Saying that the modeling world is competitive is an understatement.
One of the many reasons why it’s so difficult to be truly successful in this industry is the fact that there are tons of female and male models that want the exact same jobs and there are certainly more candidates than there are openings for.
However, it is possible to use the spirit of competition to your advantage, especially if you’re a freelance model looking for a way to boost your career, portfolio and resume.
Representing yourself comes with its own territory, as well as pros and cons. One of the downsides is not having a modeling agency submitting you to castings and projects on your behalf. Coming across opportunities isn’t always easy and oftentimes requires the use of several networking and casting sites, not to mention the countless online modeling groups one can join to get the latest scoop on local projects seeking models.
One way many models–myself and my colleagues included–have gone about finding new avenues to pursue is to look at what the competition is doing. I’m not talking about the Victoria’s Secret models and the supermodels–that’s an entirely different level, not to mention that you’d need the backing of a top agency to get those gigs. I’m not talking about them.
What I’m referencing is a bit more attainable. Thanks to social media–namely, Instagram–there are more models out there than you can shake a stick at. Some more successful than others, with many becoming what we all know now as “influencers.” If you’re stuck as to what modeling opportunities are ripe for the taking, it’s a good idea to start by looking up the social media profiles of these types of models.
STALK THEM ONLINE (PROFESSIONALLY, THAT IS!)
Research the models that are doing the types of work you want to do yourself. That means runway, editorial, swimwear, fitness, glamour, etc, etc.
Chances are you already follow and/or are a fan of a number of models so that would be a good place to start (again, I’m not talking about the supermodels).
Follow their careers and take note of the types of jobs they’re booking. 99% of the time they’ll list the name of the client/publication/designer/photographer they are working with, as well as that person’s social media handle and info.
So what are you supposed to do with this knowledge once you’ve seen it mentioned on the profiles of models you follow? Start making contact with those people.
The best way to put this into practice is when it comes to publications they’ve appeared in, as well as runway shows and even photoshoots. Let’s tackle these one at a time:
I’ve already done blog posts about getting published as a model in a magazine (click HERE and HERE to check them out) and I’ve mentioned that there are countless publications out there today. That means even more chances to become a published model and get some digital and hard copy tearsheets to strengthen your portfolio and resume.
Once you find out what magazines the modeling competition you’re researching has appeared in, visit the websites and profiles of those magazines to see what the guidelines are for getting published. Magazines are very good at posting what themes/looks they’re in need of for future issues. After you’ve acquired that info, start putting together your team to get a submission going.
Diligently focus on getting submissions out to various publications and you will start racking up published credits that will benefit all those involved and bring new modeling jobs your way.
Happen to come across a cool shot on IG of a model you like who is pictured strutting down a runway? Check out the caption and find out the name of the designer, fashion show, photographer, production company, etc. Any or all of these folks may be mentioned in the caption accompanying the photo.
If there’s a website listed, even better. The key is to start becoming a detective and checking out who these individuals and companies are. Do you really like the designer’s work that is displayed in the images posted by the model? Then reach out to the designer and introduce yourself. Inquire as to what future shows he/she plans on showing at and when casting calls will be held for new models and express your interest in attending.
It’s rare that the designer wouldn’t be mentioned in a caption/description but if you can’t locate that info for whatever reason, see who else is mentioned or credited in the model’s post and see if they can get you to the right person.
It really is 6 degrees of separation so all it usually takes is reaching out to one person to get directed to the individual or company you’re seeking out.
Aside from publications and runway shows, models do tons of photoshoots. While professionally stalking certain successful models, take note of which photographers they’ve worked with. Again, the beauty of social media is that everyone automatically gives credit/mentions of the people involved in each project by listing their social media handle, website and other contact info.
Are you dying to work with a photographer that another model has shot with? Similar to what I described above for connecting with designers, use the same approach for photographers.
BASIC TIPS FOR ALL OF THE ABOVE
1. When contacting the key people you want to get in touch with (magazine publication, designer, photographer), practice common courtesy and “Like” their social media pages, send them a friend request (if they allow them) and Follow them online.
2. Keep your introduction brief. When emailing and direct messaging, don’t send a novel. Think about how you can briefly tell the recipient of your message who you are, what you do, what you’re interested in and why you want to work with them.
Don’t forget to include your best contact info. Sending attachments (for email) should only be done if you have a professional headshot or comp card to pass along. Stick to 1 attachment and do not send huge files.
3. Don’t stalk them for real! When I say “stalk professionally,” I mean do your research to learn more about the person/company before you contact them. Do not call after business hours or send multiple messages to their inboxes. That’s a surefire way to get yourself blocked or reported.
4. Hair stylists, makeup artists and wardrobe stylists all count as people you can also professionally stalk to find out how to work with them. So be on the lookout for those mentions when looking at what other model’s are posting from their career highlights.
5. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend contacting the model him/herself to get info about how you can work with the people they’ve worked with.
Not all professional models are as accessible or open as myself when it comes to being asked questions about our career moves. Some may not reply back at all, while others might have a bit of an attitude about it. Others could be totally great and allow you to pick their brain. But your results will be much more effective if you stick to contacting the professionals that you want to network with to build that working relationship.
6. It’s okay to be a copycat. Just because one model is published in a particular magazine doesn’t mean no one else can ever be published after him/her. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten work or at least developed a rapport with clients solely because I found out about them from another model’s profile.
I’ve spoken to other professional models and they do the same thing. It’s a common practice and you’re not “copying” anybody. You’re simply getting leads from the competition as to what modeling opportunities you could submit yourself for. Besides, if you do get chosen to work with those same individuals/companies, it’s not like you’d be doing the exact same look, shoot, show or concept.
Your project will be totally different from the model you got the inspiration from and at the end of the day, it all counts towards growing your career, your networking pool and the doors that could open as a result of your affiliation with those projects.