By Sarah Walsh, Glamour Sensations Guest Editor
So in case you didn’t read the first part of my article, please go here and do a little catching up!
Ok, now that you’re all caught up, let’s continue.
The revelation I had with a few other models, after about a month of doing freelance glamour modeling myself, was that we were doing it wrong. And by “wrong” I mean, we didn’t really understand how the business worked and how the money flowed, so as a result we didn’t really know how to make the money flow to us.
So how does the money flow to models?
Good question…and here’s the answer in three different scenarios. And by the way, Scenario 1 is how about 95% of models (at least in Chicago) make money.
Scenario 1 (most common)
A guy doing photography as a hobby (GWC in case you weren’t aware of the term – read more about them here) hires you to pose for his own personal enjoyment and portfolio. By the way…believe it or not, guys have lots of hobbies…some golf, some fish, some go to strip clubs, and others invest in photography equipment and take pictures of pretty girls. These are the GWC’s. There’s nothing wrong with them either, but it’s not exactly glamorous working with them (usually), nor is it going to be very good for your exposure or reputation (once again – usually). It’s also not usually going to provide you consistent, long-term income. You know why? Because they will get bored of you, and eventually another pretty girl will come along that will strike their fancy and take that $300 they have to spend that month. Working in Scenario 1 is short-lived success, and should only be done as a supplement to a more reliable, and lucrative model. More on this later.
A photographer is hired by a company for a set fee to photograph a model for their business. This company could be a local start-up or Fortune 500. But often times they’ll hire the photographer to hire the model. So in this scenario you have this photographer with a certain amount of money that is tasked to find a model (preferably local to cut down on costs) and then photograph her in a way that the company he’s working for wants. For this example let’s just say it’s a lingerie start-up, and they want the model to pose in various outfits of theirs, of which they’ve provided the photographer.
In this scenario, the photographer is going to be looking for a couple things in a model. First off, he wants a model that is in good shape, photogenic, and capable of positively representing the brand he is working for. Secondly, he wants someone reliable and professional, which means she must have some experience and a professional presentation. A girl on a model directory with a bunch of crappy pictures taken by her ex-boyfriend is not going to cut the mustard. Nor is a girl with a limited portfolio, suggesting she may not have much experience. However, a girl with an extensive portfolio with lots of pictures in glamour and lingerie styles (learn what glamour is girls!) will get considered. And if she has a personal website, that’s even better. And if she doesn’t require an escort – and more importantly doesn’t state it in BIG BOLD LETTERING on her portfolio page – even better. This suggests that she’s professional, has done it before, isn’t easily scared or intimidated, and knows how to handle herself in social situations. Now don’t get me wrong (many of you will though), an escort is a good thing under certain circumstances (if the photographer has limited experience or seems creepy), but for a professional photo shoot it certainly is not. Would you bring a friend to work with you? No, of course not. So why would you bring a friend to a photo shoot which pays you in all likelihood a heck of a lot more?
So to sum up scenario 2, if you want to get considered for these professional shoots then you need:
- An extensive portfolio in the style of modeling you’re pursuing (glamour in this case)
- A professional presentation, as in a personal website
- A list of good references if possible
And if you want to get hired in this scenario, then you need to do the following:
- Be responsive – follow up quickly and answer all questions clearly. Ask questions and show you’re interested
- Ask to meet the photographer if possible to build rapport. Treat it like a typical job interview. Realize that this will give you exposure to a much larger audience than is typical (in scenario 1), so even if you don’t get paid as much as you’d like, you’ll benefit over the long-term through the free marketing and professional reference.
- Follow up with the photographer after a few days if you don’t hear back. Act interested!
This is the least common scenario that glamour models get hired under, and it’s also the most lucrative. You’ll realize why it’s not very common though – especially in Chicago.
In this scenario, a website content production company is looking to hire models to feature on their website. They have their own photographer, and in many cases the photographer is the person who owns the company. Their website reaches tens of thousands of people a day (some actually reach millions), and they bring in tens of thousands of dollars a month in revenue.
This company must feature a new model each week for their subscriber base, and they have a budget of $1200 just for that. Often times they bring back models that were fan favorites, but this time they want a new model, so they start looking. And what are they looking for? This company wants more exposure. More exposure means more visitors for them, and more visitors means they will make more money. Websites have various business models. Some are membership based (monthly or weekly paid subscribers), and some being ad based (total traffic). In this scenario, the website makes their money off of paid subscribers: they get $24.95/month off each subscriber. And naturally, they want more.
So how do they get more?
It’s real simple. These are smart guys and they realize that if they feature models that are popular and have large fan bases, then they will attract a large portion of that model’s fan base when she appears on their site. Fans are typically loyal – especially in the glamour and adult modeling business. They will follow her for sure. So these guys have an option of either hiring some pretty no-namer off of a model directory site, or going out and hiring a top glamour or adult model with tens of thousands of fans and followers (if not hundreds of thousands). The choice is simple. Even if they could save a few hundred by hiring the lesser known talent, they’ll make dozens of times that amount by hiring the better known talent…and they’ll make that over the lifetime of the site. It’s all about return on investment.
Now with these three scenarios sketched out, in the next installment I will detail how you can get yourself into consideration for Scenario 3, and even bypass Scenario 3 and go for the gold in Scenario 4.
To Be Continued in Part 3