Some of the best advice I can give new models is regarding money. Models need to be good with money and budgeting to make modeling work as a profession. Often aspiring models think having an agent working for her will be the answer to all her problems, but in most cases that will not be true. As a general rule agencies or managers do not guarantee any models an income, and even when combining agency work with freelancing work, one will still have an irregular income, which can be very difficult to deal with.
The best type of work to get to help with budgeting and to keep out of money troubles is consistent monthly or weekly catalog shoots, for clothing companies or ecommerce sites. Such companies continually have clothes and other products coming in to follow trends and styles, or seasons, but these jobs are few and far between; especially for glamour models or a glamour ‘look’. Here a fashion, commercial and more natural look is favored. However, even if a glamour model were to land on a sexy lingerie clothing website who booked her weekly or monthly for catalog shooting, she cannot, and should not, solely rely on this type of work. Firstly it tends to be low paid so freelancing work will be needed in addition to help boost her income, and secondly such websites also like to change their models ‘look’ every so often by using models of differing hair colors or ethnicities. Without a contract companies may change models without much advanced notice, and unlike a regular job where you may be given two weeks to two months notice of employment termination, a model in this situation may not especially if a contract has not been signed, which could leave the model in a difficult financial situation suddenly.
Even with an exclusive contract with an agency, a model is still technically self employed, which means the model herself is responsible for paying her own taxes. I recommend that models pay for an accountant who deals with other models, or at least others in the entertainment industry. Models will be required to keep all her business receipts and know what is tax deductible and what is not. The situation regarding what is tax deductible and what is not, or what percentage, may change year on year and such difficulties understanding the tax system are why I recommend paying for an accountant. Another extremely important point here is to make sure money is available to pay your tax bill at the end of the financial year. Being a self employed model will mean a tax bill will be calculated on your income and expenditures throughout the course of the financial year, and the I.R.S. will expect to be paid in one lump some. Depending on how much you earn this could potentially be hundreds, to tens of thousands, of dollars in one payment.
Quiet times of year for employment for models tends to be around Christmas and New Year, as well as August when people are off school and work and take vacations. These are the times when a model may need to rely on her savings to pay her rent, bills and general day to day living costs.
Taking each job into account also shows the fees paid to models for different jobs varies vastly which means every month has potential budgeting issues. TV commercials can pay a lot more than small print jobs (USD$2000 and up, not including residuals), where as some magazine editorials can pay very little (USD$600 or less for one off payments)1. This variation in pay per job can also add to the stresses of being self employed and an irregular income pattern.
The last point I want to make with regard to money in the modeling industry is that one cannot model forever. Most glamour models have a short career life (18-23 years of age), so look after your self, your body and just as importantly your wallet. Saving is important for your future, especially in a fickle job and as a model where income is erratic and hard to come by, your career is short lived and with the industry being competitive as it is.