Miss Tennessee Teen USA 2018 and model Sofie Rovenstine. Photo: Matt Castonos
Many young girls consider pageantry to be a gateway into the modeling industry. For many titleholders, it has been. We can look at success stories like Olivia Culpo and Olivia Jordan, former Miss Universe Organization titleholders who now have thriving modeling careers. (Read: Which Miss Universe is Officially a Sports Illustrated Model?) Though pageantry is one way to get your foot in the door, there are a few ways in today's changing world to break into the industry. We scroll through Instagram and flip through fashion magazines and see the final product of endless hours of work. So, what exactly are modeling jobs like? And what is the process of preparing for and getting a job? Below, we explore the ever-changing world of modeling as it relates to print, runway and Instagram. In this article, you will find the following topics:
How do you get your first job?
Pageants can be a great way to gain exposure and get you in front of the right people. It is important to choose a pageant that has associations with the modeling industry. The Miss America Organization and National American Miss are wonderful organizations but they are not known for having ties with modeling.
Based on previous titleholders, the Miss Universe Organization is the best choice for any girl who wishes to be a model. Miss Universe 2012 and Miss USA 2012 Olivia Culpo and Miss USA 2015 Olivia Jordan are now Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, a position that is among the most coveted in the industry.
You also don't have to win a national title to become successful in the modeling world. Miss Mississippi USA 2014 Vaeda Mann and Miss California USA 2016 Nadia Mejia both have booming modeling careers. Mann and Mejia are both models with the prestigious agency Next Models Miami.
Competing in a pageant could lead to being recognized by an agents, an essential in the industry. Companies book their models through agencies. In most cases, you first have to get signed with an agency before you can begin working. The best way to find an agent is by sending in digitals or attending open casting calls. This will give you the opportunity to get noticed, which could lead to a potential partnership.
The agent you choose should provide training or classes to help you prepare for any upcoming opportunities. They are responsible for getting you jobs and making sure you get paid. They should also be able to point you in the direction of a great photographer who can shoot your headshots and comp cards.
If you need a photographer in your area, click here to visit our directory of photographers.
It's important for your headshots and comp cards to highlight your best features and be an accurate representation of who you are. Don't pack on makeup or try to look like someone you are not. You are a blank canvas that they will paint whatever way they see fit.
"Always be natural," said Next Models Miami model Hannah Sluss who was first runner-up at Miss Tennessee USA 2018. "Less makeup is better."
Headshots and comp cards are often what get you jobs, so their importance cannot be stressed enough. You should make sure the photos are up-t0-date with your current look. They should be simple, highlighting you as the star of the photo.
"For a headshot, know your angles and practice a few poses that you know will display your beauty the best," said model Whitney Powell. "The same goes for comp cards. Have a few diverse poses that display you best. Keep in mind that headshots and comp cards are the main things that market you."
Headshot of Next Models Miami model and first runner-up to Miss Tennessee USA 2018 Hannah Sluss. Photo: Hannah Sluss
These types of agencies are scams and will NOT get you booked!
Warning: Many agencies are scams that are out to get money from you, not money from jobs. These agencies should be avoided at all costs. They have cost a countless number of girls thousands of dollars.
Beware of agencies that flatter you too much. Compliments are nice, but they also may just be reeling you into their scam. Reputable agencies don't have to beg for models. They don't have to flatter to get girls to sign. Looking at their level of professionalism can be a great tool when spotting a real agency from a fake.
If they ask for money up front, tread lightly. Agencies who make money off of getting you booked do not waste their energy offering photoshoots and course that you have to pay for. Agencies who charge you for courses and photoshoots DO NOT make their money off of getting you booked. Therefore, you should not work with them if you desire to get booked.
Some very famous examples of these agencies and modeling schools are John Casablancas and Barbizon. These companies rarely book girls. They receive profits from offering classes and other alleged tools that have never been proven to advance their clients' careers. Sure they have had celebrities whom they claim as one of their own but anytime you have thousands of girls and guys taking your courses a few of them are going to get discovered by other means. When that happens they say that "So and So" took our course and claim him or her as a success story.
Here is a more detailed explanation of the process of finding a reputable agency to represent you. (Read: Here's What to Look for in Modeling Agencies (And What to Stay Away From))
What is the process of booking a job?
After getting an agent, your goal is to book your first job. The way models are hired is unique to the industry. If you're used to a different hiring process, it may be a bit of an adjustment.
"The process I have booking a modeling job first starts with my agent contacting me that the client is or might be interested in using me," Sluss said. "This typically means I'm required to go to a casting or send digitals, which are pictures from an iPhone with little to no makeup on."
Girls shouldn't get frustrated if they don't get a job immediately. The amount of time it takes to get a job varies from model to model. Sometimes it takes a little while to gain traction in your career.
"The waiting time before getting your first job is different for everyone," Powell said. "You could get one the first week after signing or it could take months. Consistently creating new work and content leaves you with a better chance of booking a job."
One of model Hannah Sluss' digitals. Photo: Hannah Sluss
How do you prepare for your first job?
Preparation is so important and will shine through on set. The results will show you're professional and serious about the job. It will also help ease your nerves so that you're confident and ready to rock the shoot or walk the runway.
"My biggest piece of advice is to walk into the job with confidence and to take the time to network with the client you're working for," Sluss said.
Also, be sure to prepare your body and mind. You need to be at your best mentally and physically. Modeling is a lot more demanding than people give it credit for!
"Drink lots of water, get at least eight hours of sleep and eat a healthy breakfast," Sluss said.
It's also good to be prepared with materials that may be needed. The client, photographer and makeup artists should bring most items needed, but it can't help to bring your own backups. If something were to break or be forgotten, your preparation will impress the client and they may remember you the next time they book a shoot.
"What you bring to the shoot is crucial," Powell said. "Bring your own set of necessities to replace what the makeup artist or designer doesn't have."
Remember to bring someone along on the shoot with you for safety purposes, especially on first meeting. This is a precaution all models should take. Legitimate industry professionals will not mind if you bring a parent, guardian or trusted friend.
You should also discuss what will be expected of you on the modeling job prior to the shoot day. If something that makes you uncomfortable is brought up on the shoot that was not previously discussed, you have the right to say no. No one can make you do anything without your consent.
Check out this article for everything you need to know about posing, walking and earning money as a model. (Read: How to Become a Model (And How to Get Your First Job))
What should you expect at a shoot?
The experience of any particular shoot will differ from the next, but you can also guess as to what the general layout will be for the day. The fun thing about modeling is that no two shoots are the same, but there usually is a general way things are done.
"Hair and makeup is always the first thing," Powell said. "It can take up to three hours sometimes. Shooting is next and you always have to be flexible and open-minded."
As previously mentioned, a model should be prepared with extra materials just in case some of the crew forgot them, but there are also some things she should always have for herself.
When asked what items a model should always bring to a shoot, Sluss replied, "water, a protein bar, makeup wipes and a positive attitude."
The industry isn't known for its promptness so don't be alarmed if the shoot is running behind on schedule. You also may not know you have booked a job until right before. It is a last minute business. You have to be prepared to be flexible and able to take a job at last minute's notice.
Model Whitney Powell. Photo: Jess Williams
What should you remember while on set or backstage at a runway show?
Confidence really is key. The world's top models all have one thing in common: confidence. You can't sell a product until you sell yourself. (Read: How to be a Confident Woman)
"While backstage, do not overthink," Powell said. "Instead, think of ways to empower and hype yourself up. Do things that make you feel confident and invincible. On the runway, make sure to have plenty of practice."
This confidence should stem from all the hours of hard work and practice you have put into perfecting your craft. If you've put in the hours and know what you're doing, act like it. After confidence, preparation is the second most important thing to have.
"One important tip is to never look down at your feet," Powell continued. "Displaying noticeable confidence is so important." (Read: 7 Ways To Get Winning Pageant Confidence)
What should you expect regarding payment?
As of 2009, The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists the annual mean wage of models nationally as $36,420. This is slightly below the average national income of $40,712 for all workers in 2009.
According to Independent Models, runway models in major markets earn $250 per hour. In New York City, top models can earn up to $10,000 or even higher per show for major fashion show events like New York Fashion Week.
Payment for commercial print modeling is largely dependent on the size of the market you are in. If you're modeling in a small to medium market, you can expect $75 to $150 per hour or $400 to $950 per day. Commercial print modeling jobs in larger markets like San Francisco may pay as much as $250 per hour.
How can you become a model using Instagram?
The modeling industry has changed drastically since the creation of social media, specifically Instagram. Instagram has created a new form of marketing for models and brands. Girls who saw no evident way to break into the industry now have a platform to promote themselves. (Read: Instagram-Discovered Model Charges $15,000 Per Hour for Photoshoots)
"Instagram has changed the modeling industry tremendously," said Instagram model Hannah Neese. "It gives more exposure for women hoping to get into that line of business that may not have had that opportunity before."
If you want to break into modeling, utilize Instagram as much as possible. Create an efficient plan to brand yourself and make your account appealing. Branding and consistency are important when strategizing your Instagram layout.
"I use VSCO and try to stick to the same effect for all of my photos," Neese said. "I like my page to be a little more bright with a tint of pink, so I keep that in mind when editing my photos."
To start building your Instagram presence, invest in a high quality camera and editing software. Be strategic in choosing a consistent aesthetic that draws followers in. A lot of white space and colors like pastel pink in images draw a lot of likes.
You can use relevant hashtags to attract followers who may be interested in the topics you post about. You can also gain followers by commenting and interacting with other users. Engagement draws people in. It's important to support others if you want to be supported.
Instagram models are one aspect of a huge industry of models. Don't know which aspect of modeling you will succeed in? Check out this article. (Read: Here's 20 Types of Models (And Which is Best for You))
How do you grow your following by collaborating and engaging with others?
Though your Instagram solely belongs to you, it takes a village to produce quality content. Partner with photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists and brands in your area. This will not only allow for more professional content, it will also combine audiences., building both of your followings.
"I've been lucky enough to have close friends that are pursuing their photography careers and love to create alongside me," said Neese in reference to creative collaboration. "If they are not available, I typically search photography hashtags to find a photographer that may match my style."
You can search hashtags like #tampaphotographer or #atlantamakeupartists to find professionals who are using Instagram to market their work. People who choose to market this way may be open to collaborating with you in attempt to grow both of your brands.
Like Neese, you may already have friends who are pursuing creative careers. Collaborate with them! Support each other and watch each other grow. You can model while one friend does your hair and makeup and another works as the photographer. It can be a learning experience for all of you, and, of course, everything is more fun with friends.
Consistency with images is helpful for growing a following. Get an app like VSCO and pick a filter that you like. Use this filter on all of your images. Try to keep your feed light and bright with a lot of white space. If an image doesn't work with the theme of your Instagram, it is probably best to put it on your Instagram story. Prioritize the consistency of your feed.
Once your quality content has been created and posted, it is crucial to engage with your audience. If your followers feel like they have a personal connection with you, they are more likely to be active on your page. Showing kindness and gratitude gets you far in every aspect of media.
"If you want people to support you, you need to appreciate them," Neese said. "Reply to comments, like their pictures and post frequently." (Read: How to Become Pageant Famous on Instagram)
Instagram model Hannah Neese. Photo: Emily Griffin
Use this information and advice from successful models to apply to your own career plan. Take the proper steps to success by getting an agent, utilizing Instagram or competing in a pageant. Visit our Pageant Directory to find a pageant to compete in. (Read: How to Find Beauty Pageants to Compete in)
Do you dream of being a model? Tell us your goals in the comments below!
Written by Jade Spilka
Tip: "Focus on your inner beauty and never give up!"Learn More