“I’ve been modeling for a month, pay me!”

On one of the modeling sites, a new model posted up that she has been modeling for “about a month” and is looking for paid jobs. She asked for advice on getting paid jobs, wanted to know what she should do about her wardrobe (admitting to being a college student who owns nothing but jeans and flip-flops), and mentioned that she won’t do nudes. Here’s the advice I gave her.

Being ‘a model’ doesn’t automatically entitle you to getting paid lots of money. Just like spending 4+ years in college doesn’t entitle you to getting a decent paying job (let alone one in the field you studied) right out the door.

In fact, if you’re not signed (and especially if you’re just modeling as a hobby), chances are you’re going to end up spending more than you make on things for shoots (like wardrobe, shoes, traveling to shoots, stylists and MUAs, etc.). And let’s not forget the hours spent networking to make sure people know who you are and have a desire to hire you.

If you’re looking to make money, get a job at the grocery store close to your college campus. That’s a sure thing. Modeling for a month and then looking to get paid? Not so much.

Chances are, at your height and measurements, you’re going to have a hard time getting signed to an agency (unless you find a commercial one that can place someone with your look). And if you’re not signed, and not willing to do nudes, the market that will pay you (especially with only one month’s experience under your stilettos flip-flops) will be quite limited.

What will “guarantee” you money from modeling? Nudes and fetish work. There are fetishes that don’t require nudity, but you have to be comfortable with the idea of someone getting off to images of you. If you’re not comfortable with either of those things, chances are, you’re not going to make money modeling. Hell, you’ll be lucky to break even.

Now, as far as your current wardrobe goes, you’re 20 years old, and will soon be out in the professional world. You might as well start investing in some quality, classic pieces that will last you: black pumps, a dark suit, a couple modest dresses. The holidays are coming up. When people ask what you want as gifts, explain that you would like to start building your professional wardrobe, and ask for giftcards to places like The Limited, Ann Taylor, or Banana Republic. You don’t need to buy frumpy pieces, just make sure they’re not too tight or too trendy. Well-made pieces with classic lines will last you quite some time, and it’s worth spending the money on pieces like that.

For shoots, you can find a wardrobe stylist to hire, or you can try finding stuff at places like TJ Maxx, Goodwill, Nordstrom Rack, or even H&M. And always hit up the sale racks. Hell, borrow from your friends if you can’t go out and buy stuff. Figuring out where you want to go with modeling, as well as planning shoots with photographers in advance, will also help you find wardrobe pieces.

I built the basics of my professional wardrobe on holiday gifts. I use the holidays as a time to re-evaluate what I have and update it if necessary.

I rarely, if ever, buy something for a shoot that I can’t wear either to work, out, or just in general.

Oh, and I worked my ass off in college taking unpaid internships, freelancing for family friends at reduced rates, and taking on projects for my sorority and other groups I was involved in to get experience. All that hard work paid off, and I landed a job 2 weeks after graduating.

As a model (a hobbyist mind you), I worked purely on a trade basis for over a year before I felt comfortable quoting rates to photographers who asked. If I didn’t see a value in working with someone, I simply said no. I’ve worked my rear off to get people to recognize my name, my face, and want to work with me. It’s paid off, but it was a long, frustrating, tiring road, and one that needs constant maintenance.

My advice? Get a ‘real job’ if you need money, and model as a hobby if you find it enjoyable.

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