The best piece of modeling business advice you’ll read here.

Ok, I lied, there are 2 pieces of information. 2 for the price of 1, because I’ve been slacking.

1) Get a notebook

I don’t mean open a new .doc on your laptop, or find the back of a receipt somewhere to take notes – I mean go out and buy a fucking notebook. With pages. Make sure it’s portable (i.e. it’s not massive or ridiculous) and make sure you like it – it’s your new best friend.
You’re going to write in everything you earn, and everything you spend modeling. You’re going to have your rates in the front of it and your levels. You’re not only going to use it to help you figure out profit, help you with your taxes and keep track of your life – it’ll help you figure out whether or not your modeling is a reasonable business to take full-time.
Profit:
This one’s fairly easy. Just write in what you get paid per job, and what you spend per job (travel, props, accomodation etc.). The amazing thing about modeling is, while you can make a good amount of money, it’s also very easy to piss away money without realising it. A lot of models I know are broke, despite working a lot and charging a lot. Also write in ‘extravagent’ purchases (define that as anything you buy at your day rate or more). Just keep track of your money. You can never have enough, and more often than not you won’t have any when you really need it if you don’t keep an eye on it.
Taxes:
I would advise keeping this stuff in a spreadsheet, but it’s always good to have a back up because computers fuck up. If you have every job and all your expenses in hard format too, it just means that you’re not going to be crying and smacking your head against a wall come s-a time.

Life
Modeling can take over your life – I’m sure regular readers will have read enough from ex-models to understand that. If your notebook is filled with ££££ and stuff you need to bring, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Schedule time out, remember to see your family and friends and non-modeling people. Remember to set days aside to have time to yourself, just to do whatever you like doing. Don’t let modeling take things from you that you’re not willing to give.

Viability
So…you have lots of interest, lots of shoots and you hate your day job. Or you’re a student and the idea of working full-time for someone else doesn’t appeal. Or you just want to be a model. Well, sit down and work it out.

To earn £20,000pa (pre-tax) you need to be making £384.62 a week. That’s in a normal job. Lets assume that we can write off the 2 weeks around Christmas/New Year, because you’re not going to be working, so make that £400 (a nice round number). Lets assume you’re a fairly experienced and good model, and you’re charging £200 full day and about £120 half day, or £35 per hour. That sounds fairly awesome – you only need to either work 2 full days per week, or you need to do 3(ish) half days. But that’s every single week – no holidays, no sickness, no ‘off’ weeks where you can’t be bothered to hustle work. Assume you can do 1 studio day per month (reasonably, if you travel), so that’s 7 more shoots a month to keep afloat on a fairly average salary. If you already have all of your weekends booked out, or you have regular bookings via sites etc, you could be in business.

But then you want to look at the current spend – what percentage of a job do you spend on travel? How much will you need to travel? How much business do you reasonably have in your area before all the photographers that were interested in shooting you have already shot you? These are issues that you don’t need to consider in a ‘normal’ job, but something you seriously need to think about in modeling. If you’re travelling a lot and spending about £50 per shoot on travel, that’s 25% of your earnings. How are you going to make that up? That could end up costing you £5,000 per year! It’s not sounding quite as easy now… you’ll need to work more, but that’ll possibly mean more travel, more expenses. Figure out your plan – will you tour regularly? Will you scout awesome locations locally? Can you shoot at home, and is that something photographers will want? Will you change your look regularly to get past photographers interested again? What’s your USP and skill-set?

That’s really simple shit, but it’s something that some models just don’t seem to think about when they decide to go full-time. They think shit like ‘is my portfolio good enough’ or ‘have I done enough tfp’, which is absolutely irrelevant. You could have the best portfolio in the world, but if you don’t handle your money you’ll be broke, so you’ll need another job, and bye-bye full-time model. This is a way of thinking. It’s a way of life.

2) Sort out your money

Yes, its a dollar. Get over it.

Keeping track of it is part of it, and knowing what you need to earn and setting targets for yourself (eg. I’ll get 4 more shoots next month, I need to create relationships with 2 new studios this month for more studio days, I need to get in touch with x number of photographers etc etc.) Treat it like a business!

There’s also the tedious crap that is taxation, and needing emergency money.

Taxes:
Take 20% of every job. Put it in a savings account. Each and every job you do. Don’t just leave it in a jar somewhere – actually open a special account for this and put it there. That way, when tax time comes, you can just pay your taxes and forget about them. No pain, no monthly payments…just done. (Remember though, if you’re earning more, you’ll need to pay more!)

Emergency money:
You need to get your car MOTed, the pipe’s burst and you need to replace a shitload of stuff in your flat, you need to move, you’re having a slow month, whatever. Savings are key to a sound mind – it’s good to have a buffer before ‘fuck I’m homeless’. The bigger, the better. Put 10% of each job into a savings account that you just use ‘for a rainy day’. Or even for something special. It’s you’re money – it’s just good to have some set aside.

After you’re sorted taxes and put away some money for emergencies, you’re actually living off £14,000 a year, or £270 a week. Is that enough?

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