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Common New Model Mistakes

Getting started in the modeling industry can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you have no knowledge of how the industry works. You may find that although you are hustling hard toward your goals, you aren’t getting the success that you hoped for or expected.

Photo by Alex Todd

While there is no exact recipe to making it in the modeling industry, there are a few common mistakes that new models make that could hinder their progress on getting their career going. Read below for a list of these pitfalls and tips on how you can avoid them!

Unprofessional First Impression

Whether in-person or in an email, how you present yourself is incredibly important. Your first contact with an agent should be nothing but polite and professional. Keep your emails to the point and make sure you cover any information they request of you. Don’t include things like emojis or ramble on about information that isn’t asked for and not important for them to know in that moment. You want to be personable, but still keep everything surface-level. Once you are signed and get to know them better, you can open up a bit more, but don’t treat them like your best friend in your first correspondence or they may think you’re a little too unprofessional to put in front of clients.

If meeting an agent or client in person, make sure you give them your full undivided attention. Keep your phone in your pocket or purse and makes sure that it is on silent so there are no unexpected interruptions. Be engaged with what they are talking about and ask questions to show that you’re interested and paying attention. Being professional and pleasant to be around is what agents like to see and what keeps clients repeatedly booking you. If you are rude or have any sort of attitude, come off as distracted or uninterested during a meeting or booking, it’s unlikely that they will want to work with you again.

Word also travels fast in the small fashion industry, so if word gets around that you’re unprofessional it can be hard to redeem yourself and prove otherwise.

Unnecessary Expenses

While there will be some basic expenses required to get started, there’s no need to break the bank. When you are first starting out, you don’t need to blow major cash to get a full portfolio before even signing with an agency. The only type of photos you really need are some simple snapshots (digitals) to submit to agencies. The agents understand that you are new to the business and don’t expect you to have tons of professional photos. Occasionally, they may request you to have a test shoot or two under your belt before signing you just to be sure you perform well in front of the camera, but you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on those. Do your research and talk to the agency about portfolio photographers that they would recommend and set up a session with them. Make sure you get a variety of style photos out of that session that can show your range as a model.

Another thing new models often spend too much money on is modeling schools and courses. Many schools are scams and will require you to take classes you don’t need under the promise that they will help make you famous, when really the only promise is that they will take your money. Investing your time in a reputable model coach that can give you one-on-one training and industry guidance is much more beneficial to your career and much easier on your pocketbook.

Too Much Exposure

As a new model trying to get signed, it may seem like a great idea to take any and every modeling opportunity that comes your way. Many boutiques, runway shows, and photographers will offer “exposure” as a form of payment to you for modeling for them. Sometimes these opportunities are great and get you the experience you need to be a better model, but a lot of the time you’re just being taken advantage of and could actually be over-exposing yourself. Agencies need to be able to make money off of you, and you want to get paid actual money for the jobs you do (exposure doesn’t pay bills). If you’ve already done tons of free work in your area, it becomes hard for an agent to market you and get you paid work since you’ve already been doing so much work for free. Be sure you’re very selective on what unpaid jobs you do, and be sure not to do too many or you may make it harder to get paying jobs in the future.

The same principle goes for doing TFP (trade for photos) work with photographers. Make sure the photographer produces images that are up to par with the type of images you want and need to have in your portfolio, and don’t just shoot with any person with a camera. Agents and clients may see the not-so-great images floating around social media or online and it could deter them from wanting to sign you or work with you. Having few really strong photos is much better than having dozens of sub-par photos out there!

Limiting Yourself

Not all models are good for every market, and not all markets are good for every model. Don’t think that just because agencies in New York don’t seem interested in representing you that no agencies will be interested. It may just be that your look is better suited for a market in an area such as L.A., Chicago, Miami, or even overseas. Research different options and don’t limit yourself to just one area.

Dismissing Red Flags

Wanting to become a model and working hard to reach your goals is a great thing, but wanting to make it so badly that you’re willing to dismiss all the red flags that you see along the way is not. No reputable agent or client will ask you to compromise your integrity, safety, or morals just for a job or contract. Check out my post of common industry red flags, and if you come across any of these during your journey, please stop and reevaluate! There’s nothing more important than your safety and mental and physical well-being, so looking out for yourself in this crazy industry is so important!

Call it Quits Too Soon

These days, everyone expects and is so used to instant gratification, and when they don’t get it, they get discouraged and/or call it quits. Many people don’t realize that becoming a successful model doesn’t happen overnight. In reality, the opposite is often true. Most of the industry’s top successful models got there because they worked hard for manyyears before they got any recognition.

Becoming a model and having a successful career is a process that takes time, practice, patience and persistence. You will hear “no” far more than you will ever hear “yes”. Many models give up too soon and miss out on big opportunities because they got disheartened and thought that things weren’t happening fast enough. If it’s something you’re passionate about it and you’re willing to keep looking past all the closed doors until you find your open one, then don’t give up!



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