Do people tell you constantly that you should be a model? Do you look at magazines and billboards and think to yourself, “that could be me!” If so, then you might be thinking… “How do I start modeling?”

A career as a model can offer lucrative settings and amazing perks, but do not think for a second that it is easy. Pretty faces are a dime a dozen; the modeling industry is not an easy one to break into. You will face stiff competition and 90% of the business will be less-glamorous than you would imagine. While many models earn a healthy living, very few break into the big leagues and become household names.

If you’re still interested in becoming a model, then continue reading!

1. Choose a Market


The first step is to choose a type of modeling you want to pursue. The main types of modeling are:

  • Fashion (Runway, Catalog, Editorial) – done to promote clothing or accessories. If you are taller- 5’10 and above and with a thin body type (5’11 for males)- then fashion modeling may be for you. Looks for this type range from beautiful to unusual and distinctive.
  • Acting/Commercials- Playing a role on television in an advertisement for a product, service, or idea. Must be outgoing and have acting ability.
  • Promotional- Live modeling designed to drive consumer demand for a product or brand. It can range from representing a company at a tradeshow to handing out samples in a shopping mall or appearing on behalf of an alcohol brand at a bar. A promotional model needs to be very outgoing and have a great personality. Height requirements are not as stringent as fashion modeling, but range from 5’5 on (5’10 for males).
  •  Commercial and Print- Print modeling is generally done to advertise products, services and companies. There is no set height or weight for commercial modeling, but you must be a well proportioned, attractive, real person that can act and play different character.

Go ahead a read up on the different types of modeling for a more detailed description.

2. Create Your Portfolio/Comp Cards

Comp Card Design - How to beat the competition in 5 shots.

A well done portfolio is crucial for every model. These are just a collection of professionally taken photographs: headshots, body shots and fashion editorial. When meeting with a professional photographer, instruct the photographer to take both headshots and full body shots in various settings. Bring a couple different non-flashy outfits to the shoot; be sure keep things simple and natural looking. Agents want to get a sense of what you actually look like and how well you photograph- and not how well you can accessorize, do your makeup or how well you can dress!

Comp cards are also necessary for any aspiring model. A composite – “comp card” (sometimes called a ZED) is a model’s business card! Many agencies will not even meet with you until you have your comp card done – because that is the tool that they use to market you. You can find a list of comp card printers here.

3. Find A Modeling Agency


When you’re finished creating your portfolio and comp cards, get in touch with an agency. It’s advisable to find a local agency- if you’re in Florida and want to model in New York or LA, don’t expect any agencies to fly you out- you’d have to cover your own costs. The agencies in New York have plenty of models to choose from, so start small!

To look for agencies in your area, check out this list of modeling agencies. Although these agencies are all personally vetted, you should still be careful when choosing an agency. Make sure they are reputable, and have some experience finding work for models; you don’t want to be scammed!

Many agencies might have open casting calls, which are a great opportunity for new models. Going to a casting call is encouraged over just submitting your portfolio (or ‘book’)- If you’re charismatic, you’ll get a chance to interact with agents and stand out from the rest of the crowd. At an open call, models bring in their portfolios, composite cards and meet with casting agents. The agents then take a look at the models up close, in order to decide which models are a good fit for the agency.

4. Keep At It

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Like any job or profession, modeling will take time, patience and perseverance. If you aren’t finding any work as a model immediately, don’t be alarmed. Many people face rejection and will have to wait long periods of time to become a model. Try to keep a list handy to make notes of which agencies have found you work, and which agencies you have been rejected from. Most places will allow you to re-submit or come back to another casting call after a short period of time.

5. Signing A Contract

Images by Joe Edelman - Commercial Photographer

Congrats! You’ve found your first modeling job! Now what? Before signing any contract, you must make sure that you read the contract carefully and ask questions about anything that’s unclear. Make sure 100% that you are signing a contract with an established, reputable agency. Since real, legitimate agencies will take a commission from your modeling assignments after finding you work, you should never pay upfront fees to join an agency. If an agency demands money from you, move on! On receipt of your contract, the agency will sign you up for auditions and contact you about upcoming modeling calls. Good luck and keep it up!