Jun 13

Make money as a model

Reading Time: 9 mins

You can make money as a model, even if you don’t look like Kate Moss. Seriously!

It’s easier to do than you might think, in fact there are companies out there like UK Model who you can submit an application to and wait to find out what they think.

Modelling comes in a variety of different forms, which means you don’t have to be super skinny with legs up to your armpits to do it. The catwalk might not be your calling but assess your physical talents and you’d be surprised what you can model with.

The modelling industry is more open than you think with opportunities to make money as a model in:

Most of the major agencies are based in London but there are ones in other cities such as Edinburgh and Manchester.


Could you make money as a model?

For most agencies where good looks are required, requirements are generally height (for women, the shortest height requirement was 5’6” and for men it is usually 5’10), slim for catalogue modelling, toned and rubenesque for plus size. Character modelling is excellent whatever your size if you have interesting features (and that includes being really interestingly ugly!).

Agencies will state on their website how to make contact with them. That is usually to fill out an online form with your measurement details and attach a photograph. It is always advisable to make an appointment before heading to the agency’s office.

Agencies prefer standard photos taken on a digital camera at home and with no make-up. This is because it shows you in a normal light without fancy settings and shows you at your most average. If you’re most average is still pretty amazing, you could be in luck.

Before you apply to an agency, have a look at their application process to see the height and weight restrictions. Check their measurements to get an idea of who they take on – some agencies will want models with a specific look similar to their existing model database, while some will be looking for someone different.

However, being a model doesn’t necessarily mean looking like something on the Victoria’s Secret catwalk. Even if you look a bit odd, there could be modelling opportunities for you.

Here are some of the ways you can make money as a model.


Character Modelling

Are you a bit quirky looking? You could be a character model.

Unique physical features that tend to be favoured for character modelling are extremely tall or short, especially chubby, or someone with lots of tattoos or piercings. The latter two are extremely popular for those with excessive tattoos and piercings. Quirky looking faces, no matter what your body weight, are also great for this type of modelling.

There are no height or weight restrictions and the more unique your look the more work you are likely to get. Almost anyone of any race, age, size and height can become a character model but this means that competition is fierce. One of the most well known agencies for character modelling is Ugly Models London, who have a portfolio of some recognisable faces. If you’re someone who makes people stop and look in the street, get in touch with this agency and see what they think.

For example, Antonio Francis, who has earned himself the nickname ‘Popeye’, gets regular work through Ugly. “When I was seven years old, I pulled a comb through my afro and my eye popped out!,”he says. “I did it again a few times in the mirror before showing my mum who was a nurse. She rushed me to hospital. In the waiting room I was bored and discovered that not only could I make my eye pop out without the strain of the afro comb, but I could also make the other eye pop out too!”

Antonio has been with Ugly Models for eight years. He has worked abroad in places such as Germany and Japan and hopes to make it into the Guinness Book of Records for popping his eyes out the furthest. His portfolio includes tv commercials, music videos (that have been nominated for awards), tv programs and a Playstation game.

Not bad for someone whom others might consider a bit weird-looking!


Plus Size Modelling

Make money as a model

In February 2010 designer Mark Fast sent plus size models down the catwalk of his show at London Fashion Week. The show attracted press attention, not for the clothes but for the models. Since then, plus-size models have gained in popularity

With the recent demand for real looking women, there is a growing market for plus size models.

As with standard modelling agencies, height is still highly desirable, with the minimum height being between 5’7” and 5’9” for women. Dress size is usually 12 or 14, with some agencies requiring larger than a size 14.

You can make money as a model – plus-size – if you are in shape and rubenesque rather than flabby. You also need to have a great face, good hair and a confident attitude. Simply being large isn’t enough.

Hughes Models 12+ is an agency specialising in plus size models.


Mature Modelling

Elderly female life model

If you’re in your 80s can you make money as a model? Yes you can!

Even the silver-haired can model, particularly for catalogues. In fact now there is an increasing demand for older models for print and broadcast media as the country ages.

Some mature models were once models in their younger days but not all of them. The age range can be from the middle aged to senior.

As with fashion models, there are height restrictions and you must have a model face. There are no specialist agencies so apply as you would for fashion or catalogue modelling and use the Association of Model Agents website to find good ones.

Some of the world’s top agencies include Storm, Elite, Ford, Models 1, IMG and Select.


Pregnant modelling

Pregnant woman holding belly

Want to get your baby-to-be into modelling?

Bumps are required to model for maternity wear or parenting magazines. Expectant mums can model from any stage of their pregnancy right up to their due date.

If you’re pregnancy-proud, have a model face, a good figure and you are expecting right now, you could be a pregnant model. Pre-natal mums and babies are also used for parenting magazines.


Then, if you’ve got some particularly good bits, there’s other modelling you could do…


Hand and foot modelling

Hand model

When it comes to making money from your hands or your feet, the general requirements are blemish-free skin and even nail beds but you will need to check with specific agencies, such as Hired Hands. Body modelling agencies can also work with bottoms and legs for advertising campaigns, jewellery, accessories or retail products.

Your body parts need to be well maintained; a paper cut on the finger and you’ll be out of work until it’s healed.

Campaigns or fashion shoots using standard models may find that for close ups their mitts are a little off. This is where the hand model comes in. Next time you see a big make up or jewellery campaign with a big name model whose arms are off shoot but hands are present, they may not be hers. Body part modelling also uses models as faces for make up campaigns, so you can even model your eyes or lips alone.


Hair modelling

Hair model

Hair stylists or salon brands will use hair models to train their staff.

Hair must be in healthy condition and in its natural state, so no perms or colouring. The market is narrower for hair modelling and gigs are harder to come by.

Hair models can work for small local hair dressers for staff training or in large salons or fashion hair dressers, though the latter may prefer fashion models and these are much harder to get and you will probably have to pay for an appointment.

Contact hairdressers or salon brands directly, especially the ones with training schools and academies. The L’Oreal International Academy has two locations one in London and one in Manchester and you can register yourself at either one for a modelling consultation.


Catalogue Modelling

Catalogue model in winter clothes

The demand for catalogue models rarely falters as media outlets are so varied and different looks are wanted for every season. Photo shoots can be for high fashion magazines, women’s or men’s lifestyle magazines and online retailers. Range is also considerable, such as sports or a specific trend of clothing.

Catalogue and magazine work does favour tall models but there are some agencies which have petite divisions and shorter models can sometimes do face shots instead. Catalogues also increasingly need mature and/or plus-size models (see above).

As with all fashion models, you will need to have well balanced facial features and there are generally height and weight restrictions, though not as severe as catwalk models.

The Association of Model Agents lists registered agents that you can contact. Not all of the biggest agencies are on here, but it’s a start. The big guns who aren’t on that list include IMG Models, Models1, Premier Model Management and Select Models. Bear in mind though these guys are the real deal, so unless you can match-up to Daisy Lowe and Alexa Chung (both with Select) then they probably aren’t for you.


Child modelling

child model

From babies to teenagers and in between, there is always a demand for child models. Personality is important here, so even if you’re little one is beautiful, he or she must have a good temperament, be able to follow instructions and be adaptable.

Remember if your child gets modelling work it is you who will have to take the time out to ferry them around the shoots and be around to make sure they are not mis-treated. This is as much a job for you as it is for them.

be careful!

There are a number of child and baby model agencies but many (probably the majority) are bogus. This is where you have to be very careful. There are a lot of rogues out there who know that all parents think their children are beautiful, whatever they look like. It is possible that your child has model looks but make sure you find out from a reputable agency.

Alba Model Information is a model watchdog aiming to expose fraud agencies, scouts or photographers who exploit models, particularly children. The ‘Name and Shame’ category on the Alba website is especially helpful for child modelling and there is an ‘A List’ category that lists agencies that Alba approves of. However, should any of the listed agencies be found to be operating on an unsatisfactory level, you must report it.


Pet modelling

Grey French Bulldog Puppy

Even if your domestic pet isn’t a pedigree or worthy of a blue ribbon at a show, just like people the most normal looking pet can model too.

There is no specific look for animals. Behaviour is essential and your pet must be happy to travel (with you, of course) and get along with everyone. There are few agencies out there for pets but London based pet agency Pet London Models is one of the biggest.


Important points for all models

Modelling shoot


If you’re going to do it as a part time job or to pursue a full time career, be prepared to work hard. As well as having the right look for the category of modelling you want to go into, you must have the right attitude.

  • People skills and flexibility are a must. You can expect to be prodded and poked by make up artists or stylists and rejected by some agencies. Show a bad attitude and the insiders will show you the door.
  • Always stay positive; if three agencies reject your look, a fourth might sign you on. Don’t get angry with stylists, photographers or make up artists. They are doing their job and you are their model, and there are plenty more models out there who can replace you in a nanosecond.


Unfortunately, the industry is rife with fake photographers and scouts taking advantage of wannabe models. Do your research and don’t be sucked into any scam agencies or studios. Think their client list is too good to be true? You could be right. Go with your instincts, even phone the client and ask if they really do use that particular agency. Making that call could save you time, money and ensure your safety.

The Association of Model Agents monitors the modelling industry and ensures a code of practice is followed. The AMA website also gives advice on how to recognise a rogue photographer or scout.

One of the world’s leading modelling agencies, Storm offers advice on how to avoid any fake Storm agents who might stop you in the street and pretend to be interested in your look. The same techniques can be applied to any situation in the modelling industry.

You don’t need to have a professional portfolio to get into an agency as the top agencies state on their websites that simple photos from a digital camera will show if you’re what they’re looking for. So don’t be bullied into paying an agency for professional portfolio photos.

Getting into modelling doesn’t always require traffic-stopping features or for you to fork out for an expensive portfolio. Modelling as a career will take perseverance, hard work and a tough skin, but if you can get it, it provides good part time work.


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Hannah Shia

So many things have changed since 2010, while, I must admint, most of the tips offered here still remain relevant. One of the key things beginner models should know these days is that you can find it hard to compete without an attractively-looking online portfolio. Yes, competition has become quite tough, since there are social networks like Instagram with millions of users worldwide presenting themselves as models and looking for clients online! Agencies will be much more likely to hire you when they find your online portfolio. So, I would recommend creating a website. Luckily, it can be done quite… Read more »

georgina glover
georgina glover

Hi I’m gina would love to have a shot a modeling I’m a mother of 3 but I am only 5’3 open to offers thanks


Hello , I’m Interested in catalogue modelling
How can I apply?!

Thank you


hi I have got a lot of scars and blemishes on my face ,am I able to be a model plz reply


It’s possible. Why not get in touch with one of the agencies and ask?

You can certainly work as a film extra. Take a look at our article about that here


I live in Manchester and am interested in cataloge modelling. How do i go about this. thank you



my name is Medea and I’m originally from Tbilisi,Georgia. I just read your advertisement on As a film director I have experience with with different crew members and cameras. As a teenager I modelled for various advertisement companies. The picture I attached is non professional. My friend took it just before I moved to London last week. If you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to contact me on 07891655453. I’m looking forward to hear from you.

Kind regards

Medea Kurdadze-Kalina

amanda mcfaul
amanda mcfaul

I live in Northern Ireland and am interested in catalogue modelling. How do i go about this.


i am interested i catalogue modeling for me the mum and my 13 month girl

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