Photo shoots, travelling, experiencing the latest fashion trends up close and personal and turning your passion into your profession: Modelling is and remains a dream job for many. While some would like to work full-time as a model and have a real career, for others it is enough to be in front of the camera only from time to time as a side job. But what about the pay, and is a model's salary enough to live comfortably? How much do you earn as a model and what does your salary depend on? We will explain this and much more to you now!
1. Earn money as a model: Different categories, different salary
Of course, when it comes to a model's salary, we have to distinguish between the different categories of the industry. Obviously, a top model earns more than a professional model, a professional model earns more than a complete newcomer to the industry or a hobby model who models as a side job and only gets a few assignments per year.
There are of course also differences in compensation depending on the job. Photoshoots, catwalk, advertising or TV do not only differ in format but also in the salary of the model. It is therefore difficult to give a flat fee for individual types of assignments, as fees can vary greatly and depend on many factors, e.g. whether you are booked for commercial shoots, photos or filming, how long the shoots last, how long the commercial will run, and so on... The average annual salary for models in Germany is around 42,100 euros, enough to be able to make a living.
2. Recruitment by a model agency vs. freelance modelling:
As a model, there are two ways to get booked for assignments that will affect your salary.
- Through a model agency: If you are a model under contract with an agency, interested clients do not contact you directly with their requirements, but contact your model agency instead. The agency will suggest candidates from its database who fit the job and if the client decides to hire you, you will get the job. In return for the booking you have to pay a part of your fee (20 to 30 percent) to the agency.
- Freelance: As a freelance model you work independently and therefore have full control over your job search. On the other hand, finding work can be more challenging, as you have to search for clients yourself and go to numerous castings. However, you don't have to share your salary for completed assignments with anyone else, as the fee for the model agency that mediates the job is waived when you are self-employed.
3. Higher model salary through self-marketing
The times when models earned money exclusively with photo shoots for catalogues are long gone. The most successful models in the world all have an instinct for self-marketing and are involved in many areas. Heidi Klum, whose assets are now estimated at 108 million euros, serves as a local, well known example. A proud figure, which she was able to achieve not only through her career as Victoria's Secret Model, but above all through skillful self-marketing. Her show "Germany's Next Top model" alone brought Heidi an estimated 20 million Euros. Heidi's annual income of 17 million Euros is therefore not only made up of modelling contracts, but also television contracts, advertising income and her several companies and her fashion designs. First and foremost, Heidi earns her money as an entrepreneur.
But self-marketing is also very important for beginners in the model business! Social media is your most important and effective tool for this. You can find almost all of the famous models on Facebook and Instagram and many of them started their career as influencers or became influencers in a very short time through their modelling career on Instagram and Co. For you as a model, social media is an ideal platform to present the latest pictures, to gain popularity and thus generate a high number of followers, which increases the chance of new jobs - and also the chance of a higher salary.
Find out more about how you too can become an influencer on social media here: https://go-models.com/magazine/becoming-a-micro-influencer
4. What payment options are there in modelling?
- Percentage share: Especially for stock photos (i.e. photos that customers can buy online) a percentage share is agreed upon. With this payment option, the models are given a share of all future sales revenues from the photos. The share can be 10%, but also up to 50%.
- Fixed rate: Often a fee is fixed, which is paid for half a day or per shoot.
- Hourly wage: Even in the model business there is the good old hourly wage, which is determined before the work is done and paid after the job is finished.
- Buyouts: As a model you have rights to photos and videos that are taken of you. This means that the client has to acquire the rights to the material created in addition to the service, which is called a "buyout". These rights are only ever sold for a certain period of time, which may not be exceeded without further payment. For example, a buyout can include nationwide TV advertising and be valid for a period of 2 years. However, catalogue advertising with the material would then be prohibited. The exact conditions of the buyout will be negotiated and agreed upon between client and model.
- Alternative payment: Especially at the beginning of your own career, it can make sense to accept jobs that don't bring in any money, but where you get a good online review, free outfits or professional pictures of yourself (at a TFP shoot) in return. Such jobs also give you experience and more self-confidence in front of the camera.
What constitutes a TFP shoot and how it works you can find out here: https://go-models.com/magazine/tfp-shooting--get-your-personal-shoot-soon
5. Which factors influence your salary as a model?
Just like in other jobs, there are certain factors that can influence your salary. In the following we have summarised the most important aspects for you:
- Salary based on experience: Similar to other jobs, experienced models usually get the best salary. A daily fee between 300 and 1.000 Euro is common in the industry and the more experienced and confident the model is, the less hours are needed to successfully complete the job, which in turn means a higher hourly wage.
- Salary according to attractiveness and other criteria: Of course, a model should be attractive and meet the criteria the client wants. The better you meet these criteria, the better the pay, especially if you have a special look that is hard to find on the market.
- Salary by gender: Incredible but true: The fashion industry is one of the few areas where men earn less than women. Reason for that: Advertising for women's fashion and beauty products makes the industry considerably more money. As an example: While the best-paid female model in the world, Kendall Jenner, earns around 20 million euros a year, the most successful male model, Sean O'Pry, earns "only" 1.4 million.
- Salary by age: Age also plays a major role in the modelling business. For most jobs, only young models are sought after and by the end of their twenties, models are often considered "too old" in some areas. However, this also depends on the format. At the age of 38 you might not be booked as a bikini model anymore, but for family commercials.
- Salary by niche: How much you earn as a model also depends on the niche you work in. An average child model's salary, for example, averages 100-200 euros per shoot, while baby models can earn up to 300 euros.
6. Salary does not equal profit
Even if you have been paid a fair amount for a job, keep in mind that you still have to deduct all work-related expenses from this model's salary to calculate your pure profit. For example, the journey to the photoshoot, whether by car, train or plane, the costs for a visit to the hairdresser to freshen up your colour tone for the shoot, but also the lunch you ordered from your very own pocket on the set on the working day, all fall into this category. It is best to write down all your expenses to keep track of them and to be able to see later how much profit you have really made at the end of the month.
7. Bottom line:
It is definitely possible to finance your living as a model - a few make it into the circle of millionaires in this business. To become really rich and famous as a model is unfortunately an exception. Nevertheless, with motivation and hard work as a model you can earn a decent extra income and with a little luck you can earn a lot more than a boring office job would ever pay. Most importantly, however, the fun in your job is and remains your most important asset and the exciting and diverse work as a model will definitely provide you with that!