What is a Modeling Scam? How can I tell if something is a scam or not? Do I have reason to be concerned?
Modeling is not a cheap or free industry to be a part of. To think that you can enter the industry with no one knowing your name or work ethic and they will pay your way is like saying you are going to be a brain surgeon and you want the hospital to pay it for you. The standard expenses in modeling include the following:
Portfolios. In some markets they are not needed unless they contain tear sheets from jobs you have worked. Average national price for a portfolio?...$500.00
Comp Cards. More common today than portfolios...standard rate for 100 is $3.00 each...not including the cost of the photography to make the cards.
Modeling schools. Questionable as to whether the are needed or not in the real world...but some prefer to venture into modeling schools and the average rate is between $1500.00 and $3000.00
Now, with all that having been said, there are some who will tell you not to spend any money until you are making money. How can this be? Think of the logic.
If you are a famous named model who will make 30k or more per job...and earn an agent $1500 to $10,000 per job off commissions then you best be assured that agent will cover the costs of your portfolios and comps and such. What about those who are lucky to get a $150.00 job every four months? If the agent is getting 10% commission do you think he or she will cover your expenses of around $1000.00 or more knowing full well that they might only make about $200.00 off commissions from jobs you worked? I doubt it.
When asking people what constitues a scam it is a smart move to consider the talent market the person is in that you are asking. Chicago and New York industry pros are wondering and very professional...but they tend to think that whatever is the norm in thier city is the norm everywhere else and that is simply not true. So keep that in mind when asking. What happens in NYC is not what is happening in Atlanta, Dallas, Miami, Phoenix, Bloomington, Denver or anywhere else......and the opposite is true. If agents in NYC are covering the costs for promotional tools that is because they know the models will earn the money back for them later. No so much the case in other cities.
Major point if you wish to have a company help you in representing you, contacting potential clients for you and ultimately gathering expenses because of you then what makes you think they should be required to work for free? When was the last time you reviewed your long distance phone bill? Now think about agents who are making such calls for 10 to 100 models. Some agents get models jobs and the models turn the jobs down, dont show up for them or otherwise dont complete the assignment which means the agent is stuck with the expenses.
Bottom line. You are going to pay for promotional items to model. The questions is....how much and what for. Here is a helpful guide to understanding what is reasonable and what is not.
Internet exposure...can be super...has been slow at coming around but is now quickly becoming the way clients want to hire thier talent. Web pages (including up to 6 photos or more...links to e-mail, stats, and contact info should cost between $200 to $600 per year....anymore than that is overkill. Web masters are not cheap and your internet exposure will be much less on you than mailing portfolios to every opportunity you want to work. There was a major (at least she calls herself that) in the upper mid west who just lost a major client last week.......because she required her clients to view models via comp cards and the client wanted to see and choose talen from a web site. When the agent refused to show them the models on the internet the client took it's business to a different agency. Flow and grow with the times.
Portfolios consist of 12 to 15 8x10 or 11x14 images. Some color and some black and white. Some head shots, some full length shots....some casual and some formal. Anything that does not contain everything mentioned above is not a professional portfolio no matter who shot it or how much you paid for it. Portfolios run between $500.00 to $1000.00 according to the content and the market you are in. Do you need a portfolio? Not starting off...but once you have started...yes....get one....it doestn hurt and can be worth the money. Tip....dont get a portfolio to attract an agent to you....only get a portfolio for clients who may be interested in hiring you for jobs. Agents can sign you via snap shots.
Modeling schools? Uh...go if you want, but they are of little value beyond thier own walls and egos. Are they worth $1500.00 or more? No.
Shoud you pay money upfront to model? It is accordint to the opportunity. You are going to pay anyway...so whether it is up front or now makes no difference. Make sure you know what you are spending money on will actually help and assit you and that there is a purpose for it. Never spend money on services....only products such as web pages, promotional items you can put your hands on later and such.
Are there scams? Sure there are. Are there alot of them? Nope. Most people who cry scam scam cant tell you what makes a scam and what doesnt. If you pay for something and never recieve it and the company had and has no intention on delivering it...then you got scammed. If you pay for something and you recieve it whether you get the results form it you expected or not....you didnt get scammed.
Should you check with the BBB and AG offices of a company you are interested in signing with first? If you like...sure ...go ahead. It might lead to good results. The best test is to look at paperwork the company may have that show you examples of models just like you (not famous names) who have entered the same program or product participation and have gotten results. Check credits, check names, check AG office reports.
Another rule of thumb is ...if anyone...ever tries to high presure you into spending money...run fast. Modeling is a career effort whether part time or full time and no decisions should be made on tactics such as this.
There is no one way to know if a company is a scam or not. Checking internet reports and opinions are not the right way either. Anyone can publish the article and tell that one site or another is a scam.
Again check the Attorney General Offices, BBB and other professional organizations for your back ground checks. If you see how a company can help you go for it if not - dont. It really isnt all that tough.