Do You Have to Be a Famous Celebrity to Make Money in Modelling?

  • Melissa Keen

The fashion industry has always been hugely affected by mass media. Today, the internet extends that reach tenfold. The impact can be easily seen by looking at the model’s that brands choose to represent them.

It’s now normal to see models who are famous before becoming the faces of big campaigns. Singers, actors and sportspeople are more commonly seen than models.

While it’s more common to see brands and magazines use celebrities and reality stars to front campaigns and grace covers, a model who is not famous can still make money. It may be considerably lower than a high profile celebrity model, but the opportunities do exist.

Click a section below to be taken right to one of our discussions about celebrity modelling and whether non-celebs can make it too (spoiler alert – yes they can!)

Why do Magazines and Brands Hire Celebrities?

Models Who Have Become Celebrities

How to Make Money as a Model if You Are Not Famous

How Much Money Do Non-Celeb Models Earn

Why do Magazines and Brands Hire Celebrities?

There a simple answer – sales. If a magazine cover or brand uses a celebrity image, there will be more exposure than with an unknown face.

Fans will buy a magazine simply for the famous face on the front. Fans will buy into a label advertised by their favourite celebrity as they want to emulate their favourite figure.

For example, the Kardashian’s have graced many covers and their fans are fiercely loyal. The Kardashians have built an empire and featured on the front of Vogue multiple times, despite the fact they are first and foremost reality TV stars. They have cleverly built many businesses and faced many brands by understanding exactly what their followers will buy into.

Models Who Have Become Celebrities

Supermodels have become celebs in their own right with the likes of Kendal Jenner, Kate Moss, Karlie Kloss and Gigi Hadid making a huge name for themselves.

With social media platforms, especially Instagram accounts, models can become huge overnight. Fans become enthralled by their seemingly glamorous lifestyles. Every Instagram post is eagerly awaited by followers.

It is worthwhile as a model to create a strong social media presence as brands do look at followers and post engagement when hiring models. Becoming a brand representative can be very lucrative as you will be paid to post campaign images and adverts on your profile.

Do make sure that you understand the terms fully as some brands only give out free products, whereas others pay too. If you’re savvy and know your worth, you can make a full-time career through ads.

Designers will look for model accounts and Instagrammers that have a huge following to reach a wider audience. Brands will pay a lot just for a single post if the follower count is high.

For hard-working and fortunate individuals, Instagram can easily turn an unknown model into a celebrity overnight. Instagram models are creating a very lucrative career for themselves.

How to Make Money As a Model If You Are Not Famous

Every model, whether famous or not, has to start somewhere. A few are lucky enough to be scouted at music festivals or airports, but most apply to agencies to start their modelling careers.

Once signed to a modelling agency, you will go to castings to secure roles. No one will know who you are initially, and it is up to you to keep working hard and make an impression. All models face rejection and must overcome this to become successful. Some models will make good money in modelling without ever being famous. It just demands persistence, hard work and the ability to deal with rejection.

Look After Yourself

Designers require models with proportional bodies to make sure that the garments fit well. Many agencies and brands will specify certain measurements they require from their models.

If you are hired, you will attend a few meetings where the pattern cutter and designer alter the design to make it fit properly.

Supermodels tend to have rare body types that are tall and lean yet naturally slim. Catalogue models are able to have more relaxed body types but are still expected to eat well and work out to look good in photos.

Runway Shows

Lots of models that walk at fashion week are ‘ordinary people’ unknown to the public. New faces are chosen for their striking looks, height and waif-like physique.

Over the week, there are a select number of models required to fill the shows. Each show will usually include one or two famous faces, but most of the girls are not in the public eye.

Fashion weeks in London, New York, Paris and Milan are where many get spotted launching their famous careers. A model who does well and makes an impression at these shows will likely be remembered and hired for future opportunities, giving them further exposure and increasing their chances of fame and popularity.

Commercial Modelling

From ad campaigns to product shots, commercial brands will regularly use non-celebrities to promote their designs.

Lots of brands do like to keep accessibility in mind and want to reflect their audience. A non-celebrity might therefore be chosen because they want to reflect their target audience.

Smaller companies also have budgets to think about. Hiring a big name costs a lot more than hiring someone who is less known.


The amount of images required in a catalogue usually means that an unknown model will be used, as the budget will not cover the expense of a celebrity.

Some larger brands that are stocked by a catalogue may hire a celebrity for a certain launch or campaign, and these images will appear in the catalogue. But generally, unless the celebrity is endorsing the entire collection or is involved in the creation of it, non-celebrities will be used to advertise mass amounts of products.

Body Part Modelling

There is no need for a famous figure in body part modelling. As the name suggests, only certain areas of the body are focused on, such as the hands or feet.

Body part models may also stand in as a double for a celebrity if that area is not so photogenic.


Again, the fitness industry will have a mixture where famous athletes will model for sports brands. However, fitness models who are not athletic stars will be needed to model apparel and equipment. It all depends on the budget.

Make sure you work out at the gym to create a toned, muscular physique suitable for the niche. You might want to hire a personal trainer to help you achieve your goal.

How Much Money Do Non-Celeb Models Earn

It is difficult to predict with brands and designers all charging various amounts. It falls upon the model or the agency to negotiate the correct deal for the work in mind.

Remember that your agency will take a percent of your wage for their role in finding you the job. It is important for you to be clued up when reading contracts to ensure that you are being paid a fair amount.

Also, it does depend on the amount of roles that you work and the effort put in. If you don’t attend a lot of castings and connect with new people you will find it difficult to earn a good wage.

Unfortunately, it is known in the fashion industry that models get little money for a lot of work. Everyone thinks that models at fashion weeks are getting paid the big bucks when in reality they could be just getting designer clothes.

Also, models sometimes do not read the contract, which results in the expenses coming out of your wage. Eager hopefuls jump at the chance to work in New York but don’t check the small print. The expensive flight, hotel and meals might just be coming out of your pay packet leaving you with practically nothing.

Check before you agree to the job. It is also well known the male models do not get paid as much as females due to the industry not being as popular. It is unfair yet a reality.

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Posted by Melissa Keen

Melissa's experience in the beauty and fashion world as a writer and blogger spans over five years. Her other interests include reading, yoga and music.