From the outside, a model’s life looks very glamourous with expensive clothes, makeup artists, jet setting across the globe, beautiful photoshoots and parties every week.
The reality can often be different, though.. and it’s a reality that you need to be prepared for if you wish to break into the modelling industry! This article is not to discourage you but instead to make sure that you’re prepared for the work ethic that you need, as many potentially great models have been discouraged and given up when they realised that “the model life” wasn’t as instantly abundant as they thought it would be.
In reality, modelling is hard work and long hours and especially for aspiring models, the pay isn’t always as high as you might assume.
So, how much do models earn in Australia?
Working on an editorial shoot, models are paid a day rate. The average day rate for an editorial shoot in Australia is $180. If you’re a self-represented model this goes entirely to you however if you are represented by an agency, they will take a commission (which can vary) for referring the job to you. An average agency commission can be around $80 out of a $180 day rate in Australia, which leaves you with $100 for 6-8 hours of work.
This seems very little… however, the day price of an editorial shoot is the same regardless of whether you’re a rookie model on her first shoot or a seasoned pro like Miranda Kerr.
As most experienced models will tell you, models take on editorial work cheaply at the start of their career as that’s one of the easiest and fastest ways to build up a portfolio (which you’ll need to get you most other forms of modelling work). For models who set their sights on advertising jobs as the end goal, establishing a quality portfolio through editorial shoots is a great way to build up their portfolios quickly and then book some advertising jobs, where real money can be made.
For an advertising campaign, a model in Australia may be earning anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 a day – depending on the model. And that’s for a lesser known model… those who make it into the big time earn significantly more.
In 2017, Kendall Jenner was the highest earning model at $22 million, followed by Giselle Bundchen who earned $17.5 million. Prior to 2017, Giselle had been the top earning model since 2002 however, with social media influencer popularity rising, stars like Kendall Jenner are now overtaking. For many aspiring models who take to Instagram to rapidly build up a following, they may find their incomes rising along with their follower count (much like Kendall!
Other high income earning models are Adriana Lima ($10.5 million), Kate Moss ($5 million) and Taylor Hill ($4 million). Gigi Hadad earned $9 million and with 22.2 million followers on Instagram, her bank account and exposure grows each day. It was also reported in InStyle UK that Karlie Kloss at just 23 years old was earning roughly $300 for a single step on a catwalk.
Alongside earning big money by being booked for jobs, models can also earn a significant amount of money through endorsements. Aspiring models will need to work their way up by endorsing smaller brands first – but work hard, build your portfolio and you might just be discovered by a big brand!
And, interestingly, child models can also earn a considerable amount! In 2014 Fairfax Media reported that child models in Australia can earn up to $50,000 per year or up to $10,000 for a single job.
The opportunities and prospects are great, but it’s important to be aware of the pitfalls of the industry. Realistically, not every aspiring model makes it. Some never go as far as they’d hoped, others struggle to book jobs and for others, the pressure of long hours gets too much. Many aspiring models who struggle to make it may find themselves giving up on their dreams to pursue a day job with greater financial stability while for others, the thrill of competition and not knowing how great their next earning may be excites them.
Some models are also paid in “trade”, whereby they accept free clothes, jewellery and products as payment for their services whilst they build up a portfolio.
There are very few models who earn the big bucks – and although models can make a decent living, it’s crucial to make sure you’re getting into the industry for the right reasons and not solely chasing millions. Models are not on a salary or a regular wage and in Australia (and abroad), modelling is a largely unregulated industry. Being paid per job often means that you won’t be paid the big bucks until you make it big so if you’re expecting to get rich quick, you’re ultimately setting yourself up for disappointment.
It’s well known that at Fashion Week, unknown models can barely break even… however, if they have the right look that a brand is looking for, the exposure can be enough to skyrocket their profile and land them some very well paying jobs. Models looking to make some quick money will often book jobs directly with designers in the lead up to Fashion Week testing looks for the upcoming shows. For jobs like this, some models can make up to $1,000.
Models must also be friendly and personable – the industry can get a bad reputation as being catty, however many models will tell you that other models are lovely people. In fact, to save money, many models choose to live together in “model houses” where they split the rent and bills and can all share the experience of chasing their dreams whilst sharing advice with each other.
Of course, modelling is still a competitive environment though as everyone wants to book the best jobs!
To be successful, models must be hard workers, perfectionists and flexible to the needs to their directors/casting agents, as well as open to taking feedback to help them grow and improve (so that ultimately, they can book bigger and better jobs).
Ultimately, how much models earn will vary on the specific model type, the agent and the job itself… so models must be prepared for not every job to be the same.