The process can seem scary if you’re a new model attempting to apply to agencies for the first time. Luckily, it’s pretty straightforward, and most agency websites spell out precisely what you need to do in order to apply, but there are a few things you should do before submitting to set yourself up for the best results.
In this post, I’ll cover what you need to do to prepare for submitting to agencies and what the general process looks like once you’re ready. Keep reading for more info!
Do Your Research
While it seems like the best approach would be to just submit to every agency you can find on Google, that isn’t quite the best approach. Every agency is different, and not all will be a good fit for you. Doing your research to make sure the agency is legitimate is most important. Many scam agencies are out there, and you don’t want to be the next victim.
Once you find legitimate agencies, you need to be realistic about your market and where you fit into it. For example, if you’re set on only doing high fashion and/or runway modeling and your market is commercial, you need to reevaluate your expectations or consider submitting in a different market.
You must also be realistic about where you fit in the modeling world. Are you a mature model? A petite model? A fitness model? Knowing the category you fit best into is essential because you need to make sure the agency you’re planning to submit to even has that division. If you’re a mature model, but the agency you’re looking at doesn’t represent any mature models, there is probably no point in submitting to them.
Clean Up Your Socials
The chokehold social media has on the world is not letting up any time soon, and as a model, you can use it as a tool to help you succeed in your career. All agencies are now asking for social media handles on their applications, so it’s important to do an inventory of your platforms and the content on them before submitting. Agency submissions are very much like job interviews, so you want to look at your profiles and remove anything that may not appeal to an agent or brand that you would like to work with in the future. It’s also essential to make sure you have a public profile. If they try to look you up and find that all your accounts are private, it may discourage them from contacting you.
Gather Your Submission Materials
Along with all your basic contact info, all agencies will require you to submit photos of yourself. They do not want you to submit professional images when they ask for these photos. Instead, what they want you to submit are what is referred to as “digitals”. This style of images is of you with little to no makeup in a simple form-fitting outfit in front of a plain backdrop. These images can not be edited in any way! They want to see what you look like in your natural state. Check out this post to see how to take great modeling digitals.
Every agency is different and will have slightly different requirements for the images they want you to submit. For example, some agencies only want two photos- typically a headshot and a full-body shot, but sometimes they require you to submit more angles, and some agencies even want you to submit a video as well. Therefore, it’s important to make a list of what you need ahead of time so that you can get all the images and videos you need done simultaneously so that it all looks consistent. It’s frustrating when you think you have all you need but then on one agency site they request an angle you didn’t take, so you have to re-do the whole set of images so that the missing one doesn’t stand out.
You do not need to have a portfolio prior to submitting to agencies!
In addition to photos, agencies will also require you to list your measurements. Height, bust/chest, waist, and hip measurements are the most common, but they may also ask for dress size, inseam measurement, and shoe size. Please take your measurements the day you plan to submit them so that they are accurate- and do not lie!
Learn About the Industry
If you haven’t familiarized yourself with the fashion industry already, it’s past time to start! You want to be fluent in who the current top designers, models, and photographers are, as well as the influential ones of the past. Since the fashion industry is one you want to be a part of, it’s good to at least be aware of the important people that run it.
You should also study your craft and refine your skills, like posing and runway walking. Many agencies will choose models with at least some experience and skill over models coming in completely green. This is where enlisting a model coach can be incredibly beneficial!
Prepare for Possible Rejection
Unfortunately, in the modeling industry, you will hear no far more than you will hear yes, so you must get comfortable with rejection and learn to not take it personally. Agencies are businesses, and if they don’t think that you will be able to make them a profit, they will have to pass on you. Several things can factor into their decision, and none of them reflect who you are as a person.
If an agency isn’t interested in you, you will usually never receive a response from them. Some agencies are kind enough to respond and even give a reason why you’re not a good fit for them, but most of the time, you will be ghosted.
A key thing to remember is that “no” doesn’t mean no forever. It just means “not right now”. The industry is constantly changing, and even though an agency may not be interested in you at the moment, in a few months, you could be the perfect fit for them. So, if you applied to several agencies and haven’t had a response back, keep working on your skills, update your digitals and portfolio, and apply again in 4-6 months!
Once you have done the proper preparation, it’s time to finally begin submitting to agencies! Every agency’s website will have a page that will give instructions for how new models can submit. Sometimes it’s a form on the page you fill out, and other times it’s an email address they want you to send everything to. Whichever process they use, make sure you read the instructions thoroughly and submit all of the information they ask for! This is step one to showing you’re professional and can follow instructions.
Play the Waiting Game
Once your submission has been made, the waiting game starts. As mentioned above, you may never get a response from the agencies you submit to. That is ok! Even when they are interested in you, many agencies take several days to a couple of weeks to get back to you, so don’t expect any instant responses.
Be sure to note what agency you submitted to and the date you applied, so if you don’t get any response the first time, you can try again in a few months.
Prepare for an Interview
Once you have followed the whole submission process and played the waiting game, if you’re lucky, an agency will see your submission and be interested in meeting with you. During COVID, most agencies started doing virtual interviews but have since returned to face-to-face interviews. If you’re local, expect to meet with the agency in person. If you submit to a remote agency, they may be ok with doing a virtual interview. Don’t be surprised if they request you to travel and meet with them in person!
If you get a request for an interview, whether in-person or virtual, you need to treat it as you would any other job interview. You will want to dress the part in the “model uniform” of a fitted top and fitted pants, keeping your makeup to a minimum and only lightly styling your hair. Women should wear heels, and men should wear nice sneakers or boots.
Be prepared for them to ask you questions about yourself, such as your hobbies and availability, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions as well! Do research on the agency before the meeting to have an answer ready when they ask why you chose to submit to them. This is also your chance to show them more of your personality, so be yourself while also being professional. You also want to feel them out and consider if you would enjoy working with them. These interviews are a two-way street, so you want to make sure you feel comfortable talking with them.
If the meeting is in-person, they will most likely take new digitals of you and re-do your measurements (this is why it’s important not to lie on your submission!). Depending on the market the agency is in, they may even have you do your runway walk, so make sure you’re prepared and practice ahead of time!
How long the meeting will take will vary depending on how many other appointments they have that day, but most don’t take more than 30 minutes. Since it is such a brief amount of time, being prepared and on point is crucial to making an excellent first impression!
Possible Contract Offer
Depending on how your interview went, you may get a contract offer! Some agencies will offer it on the spot, while others will meet with other team members after they complete all the interviews of the day before offering any models a contract. If you get offered a contract- congrats! But don’t let your excitement get the best of you, and refrain from signing it until you can look it over thoroughly. Most agencies will give you around 30 days to decide, so take some time to ensure you understand everything in the contract and clarify any questions you may have before signing on the dotted line.
Always remember that these contracts are legally binding, so you want to ensure everything is crystal clear! Never feel pressure to sign a contract. If the agency tries to persuade you to sign on the spot, this is a huge red flag and an agency you shouldn’t work with. Also, never be so eager to be represented that you ignore other potential red flags. You want to make sure that the agency is a good fit for you; if they’re not, it’s ok to decline the offer!
If you don’t get a contract offer after your interview- that’s ok! The fact that they even met with you shows their interest, but sometimes you’re just not a good fit for the agency at that point in time. If they are kind enough to offer feedback, use it to your advantage and work on anything they may have suggested. If they didn’t provide feedback, continue refining your skills and consider submitting to the agency in 6 months.