A Complete Guide to the Business Side of Modelling

  • Amy Bebbington

The supposed glamour of modelling attracts many to the fashion world with little knowledge of the industry. Hopefuls rush with eagerness and desperation to score their first role as an official model without a care for the nitty gritty. Unfortunately, their innocence and naivety is taken advantage of with models receiving little pay and treated inappropriately.

The responsibility falls upon the models alone to ensure contracts are legit and invoices are correctly paid. Therefore, a business-minded approach is required to avoid scams because you could be taken advantage of. To avoid carelessly entering the industry read our guide and tap into the business side of a fiercely, competitive world.

Since becoming a Freelance Fashion Writer, I have had to learn a lot about invoices, tax and contracts. Ultimately, it is MY responsibility to ensure that I am paid correctly, rewarded appropriately for my time and my tax contributions are paid on time. Therefore, understanding each process is essential to your success.

The Importance of Contracts

Legal binding documents are extremely important as a model. Jargon is difficult to understand and the time it takes to read is quite boring. Most are eager to begin the role and feel lucky to accept an amazing opportunity. Therefore, the contract is vital to ensure everything is above board and you will not be taken advantage of.


  • First of all, carefully read the contract highlighting areas that are alien to you.
  • Research points that you fail to initially understand. The Internet is an endless source of information that can help you to solve the answers.
  • Ask a relative or friend to read over the document for reassurance taking their opinions on board.
  • Do not sign the document until you are completely happy with the requirements and expectations of you.
  • Bring your concerns or questions to the agency or company. You may have to negotiate if you are unhappy with the payment price.
  • Never feel pressured to sign a contract. Only proceed if you are 100% comfortable with all the terms.
  • Always have a copy of the contract yourself as well as the employer.
  • Check the commission that agencies will take for their role in securing work. It is usually 20% but make sure you find out if it is not included in the contract.
  • Reading a contract thoroughly and understanding what is asked of you is vital. Raise any concerns immediately.

What to Do If No Contract Is Available

Ask for one. A legit company will always offer you a contract. Respectable, trustworthy agencies will ask for you to sign a contract to explain their terms and conditions. For those under the age of 18, will need your parent’s consent and should not proceed without it. Legal documents are important to avoid inappropriate behaviour. The contract covers both you and the company as if the organisation fails to pay you to have a written document that proves your collaboration.

Types of Contracts

Non-exclusive: A contract that allows for models to seek roles without having to pay the agency a commission. Therefore, the legal document provides flexibility as models can sign non-exclusive contracts with other agencies.

Exclusive: The contract binds you to one agency preventing a model from signing to any other organisation. This agency has exclusive control over your bookings during the length of the contract.

One-time: An agreement that is valid for one specific opportunity. Upon finishing the role the contract has been fulfilled.

Mother agency: A clause that enables your agency to receive a commission even after you are signed by another agency.


Pay your Tax

When starting out understanding how to calculate your tax contributions is difficult especially as a freelance model. Yet, it is highly important that you do not ignore the payment altogether as this could result in a hefty fine. Once you have made yourself aware of the requirements it becomes a lot easier to understand. Trust me.

  • Begin by researching the HMRC website to gain an understanding of your next step.
  • Usually, you will have to register as self employed and to access specific reference numbers. If you find the website difficult to navigate and are struggling to know what your next step is ring the team.
  • I simply explained my circumstances, which allowed for them to direct me on the right path. I even had a member of the team on speaker phone whilst I filled in the correct form. It was very reassuring.
  • I simply explained my circumstances, which allowed for them to direct me on the right path. I even had a member of the team on speaker phone whilst I filled in the correct form. It was very reassuring.
  • Fill in the correct form and you will be directed each step of the way.
  • Make sure you write down the date of when you need to declare your years earnings to avoid a fine.

How to Organise your Finances

Filling out your tax return will be very complicated and confusing if you do not have your finances organised. A spreadsheet is a very useful tool to record your finances in one place for the year. Simply layout the document with the months along the top and the jobs listed to the left. Fill in at the end of each month to keep on top of your finances rather than leaving until the end of the year. This way you will know exactly how much you have earned decreasing the amount of time spent filling out the form.


I find a finances spreadsheet extremely useful to organise my earnings each month. Also, a savings bank account where I add money to is another useful tip. Calculating how much your tax is will ensure that you have the sufficient funds for when you have to pay the amount at the end of the year.

What is a Model Release Form?

The model release form serves as a protection for a model. This document gives the photographer written permission to utilise the images taken during a photoshoot. It will state the intent of which the photo can be used and the photographer must abide by. Here restrictions can be put upon the image stating that you do not want the image to link to sex, drugs or violence.

It is important to sign a model release form to ensure that the image does not be used in an inappropriate way. Therefore, the image can only be used in the way it is stated on the form. The document ultimately protects both the model and photographer. It is wise to come to an agreement before the photograph is taken.

How to Avoid Scam Artists

A model armed with contract knowledge and also a business mind will certainly be able to avoid predators. Scam artists prey on the innocent who are new to the industry and lack in experience. However, research, read contracts thoroughly and take responsibility for your career to avoid scams. Avoiding danger is vital for both emerging and established models.

  • Never under estimate the power of research. Do not immediately accept and offer or part with money without investigating the company thoroughly.
  • The Internet is perfect for highlighting the scam artists yet remember predators are clever and can use online resources to their advantage posing as a legit company behind an Internet shaped screen.
  • Also, look to model forums and ask questions as a model scorned will definitely wish to share their experience.
  • Contact their supposed connections to discover if the collaborations are trustworthy.
  • Do not trust social media messages and comments as agencies receive a lot of applications.
  • Therefore, do not spend time trawling social media profiles to find talent.
  • Never meet a supposed contact alone. If you do meet choose a cafe where there is a lot of people.
  • Remember that it is okay to say no if you are uncomfortable at any time.
  • Always sign a contract (see above) and never proceed without one.
  • Also, never hand over a large sum of money before the photoshoot has even begun.
  • Act with caution as unfortunately, the industry is full of those waiting to seize an opportunity.
  • Ask as many questions as you feel necessary to gauge their trustworthiness.


That’s a Wrap!

In conclusion, business minded and savvy models are surviving in an industry that is fierce, overwhelming and fast pace. Therefore, understanding the industry and taking responsibility for your own career is especially relevant to your success. I hope that the guide has helped you on your quest to becoming a model bringing up elements of a model’s life that you may not have thought about previously. Also, ensuring that you act cautiously and pay attention to contracts will certainly help you on your journey.

Finally, if you have any further questions about the business side of modelling, please do get in touch by commenting below. I am happy to help! Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter.

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Posted by Amy Bebbington

I express my love of fashion through writing, blogging and styling. My creative personality ensures that I produce unique and original work. I am a keen knitter and enthusiatic dancer.