How Much Do Models Get Paid? Part 1 - Overview), then you're already caught up on where my train of thought is going when it comes to explaining how the average working female and male model earns income.
The first part of the series served as a summary or overview of the subject but part 2 will focus on breaking down the factors that typically influence the kind of pay a model could command per booked assignment.
As I mentioned in my other post, there is no guidebook, rule book or other established chart that says exactly what clients should be paying models. Why? Simply because not every modeling gig is exactly the same. It all varies from project to project, client to client, budget to budget and situation to situation.
However, there are some common factors that help clients determine what kind of pay rate to offer a model. I'm speaking in generalities here so keep that in mind. There are always exceptions to the rule but I prefer to address the modeling industry as a whole to make things easier.
The bigger the client, the bigger the bank account is and the better positioned they are to offer a handsome paycheck for the models they hire. Take a second and think about big names you recognize instantly. These could be department stores, designers, cosmetic companies or even technology giants. Chances are you're able to come up with at least several off the top of your head, right?
Getting hired by any of them means you're gonna be pretty happy with the compensation you walk away with at the end of the day.
On the flip side, newer start-ups don't always have the same financial playing field but still utilize models for various projects. It makes sense that their compensation scale would be quite different compared to the caliber of companies I mentioned above.
It is important to take into consideration who the client is and how that relates to monetary compensation. Does this mean all small, newer companies pay models pennies? Of course not but don't expect every client that hires you to have a massive amount to spend on a model, especially if they're not readily established yet.
Nature of the Project
There are a variety of modeling jobs out there. You've got fashion shows, editorial shoots, product shoots, catalog shoots, beauty shoots, stock photography shoots, ad campaign shoots, magazine shoots, advertising shoots...the list goes on and on.
Each type of modeling job has its own set of needs based on what the client wants. There is no assigned pay rate/range for each type but the compensation does depend on the nature of the shoot and what the resulting images will be used for.
It goes without saying that being the main face of an ad campaign (i.e. a cosmetics company) is going to pay fairly well. How well, you ask? It depends. I know, I know, you're going to get sick of me saying that phrase (if you haven't already). The nature of the ad campaign, where the photos will appear and for how long will factor into the pay rate. In many instances, it could be a flat rate. If it's a well known brand, there's going to be a comma in the pay rate...think $1,000 and higher.
If it's a smaller cosmetics company, perhaps a new start-up that's just getting things underway or a medium sized company that's doing well, the pay could be a lot lower...maybe $150-$500 or they might only offer store credit/free merchandise.
Catalog shoots typically pay a half day or full day rate that could be anywhere from $300-$500, while editorial magazine shoots are notoriously known for only paying between $150-$300 per day/shoot (not hourly). The average fashion model who gets featured in a spread in a magazine could get a sweet paycheck OR more often that not, they may end up only getting tearsheets as a result.
Fashion shows are not known for being big money makers for the average working model. It's more common to get offered free clothes, a goodie bag or store credit.
Agency Booked Versus Freelance
There are pros and cons to being agency represented as well as freelance modeling. The issue of pay rates is no exception to both situations. I will say that, speaking in generalities once again, models with agency representation tend to snag the higher pay rates for each job because that's what the agency is supposed to do. If they feel a pay rate is too low, they'll use their powers of persuasion to get the client to up the pay.
Freelance models negotiate with clients directly--there is no middleman. Some clients outright ask a model to provide their rate for services, while others have the budget already set in stone and can't budge if a model requests more money for an assignment.
Many clients who seek freelance models oftentimes do so because they know it will be more affordable in the long run. They don't have to pay extra to accommodate the agency's commission or deal with heavy negotiations. Some--not all--clients unfortunately also use this to their advantage to try and shortchange models or try to convince the more naive ones that the low pay is worth the "exposure" they'll get from being a part of the opportunity. That's a whole different story I won't even go into.
Getting back on track, the pay rates do vary considerably when it comes to clients who book models through agencies and clients who book directly with freelance models. Are there freelance gigs that pay well? Definitely. But that depends on what you would consider to be "good pay." Some may think getting $300 for a day of modeling is awesome, while others only consider assignments $500+ worthy of celebrating. It's super subjective.
Don't think that freelance models don't make any money because they do. However, it's all about consistency. The more you booked paid gigs, the more money you'll bring in. The same can also be said for agency repped models.
The bottom line: usually (not absolutely) the higher compensation on average within the industry comes from projects booked through agencies.
Experience & Strength of Portfolio
There's no getting around this. The more experienced models with established portfolios and tearsheets have the advantage of being booked for the better paying work because they can "show and prove" to clients that they can deliver (this applies to both agency repped and freelance models). When a company is shelling out big bucks, they expect nothing but the best from the people they hire and that's only fair.
You don't spend a small fortune on a Tesla and expect it to stall out after the first few rides, right? You expect that bad boy to perform--and perform nothing less than stellar.
Experienced models that have been published are always appealing to clients, as is having a portfolio that contains images relevant or similar to the look/theme they want for their own projects. It makes clients feel more assured to hire a model who has experience with the type of project they're hiring for because the chances are in their favor that there will be little to no issues in working with that particular model and less of a learning curve to worry about.
This doesn't mean newbies can't earn anything from modeling because they can but we've all gotta start somewhere. Earning potential for newer models with little to no experience and/or who don't have a strong portfolio to showcase aren't always considered for the better paying gigs or may only be offered very little in terms of monetary compensation.
Some clients will make exceptions if they truly like a new model's look and especially if they're impressed by them during the casting/interview phase. But those new to the industry should expect to put in work, time and experience to build themselves (and their reputations) as models, instead of jumping in fresh and expecting companies to hand them paychecks.
Newbie models: pay your dues and in time you'll be the one getting paid.
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