The number one indicator of a model is the success of their marketing and the number of people who follow them as a model. In other words, how many people does that model influence on a regular basis? To be at a point where a model can influence many other people, it takes time and effort. Many models aren’t willing to do this. What can you do as a model?
Research finding out where you fit into the scheme of things in the industry and where you will be most used is very important. This is a major part of ‘branding’ yourself and your name. If you don’t fit in the area you want to be in, that means you must change to fit into it. There are no short cuts. Be realistic, too. Someone who is five foot four inches and a US size 8 will never be a high fashion model, but they can easily be a commercial or catalog model or an actress. Speaking of acting, I highly recommend doing acting and dance as a model. This will improve your performance as a model during shoots, and it also makes you much more versatile as a model.
Key is getting out in front of people in your specific areas that you fit and staying marketable to that group. You are the product. The more people who you meet and get to know you in your target market, the better: photographers, art directors, designers, stylists, etc. The more people outside the industry that follow you, the more marketable that you are. Let me also mention that many models think that once they are in a modeling agency, they have it made and don’t have to market themselves. This is wrong – you have to market yourself even MORE than as an independent, or they will drop you as a model. Yes, they will market you, but they will market you with many other models at the same time!
Get every bit of experience in that area that you can. Be sure to network! Be friendly and get back to people in a reasonable amount of time. Make sure you have profiles out there looking for the types of work you want to do. If a person sends you a message that is professional on the profiles, be sure to respond back to them professionally and in a reasonable amount of time. Always be positive and let your best show through. Smile! One of the biggest problems I see in models is their hesitation in being a model or being overly friendly (too friendly – if my wife says something, then it is too friendly). There is a happy middle.
Make sure you have a current head shot and comp card. The pictures you use must be current – if the pictures are older than a year, then it is best to not use them in your profiles. Most agencies will have a requirement that your images are updated every six months. Make sure that the images are professional and not too over the top. Frequently, I hear from models that they have edgier images than are acceptable because sex sells – you know the images I am talking about. Don’t do it! While you will be noticed quicker, you will have a reputation very quickly that major organizations won’t want for their firms or brands. Plus, the reputation you get is for more work doing the same thing you don’t want to do. It is best to only post pictures for the images for the work you want to do – don’t ever post images for work you won’t do. Don’t post everything you shoot. Amazingly, most models want high concept shoots who are out there. Don’t post them unless they are part of a tear sheet or major project that is tied to something related to marketing someone else or a brand.
Your comp card should have your head shot and at least three other different looks. Along the bottom, it should have your first name, your measures, and contact info. It is best to print the number you will use in about six months, and should be updated every six months.
Get experience. Do modeling shoots and get in front of a camera. Every shoot you do will give you experience. Make sure you know the people who you work and stay in contact with them. You will create your network from these people. This kind of networking will extend your reach and knowledge of opportunities and other people who will help you as a model. Part of being part of that network is to help others in your network, too. Don’t just take from your network. And, know that just because you have met someone doesn’t mean that they will hand you the keys to your career. That takes time and many people will make you prove that you aren’t just gold digging for that help and introductions to others higher up in the modeling chain.
Always have a modeling resume or CV available with your experience on it. When going to casting calls, go-sees, or modeling interviews, you will be asked for one. Keep one on hand and always updated at all times with all the work you do: modeling, fashion shows, acting, etc. It is easy to keep one current as you do it, rather than trying to remember it all creating one when the need comes up. Never include how much you were paid for the work you have done. Have tear sheets or images available to back up your resume or CV. Always carry a few with you where ever you go.
This may mean dressing differently, changing your diet so you don’t put on too much weight and complexion stays clear, changing your hair style or colour, or any number of things. If you have an agent, they will probably will be on top of this. If you are an independent, you need to find someone who will be honest and look out for your best interests to ask who knows the industry.
Beware of photographers who promise you the world – my experience has been that most that say they are something and will give you a leg up in the industry, won’t or can’t. Look at who they are and what they do for their work. Look at the models they work with and the images they take of those models. If they work exclusively for an agency, their hands are usually tied when it comes to ‘introducing’ models. This also includes those that say they will get the most out of you, or any number of things to indicate that only they can bring out all of your potential.
Another to be aware of are those who offer to whisk you away to a place like NY or LA for modeling. Often they indicate they have so much to support and market you as a model. If they aren’t one of the big modeling agencies, they are trying to take advantage of you and get you to do something you wouldn’t normally do. Don’t fall for it. When you are out of your safety of your home, you can be run down, penniless, and become very easy to manipulate.
Get out there and market yourself!