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There is more to the modeling world than the media lets on. If you want to find out what it really takes and how to manage your modeling career, then you've come to the right place! This blog is dedicated to the aspiring and already established models who live to defy the standards and stereotypes in order to make a place for themselves in this crazy industry.

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Modeling & Tax Season: To Write Off or Not To Write Off?

I know that tax season for the year already passed but I felt it was still okay to post about the topic of taxes and modeling since I figure it's never too early to get info that could help people out when it comes time to file next year (and maybe even give you a jump start on organizing your receipts and other paperwork).

I've written a few articles on the subject (if you use the search tool on my blog and type in "taxes," the posts will come up--make sure you select the "Amodelsdiary.blogspot.com" option and not "Web") but this particular post is a bit more specific.

I want to talk about write offs, also referred to as "deductions." You may or may not have heard this term before but it is a popular one--namely, with business owners, entrepreneurs and independent contractors.

So what exactly is a write off as it relates to doing taxes? According to the site TurboTax:

"Well, a write-off is any legitimate expense that can be deducted from your taxable income on your tax return. For many, this is the trickiest part of filing their income tax, particularly because there is a fine line between which expenses are deductible and which ones are not."

The reason I highlighted the last sentence in red is precisely the reason I wanted to write this blog post. In previous posts I've done, I mentioned that models in particular likely shouldn't consider the expenses related to their modeling career as write offs because in the event of being audited by the IRS, they would need to have sufficient proof that the products and services they spent money on were solely related to their modeling endeavors (it can be difficult to convince an IRS agent that only models get their nails done or buy cute dresses and heels).

I wanted to dive a bit deeper into this concept and clarify any statements I've made in those other posts. Technically, you can write off certain expenses dealing with modeling. BUT it's something that each model does at his/her own risk. I say that because it is critical to keep in mind that not only do you have to meticulously keep track of all receipts, records and other documentation dealing with those expenses, your income made from modeling also needs to justify the deductions.

A few examples of write offs that professional models include when it comes time to file taxes include but are not limited to:

- Makeup Products

- Skincare/Hair Care Products

- Body/Health & Wellness Treatments

- Wardrobe/Accessories

- Gas/Mileage for Transportation

- Travel/Airfare/Accommodations

- Marketing Materials (business cards, website maintenance costs, casting services that cost money, etc.)

What's the big deal about write offs? Being able to deduct certain expenses typically means the ability to reduce your taxable income. What does that mean? It means you tend to pay less in taxes to the government. In some cases, you might even get a refund instead of owing money. Who wouldn't want a piece of that action?

So how can you do write offs for your taxes and stay in Uncle Sam's good graces?

ONLY DO WRITE OFFS IF YOU ARE PROFESSIONALLY MODELING AKA "GETTING PAID"

If you're an Instagram model, mostly post selfies or do a ton of various test shoots but do not earn an actual income from modeling, you might not want to take the chance of designating the items listed above as a tax write off.

However, if you've booked paid work throughout the year, traveled extensively for modeling assignments and basically are collecting checks from the work you book, then you have a solid professional standing that would allow for the items listed above to be considered a tax write off.

How much should your income be? There isn't a magic number (the more money you earn, the better of course) but that leads me to the next point...

YOUR EXPENSES AREN'T MORE THAN YOUR EARNINGS FROM MODELING

One of the main ways Uncle Sam determines whether someone is operating as an entrepreneur/business or if they're just doing something part-time for fun is whether or not they actually earn a profit or if they have more expenses than income.

For example, if you consider yourself a professional model and you're doing write offs related to it, keep an eye on how much income you make compared to how much you're spending on expenses for modeling. If you go on record too many years in a row with expenses that are more than the income you earn, the IRS will basically say, "That's a hobby," and won't allow you to continue writing off those expenses.

I will say, however, that you are allowed to report a "loss" with modeling if you happen to have a low earning year. That's okay because all businesses large and small, modeling as an independent contractor included, don't always have a profitable year when it comes time to do taxes and declare income. But that's why I stress that you need to keep close track of the numbers you're spending and bringing in so that you can balance the two properly and avoid any penalties/fees.

YOU CAN PROVE YOU MODEL PROFESSIONALLY IN THE EVENT OF AN AUDIT

I don't know what the odds are of getting audited by the IRS but in the event that you lose out and end up having the IRS examine your tax paperwork to make sure everything is on point, you better make sure you have sufficient evidence that the tax deductions you claimed are explicitly related to modeling as a professional career.

That doesn't mean you need to be a supermodel for the feds to believe you but you should have plenty of ways to prove that you get paid for what you do and generate credible results. That includes pay check stubs, bank statements and other similar financial records, as well as actual evidence like tearsheets (hard copy and digital), a website, resume, contracts, model release forms--anything that shows the IRS that yes, you are a professional model who gets paid for your services.

If your presence online is non-existent or only contains social media profiles with some photoshoots but nothing more substantial like published work or photos from shows and assignments for clients or your agency, it could cast doubt and the feds might not consider your write offs as legitimate.

I am not--I repeat--am NOT a tax professional. I live and work in California and have a CPA who I've worked with for several years and I sit with her each tax season and meticulously go through everything so the information I've written about above is for general informative purposes based on my own experiences and research.

The details and exceptions will likely vary from state to state. If you are under the age of 18 in the US, your parents will be the ones responsible for this part of the process (lucky you!). It is your responsibility to make sure you understand what you're doing if you file your own taxes or place your trust in a certified and reputable tax professional who has experience dealing with independent contractors and small businesses.

In case you're curious about the things I write off for my own modeling career, here ya go: skincare items, makeup/cosmetics, salon appointments (waxing and manicure/pedicure services), wardrobe/shoes/accessories I specifically wear for shoots and castings, hair care services, casting website membership costs, business cards/comp card printing services, website maintenance costs, mileage for all the driving I do to castings and bookings and airfare/rental car/hotel costs related to work travels. 

It's a lot, right? Well, I have been doing this for a looong time and I have super OCD organized documentation (spreadsheets!) and receipts for everything I buy. Additionally, a Google search easily turns up plenty of proof that I do modeling at a professional level and earn income as a result.

Newbies just starting out may not be in a position to do tax write offs just yet but once you start earning money from paid bookings and keep at it consistently enough to see a profit, you will eventually be able to benefit from choosing which expenses can help you out in the long run come tax time where write offs are concerned.

If you have any specifics questions or concerns, you'd be better off asking a tax professional instead of me since I can only provide general info but hopefully this post will get you on the right track and thinking seriously about what it takes to get your taxes filed effectively if you are fortunate enough to earn a decent profit from modeling.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Modeling on the Runway: Do's & Don'ts

It's rare that I meet aspiring models who don't have goals of being in a fashion show and doing their thing on the runway.

I can't say I blame them--there's something about being in the spotlight with all eyes on you as you strut down the catwalk. It's a pure adrenaline rush.

I've written numerous topics about the runway walk on this blog but wanted to add this post to break down some of the important dos and don'ts that female and male models can learn from, especially if you're just getting into the industry.

Remember: you don't have to be in Fashion Week to use these tips to your advantage. Whether you're doing a huge show or have the chance to model in a student fashion show or other type of event, the work atmosphere tends to be pretty similar so going in armed with the info below will help position you to be the type of model that clients will want to work with again and again.

DO: ARRIVE EARLY

My motto is, "Early is on time and on time is late." Once you know the time and address of where you need to be, do whatever it takes to get there early. How early? Depends on how long it takes you to get yourself together. I personally prefer to get to my shows 30 minutes to 1 hour early. If your first instinct is, "Dang, that's so early!" then you clearly don't grasp why being that early is totally not a big deal for me.

I'd rather be that early so I can take my time finding parking, checking any last minute emails/texts so that I can put my phone away once I get inside, as well as mentally prep for the event. Going in cool, calm and collected will always make for a better modeling experience compared to being late or even on time but feeling rushed and panicked.

Another perk: being early usually means you get first dibs on getting hair and makeup done!

DON'T: ACT LIKE YOU RULE THE ROOST AND/OR HAVE A MELTDOWN

Want to learn how to NOT make friends? Walk into a show as if you're the supermodel and everyone else is just furniture. You are one of many models because that's how a fashion show works. It's a team effort and if the production is organized properly, you should have already gone to your fitting in advance and been assigned the outfits you're supposed to wear.

However, Murphy's Law has a knack for creeping up and it's not uncommon for models to not have their outfits show up at a show (for whatever reason) or even have one or more of their assigned clothes given to another model to wear (this happened to me before).

Things happen backstage that could affect your participation in the show. Do. Not. Make. A. Scene. It's completely understandable that you would want to BUT saving face and keeping a cool head will make you look so much better in the eyes of the designer and the other models. Save your emotions for when you get home and by that, I don't mean blast the people involved on social media. That's just not a good look.

If something happens at the show, don't let it affect your ability to do what you were hired to do. Work with whoever you need to in order to do damage control, figure out a solution and keep it moving.

DO: BRING YOUR OWN STUFF

Even if I know a full team is going to be there to take care of hair and makeup at a fashion show, I will still bring my "Model Bag," that contains my own makeup, thermal styling spray, several types of bras and undies and 3-4 pairs of shoes (among other items).

I do this more as a backup plan and I don't announce to the hair and makeup team that I've brought my own stuff. I've been to shows where there were more models than people there to get them ready and in worst case scenarios, I've done my own makeup and/or hair if I felt they weren't going to get to me in time. The last thing I want is to be late getting into my clothes because I was stuck in the chair.

I also bring my makeup because I've had makeup artists not have the right color to match me (this doesn't happen as often anymore, thankfully) but basically, I always recommend bringing stuff that belongs to you in case something isn't onsite for you and you don't have to worry about borrowing other people's things.

DON'T: GO ROGUE

You know why fashion shows look so cool? It's because the models do what they're supposed to. Much of the choreography or instruction for where to hit certain marks on the runway are taught to the models the day of the show. When everyone looks uniform, it makes the overall show run smoothly.

If you break protocol and decide to do something different or stay to pose at the end of the runway too long because you're soaking up the spotlight, you'll throw off the pace for the other models, not to mention you'll get backstage to some pretty angry people.

Enjoy the time you're on the runway for the brief time you're on it and respect the fact that that's what your colleagues in the show are trying to do, too.

DO: MAINTAIN A CLEAN FACE & BODY

Unless told otherwise, models (male and female) should arrive to the show without makeup on and with their hair a little dirty (to make for easy styling) but without a ton of product in it. This will make the hair and makeup team's job easier and keep them in a good mood.

Body-wise, do not wear heavily scented body lotion, perfume, deodorant, cologne or body spray. These scents can stain and/or linger on the fabric afterwards, which tends to be a huge pet peeve for designers. An industry insider tip for not sweating onto an outfit is to wear tissue under your arms to absorb the sweat while you're waiting to go on the runway. Simply take them out and toss them when it's your turn and it'll minimize any chance of pit stains happening.

Also nix body oils and lotions containing body glitter. Again, it will get on the clothes and the designer will not be happy. You can wear lotion (who wants dry skin?) but make sure it's either lightly scented or non-scented and not greasy.

DON'T: BE BASHFUL

I have yet to be in a fashion show where once you step off the runway, you don't encounter a lot of fast-paced madness backstage. Oftentimes models only have seconds to get out of one outfit and into another. This means you don't have the luxury of trying to be modest and cover yourself up.

Many seasoned runway models have no problem dropping their clothes and walking over to their next outfit with just a thong on and no bra. They don't even bother to cover themselves because they're going to be dressed in a matter of minutes anyway.

Male and female models are dressed separately for shows so if there's any worries about someone of the opposite sex "seeing you," you'll be fine. It is a work environment and trust me, the people backstage have seen their fair share of half naked or nude female and male models changing so it's not like they're going to be hitting on you. That's not what they are there for.

If you have issues with being in a state of undress in front of others or if you feel the need to take your outfit and find a corner to get dressed in, I'm sad to say the world of fashion may end up being a rude awakening for you. Again, it is a work environment and everyone is there to put on a good show so keep things in that perspective and you'll do just fine.

DO: BE NICE TO YOUR DRESSERS

Dressers are amazing people whose purpose is to help models get in and out of the clothes they're modeling. 99% of the time these are unpaid volunteers so they are doing it for the love of fashion and oftentimes for networking reasons and to get their foot in the modeling industry door.

Don't be weird or act like the dresser helping you is a creeper. In the "real world," it isn't normal for people who are essentially strangers to assist you with putting on and taking off clothes. But fashion shows are a different type of reality and they are there to do a specific job that is actually beneficial because it makes your job as a model that much easier.

Many designs are difficult to put on yourself and having dressers help with zippers, lace-up corsets, tightening, fastening, pinning, smoothing and altering the clothes is a God send to models who just want to focus on looking good once they hit the runway.

I once did a runway show where I had to wear a skin tight leather body suit and not only was I not able to wear a bra or panties, I had to have body oil applied in order to slide into the garment. The woman who was in charge of applying the oil (not to my private parts of course), was super nice, chill and I didn't hesitate or act weird because I knew why she was there and she was definitely helping me out. Just another day at the office. :-)

Dressers are your friend. Be nice to them.

DON'T: MISTREAT THE CLOTHES

Eating, drinking and messing around while wearing a designer's clothes are huge no-nos. Be aware of your movements when backstage and be mindful of keeping your outfit from getting stepped on, torn or snagged. If you need assistance doing something to avoid possibly ruining what you're wearing, don't hesitate to ask for help.

DO: NOT BE SCARED OF THE END OF THE RUNWAY

The only time photographers have a real shot at getting decent photos of models in a fashion show is when they come to the end of the runway and pose. Don't be a blur when you get to the end and scurry away. Once you hit your mark, revel in the moment for a few seconds. 5-7 seconds is pretty ideal. It sounds fast but believe me, on stage it is the perfect amount of time for photographers to get good flicks.

That doesn't mean you need to hold the same pose for 5-7 seconds and become a mannequin, however. If you've ever watched a fashion show, you'll see the model stop at the end of the runway and hit one pose, then slightly shift to a different pose before they walk away. So that's the amount of time you have to do at least 2 poses, which easily eats up those seconds. If you stay any longer, it will be noticeable and likely pretty awkward.

Unless your garment has a special feature that you need to showcase that might take a few extra seconds, don't linger too long.

DON'T: BREAK IN NEW SHOES AT A RUNWAY SHOW

While this certainly applies to female models it can also go for male models, too. I can't stress enough the importance of breaking in new shoes well in advance of any shows you plan on walking in. If you want to break your feet, wear brand new shoes in a fashion show. I guarantee you'll have blisters galore.

Practicing your walk is vital so if you're going to kill two birds with one stone, break in your new shoes while doing your practice walks at home. Want to make sure you're doing right by your tootsies? Then you can check out the following link (for female models):

Breaking In Heels for Modeling: Why It's So Important

DO: WATCH VIDEOS

One of the best ways to learn the world of runway is to watch shows. YouTube and other online sites have more reference videos than you can shake a stick at. You'll see that no two shows are exactly the same. Each model has his/her own walk and style and the types of runway stages all differ.

If you're trying to figure out your own sense of runway style, don't be pressured to master everything you've seen in the videos. Things will vary from show to show in terms of what you'll be wearing, where you'll be walking, how many marks you'll have to hit, etc. So take it one show at a time and you'll learn to adjust accordingly, if needed.

DON'T: BUG THE DESIGNER

Chances are the designer is going to be stressed and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. That's understandable--their brand and rep is on the line with each show and they want each event to go well. If you have questions or concerns for the designer, that's okay but be observant and pick the right time to approach them. If there is someone else you know that can answer your questions, pull them aside instead, especially if you see that the designer is tied up.

They've got a lot on their plate and many models to keep track of so don't they won't have the time to pay a lot of attention to catering to your needs and wants. Don't take it personally.

DO: YOUR BEST & HAVE FUN 

No one is perfect on the runway in their first show. We all have to start somewhere so go into your first show with a lot of energy, enthusiasm and come away with knowing what you did well and what you want to improve on. Practice, practice, practice! The more you know your body and your walk, the more confident you'll be in any show, no matter how big or small the production is.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Models, Shoots, Shows + Common Sense Tips

I used to jokingly say, "Common sense is a superpower." Truth be told, I don't really joke about it anymore because it's true.

On almost every shoot I've been on this year I've heard at least one "WTH" type of story about a model.

I believe in signs so the fact that I keep hearing about all these ridiculous happenings that really shouldn't even be an issue is what motivated me to write this post.

If you've been guilty of this, I'm hoping that you learn why the matters touched on in this post are not okay to make a part of your career, not to mention your reputation.

Newbies and those just getting into modeling will be much better off reading this post sooner than later to avoid the following pitfalls and ensure that clients won't end up telling someone like me how they couldn't believe so-and-so did this or so-and-so did that.

To be honest, I wish I didn't have to list the following common sense tips for female and male models because it should be obvious but like my first sentence said, "Common sense is a superpower." Fingers crossed that I can help inspire and influence a wave of superhero models with common sense as their ultimate talent!

***These tips apply to both shoots and fashion shows so to save myself from sounding repetitive, I'm going to use the word "work" to cover both descriptions of modeling gigs.

COMMON SENSE TIP #1: Groom Yourself--You Know How (I hope)

It is crucial to understand that when you get booked for work as a model, you're supposed to come prepared...as in "groomed." Unless instructed to arrive "camera ready" with your hair and makeup already done, you will have a makeup artist and hair stylist onset to get you picture perfect or runway ready.

BUT that does not mean it is a day spa where you're going to have everything waxed, tweezed and shaved. That should already be done before you get to work!

I wish there was a camera to capture my expression when photographers, designers and other clients tell me they've had models show up for shoots with armpit stubble, hairy legs, wild eyebrows or other unsightly types of facial and body hair.

When these issues have to be dealt with onsite, it eats into prep time, sours the mood of everyone involved and just makes for a terrible first impression in a professional setting. For things that can't be dealt with onset for shoots, the photographer ends up getting saddled with more retouching work than he/she originally signed on for.

How can models who are guilty of this not be embarrassed or just not care??? It is beyond my understanding.

The bottom line: BEFORE you get to work (either that morning or the day/evening before), make it your mission to wax, shave, pluck, tweeze and whatever else you need to do in order to look amazing and feel amazing when you arrive.

The team in charge of putting you together in terms of hair and makeup will transform you but they weren't hired to do all that extra grooming.

COMMON SENSE TIP #2: "Dirty" Hair : Good. "Duuurrrty" Hair: Bad

Hair that hasn't been washed in a few days holds hair products and certain styles better. That's common knowledge in the modeling world. When hair is freshly washed it tends to be harder to work with, especially for those who have straight hair or use heated styling tools to straighten their tresses. It can be limp, flat and nearly impossible to hold volume. But with a few days' worth of natural oils, hair stylists can easily whip up an awesome hairstyle for both female and male models.

However, having hair that is super dirty and unwashed could be an icky experience for the person that has to deal with your hair. Ethnic hair (I fall under this category most certainly) oftentimes cannot be washed frequently and it is not unusual for models of color to wash their hair once or twice a week.

That fact does not--I repeat--does not apply to this particular issue I'm addressing. There's a difference between working on hair that hasn't been washed in a week and hair that hasn't been washed in WEEKS or even MONTHS.

I kid you not, I've had 2-3 hair stylists (and that's 2-3 hair stylists too many in my opinion) tell me horror stories about models who admitted they hadn't washed their hair in a really long time but expected the hair stylist to work miracles. Not only was their hair too dirty to work on with styling tools, it smelled awful.

Again, why is this happening and why do models think this is okay??? It's not. Make the time to get your hair together so that it is dirty enough to be styled properly but not so dirty that the hair stylist has to suppress a gag reflex while working on you.

Oh, and on a similar note: if you wear hair extensions, please make sure they look good and are presentable. Having roots that don't match the rest of the hair you're sporting is not a good look when you have to be on camera or on the runway. 

COMMON SENSE TIP #3: Bring Extra Stuff Even if You Haven't Been Told To

Typically the client will tell models if additional stuff needs to be brought to work, such as several types of underwear, bras, shoes, etc. But even if you aren't instructed to do so, bring these types of items anyway. The "Model Bag" exists for a reason (I plan on doing a post to break down what this item is so don't stress if you're unfamiliar).

The types of additional stuff you may need to bring will vary based on the theme of the shoot, the types of outfits you'll be wearing, location, etc. As the date for your gig gets closer, you'll have a better idea of what to expect and that will determine what you'll need to pack.

Ladies, bringing thong underwear in nude, white and black, strapless bras in nude, black and white and a few pairs of heels in nude and black should be the most basic supplemental items you should automatically pack. Notice I used the word "and" and not "or" when I listed the colors of the undergarments? That's because you should have all those colors. Don't have them? Go buy them. Now.

Male models don't technically have to worry about this aspect of things like the ladies do. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't still take the initiative and inquire about what supplemental wardrobe options or items to bring. This not only makes you look professional, it gives the client assurance that you'll arrive ready.

COMMON SENSE TIP #4: Put Your F@$%*# Phone Away

I get it. Social media and branding now dictates that we document everything we do, including being onset for modeling work. However, there is a time and place to whip out your phone. Here are the times when it is not okay:

- While getting your hair and makeup done. If you want to look like a clown, have your eyeball poked or get burned with the curling iron, interact with your phone more than the hair and makeup artist. They need your attention and that means putting the phone away so you can sit up, face forward and be the canvas they need to transform.

- During work. By this, I mean running to check your phone in between posing sets during a shoot or after stepping off the runway during a show. The client and crew are not on your time. You are on their time. The BTS photos and other candids you want to take and share with the world will happen but do what you're supposed to do first and then get as snap happy as you want once you have a break that is long enough to do so. Or ask someone onset who isn't busy to take pictures of you with your phone.

COMMON SENSE TIP #5: Don't Mess Up the Clothes You're Wearing--They're Not Yours

Whether it's a fashion show or a shoot, if you're wearing clothing that doesn't belong to you, make sure you're being extra careful with whatever you're doing.

To avoid a disaster, you shouldn't eat or drink while wearing an outfit. Wait until you're changed or if you absolutely have to eat/drink, take all precautions with extra napkins, eat over a trash bin and/or stick your neck out far so that you're not holding the food/beverage right over the clothes, etc.

Ladies, if you're wearing a gown or other long dress and have to use the bathroom, take a note from the brides out there and grab a lady friend to give you assistance so that you don't end up potentially ruining the garment (no need to be embarrassed by the situation, many helpers/dressers/assistants have done this before or are aware of this possibly happening).

Believe me, it's better to be embarrassed and come away from the restroom with your outfit intact instead of getting cussed out, blacklisted or possibly even responsible for the cost of cleaning the garment if it gets messed up because you thought you could teeter-totter over the toilet with precision while wearing a gown with a train.

If you know you're a tad disaster prone or clumsy, err on the side of caution and bring some comfy and easy to change into clothing so that if you need to do something that could possibly ruin an outfit, you can switch things up and do what you gotta do with no worries.

COMMON SENSE TIP #7: Taking a Shower is Enough.

It may seem counter intuitive but don't wear deodorant. I don't care what the newest television commercials say. Don't chance it. Deodorant can streak, stain and mess up certain fabrics. If you're one for sweating, a common practice many models use (myself included) is to take tissues or paper towels and place them under your arms whenever you're not in front of the camera or on the runway. This will create an absorbent barrier between your pits and the fabric. It may look silly but it's part of the territory and people onset will understand and even be ready with a roll of paper towels or box of tissues once you request it.

The same goes for perfumes, colognes and body sprays. They can stain the clothing and may linger on the fabric after you've long gone. Designers oftentimes don't want their clothes coming back to them smelling like random people, not to mention being considerate of people's potential allergies or sensitivity to certain scents.
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I can't readily say that this is a complete list of common sense tips and I have a feeling I may end up adding to it over time but these are the biggest faux pas I've heard about and I pray that you read and learn and spread the word because if we can prevent these things from happening, we could all potentially be blessed with that superpower that is known as "Common Sense."

Friday, May 26, 2017

Models, Technology & Communication

Okay, if you know anything about me, you know that I'm professional to a fault.

What I love about having my blog, mentoring, coaching and consulting is that it gives me the chance to educate the next wave of models on how to practice the good habits (not develop bad ones) and understand the importance that their polished and professional approach will be to the success of their modeling goals.

Technology has taken over our lives and social media, love it or hate it, is a part of our daily routine. This includes doing business. However, there is a right way and a wrong way to network and do business using today's innovations.

Just because social media is everywhere and just because it's easy doesn't mean you can be lazy or rely too heavily on it. Failing to exercise proper communication methods, not caring about excessive typos and treating potential clients or professional contacts as some random person in your social media world is a quick way to derail any approach to a sensible career.

EMAIL STILL REIGNS SUPREME

I don't care what anyone says, the majority of professionals in the modeling industry want you to contact them via email!

Even if they have an IG, FB Page, Snap, etc., their business email address is the best place to start if you want to reach out to network, submit to a casting, etc.

DM (direct messaging for those of you still getting familiar with social media) through Instagram or Facebook profile/page is an option but if you want to be taken seriously--and have your message checked in a timely manner--make your first contact through the email address.

Can't find the email address for whatever reason? Then you can contact them via DM to ask what is the best method of communication and go from there. If they prefer DM instead of email then that's fine but if you are contacting someone for the first time (i.e. a model looking for a photographer to test shoot with, a makeup artist, stylist/designer, client), their email address is going to be the way to get your foot in the door with building rapport.

WHY EMAIL?

Although most people check their social media profiles regularly, business people always check their emails. Social media is prone to being weird and sometimes notifications don't get sent and it can be annoying to have to take out the extra time to check multiple accounts manually to make sure you're not missing a message.

Professionals in the modeling industry know their time is valuable and the most straightforward way to guarantee your message will be seen is to shoot over an email.

It's essentially foolproof and doesn't require pesky requirements like sending a friend request. Regardless of who you are, if you know the email address, you can send a message. Simple as that.

Again, if the person in question that you want to contact states their preference for a non-email method of communicating, then follow what they say but in general you can't go wrong with email.

ACT PROFESSIONAL IN ALL ASPECTS

It's perfectly fine to "like" and comment on a person's social media profile, such as a photographer, designer, makeup artist, etc. But it's not a good look to post gibberish, a bunch of emojis or typo riddled comments. This is a quick way to get an eye roll and not be taken seriously.

Professionals in the modeling industry already have enough people likely competing for their attention and acting anything less than mature and professional won't encourage them to want to engage with you further.

IT ISN'T TOO MUCH TO ASK TO KNOW HOW TO TYPE SENTENCES PROPERLY!

My biggest pet peeve with social media is that it's made people lazy when it comes to grammar and communicating with one another. Please realize that modeling is a business. Time is money. It's a harsh industry. If you don't care enough to craft an email or even a text that doesn't take several people to decipher, don't bother trying to step up your game.

When sending a message to someone you don't know, it is NOT okay to start the message/email with "Hey," "Yo," "What's up," etc., etc. It's rude and disrespectful (and if you don't think so, I'm sorry to say that you're not possessing the correct business mindset). Trust me when I say this lack of proper salutation will not make a good first impression. Even if the rest of the message is fine, it's not a good start.

Care enough about what you write to proofread it before you send it. Read it out loud and see if it makes sense. If it doesn't or if you know you want to tweak a sentence or two, do it. Never send a business related email or inquiry unless you feel confident it reads properly and professionally.

Do you just suck at writing and can't spell anything correctly to save your life? There are a lot of people that fall under that category. That's when you ask for help from someone you know is a whiz at that kind of thing. Ask for assistance writing the message and don't be afraid to accept help when it's offered. It's in your best interest and can only help you, not hurt you.

Don't rely on spellcheck alone. That's writing 101. Not sure how something is spelled or the use of a certain word or phrase? Look it up! That's what Google is for (or whatever search engine you prefer). If you can look up memes and YouTube videos, you can look up relevant info related to business correspondence.

SKYPE

Being able to speak to someone using Skype is a convenient way to handle business when emailing or talking on the phone won't suffice. It's also a good way to play it safe when it comes to making sure you know who you are talking to. While public face-to-face meetings are ideal, Skype and other services like it are the next best thing.

Similar to email, stay professional. Find a spot in your home or other location that isn't too noisy or distracting. You don't have to wear a suit or anything but don't look sloppy. You only have to worry about your top half so stay comfy in sweatpants if you want but throw on a decent, clean top. Make sure there isn't anything in your background that's unsightly (i.e. open closet door with clutter and clothes spilling out or posters/wall art that may be offensive or inappropriate).

Present yourself as put together and professional and the business contact on the other end will be able to focus on your conversation, not other distractions.

Also make sure you have a good connection to have a fairly smooth Skype meeting and test drive the program in advance if you've never used it before or not enough to be familiar with the features. You don't want to test drive the experience using a real conversation that could be important to your modeling endeavors.

RECOGNIZE BUSINESS HOURS

Even if the people you want to connect with in the modeling industry are not technically working in an office M-F from 9-5pm, you still need to respect the fact that they have a life outside of work (even workaholics have down times when they don't want to be bothered).

Email and DM is convenient in the sense that you can send a message any day, any time and they will respond at their earliest convenience.

But when it comes to Skyping/Face time or Messenger calling and regular calls/text messages, follow the unwritten rule of avoiding these methods of contact after 5pm. Even if the person is working, it's professional courtesy to not blow up someone's phone in the evening when they may be having dinner, spending time with their family, relaxing or focusing on work projects with deadlines.

Face timing or calling someone on Messenger over and over is not only annoying, it's a guaranteed way to ensure they won't ever want to pick up. If you call once and they don't pick up, don't call right back. I can't tell you how many times I've witnessed this--and have been on the receiving end. It drives me nuts. Clearly, that person is unavailable so take the hint.

If you need to contact that person regarding something specific, such as a photographer you're working on a shoot with or if you can't make it to a casting or other type of emergency situation, that's acceptable but if you just want to talk or have questions that you know can wait until the next day, play it safe and don't reach for that phone. Send an email instead or wait until the next morning when they're likely just starting the day and are in a position to have a conversation.

See why I favor emails so much? :-)

BE PATIENT

Some people respond quickly to emails and other modes of business communication, while others may take a few hours or a day to get back. Keep in mind that if you are reaching out to them, you're on their time and need to respect their schedule. Don't get eager and send a follow up message to ask if they got it. Chances are they did and they'll get back to you at their earliest convenience.

If a few days passes, wait it out. In the business world, it's ideal to give at least 2-3 days for a person to get back to your email before following up, if it's not a time sensitive matter. And if you do end up following up, don't be rude about it.

Be polite. It's called "tact." Your approach is everything. Instead of saying, "Hey, did you get my email?" or "Just checking why you haven't responded yet?" say something along the lines of, "Hello, I wanted to follow up and see if you received my email I sent a few days ago? I wanted to make sure it didn't go to your spam folder or anything. I'm looking forward to your reply. Thank you!" Short and sweet.

Are people flakey? Sure! This can include so-called "professionals" in the modeling industry. However, that doesn't mean that you need to be unprofessional as a result. If the person you're trying to network with isn't acting professionally and hasn't been good about their own communication skills, chances are this isn't someone you need to make the effort to want to work with.

If you've been corresponding with someone for a short time and they've always been really responsive and then suddenly they're taking a bit longer to reply back, give them some space, not grief. They are probably doing that thing called, you know, working...living...that kind of thing. Stuff comes up. Put it in perspective before you take a brief absence of response as some sort of personal insult.

You'll recognize a solid professional connection with you see it and in that sense, it should push you to be even more diligent about how you present yourself when reaching out to build what hopefully will be a beneficial and positive working relationship to further your modeling career.

***I didn't cover the method of talking on the phone because I sure hope you know enough about phone etiquette to know how speak properly to another human being. If not, well, I don't know what to tell you but getting into modeling probably shouldn't be a priority if you can't even hold a solid phone convo, haha***

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

How to Get Published in a Magazine as a Model

The wonderful thing about our technology driven world is it has completely changed the face of the modeling industry.

From modeling agencies to how clients find new faces, the industry has learned to grow and adapt to the times. This includes magazines.

Getting published in a magazine as a model is one of the most coveted goals, as it should be. In the past it was much more challenging to figure out how to get into a magazine, especially for female and male models not represented by an agency and/or didn't meet the physical requirements (aka "the height factor") to be considered for modeling jobs in the fashion category.

But that has now all changed thanks to technology and the Internet. There are more magazines out there than you can shake a stick at and that means even more opportunities to get published, both in hard copy and digitally. That being said, where do you begin your journey towards appearing in a magazine?

START SEARCHING

Facebook - If you do a search on Facebook for "Fashion Magazines," the search results will turn up a score of magazine titles/profiles. The first category that will come up in the search results is "Pages" for those magazines.

Visit each one and "Like" the page. The next step is to go through the FB page of each publication to learn more about them, what they represent, the type of photography/models they look for and what their website is to really dive into what they're all about.

Instagram - If you do a search on IG for "Fashion Magazines" or "Magazine," the profiles of various publications will also pop up for you to explore. Follow, comment and "Like" the posts of the publications you are interested in potentially appearing in.

Like FB Pages, on IG you want to see if they list their website link and visit that in addition to whatever activity you do on their Instagram profile. Because IG is visual, the magazine may not have a ton of info listed, such as how to submit your photos for publication, which is why locating the website is important.

FIND OUT WHAT THEY WANT

Do not--I repeat DO NOT--contact magazine publications and ask how to be a model for them! This is a big no-no. Why? Because they specifically put submission information/instructions/guidelines on their websites and social media pages that literally tell you how to submit.

If you've read enough of my blog posts, you already know that I'm going to say the following: good models follow directions.

It doesn't matter if you think you're going to be the next supermodel or even if you have tons of experience. Follow the rules like everyone else because magazines aren't going to chase anybody who isn't a bona fide celebrity status individual. They have plenty of people submitting to them so they're not going to go out of their way to hold your hand and explain to you what can easily be found on their site(s).

Being lazy or thinking everything will come to you is a surefire way to not get results.

The website will list in detail exactly what you need to give them, how they want the photos formatted, etc. If you don't follow it to a tee, your submission will be rejected.

PLAN IT OUT

The thing to know about magazines is that each issue has its own theme. It is very important that you pay attention to submission guidelines when it comes to what they're looking for. If one publication is planning on an issue focused on bridal fashion, you shouldn't send them photos that are haute couture, goth or some other theme. There's nothing they can do with those images so they won't be published anytime soon, if at all.

If you have a specific look you want to shoot and are committed to that, then look specifically for publications that are either actively looking for the theme you want to shoot for or that tend to be based soley on that theme (i.e. bridal magazines tend to focus only on bridal looks or variations of it).

Once you know what the publications are looking for, that will make it much easier to plan the next step, which is to...

PUT YOUR TEAM TOGETHER

The easiest way to get into a magazine is to have a photographer reach out to you with an offer to work together to get a submission to submit to a publication and go from there.

Don't have an offer on the table and are starting from square one? Then you'll want to start looking for the following people:

1) Photographer
2) Makeup Artist
3) Hair Stylist 
4) Wardrobe Stylist/Designer

Because magazines take themselves very seriously, you have to step up your game when it comes to the team you plan on working with for the submission. The odds of getting published will be high if you're working with professionals who have shot for magazines before or that do high quality work, which will be evident upon reviewing their portfolios.

This is where knowing how to network will come into play. If you have modeling experience already and have done a couple of shoots, you'll likely have a couple of people in mind to reach out to so do it. Let them know you want to submit to magazines, let them know which ones specifically and briefly tell them what you have in mind for the look/theme. Then go from there and make it happen.

Are you a complete newbie who doesn't have any kind of network established and aren't represented by an agency? Then you're going to need to step back just a bit and start doing test shoots with photographers in order to start gaining that on camera experience, build a solid portfolio and connect with people who will want to work with you on such a project since they've worked with you before. While not impossible, it will be harder to be taken seriously when you reach out to professionals if you have zero experience and no work to share for reference (duck-face selfies on IG do not count!).

What if you have an agency already? Well, chances are they're doing what they can behind the scenes to get you those opportunities. But it doesn't hurt to take things into your own hands and put together your own team to submit to publications if that's a goal you have. Your agent likely won't feel that you doing so is a threat to anything they're doing so let them know what you have planned and go for it. Chances are, they'll be cool with it and tell you to update them if you get chosen for publication.

PICK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER WISELY

In most instances--not all--it is the photographer who will end up submitting the photos to the magazine. They're the ones who retouch the selected photos and will format everything according to the stated guidelines established by the publication. Having the photographer take care of that part of the process will be much less stressful for you as a model, especially if you're not tech savvy or good at that kind of thing.

As long as you're working with someone who is professional, does quality work, has a good reputation and has submitted to magazines (or had their work published), the fruit of your labors will be in good hands and will reach the powers that be at the publication with no issues.

NOW WHAT HAPPENS?

You wait. And wait. And wait. Hopefully, not for too long. Do NOT email/call or post on the magazine's profiles to ask if they got your submission, if they liked it, when will they make a decision, etc.

You did the hard work and now the harder part is seeing if they'll chose it for their upcoming issue. If it does get picked, believe me, you will be notified.

FOLLOW THE RULES ALL THE WAY THROUGH

Just as it's crucial to put the submission together according to what the magazine is looking for, it's just as important to follow through with what happens after the photos have been sent. I blogged previously about how vital it is to not share any photos from the shoot, including selfies and BTS flicks because if you do, magazines will consider it "published" and will automatically reject your submission.

If you're required to sign a contract or agreement of some type from the magazine if your submission gets chosen for publication, honor everything you're signing to--especially not posting images related to the shoot itself. It's okay to share that you'll be appearing in a magazine and what month the issue will come out but leave the visual aspect of photos out of it.

Keep a lid on things and be patient. The wait will be well worth the reward of then being able to share not only your selfies and BTS pictures but the actual images from the magazine itself.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Regardless of whether you have modeling experience or not, are repped by a modeling agent or not, if you want to be in a magazine, there are certain steps that need to be followed and if you do what you're supposed to, your submission will be on its way to hopefully getting selected for publication.

Because each magazine has its own set of guidelines for submission, I made sure to talk in more generalized terms for common situations. That's why you need to do your research and pick the magazine's you're interested in wisely.

FYI: magazines don't pay models to shoot for their publication. The tearsheets that you'll receive as a result are the compensation. Additionally, the team you work with to put together the submission will also be donating their time and expertise so don't get ahead of yourself and expect a photographer to pay you to be a part of the submission (there may be some cases where there is pay but not usually so don't expect it). 

Submitting to magazines are labors of love and everyone has to be on the same page in knowing that by investing their time and efforts, they are working towards an end result everyone will be proud of and benefit from greatly.

And while I'm on the subject, support the publication by purchasing a hard copy of the magazine. You may get a free copy or free digital version to download and that's great for use in an online portfolio for digital tearsheets but don't demand that the magazine gives you a free hard copy (or several) if it isn't offered as part of the deal. 

Encourage friends and family to buy the hard copies, too, if they want to show support. A magazine can only thrive if it has the money to keep things running. Put your money where your mouth is and contribute to the folks responsible for giving you the opportunity to be published. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Child Modeling: The Sometimes Harsh Reality

I believe in not beating around the bush and while you could consider me Paula Abdul on American Idol when it comes to giving reality checks with a smile, the fact of the matter is that the modeling industry as a whole can be harsh.

Of course, you probably already knew that but it is important to really understand that getting into modeling eventually puts you in the belly of the beast. And it doesn't matter if you're young or old. In the case of child models and their parents, grasping the reality of the competitive nature that comes with this territory is essential to building the thick skin needed to get through and keep your eyes on the prize.

So I wanted to do this post to address the parents of child models--namely, newbies. I have to do these reality checks from time to time as a form of tough love. Oftentimes, it isn't just models who have stars in their eyes.

Parents want their kids to succeed in life, and if modeling is one of those goals, what I'm going to say has to be said and if you take it personal or take offense, that's not my intention but believe me, it'll be better coming from me and will ease the blow in case you don't get the results you're expecting entering your child into the modeling biz:

Your Kid May Be Cute But...There's a LOT of Cute Kids Out There

There. I said it. Are you mad? Well, if you are, you better get over it because the modeling industry isn't going to care about your feelings...much.

If you thought modeling as a teen or adult was hard, the competition is even tougher for child models. The industry contains no shortage of amazingly cute, adorable, precious, striking and (*using a Zoolander voice*) really, really, really ridiculously good looking children of all ages, sizes and ethnicities.

Does that mean your kid couldn't stand out? If he/she has what it takes and is seen by an agency as the "total package," your child will certainly stand out but it's vital to know going in that your son/daughter will be one of many cute faces in the beginning of your modeling journey.

Teach Your Child Confidence--Not Ego

Nothing is worse than a child model who KNOWS they are perfect and can do no wrong because that's what their parents grew up telling them. There is a difference between being confident and being arrogant.

Young children are so impressionable and as they grow and develop, it is important for parents to instill a sense of confidence in themselves but also the humility it takes to know that while they are special, they may not always get what they want. What is valuable to teach them is that as long as they are the best version of themselves, that is what matters most.

Egos breed brats (sorry but it has to be said) and you don't want to be the parent of "that kid" who is throwing temper tantrums or has a meltdown at a casting or job if things don't go their way. You also don't want to be that parent who has to deal with hours of pep talks and trying to drag your kid out of bed and on to the next casting every single time they don't book a job.

There will be rejection and hurt feelings (that's normal, especially for children) BUT if you explain to your son/daughter how and why these things happen as they relate to being in the industry, they will develop a sense of confidence and the thick skin needed to continue being amazing and perform well in their castings regardless of whether or not they end up getting the gig.

Rejection is a Part of All Child Models' Careers, Too

Placing your child on a pedestal will only set them up for a painful landing and a sore bottom the first time they get rejected from a modeling assignment. I've said it before but modeling is one of those rare career choices where rejection is a part of the job description.

No child model (or grown up model, for that matter) books every single job they submit to. Make sure your son/daughter knows that even if they do their best, there is a chance that they may not get chosen and that it is okay because there will be other opportunities.

Serving as a positive support system and giving tips about what could be improved on (if there were some mistakes made)--instead of a lecture critiquing everything--will help your child recover from each rejection and be better prepared for the next casting they attend.

When your child is able to grasp that they will get some jobs and not others, over time they will come to know that it is just a part of the territory and not a reflection of their talents or who they are as a person. That's where growth happens and child models truly become comfortable in their own skin if this is truly the path meant for them to continue to pursue.

Every Parent Wants the Same Thing You Want for Your Child

The competition is fierce and it won't change. When you and your child show up to castings, you'll be one of many. It'll be chaos and you might be wondering how your kid will possibly stand out. Welcome to the modeling world! The more castings you attend, this type of environment will become the norm.

Even if your child makes it to the next round and the pool of models gets smaller, the level of competition will still be high. Remember that each parent there wants the same thing you do: for their child to get the job.

Don't be discouraged by the volume of competition out there. It is common and to be expected. Keep your confidence in your child high, their spirits up and they'll perform to the best of their ability each time. It's a numbers game so know that just because you're one of many people present, you have to attend as many castings as you can to increase the odds that your son/daughter has the opportunity to shine in front of clients and snag those handful of gigs that will keep their career on an upward trajectory.

No One Owes You an Explanation, So Don't Expect One

Time is money and agencies and clients alike don't have the time, budget or resources to address every single person that has a question, concern or complaint. If your child doesn't get chosen for a job, the casting director/client won't take the time to explain why or what your child could do differently.

Remember, the modeling industry isn't like other industries. It's a unique beast all its own and it plays by its own rules. If you want to stay in the game, you have to play by their rules, too. Sometimes you may get lucky and receive insight from somebody who is able to share a few kernels of wisdom with you but it is a business and as you go through the motions, you'll gain that "on the job" training and knowledge naturally and won't require as much hand holding.

If you plan to make a stink or tell off somebody because they won't give you answers or a breakdown of why your child didn't get the job (or some other fairly trivial issue that really isn't that big of a deal in the greater scheme of things), you'll quickly get a bad reputation for being difficult and no one will want to work with you. Don't do that to your child so take things in stride and keep it moving.

Agencies Have Other Models, Too

Getting agency representation for your child is a huge step in the right direction but just know that because you've got an agent doesn't mean it'll be easy street from that point on. They'll do the legwork and tell you where to be and when, as well as guide you, but they aren't your personal agent who will cater to your every need and whim.

Agencies will do what they can to get your child opportunities but there will be slow moments and dry spells. Totally normal and to be expected. When the work starts to pour in, it's great but there are moments when nothing may come through the pipeline for weeks.

It's good to keep open communication with your agent from time to time to check in and see where things are at but don't bombard their phone line or inbox. Don't make demands or criticize them for not doing their job. They are doing their job for your child and all the other people on their roster.

A modeling agency works with you, not for you so respect that partnership and make inquiries where appropriate. Being considerate of the things they have to be in charge of and letting them do what they do best will foster a good working relationship moving forward. If they're worth their salt as an agency, they'll keep you in the loop to the best of their ability.

Are You Still Reading This?

If you've made it to this part of the post and are still optimistic enough to move forward with getting your child into the industry, congratulations--you've already started to build that thick skin you're going to need to get the ball rolling!

Press on and with common sense, time and experience, you and your child will be able to navigate the modeling world and hopefully create a memorable and unique life experience for your son/daughter with opportunities not everyone is fortunate enough to see to fruition.

BTW: the advice/insight I've written about are for the most commonplace situations for parents trying to get their child into modeling. 

Of course there are exceptions to the rule and extreme circumstances where these things wouldn't apply but those odds are fairly low so please understand that the information in this post is to be applied to "typical" scenarios.


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Branding & Modeling Pt VI: Dos & Don'ts

I had originally put the title of this blog post as, "Branding & Modeling Pt VI: Common Sense + Tips" but decided to change the second half to "Dos & Don'ts" simply because I felt it would be easier to organize the tips I want to share and make it easier for my readers to reference...so here we go!

This is the last entry in this latest mini blog post series related to the concept of "Branding" when it comes to the modeling industry.

Chances are I'll continue to do new posts in the future related to the subject but hopefully this collection has helped some of you get a better understanding of why Branding continues to be so important, even for models.

If you've read the previous 5 posts, the dos and don'ts listed below will make much more sense to you so I encourage that you go back and read those in order first before diving right into this post if you haven't done so already.

***FYI: I'll be adding updated Dos & Don'ts to this list as they come up so don't consider this the set in stone version***

DO: Post Regularly

1-2 times a month isn't gonna cut it. Period. Think of yourself as a commodity (for lack of a better metaphor). People will always want you if they see you around. When you go away for too long, people will wonder and then quickly forget. Start off with one post every other day if you have a schedule that doesn't allow for more frequency.

DON'T: Over Do It With the Posting

Sounds contradictory to what I just wrote above, right? As the post before this one discussed in detail, think about quality of the content you put out. Don't feel pressured to post 5-10 times a day.

DO: Focus on Quality Over Quantity

You want each post to get as many likes and interactions as possible. A few likes for each post (regardless of how many you put out daily) isn't as impressive as hundreds of likes on selectively engaging and cool content published to your profiles. Plus, if you post so many times throughout the day on a daily basis you will find yourself running out of relevant content sooner than later.

DON'T: Forget to Return the Favor

Engage with your followers and people who interact with your posts across the social media platforms you're on. Like their comments, respond back with a quick, "Thank you" and let folks know you see them and appreciate that they're out there supporting you. Reply to messages and follow back, comment and like other people's stuff. It's a two-way street so make an effort.

DO: Take Advantage of Reposting Apps

Anytime someone posts a project, event or other occasion that involves you and your modeling career, repost it. There's nothing wrong with creating your own post about that same thing (as you should be doing) but reposting gives you that additional content to share with your followers.

Reposting apps not only do the work for you, it allows you to automatically give credit and exposure to the original poster, including their captions and hashtags (keeping the person's original captions and hashtags is optional when using reposting apps but I encourage including it, especially if the OP has a lot of shoutouts to people to give credit, including people you may not know or were aware of).

DON'T: Forget to Include Videos

A picture's worth a thousand words but adding video to your social media is a wonderfully effective way of engaging people with your brand and the activities happening in your modeling career in real-time. Keep it short and sweet and stay professional (no cursing or bad behavior). Keep it on target and related to your modeling and your followers will love you for it.

DO: Use Hashtags (Wisely!)

Love 'em or hate 'em, hashtags are the gateway to being found on various social media sites. If you want to be taken seriously as a model and promote your brand, you'll need to learn to love hashtags. Doing a post on Instagram or Twitter and not putting at least 1-2 hashtags will get you lost in the mix. Never post a picture without a caption, either. Always have some kind of text accompany your posts. Don't make people have to figure it out, even if it seems obvious. At the same time, don't go too crazy with listing hashtags (although it may happen from time to time). Hashtag with care.

DON'T: Forget to Give Credit Where Credit is Due

Models don't do it all by themselves. Anytime you're posting about projects, behind-the-scenes, gigs, whatever, take the time to properly credit the people involved (makeup artist, photographer, publication, etc, etc.). If you don't know their social media handle, ask them, or use a hashtag instead. Put a link to their website or profile.

Some form of acknowledgement of the team that helps make your post possible should be a priority. If it's just you posting a selfie for fun, then obviously this doesn't apply but for posts related specifically to the happenings in your modeling career, you need to give credit where credit is due. This alone goes a long way in professional courtesy and showing others that you value the time and efforts of those who helped make that experience a reality for you to share with the world.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Branding & Modeling Pt V: Quality & Content Creation

Notice the title of this latest post in the mini blog series is "Quality & Content Creation"? That's because even though it's important to post often and keep creating content, it's also vital to think about what you're posting and what you're trying to communicate to followers.
Because this mini blog post series is focused on branding and modeling, it only makes sense that I’ll be talking about creating quality content related to…yep, you guessed it: modeling! But what does that mean?

PROFESSIONAL IMAGES

Photo of one of the magazines I had an editorial feature in.
Digital tearsheet of one of the romance novel covers I've been on.


What better way to promote your brand as a model than by sharing the fruit of your labors? Posting images from your latest shoots, tearsheets of published work and other pictures related to your career are the best way to show people, including potential clients, what you’ve done and what you can do.
There’s no better proof of your success than these kinds of images, and sharing them on your social media sites and official website makes it very clear to anyone who is just learning about you for the first time who you are, what you do and what you’re about.

BTS IMAGES

BTS shot of me doing a bridal/beauty shoot in-studio.
BTS shot of me getting my makeup done during a bridal show.

Behind the scenes images are always popular because it gives people an insider look as to what goes on in things they don’t have access to. Who doesn’t want to know what happens during modeling shoots, shows and other related happenings?

Posting BTS photos in the makeup chair, shopping for wardrobe, posing with other models, candid shots of you in studio or on location is a wonderful way to let people into your world. Modeling in general is still considered mysterious by many so any insight you give them will be appreciated.

CAREER UPDATES/HIGHLIGHTS

A short snippet of my own Twitter feed, where I like to do quick updates about what's going on in my career.

Your brand can be enforced and better understood if your images are also paired with descriptive captions/text that explains to people what you are up to, what’s coming up and other projects that may be in the works.

Excited about a casting or go-see coming up in the next few days? Post about it. Booked a modeling assignment? Definitely post about it! Tired after a long shoot and just want to take a nap? Tell people about it.

Those brief and fun play-by-plays showcase your personality and the things that are important to you. In addition to the other info described above, it paints a better overall picture of you as a person and that makes it easier for followers of your brand to understand what matters to you, as well as attract new followers to your profiles who can identify with various aspects of your life and personality.

SHOUTOUTS TO OTHERS

This was a collage I posted as a shoutout, where I thanked the photographer, makeup artist and the model I was mentoring. I made sure to include each person's social media handle and tagged them as well so it popped up in their feeds

Networking plays a large part in a person’s ability to get opportunities and line up future gigs. This can’t happen without the help of others. I like to say that people work with the model, not for the model.

That being said, it’s a good practice to give shoutouts to recognize and give credit to the people you work with by mentioning them on your social media profiles (and/or reposting content they’ve posted of you). Links to their professional sites and including other relevant info is also ideal for not just spreading the love and hopefully getting them future work but to show others the kind of company you surround yourself with.

When you do shoutouts, you not only put those folks on the radar of your followers, it works the other way as well. A company or individual that is connected to someone you shoutout could easily reach out to you now based on the shoutout they’ll undoubtedly see on that person’s profile. Plus, it helps when you’re booked on a project that has mutual friends/colleagues on it. You may even get booked with the same people you’ve worked with before and that’s always fun.

SILLY, MISC THINGS

Fun candid of me and my girls during the 2016 USA Petite Pageant in Florida.
I'm terrible about snacking before, during and after photo shoots.

There’s totally nothing wrong with being candid and breaking away from the professional model mode to show a silly and playful side. Whether it’s work related or during your free time, it can be refreshing for followers to be reminded that you are a real person, too.

Both photos and video of you having a great time with friends and family can also strengthen a brand if you choose to share that part of your life with others (and depending on the audience you are trying to reach). Of course it is your choice to make. Not including things about friends and family won’t hurt your brand and there are many people who value their privacy in that respect by keeping those types of content on a separate profile.

Should you choose to include it, have fun but still be aware that you are posting on a profile that is associated with your brand. Presentation is important!

More about those dos and don’ts and tips in the final installment of this mini blog post series. Homestretch!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Branding & Modeling Pt IV: Consistency is Key

People are always in search of the next new thing. Updated content and info is what many online users crave.

The fact that smartphones have grown to become as attached to us as a body part makes it that much more crucial to stay on top of your efforts to enforce your brand.

The best way to go about this? By posting and posting often. But remember, there’s also quality of the content you’re putting out into the universe.

Let’s tackle the “posting and posting often” part first. This is one area where people who are really serious and dedicated to realizing their goals for modeling separate them from the people who want the results but aren’t willing to put forth the work it takes to get there.

Unless you’ve got money at your disposal to hire a social media manager and PR team or have a modeling agency getting you castings and bookings fairly often, chances are you’re going to be solely responsible for whatever end results get generated. And you’re going to have to hustle constantly.

To make yourself visible to followers and potential clients, you’ll want to post at least once a day at a minimum. For those of you that do this anyway, implementing such a practice will be like second nature. But if you aren’t a huge fan of technology and social media or just don’t like the idea of having to post so often, you’re going to need to come out of your comfort zone to truly have a shot at making your brand recognizable enough to create opportunities for yourself over time.

Can’t commit to posting at least one thing every day? Then start off slow with 2-3 times a week if you don’t include weekends (although you should). That basically breaks down to every other day. Even the busiest person could manage this.

One trick I’ve turned to in order to make my life easier when it comes to posting content is to set it up so that when I post on one social media site, it automatically posts to my other sites at the same time.

I have an Android and basically what I do is post on Instagram, which automatically posts to my Dania Denise FB Page and to Twitter. I have my Twitter set up so that it automatically posts to my regular Facebook profile.

Because all my friends and family know about my entertainment career and are very supportive of my projects, I have no problem posting that content to my regular profile but for my FB Page I stick to only posts dealing with my modeling/acting career (I always send people to my FB Page and not my regular profile when networking).

I also have a FB Pages Manager app on my phone that I use when I want to post straight to my FB Page. Sometimes I have quick status updates not involving an image that are best for my page and not Instagram. I also post separately to my LinkedIn profile.

When I’m tagged or featured in someone else’s social media post, I use a repost app that simply copies the image and caption so all I need to do is copy and paste the content wherever I want to share it to. I don’t have to retype the caption or try to remember the hashtags and it includes the social media handle for the person who did the original post. Sometimes I’ll even use this shortcut for my own posts and I love that anyone who isn’t already following me can easily look up my info because the repost app displays it.

Remember, when you take a break and don’t post for a while, people lose interest and it doesn’t take much for them to find other things to capture their attention. I’ve even lost subscribers of this blog because I allowed entirely too much time to pass in between writing posts. So even I’m not immune to the consequences, which I’m finally in a position to correct and try to get those people back, as well as attract new subscribers/readers.

While technology has made branding more convenient in terms of setup and execution, the constant demand for new content from the world does make the process of staying fresh in people’s minds exhausting.

With time, practice and the new knowledge gained through creating, promoting and enforcing your brand, it is possible to find a balance but it takes time, patience and dedication. Not to mention the trials, tribulations and mistakes that will be made along the way.

Not sure how to craft your posts to work with your brand and attract people online? Well, that’s what we’ll dive into for Part 5!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Branding & Modeling Pt III: Know the Basics

You've got a name and you know what you want to do with your modeling career. You've got the ball rolling on this whole "branding" thing.

Now what?

In Part 2 of this mini blog series, I briefly mentioned applying your brand name across your social media platforms.

Unless you hate technology or have been living under a rock somewhere, chances are you have a few or all of the most current social media profiles. But there is method to the madness and it involves a bit more strategy than just posting a bunch of selfies randomly.

First off, let's talk about specific social media sites. There's so many out there but I'm only going to touch on the basic ones to start you out, especially if you're diving into all this for the first time:

Twitter: it's short and sweet and easy to update followers with on a regular basis with little effort.

Instagram: it's a visual-based site, which makes it perfect for models to showcase their day-to-day happenings.

Facebook Page: notice I said "Page." Again, it's about branding and you'll want to have a page that is dedicated to your modeling career that isn't distracted by non-modeling related friends and family events.

Snapchat: it's quirky, it's fun and even though posts are only on there for a short time, it's a very candid way of letting people into your world in a unique way.

LinkedIn: it's a more formal business networking site but if you plan on pursuing modeling seriously, having a profile set up on this platform is great for adding yet another way for people to find you online and can serve as an additional resource for networking, as well as linking visitors back to your other social media sites/profiles.

Modeling Website: it's easier than ever these days to have a website up and running without any need for learning how to do programming or graphic design. Your website should be your home base for establishing everything that has to do with your modeling career.

Why are all these sites essential for branding? The only way for people to know who you are is to have exposure that allows you to be found easily. There is so much on the internet that not putting forth the right content in the right places will park you in the abyss of search engines on page 10 or 20 or farther (when have you ever gone past the 2nd page of an online search result?).

When you have profiles set up across the board on the most popular platforms it increases your chances of popping up on someone's radar. Having an online presence on these sites is also effective for attracting visitors regardless of which sites they use and have a profile on.

Because these are a lot of sites to keep track of, organization is going to be key. It's important to set up a routine of sorts for what days and time frames you'll plan on posting.

So where do you even begin with creating content, posting and organizing such a schedule of branding domination? You'll have to stick around for Part 4!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Branding & Modeling Pt II: Where Do You Start?

“What's in a name? That which we call a rose / by any other name would smell as sweet.”

One of the many famous quotes from Shakespeares's play, "Romeo & Juliet" is not only beautifully poetic, it also relates to the subject of this second installment in my mini blog series about branding as it relates to modeling.

When trying to figure out where to start, deciding what name you'll use for your modeling career is a great jumping off point. The name you choose as a model to brand yourself with is important but not to the point where you should over analyze.

Each person will have his/her own reasons for the name they choose to brand themselves with. In my case, I use "Dania Denise." "Denise" is my middle name. I own and operate several businesses that are unrelated to the entertainment field and don't want to "cross-brand" or overlap so I use my legal last name for those businesses and my middle name in association with my modeling, acting, pageantry and so on.

Some models want to keep their real name completely anonymous when it comes to their modeling career and will choose a totally made up name or something similar to their legal name.

Others get a bit more "theatrical" with their names by using some kind of title (i.e. Queen Jasmine or Model Jasmine--I totally made that up for the purpose of having an example, btw) or they try to have the supermodel effect by just using one name.

Modeling agencies have even been known to change a model's name that they've signed to the roster to make it more appealing to potential clients and for marketing purposes. So the concept of coming up with a name for a model to use isn't uncommon.

There really isn't a magical formula for what your branded name should be. If you want to just keep it as your legal first and last name, go for it. If you want to be more unique and create a name/persona for your branding, have at it.

The main thing to keep in mind is that whatever name you go with, you better love it because it will tie directly into your brand as a model. One of the biggest things that makes branding work effectively is consistency. Even the biggest company brands had trouble when the decision was made to change their name. Remember Kinko's? It became FedEx Office years ago but I can't tell you how many times I--and many others--still say, "I need to go to Kinko's."

That doesn't mean you have to live with your model name forever and can't change it because you can but it will save you a lot of grief in the long run if you at least choose a name that you know you'll stick with for a while.

Having a catchy or memorable model name to brand yourself with is helpful but doesn't always mean it will guarantee you success in your career. Make sure it speaks to who you are and what you want to represent as a model, that it is memorable and can be easily applied to your website, social media profiles, comp cards, business cards, etc. And remember to use it consistently across the board in all your projects, marketing materials and when promoting yourself.

Don't forget to do your due diligence and find out if anyone else is using the name you want. If so, the easier path would be to choose something else or a different variation of that name. If the person who already has your top pick is already established and/or has been using it for a while, it really won't do much good to share the name. Even if the person isn't a model, the last thing you want is for people to get pointed to the wrong person. Confusion can lead to disinterest and a potential loss for an opportunity or networking connection.

Once you've got your model name set, you can quickly start applying it, which is the best part so get those creative juices flowing and see what name (if you aren't going to use your legal name) would be the best fit.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Branding & Modeling Part I: What Is It?

An article from the site Entrepreneur.com defines the word "Branding" as follows:

The marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.

It goes on further to break down this concept:

Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells them what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceive you to be.

I agree 100% with the statement/definition above. Of course we normally think of branding when it comes to actual companies and products but you may be surprised to know that this concept also applies to modeling.

How so?

The definition of branding doesn't apply literally in all aspects when it comes to modeling. For example, you don't have to create a logo for yourself as a model. You can and it'd probably be pretty cool but it's not mandatory.

However, the philosophy behind the idea of branding definitely goes hand-in-hand in the sense that as a model you want people to recognize your name, who you are, what you represent and what potential clients can expect from working with you.

In essence: by dealing with you, what are they going to get? Will they like the end results? Will they come back? Will they recommend you to others in their network?

Many models build their brand using their names and is the easiest way to do so. How would we even know who the most famous models were if it weren't for their names? The Kate Mosses, Giseles, Tyras, Naomi Campbells, etc, etc...these are models that have created empires for themselves based on their name recognition as it relates to their modeling careers.

Think about it: even people who hate the modeling world or those who don't keep up with it in any way, shape or form would recognize the women above as models just because of the prevalence of their names over the years.

The good news is you don't have to be a supermodel to be a brand. Once you decide you want to become a professional model you'll want to start critically thinking about how you want to approach things, what you want to do, the goals you want to set, what you stand for, etc.

Speaking for myself, I use my name heavily in relation to my brand. When you think of "Dania Denise," what do you automatically think of? Most people would automatically say: model, blogger, actor, coach, pageant winner or entrepreneur. That's pretty accurate in terms of what I do and, while basic, it gets the point across. You don't have to guess what any of those things actually are, hence, making it clear what I do within the entertainment industry and making it easier to match me up with potential clients.

Just like a traditional business uses branding, models need to make sure they understand what type of experience they are providing to those that want to work with them. I would hope you aim to be branded as a model who is professional, reliable, easy to work with, diverse, etc.

When people work with you and those branding ideals are displayed, they'll know you stand by your brand identity/reputation. That is what will keep them coming back and motivate positive word of mouth among the industry.

I pride myself on the fact that I have a good reputation within my respective networking circles. Nothing makes me happier than knowing when I reach out to people about projects, they're more than happy to jump on board because they know (based on my branding and consistency with results) that anything my name is on or associated with means they're going to be treated well, professionally, their time will be respected and we'll produce the highest quality end results that will benefit everyone. And THAT is what drives my branding to continue to be at its best at all times.

If you set your branding to high standards and can uphold them, you'll attract like-minded clients, networking contacts and quality opportunities. Do the opposite and you'll also get the flip side of those results.

There is more to branding in modeling than one post can cover, which is why I'll be breaking this up into a mini series of blog posts to tackle specific areas in more detail and hopefully provide a blueprint of sorts for how you can create your own brand successfully and effectively.

Stay tuned for Part 2!