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 Top Model UK who you can submit an application to.
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:
- Character modelling
- Plus-size modelling
- Mature modelling
- Pregnant modelling
- Hand and foot modelling
- Hair modelling
- Catalogue modelling
- Child modelling
- Pet modelling
- Important points for all models
Most of the major agencies are based in London but there are ones in other cities such as Edinburgh and Manchester.
Can 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 your most average is still pretty amazing, you could be in luck and go on to make money as a model.
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 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.
Are you a bit quirky looking? You could make money as a model through character modelling.
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 earned himself the nickname ‘Popeye’, got regular work through Ugly. “When I was seven years old, I pulled a comb through my afro and my eye popped out!,”he said. “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 had been with Ugly Models for eight years. He had worked abroad in places such as Germany and Japan and hoped 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. Unfortunately Antonio passed on in August 2018 aged 54 after suffering a stroke.
But it’s not a bad way to make money as a model for someone whom others might consider a bit weird-looking!
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.
IMM Agency Group, which is a merger between Hughes Model Agency and IMM Models, is an agency specialising in plus-size models.
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 Model Management, Ford, Models 1, IMG and Select.
Want to get your baby-to-be into modelling?
Bumps are required to model for maternity wear or parenting magazines. An expectant mum can make money as a model from any stage of her pregnancy right up to her 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.
By the same token, if you’ve got some particularly good bits, there’s other modelling you could do…
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 won’t be able to make money as a model 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 makeup campaigns, so you can even model your eyes or lips alone.
Hair stylists or salon brands will use hair models to train their staff.
To make money as a model in this field, your 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. Unfortunately the latter may prefer fashion models and these are much harder to get, and you’ll 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, in London and in Manchester, and you can register yourself at either one for a modelling consultation.
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 Model Managements. 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 you cannot make money as a model through these agents.
From babies to teenagers and in between, there is always a chance to make money as a model since the demand for child models is constant. 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.
There are several child and baby model agencies, but many (probably the majority) are bogus. This is where you have to be very careful, so you aren’t duped in your endeavour to make money as a model. . 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.
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.
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 and kill your dream to make money as a model.
- 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 as you venture out to make money as a model. 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 and make money as a model. 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.