers’ requirements, negotiate a good deal, secure foreign and screenplay rights, and much more.

Even though writing is a creative process, successful writers know that it is still a business. Many writers are too busy doing what they do best – writing! – to pay enough attention to the business side of their work. This is where the agent comes in.

Do I need an agent?

The answer will be different for each writer, but the real answer is no. You do not need an agent to get your work published. That being said, you may want to use an agent in order to save you time and improve your success rate. Agents have expert knowledge on the publishing industry, and know which markets are best suited for your writing – knowledge you may not have.

An agent is only necessary to help shop your novel. You won’t need an agent if you’re writing short stories or poetry. A good time to look for an agent is when you’ve completed at least one manuscript and have a good idea of what your next few books will be like.

How do I find an agent?

Keep in mind that just because you want an agent, does not mean they necessarily want you! An agent is looking for material that sells, and if they don’t think they can sell your work, they probably won’t want to waste their time. With that in mind, begin browsing the internet for agents who are accepting new clients, and who focus on your genre of writing.

Next, you’ll submit your query. This should include: the first three chapters of your manuscript, a brief synopsis, and a cover letter listing your publishing history and asking for representation. Most agents will include submission guidelines on their websites – be sure to read these carefully! It can take time to find an agent; they get nearly as many submissions as publishers. Be patient and do your research to make sure you’re reaching out to someone who’s a good fit for you.

How do I recognize a bad agent?

Many writers are nervous to sign with an agent because they’ve heard horror stories of agents ripping their clients off. Here are a few warning signs:

–          If an agent charges you a fee to read your manuscript, or any upfront expenses
–          If an agent refuses to give you references of books or authors he’s recently helped to publish
–          If the agent recommends you pay a “book doctor” to edit your manuscript
–          If the agent refuses to give you the names of the publishers they’ve submitted to

If you have a circle of writer friends, talk to them first. Are they happy with their representation? Have they had any bad experiences with a particular agent? Word of mouth is the best place to start. Also, every country has its own literary agents association. Any reputable agent should be listed here.

How does an agent get paid?

Your agent should not get any money up-front. They only receive payment when you do, and normally get about 15% of the advance and royalties on your book.

We’d love to hear from you! Tell us about your experience with agents in a comment below.



October 7, 2013 11:16 am

Job Description of a Travel Consultant

Do you love travel? As a travel consultant, you can help your clients plan dream vacations by using your resources to make the best travel arrangements possible. You might even want to specialize in a type of travel, if you have a particular destination that’s close to your heart. In this post, we’ll review the job description of a travel consultant so you know what to expect as you enter the industry. If you’re interested in learning more, check out QC Travel School’s Travel and Tourism + GDS course.

Travel consultant - what's involved?

Skills Required

Travel consultation relies heavily on customer service. Because of this, you should be a people-person with strong communication skills. You should also be comfortable with sales. You’ll also need to be highly organized, as you’ll be managing every detail of your clients’ travel plans. The travel industry can move quickly, and you’ll need to be able to keep your cool in a fast-paced environment. Ultimately, you need to love travel and have a lot of personal experience with travel.

Daily Tasks

–          Advising clients on destinations
–          Booking flights, accommodations, car rentals, tours, and activities
–          Arranging travel insurance
–          Using a GDS booking system
–          Managing payments
–          Advising clients on particularities like customs regulations and exchange rates
–          Sending tickets and itineraries
–          Keeping customers happy

Education Requirements

There are no specific education requirements to become a travel consultant (other than a high school diploma). That being said, because clients are becoming smarter when it comes to travel– due to the ease of internet booking – many employers will prefer candidates who have vocational training from a school like QC Travel School. Many employers also require GDS (global distribution system) training.

A job as a travel consultant will require continuous education. The industry is always changing, and you’ll be expected to keep up with those changes. Many employers will sponsor their employees to take classes to keep them up-to-date.


A travel consultant’s salary depends on their experience, skill level, and place of employment. The majority of travel consultants work for reservation services (for an airline or cruise, for example), followed by travel agencies. About 15% are self-employed.

The average starting income of a travel consultant is roughly $20,000. With experience, salaries raise to an average of $45,000. Keep in mind that some travel consultants are paid on commission, which means that they earn a percentage of what they book. If you’re a savvy salesperson, the income potential can be even higher! There are also perks and incentives to the job, such as fam trips.

Are you interested in becoming a travel consultant? You can learn from home with QC Travel School’s Travel and Tourism Courses.


October 5, 2013 9:22 am

Get the Look: Neutral Contoured Eyes

A neutral contoured eye is a great everyday look, but this eye can also be used as a base for any other look! Doing this will help the shadow appear super blended and buffed out. Apply your smokey eye over top or even a bright shadow look. Using this neutral matte base not only helps with blending but also creates a nice color corrected base for you to work on. This look also works well as a base when creating a bold liquid liner and false lash look. You only need two shadows and two brushes to create the base. Here’s how:

Take these steps to create a neutral contoured eye

1. Start with a clean, fresh lid.

2. Apply your favorite eyeshadow primer all over the lid from lash line to brow.

3. Apply a matte cream color shadow (or a shade slightly lighter than your skin tone) all over the lid, softening into the crease.

4. Apply a soft brown into the crease (darker skins may need a dark brown for the same effect).

5. Apply the same cream colored shadow as a brow highlight.

6. Ta-dah! Your neutral base lid can work as a blended out canvas for all other looks or can be worn alone!


brittany hallWritten by Brittany Hall
Makeup by Brittany
Visit Brittany on Twitter and Facebook

Brittany Hall has established herself as a freelance makeup artist, with over five years experience in the industry. She’s also an established blogger – on “Makeup by Brittany”, she blogs about fashion, beauty, home decor, and makeup. She brings her flair to the QC blog with regular posts about her experience in the beauty biz.


October 3, 2013 3:36 pm

How to Plan An Event on A Budget

As an event or wedding planner, you probably dream about planning big-budget, extravagant events. However, chances are you’ll have to plan several events with a modest budget, and you’ll be expected to make them look great. This will be especially true at the beginning of your career. Thankfully there are some easy ways to cut costs without cutting quality. Read on for our top five ways to keep costs down at your weddings and events.

There's a lot of opportunity to cut costs in event planning

1. Start Early

This is necessary whether or not you’re trying to stick to a budget, but by looking for a venue well in advance you’ll be able to be more flexible about dates – which can potentially save a lot of money. If your client isn’t picky about which day of the week the event will be held, that just leaves you even more room for savings. As well, some venues offer early booking discounts for those early birds. The earlier you start, the more you’ll be able to shop around and compare prices, making sure you find the best pricing. That leads into the next point…

2. Get Quotes

This is especially important when you’re starting out, before you’ve developed solid relationships with your vendors. The rule of thumb is usually to get two or three quotes from different vendors. That way, you can create competition and keep costs low. A few months ago, we posted a story from wedding planner Lynn Lee, where she talks about learning how to get quotes from vendors in the early days of her business. Read her advice here.

3. Look for discounts

Depending on the event, the venue, and the suppliers, you could qualify for special pricing. Some venues offer discounts to large groups, or events booked well in advance. Many suppliers will drop their pricing when you order a certain number of items. Make sure when dealing with venues or suppliers, you always ask about special pricing options. Don’t be shy to negotiate a better price!

4. Go Buffet!

If your clients are open to it, a buffet style dinner can save a lot of money. With DIY weddings and events gaining popularity, it’s becoming trendier to do a buffet dinner instead of the traditional sit-down. Plus, it will give your guests such a variety of food options to choose from.

5. Skip the Paper

You can save a lot of money simply by cutting out as much paper as you can from your event. And thanks to online programs and apps, you can still offer guests all the information they need.  Your budget-conscious clients might be open to sending e-vites instead of stationery. In corporate events especially, you can put nearly everything online – from programs and schedules, to maps and agendas.

QC offers at-home courses in both event and wedding planning. To learn more, visit


October 1, 2013 10:15 am

QC’s Top Tips for Organizing Closets

We can’t stress enough the importance of proper clothing storage. We care about our delicate silk blouses and dress pants too much to let them become wrinkled, snagged, or moth-eaten in unorganized closet spaces. And since we’re clearly so passionate about the topic (we do have our very own Professional Organizing course you know), we thought we’d spend a bit of time today discussing our tricks and tips for organizing closets to keep them functional and hassle-free.

Organizing Closets

Organizing the closet:

If space allows, divide up your closet into specific ‘zones.’ Hang several rods at different levels instead of using just one. We suggest hanging three rods at three different levels. From the highest, hang long dresses, robes and coats. From the middle rod, hang shorter items like blouses and blazers. The bottom rod is a great place to hang your pants and shorter skirts.

Group your garments by color. Taking a few extra moments to do this while putting away clean laundry can really speed up the dressing process each morning. Creating stylish ensembles with complementary garments will be almost foolproof!

Organize those shoes. We all know how nice it feels to kick off a pair of heels after a long day, but we suggest taking a moment to put them tidily away. Our favorite solution for a mess of shoes is to line up storage cubbies across the bottom of the closet floor. Just toss them right in!

If you’re installing an organizing unit into your closet, we suggest choosing one with movable shelves. This way your closet can transition with you through each fashion season. For example, you may want to allot more shelving to bulky sweaters in the winter, but have more hanging space for long, flowing dresses in the summer months. It’s also a good idea to line the shelves with vinyl sheets – like the ones used in kitchen cupboards. Having a smooth surface to slide your clothing onto will ensure nothing delicate catches and snags.

To preserve delicate tops or heavy coats, line them with white, acid-free tissue paper. This stops fabrics from disintegrating or distorting over time.

Want to know our favorite tip for keeping a closet fresh? Gather up some plain white chalk and hang it from the ceiling of your closet, making sure it doesn’t touch any of your clothing. The chalk will act as a dehumidifier of sorts and stop your clothing from becoming damp and musty.

Organizing dresser drawers:

Accessories Drawer: If you’re going to dedicate a drawer solely to your accessories, there are a few things we would suggest doing before tossing all your pretty baubles in. Line the bottom and sides of the drawer with a think layer of cork, velvet, or any other material that will prevent things from sliding around. This stops delicate jewelry from becoming tangled, and prevents light scarves or fabrics from snagging on any rough patches in the drawers themselves.

Undergarments Drawer: It’s easy for these items to become mixed up and unorganized. Head over to your local storage solution store (one of our favorites is Solutions) and find some small material bins to divvy up the space with. Then just organize your items by type and/or style and you’ll never have to dig around again! Lining this drawer with acid-free tissue paper is a great idea, as it will protect your intimates from splinters and acid in the wood.

An organized home makes for an organized and stress-free life. And who doesn’t want that? Learn more about QC Design School and see if our Professional Organizing course is right for you!