By Michele Smith
Facebook – MicheleSmithMarketing

Most people looking to get into the fashion industry are initially blinded by the glitz and glamour. What the general public does not realize, is that the modelling industry is not only extremely competitive and time consuming, but can be very expensive as well. This means pursuing a modelling career may be cost prohibitive for many. The following are some out of pocket expenses that an aspiring model, may or not be aware of.

First and foremost, models are not treated like employees, but independent contractors which means a lack of hourly wage, paid lunch breaks and overtime, despite the long hours. Independent contractors are paid per project, so whether it is an 8 hour shoot or 1 hour shoot, the price is fixed. Also, most models have to pay their agency 20% for booking the modelling job, which comes out of the flat project rate. Many models are even actually in some pretty serious debt before they even land their first major gig. The obvious marketing expenses are headshots, a website and portfolio. However, most do not realize that many agencies charge a yearly “website” fee which can run a couple of hundred dollars per year and models have to pay for comp cards (even when the agency misspells their name and does a reprint).

Travel expenses can also add up very quickly as most models need to pay for airline tickets and hotels when they are booked for projects. Lodging is a model expense regardless though and many models pay for overpriced and overcrowded housing. There are many other expenses that models are responsible for and they go beyond a gym membership.Many modelling agencies require their talent to go to mandatory dermatology appointments which cost upwards of $200 and walking lessons which start at $75 dollars per session.

Other expenses include a test photo shoot which can cost thousands of dollars. Some agencies require their models to pay for office expenses, such as mailing costs for the model’s portfolio to be sent to prospective clients, which is a little extreme when considering the 20% commission. Even more disturbing is that agencies in many cases take home more than the model doing the work and the agency’s cash advance structure (models do have to wait to be compensated) truly creates a system of dependency.

Another unexpected expense one may not realize is lawyer fees. While you may be pondering as to why model needs an attorney, the answer is quite simple – contract review. This is a very worthwhile expense for any model started out, as if you are not familiar with modelling contracts and if the agency is not reputable, you may ending up signing your life away when it comes to additional agency fees or unknown exclusivity agreements. The bottom line is that out of pocket expenses are typical for models, but anyone who is looking to get into the industry need to take into consideration that these costs could be prohibitive for those looking to get ahead.