If you read any article on PlusModels, this is it. At PlusModels, we take this topic very seriously, and don’t want *anyone* taken. There are lots of opportunities and methods of getting started as a model. How are you to know what is a scam, rip-off, dangerous (!), or the real deal? Read on!
“A local agency is TOTALLY interested in me, but they want me to take classes before they will sign me.”
SCAM: Even if they are a legit agency, chances are you will be asked to take and pay for classes that are totally unnecessary (costing up to $1,000). Every agent in the world will tell you that you DO NOT NEED CLASSES to be a model. Even if they promise they will sign you after taking their courses, move along. If you are worthy of representation, you will find it.
LEGIT: Occasionally, a legit agent will offer a seminar to the models they have signed that you must pay for – for instance, they might fly in a renouned runway teacher.
“I was approached by a guy in the mall who says he is a scout for a local agency. Is this legit? “
MAYBE: Did he offer you a business card? If so, do some homework on the agency. Legitimate scouts will often frequent malls to look for new talent. Scouting services presenting themselves as agents frequent malls as well. A scouting service is NOT an agency and they are generally quite expensive, so do your homework.
DANGER!: If he tried to lure you to his automobile or into a secluded part of the mall, chances are it is not only a scam, but a DANGEROUS scam! Anytime you are approached, ask for a business card and tell him that you will give his agency a call. Do NOT, under ANY circumstances go anywhere with a stranger!
“An agency wants to sign me, but they say I need to pay for photos, a make-up artist, a stylist and comp cards. That is almost $1,000! ”
LEGIT: There are definite start-up costs in this business. Great photos and comp cards are a MUST for getting your image out to clients. This is an area where you don’t want to skimp! If you can’t afford the $750 – $1,000 it takes to get started, talk to your agent. Sometimes, they will front you the money.
SCAM: If they force you to go to an in-house photographer, it is probably a scam. The agency is either getting kick backs or is making all of their money off of lousy, expensive, photographs and NOT by getting jobs for their models. Most agencies will provide you with a list of reputable photographers they work with. Keep in mind that in smaller markets, there may only be one or two photographers in town that an agency feels are worth shooting with.
“I read a classified ad in the paper that said a company was looking for models and offered good pay. Is this a good opportunity?”
SCAM: Do you know how many women out there long to model? A legitimate agency will receive hundreds of potential models a week. They do not need to advertise and they certainly would not do it in the classifieds. Ads such of this can be disguising everything from escort services to adult videos to 900 number operators.
LEGIT: Some designers and department stores post classifieds seeking models for local work, particularly in the area of fit modeling.
“I placed second in a local talent search, however the sponsoring agency is very impressed with me and they want to give me a chance. The only problem is that the signing fees are huge and/or they want me to take their classes, first! ”
SCAM: If you have to directly pay the agency anything to get started, RUN! This is not a good business to be involved with. Why? If they are making money by charging their future employees money, why should they bother to present you to clients or find you work?
The only fees you should ever pay to get started are to the photographers, stylists, make-up artists, and comp card people you work with.
“I heard on the radio that a model and talent search is coming to town. They say that scouts from big agencies will be there. They didn’t mention any costs, but I am not sure if attending is a good idea. ”
MAYBE: The jury is still out on talent searches like IMTA, New York Model Contracts, Visions, ProScout, and the like. Yes, legitimate agents do attend these events. Yes, you might be discovered at one of their events. Yes, it is a good place to learn a few things, talk to industry professionals, and hone your skills. However, many of the models that are discovered at these events would have been discovered if they had merely attended open calls or mail-ins.
Make no mistake, this is NOT a free opportunity. They will request a fee to attend the “real” search (usually $500 to $15,000). You may be model material, but if they don’t need your particular look at the time the search is conducted, you are out of luck. Another thing to keep in mind is that not all of the agencies they say will be in attendance are guaranteed to be there. It is always a good idea to call ahead to make sure that plus-size model scouts will be there.
Generally, agents who attend these events are being paid to be there including lodging, food and transportation. Some conventions instruct the agents/scouts that all they need to do is recruit, let’s say 20 girls to continue to the paid event. This means that if only one girl catches the eye of an agent, he/she has to tell 19 other girls that they have potential and should return to the main event. Do you want to be one of the girls filling a quota?
“A company contacted me asking me to pay to be on their web site. They say that agencies use their site all the time and have found lots of new faces. Is this a good investment?”
MAYBE: As someone who owns a site like this, I can honestly say that agencies do use the Web to find new girls and have used this very site to do so. However, not every listing service is created equally. Who are their clients? What are their search features like (do you really want to be lumped in with a bunch of skinny girls)? Does the fee include aggressive marketing to agencies? Do they allow you to link to your photos from other sites? Gather all of the information you can before making an investment. Many listing sites are extremely expensive ($500 for one photo and some stat info). Be sure what you are buying is worth it!