10 tips on how to succeed as a model

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Want to be a model, but don’t know how? Do you day dream of being the next model gracing the cover of Vogue? Modeling as a career has become a career now with thousands of aspirants chasing the dream of becoming the next super model. Gone are the days when you could just rely on your luck to get spotted, the chances of that happening are one-in-a-million now. Becoming a model now involves discipline, effort and perseverance. You need to plan, prepare and follow a strategy to stand out and get noticed. We have put together a list of tips below that you must follow to break into the modelling industry and kickstart your modelling career.

Here are our top 10 tips for models on how to succeed in the modelling industry:

1) Develop a jaw dropping modeling portfolio

The absolutely first and likely most important step to creating your modeling career is to have a diverse modeling portfolio that display your strong points through high-quality, stunning photos. Your modeling portfolio is the first thing that your clients will look at, and its career changing to create a great first impression. It helps to have both an official digital version (your modeling portfolio website) that you can send to anyone via an email and a physical version that you can show when you meet someone face to face.

You need all the exposure you can get to move up the ladder in the modelling industry. The best way to achieve that is to have an awesome modeling portfolio website that showcases your portfolio images and can be accessed by agencies and clients anytime, anywhere.

2) Build the right Network

Every model needs a modeling network full of models of all types and specialties, photographers, and other professionals in there respective sister industries . The first step to landing your first gig or project will be to network using your professional and personal connections. Getting noticed requires a very simple submission: snapshots of yourself to people you can connect with locally in your area or local hub or business professionals. These snapshots are commonly referred to as ‘Digitals’ in the industry (or occasionally ‘Polaroids’.)

Recommended reading: Is it time to fly solo? 6 steps to know if you’re ready

3) Do your research about which type of modelling fits you

Before submitting to every modeling agency on earth and seeing if anything sticks, do your research. Make a list. First, and most importantly, is this agency legit? Can their business be easily verified, and do they have any bad reviews? Is this modeling agency currently accepting models with your look and stats? What is the modeling agency’s submission process (specific guidelines vary by agency, but you should be able to find this info on their website)? Who are the agency’s past and present models? What are the modeling agency’s most recent campaigns? Are they working with established brands and companies? Do you WANT to have this agency represent you, meaning you will be representing them in turn? Once you find the modeling agencies that you feel confident to be a good fit for you, submit digitals to your top picks. After you submit your digitals if you receive a call to meet with an agency in- person, do even more research prior to the meeting. Brush up on big fashion designers, who the ‘it’ supermodels are at the moment, current events from the fashion/beauty/modeling world, etc. You don’t need to be a walking “fashion model encyclopedia” by any means- just be aware and informed.

Here’s a detailed guide on which modeling styles that can help your pursuit in creating your killer modeling portfolio. CAN I BE A MODEL IN MINNESOTA?

4) Learn to embrace rejection

Mentally prepare yourself for rejection- a lot of it. You MUST be able to handle having doors shut in your face without a second thought. Even the most stunning supermodels to ever walk the planet were told “NO.” In fact, they were told “NO” multiple times, many ways, by countless people. Rejection is part of the territory. The sooner you not only understand but accept that, the better off you will be. Don’t base your self-worth on appearance or anybody else’s approval of you. Start practicing now: challenge yourself to shrug off any and all criticism you receive this week. See if it was easy or difficult. The harder it was, the more you need to grow a tougher skin. Are you offended that you were just told to grow tougher skin? If so, that’s exactly the point! Start practicing the ability to let all criticism roll off your back! But don’t worry, everybody is capable of learning this skill with enough practice. A good mental mantra to keep in mind when it comes to rejection is: “Every ‘NO’ is just one ‘NO’ closer to a ‘YES.’”

5) Make yourself constantly look better

Take care of your skin, hair, body, and health. Like it or not, modeling is an aesthetically-driven industry, and beauty/appearance is undeniably important. (That being said, you can still make it as a commercial model regardless of physical beauty or body type.) However, for fashion models, the height/weight standards are more rigid and inflexible than with any other genre in modeling. There’s not much you can do about genetics, but it IS up to you to make the most of the genetics you were given.

You must adhere your own thorough beauty regimen. Many supermodels use the following habits as part of their beauty routine, including but not limited to the following: drinking water like a fish throughout the day to stay hydrated and keep skin supple, not smoking, keeping alcohol to a minimum or abstaining, exfoliating/washing/moisturizing face every morning and evening, wearing SPF, never going to sleep in their makeup, regular manicures and hair appointments, taking a multivitamin, working out 4-5 days per week, maintaining a strict diet / meal plan, among many more. Looking and feeling your best will only benefit you no matter how you look at it – professionally or personally. It is a win-win. But in this case, having your beauty habits nailed down is absolutely a career advantage for any aspiring fashion model. A model who takes care of her appearance is much more of an asset than a lazy one with poor hygiene and no motivation to look her best.

If you do not fit the current fashion model requirements (height/weight), there are many other genres in the modeling industry that you can pursue instead. Please read this article on the types of modeling to learn which genres you may be a good fit for.

6) Practice posing and walking

Study and understand posing. Practice runway walking. What separates a pretty model from another pretty model is going to be their posing ability and their walk. Modeling is an art. The supermodels you see in gorgeous magazine photos did not just sit in front of a camera and get lucky when the photographer took a photo of them. They worked WITH the photographer to create a masterpiece. Both equally skilled in their respective trade, a model will use her posing, facial expressions, and artistic intuition to help create the photographer’s vision. The photographer will use his knowledge of lighting, aperture, framing, etc to bring everything to life on his end. It is a choreographed dance, and you need to hone your skills the best way you can. Whether it’s binge-watching season upon season of America’s Next Top Model, scanning the pages of Vogue, watching YouTube tutorials, reading modeling books, or finding a favorite model to emulate just do your homework. Posing and walking on a runway is very awkward at first. Practice. Have a friend shoot photos of you to get comfortable with posing, both in front of a camera and another person. Or start smaller and put a camera on a tripod and practice by yourself until your confidence grows. If you can’t pose and don’t feel confident in front of a camera, it will be 20 times harder to get a great shot. Work on becoming the best model you can be!

7) Be safe

As a fashion model, you’re vulnerable, especially when you’re starting up. So have your guard up and be safe. My most important tip for aspiring fashion models: Don’t fall for phony modeling schools (you DO NOT need to pay money to attend any sort of modeling school or training, period). You shouldn’t have to pay for any photos to get started. Your agency should be the one taking care of setting up test shoots. There are many other scams out there: modeling contests, unscrupulous “modeling agents” or “casting directors” or “photographers”, fake casting calls which promise thousands of dollars in compensation and a photo shoot in another country, etc. Have a good support system in place. The modeling industry can be an overwhelming place, and it can be easy to fall prey to many other dangers (party scene, eating disorders, etc). Keep your friends and family informed of what is happening in your career. They can be a sounding board if anything sounds fishy or unusual. They can drive you to a photo shoot and wait for you outside. They can keep you encouraged when you face rejection or a rough patch. Stay safe and have a support system!

8) Be Professional

Be a professional through and through. Answer phone calls. Return voicemails and emails promptly. There is no excuse to be 30 minutes late to a meeting, casting call, photo shoot. If anything, you should always be 15 minutes EARLY. This takes planning and time management skills. Aspiring models make a big mistake when they adapt the mentality of: “Well, I’m pretty enough to be a model, so I will just skate by with my looks alone and minimal effort.” Many up-and-coming models of the past never worked another day in their life after their unprofessionalism, bad attitude, and reputation began to overshadow their beauty. Nobody wants to work with a diva. There are plenty of other beautiful girls in the world who WON’T be snotty or rude.

When you book a job, you are representing both yourself and your agency. When you are on set, treat EVERYONE with respect. If your makeup artist was given a specific directive, which she followed, but you hate the way she did your makeup… well, that’s too bad. She did her job, so now do yours. Go produce some killer photos, regardless of your personal makeup preference, and without saying mean things about the makeup artist to others. Respect and courtesy will take you a LONG way in your modeling career!

9) Commit to work

Modeling may seem easy and glamorous, but that is by no means the reality. It will take a lot of commitment on your part to make it as a successful fashion model. Are you prepared to maintain a diet, fitness, and beauty regimen, even when you are having a dry spell and not booking any work? Are you prepared to do a 12-hr photo shoot in freezing and windy conditions, while wearing wardrobe that offers no warmth, while still getting the shot and not complaining? Have you accepted that it may take years once signed to a modeling agency to garner success (if ever) while your agency develops you as a model? Are you willing to travel internationally on long trips, and be away from your significant other, family, friends, and the comforts of home for an extended period of time? Are you willing to work a completely unglamorous side-job when the bookings are slow? If your agency wants you to try a dramatic hairstyle change, are you flexible and open to it? This is not meant to scare you by any means – modeling CAN be fun, rewarding, exciting, and glamorous. Just make sure you are aware of the possibilities on both sides, good and bad, and you are ready to commit no matter what!

10) Build your social media following

If you are an aspiring fashion model, it is likely that you are seeking modeling agency representation. As mentioned before, submit your digitals, practice posing and walking, develop a beauty regimen, etc while you wait for responses from modeling agencies. In the meantime, build up your social media following. It may actually help get you signed to an agency, believe it or not! This is a very new phenomenon. These days, modeling agencies will take a model’s online following into consideration when weighing whether to sign them or not.

Advertisers use models all the time, but more and more so they want to use models who already have a built-in audience to promote to. A large social media following is not a requirement to be a fashion model, but it is a huge attribute. This trend does not show any signs of slowing at current. So jump on board as soon as you can. Be wise in your social media strategy and message. Know what you stand for, show your followers your authentic self, engage with them regularly, and post great photos! You can even take it a step further and start a blog, a YouTube channel, etc. Many non-intending influencers have turned into professionals models on account of their large following.

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(Bonus TIP) Never let your pride down

No matter what, at the end of the day you are still a valuable person with feelings, thoughts, and opinions. You are so much more than just a pretty face. Most fashion models accept the jobs they are booked by their agency, which is fine and quite standard. But if anything ever crosses the line or makes you feel uncomfortable, you need to learn to speak up and voice your opinion before it’s too late. While we just mentioned commitment being an important attribute, there is a fine line. You should never become SO dedicated to your career that it becomes more important than yourself and your own needs. What do you stand for? Make it known from the start, and stick to it unwaveringly. The less you worry about approval and acceptance, the better off you will be. Know when to put your foot down, and always have your own back. After all, if you don’t have your own back, who else will?

James Morris Written by:

Minnesota Local and Global War Against Terror era Army vet, James "Manny" Morris Developed the concept of an artistic entrepreneur network in the heart of Minnesota's hottest district for art and community collaboration. Teaches small business concept and provides consulting to fellow Minnesotans in the Arts industry and associated trades. Loves Music, Art, Fashion, and most importantly his family. Not know for being a foodie but also loves the Twin Cities' diverse cuisine that accommodates a wide range of ethnic foods from the BBQ of Texas to the Pho Bowls of Asian tastes.

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