Modeling Pay-Rates

Being a successful model means making money from the jobs that you book. Figuring out what you should charge for your work can sometimes be confusing, especially if you’re not signed with an agency and are only doing freelance work.

Fashion model in black jumpsuit with gold bag. Leawood Lifestyle Magazone.
Photo by Janie Jones

** Disclaimer: if you’re an agency signed model, you will not be setting your own rates, your agent will do that. This post is geared more towards freelance models, and agency signed models that may possibly do freelance work in outside markets.

When coming up with your rates, there are no hard-fast rules to follow. Each job is different, and different clients are going to have different budgets that they have to work with. But that does not mean that you have to change your prices up for each client. Once you establish what you want to charge, it’s important that you stick to it unless it’s a special circumstance. Not every client is going to pay what you have set for yourself, and there may be times when you will be skipped over for charging too, much or taken advantage of for charging too little. Be prepared for this and do not take it personally!

Modeling pay rates can be per hour, flat rate or a full-day rate. If the booking is short (think 1-3 hours), then an hourly rate is appropriate. An example would be $50 - $75/hour for experienced models, $75 - $100/hour or higher for swim, lingerie, etc. (showing more skin = higher rates).

For half day bookings (4-5 hours) it’s best to charge a flat rate for that timeframe- i.e., $300 for 4 hours. Full day bookings (6+ hours) should also be charged a flat day-rate. If it is a multiple day booking, sometimes models will cut clients a deal and will charge a little less per day than their typical day-rates.

When trying to figure out what amount you should charge, there are a few things to consider.

  1. What is your experience as a model? What you can charge will vary depending on how many years you’ve been actively modeling and what clients you’ve had.

  2. What is the client's budget? Sometimes they will give you their budget for an hourly rate and other times they will give you a flat rate for ‘X’ number of hours.

  3. What type of booking is it? fashion, commercial, swim, boudoir, artistic? This is important to know because you can charge more for showing more skin.

  4. How long is the shoot? Is there travel involved? Who covers travel expenses?

  5. What are you expected to provide? If you have to do your own wardrobe styling, hair, makeup, etc. you have a right to charge more.

The level of a model's experience is a huge determining factor when it comes to pay rates. New and inexperienced models who don’t have much in their portfolio or on their resume shouldn’t expect to be able to charge as much as a more experienced model. Be realistic about this when making the transition from strictly doing test and/or trade shoots to doing paid bookings. You’re not going to be able to charge top rates right out the gate, and that’s ok!

If you have a lot of experience and the resume/portfolio to back it up, clients will understand that booking you will come at a higher price. Unfortuanately, the harsh reality is that not all clients that book freelance models will pay the standard industry rate even if you have a lot of experience, simply because you’re not agency represented.

If a client isn’t able to pay your full rate, ask the client what pay range they feel would work for them and then decide if the opportunity is worth going lower than your standard rates. They may be able to throw in added perks like getting all the finished photos or maybe even some product to make up for the lower pay.

If the booking requires travel and transportation and lodging isn’t going to be covered by the client, you need to factor those costs into what you would charge since those expenses will be coming out of your pocket.

Ultimately, it is up to you to decide what you want to charge based on what is required of you and what the client will or won’t provide. As time goes on and you get more and more bookings, you will get a better feel for what you should charge and feel confident in the fact that you're worth the rate that you set for yourself.



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