Freelance Modeling Pros and Cons


You have been working hard to find an agency for your client, yet they still have not been signed. You have submitted Polaroid’s to several agencies and have not heard back or you have received the dreaded rejection message. Your client is ready to get working in their profession of choice and may be feeling discouraged as they wait for their “moment”. You have heard all of the stories about top models who simply emailed a photo to a scout and within days they were sitting in an office in New York City signing a lucrative modeling contract. Isn’t that how it is supposed to work? Why hasn’t that happened for your client? And as the Model Momager, what do you do next?


If your client has not been signed exclusively by a modeling agency, it is not the end of the world. They can always work as a freelance model. There are freelance models in all areas of the business including runway, commercial, promotional, fit, print, etc. Freelance models are responsible for their own bookings, marketing, promotions, contract and rate negotiations and portfolios. Freelance models can also work with several agencies simultaneously on a non-exclusive basis. Basically, deciding to work as a freelance model means being responsible for your own career. This is where you come in as Momager. You will essentially be acting as the agency who represents your child.


Freelance models are afforded the same opportunities that agency signed models are. The great thing about working freelance is accepting jobs when you want, setting your own schedule, setting your own rates and being your own boss. My daughter/client has worked successfully for 2 years as a freelance model. We opted to only sign non-exclusive contracts, so that she can continue to work independently as a freelance model. Successful models frequently sign non-exclusively to several agencies because they can afford to have a manager and staff in place to assist them with scheduling, logistics, negotiations, etc.


Now is actually a good time for freelance models to start and stay working consistently. It is no secret that all industries have been impacted by the downturn in today’s economy. The modeling industry is no exception, with many agencies closing their doors and cutting back on the number of models they keep active on their boards. Modeling agencies may only be accepting a certain number of new models or they may only be interested in signing a specific type of look, thus increasing their use of freelancers. Rates can even be slightly higher for freelance models.


You can find freelance work online using casting websites,, Instagram and Craigslist, to name just a few. There are also many agencies that work directly with freelance models. I will be posting a list of resources for locating freelance jobs in the near future.


Make no mistake, the modeling industry is always a challenging one. Freelancing is just as tough as signing with a modeling agency. It is not an easier way to get into modeling, it is just a different way to get into modeling. Some people prefer entrepreneurship and others like being an employee; similarly, you may prefer that your client freelance or you may want them to sign with an agency.


Freelance modeling is not without its challenges. One obstacle you may face is some agencies will only book signed models for the more lucrative jobs. Another hurdle is, freelancing does not provide the security of knowing someone else is looking out for your client’s career. (That is assuming your agency is actually looking out for your client.) That does not mean agency signed models are any less involved in their careers but they have the added luxury of letting someone else worry about the never-ending details. Lastly, your client must reside in the city where the agency is located. Agencies generally want to work with freelancers who are local. Therefore, if there are no agencies in your local area freelancing may be hard to do.


If your client is not signed by an agency, freelancing will give you another avenue in helping them pursue a career as a model. Whether your client is agency represented or freelance, you must be dedicated and committed to their career. Do not allow yourself to feel a false sense of security if you decide to sign your client with an agency. As a Momager you will continually have to look out for your client’s career to ensure it is forging ahead.


Now that my client has gone from 90210 and will be entering 10001, things are certain to change. We will see how Model Momager of a freelancer from a distance works out!


Modeling School or Modeling Agency

teen with two faces

Have you been approached by an agency or modeling school who would like to sign your child? Perhaps you have even been told your child needs to attend modeling classes before they can be signed by an agency. Are you sure you know the differences between the two? I did not know the difference when I was approached about signing my daughter up for modeling classes. I had no experience with the modeling industry and believed what I was told. Like many other parents who have no idea what they are getting themselves into, we signed up. If only I had known then what I know now…


There is a marked difference between a modeling agency and a modeling school. Modeling schools provide classes for aspiring models. They may instruct the young hopeful in photo shoot posing, runway walk, makeup application, nutrition, go-see and audition preparation, model bag must haves, etc. On the other hand, a modeling agency contractually represents a model by booking and paying them for jobs. The agency also represents clients by seeking talent to fulfill assignments. Some modeling agencies and schools operate together; other times a modeling school will be owned and operated independently. Smaller markets tend to have more joined school/agencies. Both modeling schools and agencies make claims to aspiring models to get them working as professionals in the industry.


If the school and agency are together, the agency may promise to sign your child at the completion of the courses. More often than not, the modeling school will accept any willing participant who is able to pay for the classes. These classes can run upwards of $1,200-$2,000. At the completion of the courses, some schools will then require additional payments of hundreds of dollars in fees for photo shoots with designated photographers to “build a portfolio”. However, most modeling schools will not tell you how to actually get modeling jobs with a modeling agency. Remember, modeling schools are not agencies, they are in business to make money from enrolling students. On the other hand, modeling agencies make money from clients.


Most legitimate agencies do not require models to go to modeling school. Agencies would probably prefer that they did not go to a modeling school because that is less time they will have to spend retraining a model that has probably been taught by an older model who has long since retired from the business or a former student of the program. An agency will either scout a model, hold open calls or sign a model referred to them by an industry insider because they know exactly what they are looking for. Modeling school graduate is not a requirement when scouting for new talent.


Modeling agencies want a blank canvas. They will teach a model the business through coaching, informal training, smaller bookings and test shoots. If they are really interested, they will work with the model on the fundamentals. They will even teach the model to pose and walk on the runway. A New York agency will usually will not want the portfolio the model spent lots of money building and those photos won’t really help to get your client signed. Some good Polaroid’s are all that is needed for submission and to be signed.


Model schools may not be completely bad. These schools can help young talent learn correct posture, poise and runway walk. They may help curtail bad habits and teach them proper diet, skincare and makeup application. Most importantly, it bodes well for their confidence and helps them become more self-aware. It can also connect them with other young models. If you would like your client to go for socialization like a summer modeling camp, then you are in luck. However, go in knowing that these courses alone may not be the start of a budding modeling career.


Before signing your client up with a school or agency do your research. A legitimate modeling agency should be booking shows. You should attend local fashion shows, read fashion news online or with local media. When you attend or read about fashion events in your local area, they will list the agency that is providing model talent. Your local television networks may have fashion segments that you can check to find out what agencies they are using. Those are the agencies you want to be affiliated with; agencies that are actually booking jobs for their clients. If you never see the school or agency mentioned, it is probably because they are not legitimate.


Make sure you sign up with a legitimate agency or school that is not known for scamming. Watch out for red flags. When interviewing an agency or school, ask them for a list of their clients. They should be more than happy to provide you with a list of clients that they work with. Before you sign anything, check them out online, through the Better Business Bureau and consumer advocacy agencies. When offered a contract, take it home and review it before signing.


Talk to others. Ask around and find out from working models if they know anything about the school or agency. Models can usually tell you which are reputable and which ones are not. If no one has heard of the school or agency you are inquiring about, do not pursue it. Check with your local department stores and find out who they are using. Attend local bridal shows, local agencies and schools may be sponsors. Bridal shows can also be a good place to talk to models. Another way to find out is talk to your local pageant moms. Pageant moms are a very tight network, they can usually lead you to model agencies and schools and let you know which ones are good and which are scams.


If there is some uncertainty about pursuing modeling as a career, modeling school is a viable option. Your client will undoubtedly be excited and ready to get started, even if the first step is attending modeling school. If you and your client are pursuing modeling with conviction why waste time. In that case, I strongly suggest avoiding modeling school and focus on signing with a modeling agency.


What is a Triple Threat Model?

triple cards

After working in the Los Angeles market for some time, one day my daughter/client came to the realization that she was not interested in acting or dancing any longer. Even though she studied both for many years, she knew that she wanted to focus on one thing and one thing only – Modeling. Part of me was a bit disappointed, but the other part of me was relieved. There is great comfort in knowing what you want and more importantly, what you don’t want. We made a decision at that point to focus all of our attentions on her true passion – Modeling.


The showbiz term “triple threat” is one that is very popular. It is a common term used in the entertainment industry to describe a performer who has equally outstanding talent in three areas, most commonly actor/singer/dancer. It is particularly attractive because versatility in show business makes a performer more marketable, therefore making them very appealing to agents, managers, producers and directors. You will frequently see “actor/singer/dancer” or and any combination thereof on a performers resume or headshot. Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake and Jennifer Lopez are a few showbiz leaders who proudly garner this title.


Model is also loosely used as part of the triple threat title. It is a generally believed that “model” is a noun that can always be thrown in as an additional resume title. Frequently, it is tacked on to the end of a performers titles, almost as an afterthought. Momager’s who know the value of a triple threat title may use “model” even if their client is not actively pursuing modeling as a career. Anyone who has taken headshots, been asked to be photographed, or modeled in a shopping mall fashion show qualifies to put model as part of their credentials. But does this really qualify you as a model? Triple threat means to excel in three different arenas. If your client does not excel as a model, you may want to rethink using this as part of their credentials.


Unless you truly want to pursue other interests, models should focus their skillset on industry specifics. If your client is passionate about pursuing a career as a model, their resume should reflect such. Instead of listing three areas to showcase an ability to multitask, list the modeling areas of strength. A model’s resume should state the specific types of modeling they are best at. This could be commercial, editorial, runway, print, etc. with the areas of the greatest strength listed first. Younger models do not have as many modeling categories but they can certainly use fashion, print and runway on their modeling resume.


Your client does not have to focus on other areas if modeling is what they are most passionate about. Expose your client to various areas of the business and focus their attention on their areas of strength. The modeling industry is so vast, there is no reason your client cannot be a Triple Threat Model.


What We Have Learned from ANTM

tyra banks cycle 21On a Friday night, it is not uncommon to find my client and I watching America’s Next Top Model. Now in its eleventh year since it first aired in 2003, there is no question that Tyra Banks who serves as host/head judge and executive producer, has put the modeling business on the minds of young girls the world over. The show has had such a mass appeal that it is now aired in 170 countries. It has also given many young girls access and information to the modeling industry, my client included.


Tyra Banks, the former Sports Illustrated and Victoria Secret model, has made herself a household name. She has used her platform to successfully educate young aspiring models in several ways. Any model today under 30 years old has probably gone to the ANTM Modeling University via the CW network. The younger the model, the more influential Tyra has been on their career. What exactly have we learned from ANTM?


1.  Modeling lingo. Tyra masterfully introduced model lingo that is now commonly used. Before ANTM, no one had really heard of terms like “go-see.” Today, we look at someone strangely if they don’t know what the term means (Go-see: When a model goes to an interview or appointment with clients such as designers, casting directors, show promoters or editors.) Smizing and H2T are both terms are used by Tyra when it comes to photo shoot techniques. Smize is a term created Tyra that means to “smile with your eyes.” H2T is another Tyra creation which means “to model from your head to your toes.


2.  Anyone can be a model. One of the greatest thing we have learned from ANTM is, anyone can be a model. The show has done a wonderful job of showing us that models come in all shapes, sizes and colors. This has given models the confidence to try to make it in the business who previously may not have tried. The show has given opportunities to models suffering from diseases such as lupus, vitiligo and Asperger’s Syndrome. It has also given transgender models the opportunity to equally compete.


3.  It is all about the angles. Who knew that you should always find your angles when posing for a photo shoot before ANTM. Tyra shows her contestants exactly how it is done because she does the same photo shoot they compete in each week. We also never knew the importance of combining those angles with modeling HT2 (Head-to-Toe). Add being fierce and showing expression in your eyes to the posing recipe and top it with spending an hour per week modeling along with Tyra and her cast of young hopefuls. This will guarantee a perfect shot!


4.  Critiques aren’t always nice. We always knew that the modeling business was difficult. But we never knew how brutal the critiques actually were before ANTM. The judge’s panel mince no words when delivering evaluations of the models runway walks, photo shoots, performances or personal style. This may be one of the most realistic aspects of the show! The criticism your client will receive can be brutal. If your client cannot handle tough critiques, this is the WRONG business.


5.  Success is difficult. Some of the things you see on the show are completely unrealistic. Your client will probably never have to walk a runway wearing stilts or do a photo shoot swinging from a tightrope, but the struggle to make it in this industry is realistic. The competition that the show displays is for television but the competitive nature of the modeling business is true. A model will need the commitment and dedication like the ANTM contestants to succeed in this business.


There is nothing better than a rainy day and a good ole’ ANTM marathon. My client and I will always be ANTM fans. Love it or hate it the things we have learned cannot be denied. The Tyra posters may come down in three weeks when my client moves to pursue modeling in NYC, but our love and appreciation for what Ms. Banks has taught us over the years is timeless.


Momager Expectations vs. Client Expectations

This morning I started with a frantic call from my client. “I called you three times on the house phone and your cell. Why didn’t you answer?!?!” This is the line of questioning I receive anytime I do not answer her call. Heaven forbid I take a shower, walk to the mailbox or step outside with the dog; that is no excuse for not being available to my client 24 x 7. A Model Momager is expected to available to answer any and all calls at any time of the day or night. That is just one of the undisclosed rules that was created and imposed on me by MY CLIENT. When I initially called her back, she did not answer.


There are several unspoken rules that were created by my client. Ironically, none of these “rules” apply to her. When asked who I am talking to on the phone, my client expects me to provide full disclosure. On the other hand, she will not reveal who she is speaking to when she is on the phone. Besides not answering the phone, leaving the house without permission is inexcusable. My client must know my whereabouts at all times. This is yet another rule that does not apply to my client. She can respond with vague answers like, “I was running errands!” when she returns after being M.I.A.


The borrowing and sharing rule is one that has perplexed me for quite some time. My toiletries, hair products and anything in my closet, are community property. Items needed for photo shoots, runway shows or modeling events are borrowed and never returned. Additionally, my food is always communal. Yet, these rules do not apply to anything in my client’s closet and it definitely does not apply to her food. In fact, borrowing from her closet or eating her food could result in my untimely demise!


What I am humorously referring to as client “rules” are really nothing more than client expectations. Often the expectations of Momager differ from the client’s expectations. While the above scenarios are comical, you have to manage the expectations of your client. There is no Momager contract between parent and child, so how do you balance expectations placed upon you be your child? When you live and work with someone, even if it is your child, it can create a strange and taxing dynamic. You must manage the relationship dynamics through ongoing communication. Even if your client is very young, start off letting them know your boundaries and define what is to be expected. What you are basically doing is creating an informal verbal agreement with your client.


I have communicated the non-negotiables and my client understand the things that are important to me. For example, I really do not mind sharing my shampoo and leftovers, what is important to me is my quiet time. My client understands this and knows that my meditation time is off limits.


When establishing your informal agreement, be sure you make it clear that you will be taking time out for yourself. Your client knows that you have made yourself available, make a conscious effort to schedule a regular time when you are unavailable. You may have to blackout some time on the calendar to let your client and others know you are off the clock. These boundaries are important to avoid burning out. Never feel guilty about doing this. There will be days that you just want to give up and there will be times that you ask yourself why you agreed to do this. Don’t despair and don’t give up. It does get better.


My urgent missed call this morning was to ask me if I would like to go shopping with on October 30th and 31st. Maybe it is time to update our verbal agreement!


Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Momager Toolkit


Last night or in the wee hours of the morning I had a wonderfully crazy dream about India. I don’t know if I was thinking about current news headlines before I fell asleep, but I woke up feeling inspired by a vision from my dream.  I immediately reached for my cell phone and launched my favorite app – Pinterest to see if I could find similar images. In less than 10 minutes I had a new board with 20 images that resembled my vision.  Anytime, a photo concept comes to my head, the first thing I do is go to Pinterest and create a gallery, referred to by Pinterest as a board. [Big sigh of relief.]


Before Pinterest came along, I kept photos stored on my hard drive in a multi layered folder structure. I had folders for hairstyles, eye make colors, fashion designers and photo shoot concepts. The bad thing was, I could never find exactly what I was looking for when I needed it. Some of the images were on my cell phone, others were on hard drives of multiple computers. Along came Pinterest and it was just the answer I was looking for but I had no idea it would change the way I work.  It expanded my creativity, because now I was able to follow like-minded pinners! Pinterest is so much more than just a place to look at pretty pictures. It is a valuable tool to help you get organized and stay prepared.


Models are visual artists, they bring to life images that are in the minds of others. Since their job is visual interpretation, your job as a Model Momager is to be on the hunt for images to make your client’s job easier. Sometimes your client will be booked for a shoot with a specific theme and Pinterest can help to give them a visual point of reference. On other occasions, you may be the person taking a concept to a photographer and with the help of Pinterest, you can present concepts to help them visualize the look you have in mind. Once the photographer is on board, you can present the same images to your stylist, hair stylist and makeup artist. You can easily direct each member of the glam team to the board by sending them a link. Your Pinterest profile is a great place to organize to your ideas and be prepared ahead of the game. It is online so you can access your profile from any device. No more having to text or email images to everyone, with a click everyone can catch onto the vision.


Not to mention, there is a ton of Momager information on Pinterest that is worth your time checking out. I rarely find information that is specific to Model Momager’s but there is certainly a wealth of information that can apply to all Momager’s.  You can certainly find tips and suggestions for organizing your busy life.


The key to good use of Pinterest is organizing your boards into usable story boards. One of the biggest mistake many pinners make is keeping their categories too broad. It is free to create more boards, make as many as need! I like to use general topics followed by “ – “ and a more specific subtitle. For example, “Photoshoots – Desert Glam”, “Photoshoots – Graffiti Glam”, “Photoshoots – Androgyny”.  I also use it for models and photographers that my client admires, for example, “It Girl – Alewya Demmisse”, “It Girl – Ariel Meredith” and “It Girl – Candice Swanepoel”. If you realize your categories are too broad, reorganizing is very easy and you can pin the same image on multiple boards if it fits more than one category.  You can also create up to three private boards if you do not want other followers to see a board that is still in the works.


Did I mention that Pinterest is my favorite app? If you are not using Pinterest to storyboard your clients projects give it a try. Share your Pinterest name and I will gladly follow.


25 Hats Model Momager’s Wear

Model Momager’s wear many hats that you may have never thought about. When considering this career, you may not be aware of all the skills you will need, and the many new skills you will have to learn. Here is a list of 25 additional titles every Model Momager can put on their resume. And this is just the short list!


1. Makeup Artist
2. Personal Shopper
3. Stylist
4. Hair Stylist
5. Manicurist
6. Nutritionist
7. Chauffeur
8. Runway Coach
9. Posing Expert
10. Photographer
11. Videographer
12. Personal Trainer
13. Administrative Assistant
14. Publicist
15. Marketing Specialist
16. Social Media Expert
17. Interview Coach
18. Accountant
19. Travel Agent
20. Project Manager
21. Psychologist
22. Internet Researcher
23. Website Developer
24. Appointment Setter
25. Legal Counsel


Here are three additional tips.


1) Think long and hard before deciding to be a Momager because it must be the best decision for the entire family. Take into the consideration the time you will spend away from your spouse and/or other children. Make sure you can juggle it all and that you have their support.


2) If you are not the go to person for projects at work, amongst family or friends; the Momager job may not be the one for you. Model Momager’s have to possess superb organization skills. Not only do you have to be good at project management, you have to ENJOY project management. Working outside of your areas of strength will only frustrate you. If the list above doesn’t excite you – hire a manager.


3) Review your finances before hanging up your Model Momager sign. If you can afford to be a fulltime Momager, that is awesome. Before you turn in your resignation, make sure your household budget can afford all of the new expenses associated with modeling. Think of this as starting a new business. It takes time for most new businesses to start generating income and profits. There will be expenses associated with modeling until your client starts generating a profit and there is no guarantee how long that may take. Additionally, those expenses may be even MORE than you estimated.


My blog is one week old today so I am celebrating with a glass of my favorite wine. Thanks everyone for supporting RMoM during this first 7 days. There are 23 more days until my models New York City departure. Stay along for the ride!