Modelling can be a lucrative career for some, particularly those at the top of the field. Supermodel Linda Evangelista once famously said, “we don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day“. However, the reality for most models is that they can expect to be paid much less.
Read on to find out how much models in the UK can expect to make.
How Model’s Get Paid
A model’s salary depends on their success and experience in the industry, as well as how in-demand they are and how well-known they are to the general population. Rates can be paid hourly, dairly or per campaign/photo shoot. Generally, an average model’s salary is around £40,000-£50,000.
Hourly rates start at around £40 an hour, though this can differ depending on the size of the company and the experience/fame of the model. Rates will always be discussed beforehand and a contract will be signed to ensure both parties know what to expect.
Day rates can start from anywhere around £100/£200 up to more than £1000. High fashion models in particular can expect to earn vast amounts of money per day. Commercial models tend to earn less, but they too can build a good reputation and earn a lot of money per day of work.
Children & Teen Models
Young models will usually earn less than adult models as they will have less experience in the business. However, this isn’t always the case; young models who are the children of famous supermodels, athletes or anyone else famous can often make a lot of money purely because of who they are related to. This is because they will have public interest, and therefore influence, regardless of whether they have any experience.
Parents and guardians will have to manage and negotiate contracts for children and teen models. Young models are not legally in control of themselves until they turn 18.
There are several factors which determine your earning potential as a model:
– Experience. If you have a built portfolio and lots of experience working for well-known brands, you will be capable of earning more.
– Fame. The more well-known you are in the public eye, the more money you can make.
– Your look. Trends come and go very quickly and are always evolving. If you happen to be the right look for the current trend, you can make a lot of money.
– How busy you are. It’s a catch 22, but the more bookings you have, the more people will want to book you. Obviously the more bookings you have, the more money you will make. Modelling is not a set career – you may have back-to-back bookings one month, but have nothing the next. It’s a smart idea to have savings for slower months to protect yourself financially.
– Signed vs freelance. Freelance models negotiate their own payments and contracts, whereas signed models have their modelling agencies to do that for them. Freelance models will take 100% of their payment home with them, while signed models will have a cut of their earnings taken by their agency. But an agency can get larger and more regular opportunties for signed models, particularly those who have yet to build any experience in the industry.
– What type of modelling you do. Catalogue and commercial models may have more opportunities, but they wont be as highly paid as those working in high fashion.
– Who you work with/for. Some publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar will pay their models a lot of money, while lesser-known publicatons wont have the funds to spend as much. Similarly, bigger brands will have more money to spend, while smaller companies will have a smaller budget.
– How good you are at modelling. If you have a reputation for being polite, fun to work with, professional and good at your job, you will be able to earn a higher income. You may even find regular work with the same clients.
Modelling is one of the very few industries where women make more than men. The female gender receives on average 148% more than male models, with women earning £40,000 per year compared to men making £24,000.
While there is an increasing demand for men in the industry, the women’s clothing industry typically brings in a much higher revenue than men’s fashion, which means female model’s tend to get paid more because they have more work and are hired ot target a more spend-happy audience.
Some models are able to make a living via social media. Instagram in particular is a popular platform where many aspiring models attempt to grow a following. Having a big fan base on Instagram can attract the attention of brands, who like to pay Insta models for adverts and collaborations. The more followers and post engagement you have, the more you can be paid.
This can become very lucrative if you are able to manage your platform well and grow a large number of followers. It’s very difficult to say how much Instagram models get paid; it’s entirely at the discretion of the model and the brand. It also depends on what is being asked for; some models may post a photo to advertise a photo, but they may only keep it on their page for a certain amount of time. Or they may only post to their story, which disappears after 24 hours. Or they may agree to post a series of images over a period of time. Brands too can make requests like photo locations, what they want the photo to contain and even what the caption says. The more time and work that a collaboration takes, the more a brand can expect to pay.
Beginners can expect to earn under £50 for a photo. Experienced and in-demand Instagram models can earn hundreds if not thousands of pounds for a single post.
Remember that it’s not as simple as how much a model gets paid – modelling comes with a lot of costs. This means your earnings will not just be defined by your rate of pay. There are other expenses like travel, hotels, portfolio fees and agency costs to take into consideration. Unless specified with your agency in your contract, you may have to cover certain costs yourself and these will need to be deducted from your overall income. If you are signed to an agency, these costs will likely be deducted from your pay cheque – so you may end up taking home far less money than anticipated.
Make sure you understand thoroughly what is expected of you as a model before signing to an agency. All agencies have different agreements and expectations; it’s your responsibility to ensure you read contracts back to front before signing anything. The most famous models will have accomodation and travel paid for by the companies they work with, but other models may not be so fortunate. Make sure you are aware of any potential costs or fees before agreeing to sign anything.
Freelance models will have to pay out their own pocket for these types of costs. You will have to make sure you have enough in your savings to cover them. As a freelance model, you must declare yourself ad self-employed and make sure you pay your own taxes. You will be able to claim back any money you spend that is work-related, so make sure you keep all your receipts someplace safe.
Working for Free
Some models choose to do work for free. This can be a great career-booster if you are just starting out and do not yet have any experience, but there comes a point when you must demand payment.
If an opportunity is going to benefit your careeror may lead to future paid work, it might be worth working for free. Otherwise, know your worth and walk away from anyone trying to take advantage of you.
Alternatively, some models may be paid in food, accomdation or even free clothes and accessories. Ideally, you want to be paid this in addition to your actual payment – free clothes wont pay your bills.
Finding the Best Agency
There are many scam agencies out there who do not pay their models a fair wage. They may also have hidden costs and unexpected payments. It’s important you sign with an agency you trust. You need to be assured that you will be paid on time, and in the correct amount.
Some agencies have also been known to offer models an advance if they don’t pay model’s on time. This advance can cause models to go into debt due to the interest. If possible, you should do whatever you can to avoid accepting an advance. If you are struggling with money, it might be better to get a part-time job with a steady pay cheque. Many models start modelling part-time with another part-time paid job alongside it so they can support themselves financially as they get their careers up and running.
Always read contracts and know what you’re getting into before agreeing to anything. Try and get some savings together before pursuing a career in modelling, especially if you’re attempting to go full-time.
Contrary to what you might think, runway models for shows like London and Paris Fashion Week do not get paid much. A model who is relatively unknown can expect to earn very little; model Molly Blair claims to have earned just £1700 for 48 shows. Many models agree to this as it is a great way to become more well-known and it opens up many doors of opportunities. It’s also common to get paid in clothing, accessories and make-up in addition to the payment.
However, supermodels with a household name such as Gigi Hadid can expect to make far more.