When Will I Get Paid for My Modeling Gig?

To this day, many newbies don't take into account that the payment aspect of modeling isn't immediate.

In fact, even with an agency it can take time to receive the money owed to you from paid bookings.

Why is that?

Ultimately, it's the efficiency of the client's payroll department that plays a huge role in determining how long it will take to get paid, especially if the form of compensation is by check.

FYI: cash is NEVER the form of payment from a gig booked through your agent...this is more commonplace with freelance modeling gigs.

Let's take a closer look at the way payment is handled and broken down in the modeling industry for both agency represented and freelance models.

GETTING PAID AS AN AGENCY REPPED MODEL

Having an agent means securing the best paying gigs and dealing with reputable clients and brands. But agencies and the companies they work with are businesses and that means following protocol when it comes to payment terms.

In agency contracts there is always mention of how long it can take to receive payment. It varies from a general range but is often listed between 30-90 days. When you sign an agency contract, you are agreeing to all of the terms, including the fact that you understand it can take a while to get paid.

Vouchers. It is still common for some agencies to give their models blank vouchers. When a job is booked, the model takes the voucher with them to the gig and after the client has filled it out, the model then returns the voucher to their agent, who processes and invoices the client.

Direct Invoice. A popular course of action is for the agent to bill the client directly. That means no vouchers or action required on a model's end. This is the most convenient approach for obvious reasons.

Modeling Invoice. There are some instances where the model is required to submit their own invoice to the client directly (typically via email) and then send their agent the commission amount owed when the payment is received. The form in which you give your agent their cut will depend on their preference so don't forget to ask how they'd like their money to be sent.

To find out how to set up your own modeling invoice, click on the blog link below:

Modeling Invoices

GETTING PAID AS A FREELANCE MODEL

A benefit to being a freelance model is having total control over how you get paid. BUT that doesn't always mean you'll get paid any faster. It will totally depend on the arrangement between you and the client.

Cash. Because of the freelance situation, it isn't uncommon for clients to pay their models in cash after the shoot/assignment is done. Clearly, this is the best because who doesn't love cash?

Check (Personal or Business). You might be provided with a check onsite that same day or you may need to invoice the client, who will then mail you a check. Clarify who the check should be made out to. If you're using a model alias, make sure to tell the client to write your legal name on the check. It will be difficult to cash or deposit a check that doesn't have your name listed the same way it is associated with your bank account.

Invoice. See the "Modeling Invoice" section above. If the client doesn't provide basic guidelines as to what your invoice should have on it, it's okay to ask for that information. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Invoice/Job #: Sometimes there isn't one but it doesn't hurt to ask just in case
  • Specific Contact Name the Invoice Should be Addressed To (i.e. "ATTN: John/Jane Doe") OR Specific Department Name (i.e. "ATTN: Payroll Processing Dept")
  • Job Name: To make it easy for payroll to identify which checks go with which gigs, having a designated job name on the invoice helps them keep everything organized (i.e. "Dot Spring Catalog 2020")
  • Rate: Definitely make sure you've got the correct rate!
Failing to double-check these items could result in delays with processing the invoice and no one wants that.

VENMO/PAYPAL/SQUARE/ZELLE

It goes without saying that getting paid through an app is popular, fast and convenient. Anytime this is an option for receiving compensation for modeling jobs, that's great. Your agent may even send you funds this way. Again, also great. :-)

ETIQUETTE 

Be on your best business behavior when it comes to payment terms and how those arrangements are handled. 

In most cases, the payment rate and form of compensation is listed in the job description. Sometimes clients will state if cash will be provided the same day. But if it isn't mentioned, pick the right time to bring that subject up if you end up getting booked.

After being hired, freelance models and clients communicate the job details via email, on the phone or at an in-person meeting. This is where those questions can be asked and addressed. Use tact: be polite and ask if payment will be provided the day of or if you need to invoice them. From there, the rest of those details can be ironed out so everyone's on the same page.

Modeling gigs booked through an agent are handled between the client and the agency. Your agent will then bring you up to speed on the payment part of it. Chances are you'll also be signing release forms and/or other similar paperwork that will have this information for you to read and review as well.

Basically, whether you're a freelance model or agency repped, you're not going to be in the dark about how much you're getting paid, how you'll be paid and when.

WORST CASE SCENARIOS

Unfortunately, there might be times when you run into issues with getting paid in a timely manner...or not getting paid at all.

When it comes to gigs booked through your agent, they will make sure to follow up and do everything in their power to make sure they (and you!) get compensated. Although it can be a bummer to wait and wait for funds you really need, sometimes all you can do is be patient and let your agent tackle those hurdles.

If you're the one who invoiced the client and payment is taking too long or somehow is delayed, it is your responsibility to reach out and inquire about the payment status. This doesn't mean going on the attack, however. 

From the moment you get booked for a job, find out what the time frame is for getting paid. If that date/time frame comes and goes, follow up via email, text or phone (whichever method of communication you had going with the client previously). 

Let them know you wanted to follow up on the status of payment for [insert name or description of the project you worked on to help jog their memory] and any update would be greatly appreciated. Then give them time to reply back. Between 2-3 days would be ideal. Still no word? Send another follow up, mentioning that you wanted to make sure they got your first message about the status of payment.

9 times out of 10, the client will respond back and things will be taken care of. Have a nightmare situation where the client ghosted or they keep putting you off and making excuses but still haven't paid you? Then you're going to have to decide whether to take legal action or not, such as filing a case in small claims court. 

Another alternative could be to contact someone else at the company (if possible) to try and jump start a conversation that way. Or visit the client's office to see if you can get answers from someone in-person. In this case, use common sense and play it safe: don't go to their home (even if it's a "home office"), conduct this business in the daytime and bring someone with you.

Generating income from modeling is a huge benefit and while some of those worst case scenarios can happen, it tends to be few and far in between. As long as you keep the lines of communication open and get all the confirmed payment details in advance, chances are you'll be just fine when it comes to enjoying the monetary fruit of your labors.

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