6 Ways to Treat Your Modeling Career Like a Business

As a model, you are a freelancer and in business for yourself. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been talking with fellow models and hearing them gripe about how their agency doesnt get them enough work.

Models have to remember one clear and very important point: the modeling agency only gets 20% for a reason. It’s the model’s job to treat their career as a business and invest time, effort, and money into it.

Bonus Tip: About to go on a casting for Kohl’s? Check out their website and social media profiles to see what look and vibe they went for in their last campaign and try to dress and style yourself accordingly.

Invest Money into Advertising:

What business do you know that doesn’t have an advertising budget? Not a very successful one. Some examples of our advertising costs as models are our portfolio, comp cards, and agency/web fees. It takes money to make money, so set aside some money from every job in a separate savings account and do a full book shoot at least once a year.

You can check out my last post for a more in depth look at creating your modeling portfolio.

If the casting people see the same photos submitted year after year they may think you aren’t working. Work attracts work. Do test shoots based on the jobs/clients you want to book.

Bonus Tip: There’s a difference between paying a modeling agency up-front fees (something you should never do), and setting yourself up for success with quality marketing materials, such as a modeling portfolio and comp cards. Investing money to create the best advertising materials possible will have an exponential Return on Investment (ROI).

Take Your Health Seriously:

A model’s body, mind, and spirit are quite literally his or her biggest and most important assets, period. If you’re one of the extremely fortunate, genetically gifted models who can eat pizza and drink beer and have a perfect body, then you have a one-up on many of us, but how’s your head? The modeling industry can feel like a rollercoaster sometimes, with exciting ups and dark lows, so it’s important to take care of your mental and spiritual health, too.

Businesses invest in assets to make more money. Just as you should invest in yourself in some or all of the following ways: a fitness program that works for the results you want, whole and healthy food, quality skin care products, and any other form of support for your body, mind, and spirit that you see value in.

Show Gratitude and Give Gifts:

Who doesn’t love a handwritten “Thank You” note or a treat? Most modeling agents do. You have to understand that for some lucky models, there’s a low barrier to entry, many of whom were scouted out of nowhere and can be young and/or not take the job seriously, so modeling agents deal with a lot of flak. They have to work with all different types of personalities from the client, model, ad agency, sometimes stylists, etc, and will see you more favorably if you thank them or treat them every so often.

Be the model who sends a handwritten “Thank You” card a few days after your booking. Or, next time you stop by the agency to pick up a check, bring your agent a sweet treat. You don’t have to spend a lot of money either because it’s the thought that counts. Not only is it a nice thing to do, but you may be more likely to be top-of-mind when your agent gets a request for 8 models and she has to choose between you and someone with a similar look to submit.

Submit Yourself and Get Creative on Social Media:

You can scan different sites like Model Mayhem, Craigslist (carefully…), Back Stage, etc. for more work.

Please note: if you are under an exclusive contract with your agency, all bookings likely need to go through them.

If you are non-exclusively freelancing with your agency/agencies, go ahead and try to book some gigs on your own. I’ve booked small jobs for myself off Craigslist, and the shots from those jobs lead me to much larger bookings through my agency. You really never know where your next job will come from. As always, just be careful and vet these clients and photographer’s you find by yourself thoroughly, because if something goes down you won’t have the agency to back you up.

Bonus Tip: Don’t be afraid to tag brands you’d like to work with in relevant social media photos. You can submit your photos directly to clients on Instagram. Hey, you never know who’s checking those DMs and it could lead to a job.

Capitalize on Different Areas of the Modeling Industry:

Who says the client needs your pretty face? Maybe they just need a hand – literally. I have a separate “parts” modeling agency, which books me for clients who only need hands, legs, feet, shoes, lips, obliques, etc. Over half of my work as a model is totally unrecognizable, but guess what? The rates are usually the same and sometimes more than a fully recognizable gig.

Maybe it’s promotional modeling, being a brand ambassador, or hosting – how can you maximize your income potential as a model? I was on set last month with a model who makes a solid side income by contracting her on-camera hosting talents on Fiverr. Another great example is fit modeling, where models work directly with designers and buyers to help create the best fit for new clothing. Many models make a highly lucrative modeling career off of this work alone.

Increase the Number of Leads for Modeling Jobs:

There are a lot of agencies and markets outside of the two or three major ones (at least here in the states). A lot of freelance models work with agencies all around the United States and even abroad. They’re shooting a lot of work in Chicago, down South, and beyond. There are some smaller agencies in states like North Carolina, Ohio, Floria, Arizona and surely other states, too, that are booking their models on great work today. Do your research and give it a Google.

Please note: If you’re signed exclusively with your agent or have a manager/mother agent, it’s probably best to check with them before randomly sending your comp card around the United States.

Final Thoughts on Treating Your Modeling Career As a Business

It’s easy to get complacent as a model, especially if you have some great work behind you, but always remmeber to treat your career like a business. Keep good records and save relevant write-off receipts.

Bonus Tip: That porfolio test shoot you paid for? Save the receipt, and if you paid with Venmo, make sure you write “Porfolio Test Shoot, 5/28/19, Joe Photographer” in the memo section and screenshot the transaction for your records.

If you’re just beginning and have never been on set before, you can get a competitive advantage by taking your career more seriously than the average model. Treating your modeling career like a business will help you book more work, be taken more seriosly, and grow exponentially for your next business venture.

Bonus Tip: There’s a great book by Cal Newport called So Good They Can’t Ignore You. In this book, Newport talks about the concept of “Career Capital,” which for a model is their portfolio and tearsheets, posing abilities and ability to convey emotion through photos and videos, and their physical body and overall look. These are skills, talents, rare qualities, and on-the-job experience that set you apart from the pack and contribue to your niche in the market and overall bookability.

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