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New Model Guide: Your Modeling Goals

All models want to be successful, but as a new freelance model you may find it difficult to set realistic modeling goals. I hope this article will help you with that.

All models have different looks, other limitations, and circumstances that will affect their modeling goals and what is realistic for them. It’s wonderful to have confidence, and exceptions do happen, but I think you’ll get the most out of modeling if you set realistic goals and re-examine them as needed. I actually believe this works well in all of life, but we’ll focus on this from a modeling perspective for the sake of this article. Once you set realistic goals, you’ll probably find it much easier to make a plan to reach them. Now, let’s start by examining the different things that you need to be aware of to sets those realistic goals.

Your Look

Your look includes your facial structure, body type, height, hair, body mods (such a tattoos and piercings), etc. This is probably the most difficult part for some models, while others learn early on to embrace their look. As a freelance model, your look may limit you in terms of paid or published work, but generally you can shoot any style you want (for fun, as a hobby, or for art) if you find a photographer willing to shoot it with you. Some genres, such as fashion, are more restrictive than others, though.

A lot of models seem to march in thinking they’re going to change the fashion industry because they are confident and stubborn. I think that’s an example of an unrealistic goal. On the other hand, you may find that there are local shows or designers that will welcome your modeling for them. You likely won’t be paid (many runway jobs don’t pay), but if your dream is to walk on the runway, it’s not impossible.

In general, I suggest finding a handful of other successful models that share a similar look (particularly in terms of body type and height) and see what styles those models pose for. That will give you some idea of what might be some genres to pursue. There is no reason why you can’t try other genres too, but that might give you a good start.

Your Limitations & Circumstances

Besides your look, there are other things that will affect your modeling career. Things like availability of transportation, your health, your relationship, your living situation, your job or pursuit of education, and what the market is like where you live.

I used to live in Tennessee and the market there was completely different than the market I’m in now in Detroit, MI. Some of the changes I anticipated, and some I didn’t. I had to adapt and I had to shift my goals. Some markets support paying models better than others, some favor certain styles over others, and some are just very small and you may find it hard to find people to even shoot with.

You’ll need to consider your personal circumstances as well. If you’re living at home, are attending school, have children, or if you have a significant other who influences your choices strongly, that could affect your modeling. If you don’t have reliable transportation or access to it, this almost definitely will affect your modeling.

The key here is to realize what these limitations and circumstances so you can be mindful of them as they relate to your modeling.

Understanding Exceptions vs. “Norms” on Social Media

If you follow models on social media you’ll notice that some of them seem to have a lot of followers and to be very popular. What you need to understand is that, for most people, a big part of running a social media page or profile is marketing and talking things up (translation: making things sound really good) so what you are seeing is just what they are choosing to present to you. I’m not saying they are lying, but simply that they are marketing to their fans so they’re going to focus on the positive things. Some of the really popular models even have a social media managers to handle these things for them. All of that being said, these models are a small percentage of the overall number of models so comparing yourself to them, especially if you are new, probably isn’t a good idea. It’s fine to have a page and such, but understand that it takes time to build up a following if that is something that you want to include in your modeling goals.

Setting Your Goals

Now that you understand a bit more about what may affect you and your modeling, you can take some time and set your goals. I like to make a plan and re-examine my plan every couple months or so. Here are some examples from my modeling and how I carried them out.

Goal: Get Experience & Build My Portfolio
When I started out, I wasn’t worried about getting paid. I wanted to get experience modeling, learn to pose, and to get my name and face out there. I found photographers on ModelMayhem and I contacted them. I shot as often as I could and as I went I fine tuned what I was shooting as I learned more about what I was good at. I also started being a bit more selective about trade shoots. I tried not to be too picky (in terms of quality) though because I was still trying to build a reputation and sometimes working with a photographer who would spread the word about me was worth more than images. I also joined a couple Facebook groups and tried to be active there and on MM as much as possible so people would see me.

Goal: Shoot More Zivity Sets
Once I started making money on Zivity, I wanted to shoot for the site more. So I started putting out casting calls for photographers to shoot trade for the site. I put together a little write up about what Zivity was, how I was doing on the site, and gave them links to the site, my profile, and the FAQ for photographers. I would offer to also shoot something they wanted to shoot for trade (if Zivity wasn’t it) and then we’d shoot a set too. Once the set went up, I’d promote it as much as I had time to do (at least a few hours a week). After a while I did have to change my “rules” up a bit to where I was only shooting with photographers who had already been published at least once on Zivity as many of the ones who weren’t never did sign up so the set was never published.

Goal: Getting Paid
This has been a goal a few different time periods in my career, but the formula was much the same each time. First, I spent a couple hours doing my homework. I searched for other models in the area and checked their MM profiles for rates. I also asked a couple model friends privately about what they charged for the style of modeling I was doing. Sometimes they would get back to me and sometimes they wouldn’t. I checked casting calls online for paid shoots daily and made sure I PMed the person (not just comment “Interested”). I listed my rate range on my profile and listed the basic range of work I wanted to be paid for. I also found a couple local places to shoot so if photographers came from out of town, I could recommend those places and knew the rates for rental. In one case, after a few photographers booked the location for our shoot, the owner started giving me a portion of the rental in exchange for bring in new clients which helped my income too. I never pushed the space though. I just offered it. When I booked shoots, I made sure I kept a detailed calendar as to the photographer’s name, contact info, date, time, what we were shooting, and what I needed to bring. Being prepared really seemed to set me apart. I also had to limit my trade shoots to only the best of the best because otherwise I would end up shooting trade all the time and nobody would pay me. I had a solid portfolio by the time I was looking for paid work and I shot trade to update my portfolio.
Side Note: Even with all of this, I was never able to make it to full time paid model in either of the markets I lived in. The vast majority of models who do support themselves solely on modeling are traveling models. 

Goal: Shooting More Goth (or any specific style)
This is actually a more recent one and I think it’s a good example of a more personal/artistic goal. I’ve always wanted to shoot more goth, but never quite found myself in that niche. I studied photos that I liked in the genre and invested in some inexpensive wardrobe that fit the look because I knew that I wasn’t likely to find a designer willing to work with me as I had nothing to really show them in the genre. Then I started an inspiration board on Pinterest so I could show photographers what I was going for. I put feelers out to photographers I knew to see who might be interested in shooting it. The difficult part was understanding that I was starting back almost as a newer model because this wasn’t a style I’d shot much of and I had to be realistic and know that it would take time to develop the look. So each time I shoot goth, I work on improving it from the last time and I try not to compare it to my other work in genres that I am more experienced. I also spend some time practicing goth makeup looks on myself in case an MUA isn’t available. This example could just as easily apply to pinup or glamour or fashion, etc.

I really hope you’ve found this article helpful and I encourage you to chime in the comments with some examples of your own goals and how you adapted them.

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New Model Guide: Your Modeling Goals

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