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How Do I Start Modeling?


How do I start Modeling? It was one of the most searched keywords on Google for 2016. There are a lot of questions that youngsters have about the fascinating career.

So, we decided to provide you with information that could help you dive into the career and world of modeling.

We will cover following topics:

•  What kind of model do you want to be & requirements?

•  How to pick an agency and what do they look for in a model?

•  Word of Caution when picking an agency.

•  How do models make money?

•  Building modeling portfolio.

•  Job Stats.

•  Tyra Banks modeling advice.

Let’s get started:


Modeling space is so large, there is a place for everyone. Models often make the mistake of picking the most popular genre, which also happens to be most competitive.

That is why it becomes crucial that you take your time to figure out what kind of model you want to be and pick a genre that has easy access, less competition and has longer career range.

•  Runway model

We all are familiar with runway/catwalk models. These models are seen on fashion shows in NY, Milan, Paris etc. modeling for big brands. There are strict requirements for being a runway model depending on the designer. eg:

Female models:

Height: 5’8-6’1

Bust: 32″ – 34″

Waist: 23″ – 25″

Hips: 33″ – 35″

Male models:

Height: minimum 6.0″

Waist: 31″ – 33″

victoria secret runway model

•  Plus size model

Plus size models are bit different. There are no exact measurements but they are based on size. Most plus size models are fit and active with broader shoulders.

They need to have their walk, down and should show confidence while on the runway. Plus size models can be in runway, print, commercials etc.


Height: minimum 5’8.

Size: Range: 10-16 depending on the industry.

plus size models

•  Commercial model

Commercial models do not have strict requirements as rest of the modeling group. They can be of any size, shape, color, height etc.

The requirement would solely depend on the type of commercial and product sold. Commercial models are mostly used in commercials about housewares, tech industry, travel, food etc. This market is huge and often pays very well.


Height: No minimum height requirement for male or female models.


Female: Dress size 2-6 (can vary depending on the commercial)

Male: Waist size 31″-34″ (can vary)

For commercials, usually a lively personality, a lot of smiles is involved so you look the part. Think commercial for a car manufacturer who wants to associate happy feelings with their family sedan.

•  Swimsuit/Lingerie model

Swimsuit models can be considered a subset of runway models. The majority of runway models also work as swimsuit models.

They are more curvaceous and voluptuous than runway models. The body requirements are similar but some brands might require female models with bigger breasts.

Swimsuit models can do lingerie, swimsuit, undergarments, summer wear, shorts etc.

swimsuit models

•  Editorial/Print model

Editorial/print modeling work is what you see spread on magazines such as Glamor, Vogue, Cosmopolitan etc.

The requirements can vary depending on the magazine. Some well know magazines such as Glamor, Vogue require tall slender models but others are more open. Models with unique features such as big hips, large eyes, facial personality etc. can work well for editorial.

It will depend on magazine’s target market. There are also options to model for local boutiques and brands who would have less strict requirements.

print model gucci

•  Alternate model

This type of modeling category is unique. You can see models in magazines or commercials that highlight tattoos, gothic looks, bizarre etc.

Having piercings, large tattoos, odd colored hair would usually enhance your chances in this type of modeling.

tattoo model

•  Situational model

Situational models are gaining traction in trade shows. Companies use situational models to showcase and promote a product. The requirements are less stringent and companies often give preference to models how are not “too” skinny as you would see on the runway.

Having a sales/marketing background is always a bonus. If you have a pleasant personality and like to talk to people, this could be a great avenue for you.

•  Fitness model

You see fitness models in ads at various gyms around the world. As a fitness model, you can be in commercials, editorials, print etc.


Height: No height requirements

Body fat: at least 15% or less.

Men: 6 pack is a must have.

You have must good muscle mass and be regular at the gym to maintain healthy and fit lifestyle.

•  Mature & Maternity model

There is also two other kind of models, mature and/or maternity. These are niche markets and would probably only work for, depending on where you are in your life.


When picking a modeling agency, you should do your due diligence. Once you figure out what type of model you want to be, scout the agencies in your area.

1, Use Google to search for a modeling agency and create a list.

2, Go to & to see reviews of that modeling agency.

3, You can also use Google to find what people think about the agency. Search on Google as:

Modeling Agency Name + sucks

Modeling Agency Name + scam

This will show you if there are any results or reviews people have written and/or bad experiences models have had with that agency.

4, Look for images of the models on the agency’s webpage and connect with one of the models. Ask them to meet for coffee to get their feedback about working with that agency.

5, When signing up with the agency, get a lawyer to read your contract.

There are modeling agencies that can be scams, so make sure you do your due diligence before you sign with them.

US Federal Trade commission provides guidelines on how agencies scam models: 

1, Asking you to use their photographer

Reputed agencies will give you the choice to pick your own photographer when creating your portfolio.

2, Asking for an upfront fee

Agencies that ask you to pay a fee upfront might be a scam. Legitimate agencies don’t charge you an upfront fee to serve as your agent. They get paid, when they get you modeling gigs.

3, Time-sensitive opportunity

You would have to judge this by each situation. Reputable agencies will book models in advance and not last minute. But sometimes if an existent model feels sick or can’t make it, they might reach out to other models. But if an agency is always on the rush and only offering time sensitive gigs, be careful.

4, Only accepting Cash payments

It is a sure sign that they are doing something fishy. Every legit modeling agency would be registered in the state and would accept money via bank under agency’s name. If an agency is asking you to cut a check under specific person’s name, watch out.

5, Guarantee work and big salary

Modeling work is never guaranteed, especially when you are starting out. If they are showing you dreams of big salaries and guarantee work, tread carefully.

6, Asking you to submit nude images

No legitimate agency would ever ask you to submit nude images.

7, Conduct interviews over Skype

Reputed agencies will not conduct interviews over skype. They would want to meet you in person to see how you look and your personality. So, if you come across an agency that interviews models over skype, tread carefully.

8, Use non-agency emails

eg: if someone is communicating with emails from @yahoo or @gmail etc. they might not be legit.

Reputed modeling agencies will have their own email addresses. eg: if modeling agency’s name is their email will most likely be OR

You can visit Federal Trade Commission site here and read more about it.


Every modeling agency might have different submission requirements. Most will have an online form that you can submit along with your pictures.

Typical requirements for photos could be: 

1, no makeup, simple hair

2, no photoshopped images

3, white background for images

4, wearing bathing suit or something similar that shows your body

5, use natural light in the photography

6, close up of your face smiling, hair back, face profile

7, full body shot

8, photos should not have other people in them

9, if doing print, they might ask for images of hands, feet, lips etc.

Best bet would be, visit agency’s web page and adhere to the requirements as you submit to them.


Building your portfolio is necessary if you are serious about modeling. But don’t get caught up in being styled and trendy portfolio. Remember, your portfolio should represent what you look like and the genre of modeling you want to target.

You can either Pay or Trade for the portfolio.

If you can pay a photographer, that would be a better option because you would be able to pick photographer of your choice and someone with experience.

But if you can’t afford to pay, trading is next best option. Find a new photographer who is good but also looking to build their portfolio and needs a model.

You could work with them and both parties can benefit. One thing to keep in mind, while trading is if you trade with a photographer, you are more likely not to get paid for future gigs from that particular photographer.


It will depend on where you are located and modeling. Data shows that beginning models can make around:

•  $45k – $50k in (NY, SF, LA)

•  $29k – $33k in (Dakota’s & Lousiana)

Don’t be discouraged by these numbers they are just starting point. With experience, the salary does increase and if you make it to the supermodel status, you can make millions.

According to Huffington post, Giselle Bundchen made $30 Million, followed by Kendall Jenner & Karlie Kloss at $10 Million in 2016.

Job Outlook:

•  US labor statistics predicts only increase of 4% jobs in modeling vertical till 2020. But this is based on the past trends and can be affected by events to come.


The answer is, why not.

There could be lot more opportunities for being a situational model if you are in SF, NY, Chicago, etc cities that host lot of trade shows.

There is 3 type of situational models:

1, Promotional Model

Psychologists have proven that having a beautiful model next to a car, makes the car appear more trendy and sexy. Companies often want their customers to associate these feelings with their product and are looking for models. You may see promotional models at events, clubs, parties promoting things like liquor, mints, food etc.

2, Spokesmodel

Spokesmodels are usually hired to be associated with the brand for a longer period. You can think of them as brand ambassadors. Spokesmodel gigs are great because they last much longer and can have consistent pay.

3, Trade Show Model

These type of models work very well for trade shows to attract potential customers to the booth. They are not directly employed by the company, as in the case of spokesmodels but they are mostly freelance models.


Olya Rostov Models in techI had a chance to speak with Olya Rostov, Founder at Models in Tech which is premier promotional modeling and event staffing agency. They work with different reputed companies to place models in trade shows and events.

Models in Tech handpicks each model that works with them. A model has to be registered with an existing modeling agency and should be at least 21 years of age.

Their models get paid around $30 – $50 per hour, with a minimum of 4 hours booking, which is great.

Typical clients include: 500 startups, Nokia, VR companies, Oracle, Dreamforce etc.

Models in Tech is a great place for models to earn side money and build relationships with different companies.

Olya has seen some of her models get sales/marketing jobs thru the relationships they made working with different companies at trade shows. I would recommend you should check it out.

You should check it out.


•  Don’t play it safe and use the same pose every time. Feel free to show your personality and experiment. You will be surprised when they like your unique pose and it could become your trademark.

•  Don’t be a limp noodle. Stand up straight and keep tension in your body from head 2 toe.

•  Don’t show up to photo shoot unprepared with messy hair, no shower, and no clean face.

•  Do not slouch on the runway. Pretend you have wire within your back that is pulling you straight.

•  Don’t be afraid to ask for your favorite music. It will take your poses up by 10 notches.

Read more about Tyra’s tips here.

Should I create my social media presence before I start modeling?

Ummm Yes, of course.

It would be helpful but is not a requirement from modeling or clients perspective but could potentially help you get more gigs.


Imagine Company A, wants you to model their dress. They will share your picture on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blog etc to drive traffic. But the fans who are following already know about that company, so they are not targeting any new fans.

But, if you as a model has few 50,000 Instagram fans and can share the modeling shoot image with your fans, it would get additional eyeballs for the brand. To which they didn’t have access before.

This is added benefit for the brand. I would personally prefer a model who has great social media following because it will give more exposure to my brand.


A career in modeling is very exciting, rewarding but takes a lot of hard work and dedication. Pick the type of model you want to be, so it fits your career goals and your lifestyle.

There is a lot of rejection and its a long road to success. But if you are committed, then it’s a career worth pursuing.


  1. Sasha says:

    thank you so much for giving such a detailed guide, i love it

    • Vishal Kalia says:

      thank you Sasha 🙂

  2. Well, well said!
    Respect and Appriciate!!

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