So, you’ve decided you want to give the model life a shot. First of all, congrats on having the guts to shoot your shot in such a crazy industry. Modeling is extremely competitive, and the fact is, modeling isn’t all glam and jet-setting around the world to work with famous designers. The industry is filled with rejection and takes a lot of hustle and grind to make a name for yourself. But, when you get to do what you love, even on the small scale, it makes the grind completely worth it.
While the road to becoming a model is not a straight path and is slightly different for everyone, figuring out where to even start is where most people get stuck. Luckily, the starting point is pretty simple. Read below for some tips on how to get your foot in the door of the modeling industry.
Step 1: Reality Check
The harsh reality is that the modeling industry isn’t very diverse or inclusive when it comes to the standards they hold models to. While it is slowly getting better, most agencies still have height, age, and/or size requirements that you must meet in order to sign or to get booked for jobs. Whether you think it’s right or not, you will always be judged solely on your looks and constantly compared to other people. With that comes a lot of mental and physical pressure. Because of this, you have to be brutally honest with yourself and ask yourself if getting into this kind of industry is something you really want to do. The modeling industry isn’t right for everyone, and that’s ok! That doesn’t have any reflection of who you are as a person.
2. Know What You Want
Many aspiring models just say “I want to be a model”. While this is a place to start, you should get more detailed about the type of modeling you’d like to do, and more specifically, what you'll be able to do. Under the large modeling industry umbrella, there’s many different types of models. Become familiar with the industry and what different options are there because different types of modeling have different requirements.
Do you want to be on the runway? Do you want to be in magazines, commercials, or promote events? Do your research on the different industries and figure out which one you’re best suited for. Maybe you have always wanted to be a fashion model, but your "look" is more commercial in nature, so getting editorial jobs will be way more difficult for you than getting a commercial campaign. Knowing your look and what you want to achieve can help to determine what area of modeling you will fit best into, so identifying and playing to your own strengths will only help you in your career.
3. Do not Spend Money on Unnecessary Photoshoots
When you are first starting out and don’t yet have an agency, it’s not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on photoshoots. I go into more detail about this topic in my post that would be helpful to check out so you can get a better understanding of why professional photos aren’t necessary to sign with agencies.
All model scouts & agents want to see from a potential model is simple, unedited and unfiltered snapshots of your face and body (aka- digitals). These photos can even be taken from your phone! They want to see how you look naturally, not with full glam & professional lighting. Check out my post on how to do online submissions to agencies for tips on how to get what agencies are looking for.
Almost all agencies are going to want you to do an updated portfolio shoot when you sign with them, and since this can potentially be an out-of-pocket expense for you, it’s just another reason not to go out and pay for your own shoots prior to signing with an agency.
4. RESEARCH and Get a Good Agent
This is the one thing I can’t stress enough. Before submitting to every modeling agency that comes up online, do your research! I can almost guarantee you that if you submit to every agency in your area, you’re bound to be signed by one of them- but is it the right move?
When looking for an agent, there are some imperative questions to ask. First and most importantly, is this agency legit? I go into detail on this important topic in my post Finding the Right Modeling Agency because this is such a pivotal point in a model’s career. To achieve your modeling career goals, you will need the help of a knowledgeable and experienced agent by your side. They will help you get jobs, manage your bookings, negotiate your pay, protect your image and brand, and give you invaluable advice and insight to the modeling industry.
After you do your research and find the modeling agencies that you feel confident to be a good fit for you, submit your digitals to your top picks. If they are interested in your look, they will have you come in for an in-person meeting. Make sure you go into this first meeting prepared with any and all the questions you can think of, and never ever feel pressured to make a decision to sign with them right there on the spot. Go in with an idea of some red flags you need to look out for, and trust your intuition. If an agency asks for money upfront, whether this is for a photo/portfolio package, mandatory classes, or a signing fee, that should be your first sign that the agency is a scam.
Don’t be so eager to sign a contract that you let all the warning signs fly out the window. It’s better to turn down an offer than to be stuck in a sketchy situation because you didn’t do your due diligence!
5. Develop Your Skills
This step is also important, and can be started the moment you decide you want to be a model.
Study and understand posing and light angles, practice runway walking over and over again. What separates a pretty model from any other model is going to be their skill and versatility. Modeling, just like acting, is an art that needs to constantly practiced. While it may feel really awkward at first, the more you do it the more comfortable you get and it becomes second nature. You agent will be able to help you with this, as well as taking direction from photographers. Many agencies will offer workshops (for free!) to help new faces develop their skills, and enlisting a credited model coach for more direction can also be beneficial.
Be extremely weary of any agency that tries to push in-house workshops or classes that require a fee. This is often the first sign of a scam (see my post about red flags)!
6. Be Professional & Committed
Being a model is just like upholding any other type of job- you need to be professional at all times. Answer phone calls, return voicemails and emails promptly, never (ever!) be late. This industry is fast paced and very competitive, so if you think you can skate by on your looks alone and put in minimal effort, you’ll be in for a rude awakening. It’s a small industry and word gets around quickly. Unprofessionalism and a bad attitude will give you a lousy reputation that will overshadow your beauty and have a big impact on the number of jobs you get. Nobody wants to work with a diva, and there are plenty of other beautiful and professional models that can take your spot.
It’s always important to remember that when you book a job, you are representing both yourself and your agency. When you are on set, treat EVERYONE with respect and do your job to the best of your ability, even if you don’t like the way you look or someone else on set is rubbing you the wrong way.
You also need to be committed to putting in the work. Modeling isn’t just standing in front of the camera for a few hours or walking a runway for 60 seconds. Everything from daily skincare routines to hours and hours of traveling takes hard work and dedication. Even if the call time is early and you’re not feeling well, you need to show up and bring you’re A-game to get the job done. It’s your career and your choice; you will only get out of it what you put into it!
7. Be Safe
As a model, especially when you're just starting out, you're in a pretty vulnerable position and there will be people trying to take advantage of you. Have your guard up and be safe. Don't fall for phony modeling schools, contests, dodgy "modeling agents" or "casting directors" or "photographers", or people that slide into your DMs with fake casting calls that promise a photo shoot in another country with thousands of dollars in compensation…
Have a sound support system in place. Keep your friends, family and agent informed of what is happening in your career. If anything crosses the line or makes you feel uncomfortable, you need to speak up and let someone know right away. You should never become so dedicated to your career that it becomes more important than your own safety.
8. Don’t Take It Personally
To become a model, you either have the ‘look’ agencies or clients want at that given moment or you don’t, and that’s something that you have no control over.
This should have NO reflection on your personal self-worth. Just because you keep getting turned down does not mean you're not good enough. Mentally prepare yourself for rejection- a lot of it. You MUST be able to handle having doors shut in your face without a second thought. Even the most stunning supermodels to ever walk the planet were told "NO" multiple times, many ways, by countless people. Rejection is part of the industry and you have to have very tough skin. The sooner you not only understand but accept that, the better off you will be. I have had many tears over the mean words people have said throughout my career, and I have learned through the years that none of what they say has any meaning in the 'real' world.
You are still a valuable person with feelings, thoughts, and opinions. You are so much more than just a pretty face. Every agent and client has a different idea of what they want in a model, and it is impossible to know exactly what they are looking for. Keep your head up and keep getting in front of them, their idea of the ‘ideal model’ may change in a week!