Have you ever been told that you have “the look”?
They’re words that every aspiring model longs to hear… but what are the next steps from there? All models must make a very important decision as to whether they work with a modelling agency, or go freelance (which means that they are self-represented and manage all of the marketing of themselves individually).
If you’ve decided that you want to work with a modelling agency, you’re now probably asking yourself “How do I find the right modelling agency?” and “How do I get booked as a model?”
There is a process to go about finding how to work with an agency and more importantly, how to find the right agency to work with.
Step One: Nail Your Niche
In order to find the right modelling agency to work with, you need to first determine what kind of modelling that you’d like to do – as this will inform you which agencies are suitable from the start. Next, you’ll need to do some research online and find out what modelling agencies are in your local area. If you live in a major city or CBD Australia, it’s relatively easy to find agencies in your city. There are plenty of major modelling agencies in Australia with offices/scouts in Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra, Darwin, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney. If you live in a rural area of Australia… it may be a little more difficult to find a modelling agency near you (so you’ll need to be prepared to either dig a little deeper in your research or potentially travel to your nearest city to meet with agencies).
TIP: Pick up a copy of a local magazine advertising things happening in your nearest city and look for an advertisement that has people in it. At the bottom of the ad (or somewhere in the magazine credits) you’ll find the advertiser – go online to try and find their phone number. Then, call the advertiser and ask them for the name of the agency that creates their ads. Go online again and find the phone number of the ad agency, call them and ask them which modelling agency they usually book their models through.
Note, this approach relies on people being forthcoming with information… but as a model you’ll need to be friendly, personable and persuasive so time to put these skills to the test!
Step Two: Do Your Research
When researching and selecting a modelling agency, exercise caution as there are some modelling agency scams… it’s crucial to do your homework! And of course if you are handed a pre-prepared contract by an agency, take the time to thoroughly read what you’re signing and be sure you understand what you’re agreeing to. If you don’t understand, we strongly recommend seeking legal assistance. In most CBDs in Australia, there are free legal services available to help you understand your paperwork if you don’t have the funds available for a legal service.
When doing your research, be sure to take note of the types of models that an agency is working with – this will give you an understanding of whether your personal look and niche is a good fit for the agency (as well as whether the agency is the right fit for your needs at this point of your career).
It’s important to note that a legitimate modelling agency will usually work solely on commission and as such, is expected to absorb the initial cost needed to market you as a model to their clients. Some agencies will ask you to refund them for these costs down the track – however if any agency asks you to pay the administrative, consultation or registration fees upfront, run! Any reputable agency will pay for your test shoots, lessons in acting and modelling (if you need any) and comp cards.
Step Three: Put Yourself Out There
Once you’ve discovered an agency that you’d potentially like to work with, now it’s time to book an appointment (or even, if you feel it’s the right approach, show up to their office in person with your portfolio in hand.). Without a doubt, never show up at any agency without a portfolio… we cannot stress this enough! An in-person visit to your agency of choice will give you a first hand look at the agency’s legitimacy, overall vibe and whether the agency is the best fit for your needs. Please also note, if an agency explicitly states that they don’t host open casting calls – do not show up unannounced! Agencies are busy and you don’t want to give anyone the impression that you’re intrusive, pushy or unobservant.
If a modelling agency has open calls, castings or “Go Sees” then be sure to always attend and always bring your portfolio. An in-person appearance is always beneficial as an aspiring mode (particularly if your portfolio right now is made mainly of snapshots rather than industry/campaign work, it’s always helpful for an agency to see your look in person).
And, before you sign on the dotted line for any modelling agency, make sure to assess how professional the environment is and ask any questions you need about the business… as well as meeting the booker! A booker will be managing every aspect of your modelling career if you sign with an agency, so it’s important that you feel good about your booker. As an aspiring model, a booker will help you strengthen your portfolio, highlight your best skills, assets and features and present you to the agency’s clients. They’ll also manage your schedule so always make sure to meet the booker before signing anything – you want to make sure you trust your booker!
Step Four: Be Courteous
It’s important to remember that modelling agencies typically won’t call you unless they’re interested – so while it’s okay to follow up with a phone call to see if they’d like to talk more about booking you, be sure to pay attention to the signs that they give you and be sure not to hassle them. If they’re not interested, try not to take it personally. Simply move on and find another agency. As every supermodel will tell you, most models face plenty of agency rejections until they find the right fit. It may be hard work now, but it makes for a great success story if you make it!
If you’re serious about your modelling career, be sure to carefully consider whether you want to be self-represented or represented by an agency. While some may be comfortable freelance and don’t want to outlay commission costs to an agency, consider also the positive impact that a modelling agency may have on your career.
Agencies and bookers have connections, can put you in front of the right people and can help you develop as a model, so they can be an invaluable asset to your career if you get the right agency!