Whether you're agency represented or freelance, as a model, your comp card (also known as a zed card, sed card, or composite card) is one of the best marketing tools you can have. But what needs to go on your comp card, and why are they so important? Read below to learn the basics of modeling comp cards!
Since a large part of a model's job requires meeting with potential clients, you need something to leave them with once your meeting is over. This is where your comp card comes into play. Much like a businessman/woman uses business cards to network and leave with clients, models use their comp cards in the same way.
Comp cards are important because when it comes to casting calls, auditions, and go-sees, the only thing a client has to remember you by is your comp card. In addition, clients will use comp cards as references when booking models, so you want to make sure they can quickly identify and contact you.
Now in the digital world, models use a combination of digital and physical comp cards. Essentially, they're the same regarding format and information, but one will be used for online submissions, while the other you'll physically hand out to clients.
While traditional business cards usually just contain a person's business name and contact information, a model's comp card is a bit different. There is no exact industry standard template that comp cards have to follow, but generally, they include one large photo (your best headshot), 3-4 smaller photos, your stats (measurements), and contact information.
For most models, choosing what photos to put on their cards is where they get stuck. All comp cards, whether digital or physical, act like mini-portfolios and are a quick reference for agents and clients. If a client saw hundreds of models at a casting that day and has a stack of cards to go through, you want your card to stand out. Because of this, only the strongest photos from your portfolio should be considered for your card. In addition, you will want to include a range of photos from a headshot to a full body shot, and have different poses and facial expressions to show your range.
If you have an agency, they will almost always put together your comp card for you. This is a great asset because they know what the clients will be looking for and can choose your photos accordingly. If your agency doesn't create your comp cards or you're a freelance model, you will have to do a little research before creating your card. The best place to look for guidance is other modeling agency websites. Many agencies will have a model's digital comp card available for download on every model's profile, so find a couple of models that look similar to you and see what type and style of images they have on their comps. If they don't have comps available for download, look through their portfolios to see what photos they have and pay attention to the headshot they use for the model's main icon.
It's important to look at agencies in your market area because models will have different comp cards for the different types of modeling they do and the different markets they're in. For example, a comp card for a Kansas City agency will look a lot different than a comp card for a New York agency, and a model's card for runway work will look much different than their card for commercial work. This is why it's essential to do your research if you're making your own cards to make sure you're making one appropriate for the type of work you'll be doing and your location.
If you don't have an entire portfolio of photos to make a comp card with, that is ok! It would be a good idea to set up a styled shoot to start your portfolio and create your comp card, but if that isn't in your current budget, you can create a comp card using your digitals.
In addition to photos, your comp card should also contain your stats, which are measurements for your height, bust, waist, and hip, as well as your shoe and dress size. Sometimes hair color and eye color are also included, but it's not necessary if you don't have the space. Most importantly, though, you need to include your contact information! You can't get booked if no one can get ahold of you. So include your agency's contact number, email, and website. If you're a freelance model, you'll need to include the contact info you'd like to use for bookings. Ensure this information is correct and easy to read so you don't miss out on any jobs. No clients also want social media handles for potential models, so including your Instagram is also a good idea. Make sure your Instagram account is public and has content that is appropriate for potential clients to see!
It is recommended to have your physical comp cards professionally printed on thick, glossy 8.5" x 5.5" cardstock paper with your headshot and name on the front and the smaller images with your stats and contact info on the back. These can be pricey to print, though, especially when you have to update them fairly often, so it's good practice to print in small batches at a time so you don't have a lot of wasted cards (and money) if you have to update before you use them all. In a pinch, you can print off your digital comp card on a single sheet of regular paper.
As a working model, you should always have easy access to your comp cards. Keep a few physical cards in your bag to carry with you, and have quick access to your digital comp card. You never know when you may need it on the fly!