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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Tips for Using Model Mayhem Effectively for Your Modeling Career

This blog post was inspired by a reader question. Anonymous Wrote:

Hi Dania, I'm a petite new model on M.M. what's the most effective way to use the site to make it work for me. I do not have an agency because all the one's I've submitted to don't want me now. So what is the most effective way to use M.M. and other networking sites in NYC.

I often refer to sites like Model Mayhem when it comes to freelancing and ways to increase one's exposure on the Internet. Just to make it clear: I am not an employee of MM, nor do I get paid to endorse or mention the site in any way. I also don't get any bonuses or "kick backs" when I refer people to the site or suggest that they create a profile. I'm a fan of MM because--love it or hate it--it's been a useful resource in furthering my career. When used wisely, it can make a difference.

That being said, below are some easy ways to effectively use this website in order to increase your presence online, seek casting opportunities and network with other professionals in the modeling industry that could boost your career:

Introduce Yourself

So how do you find the right people to network with on a site that has well over hundreds of thousands of members? You narrow down your search. Use the site's "Browse" section to target the people you want to connect with. This is where you'll be able to find photographers, clothing designers, makeup artists, etc., according to your location. The filter gets as advanced as searching by zip code in addition to city and state so you're bound to find at least one professional relatively close to where you live or do business.

Once you've gotten the results, which will be in the form of MM member profiles, start the tedious task of reviewing the profiles of professionals you're interested in connecting with. Send them a friend request and also message them to introduce yourself.

* How I use this tip: In the past, I did a search for local fashion designers in my area. I sent friend requests to the ones I wanted to work with, along with a brief message, telling them about myself, my experience/background and expressing my interest in being considered for any projects they felt my look would be suitable for. This is a great way to open up the lines of communication.

Use the Casting/Travel Section

I love this section of MM because it gives models the ability to search for all types of castings for gigs (for free!). For more relevant results, it's a good idea to do an Advanced Search, which allows you to filter out the stuff you don't want. There's the option of choosing to look for only castings that pay, are for trade (TF*), etc. With the right Advanced Search criteria, models of all experience levels can find projects to submit themselves to.

The Travel portion of this section gives you the opportunity to notify MM members when you'll be traveling to a certain area. Whether your trip is only a few hours away, in another state, across the country or international, posting your travel dates lets professionals in that area know you'll be around and available for work. This could give you a chance to network further with photographers, fashion designers, etc. in different markets, which could lead to a score of potential opportunities.

Of course it is important to exercise caution when posting a Travel Notice on MM (don't put the address where you're staying, personal contact info, etc...keep it simple and mention the city you'll be visiting and that you're open to doing shoots or being hired for any potential work that comes up during the dates you'll be there). Interested MM members can message you to find out more details and work out any arrangements.

* How I use this tip: I religiously check the Casting/Travel section for modeling work. I make sure to filter out the 18+/adult themed work and only look for castings that are paid. After I submit myself to what's available in that search, I'll do a new search, except I'll choose to only view results where the pay rate is "Negotiable." That typically means there's some pay involved but it's open for discussion. Because I don't regularly travel much, I haven't used the Travel section.

Keep Your Portfolio Active

The only way to get people interested in you is if the images in your MM portfolio are current and showcase your strengths. You can't submit to casting on MM and expect to get hired if your pictures aren't good quality or don't reflect the type of work you specialize in. Always keep your images updated--this helps potential clients and photographers see what your current look is (as opposed to photos that are years old and may not reflect how you appear now). It also shows that you're continually working on your craft and are active in modeling.

* How I use this tip: I make sure to update new images in my MM portfolio anytime I book a new gig where I feel the images will enhance my MM profile. I'll delete pictures I don't like anymore, are too old or haven't had many image views or comments. I have a few that are considered "old" but I keep them on there because they have gotten a lot of views and positive feedback. Additionally, I never change my look as far as my hair and body size/shape, so even if an image of me isn't "fresh," I still look like "me" and not an entirely different person.

Posting Casting Calls of Your Own

While this is not mandatory for a successful modeling career using MM, it is a good resource to have available, should it be needed. Sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands, such as putting together a portfolio or creating a shoot for an idea/concept you have in mind. Posting a casting call on MM (it's free) gives you the chance to state what you're looking for. This method allows professionals to come to you. From there, you can sort through the replies you receive and pick and choose who you want to work with.

However, posting your own casting call is NOT recommended for advertising that you're available for work or are looking to get hired by an agency. I see models do this on there from time to time and I personally don't feel it's an effective method (if a model is open for hire, he/she should go to the Casting section and look for work...agencies don't typically use MM to scout new faces, either). Posting casting calls is best for when you have a modeling project you want to put together and are looking for people to help you achieve the end results.

* Once in a while I'll come up with a concept that I'll want to shoot--usually when it's a look/theme that I feel is missing from my portfolio that could help me get more work. I've found great photographers, fellow models and makeup artists using this method.

Does using MM instantly mean your modeling career will blow up? Not necessarily. This site is a resource and tool that, when used properly, can be an asset to a freelance model's career. Be realistic and don't expect instant results. As with submitting to agencies, the professionals on MM may not always have a need for your look...dry spells are common but the key is to keep checking the Casting/Travel section and submit yourself often, as well as send friend requests and messages of introduction to members you're interested in working with.

The results could begin appearing in a few days, a few weeks or a few months. There is no set time frame when you should expect to start hearing back from people you've contacted. As long as you're diligent and use the site fairly frequently, things will fall into place.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dania, I have a question regarding tear sheets. This photographer that I shot for is putting together a natural hair project. She says the pictures will be on her website when the project is finished. Since I participated in the project does this count as a tear sheet. I'm just wondering because then I could add it to my book. Oh and what is the technical definition of a tear sheet.

Dania Denise said...

Hi, Anonymous! You'll find the answer to your question in its own post, titled "Answering a Reader Question #355." Thanks for reading!