How to Start an Adult Modeling Business & Get Models

Brown concrete buildings.jpg

Do you have a good eye for attractive people -- the ones that look great in person and even better in pictures? Do you find the idea of helping young men and women jump start their modeling careers to be the most fun you can imagine? You could be the ideal candidate for a career in model management. This high-flying profession is full of excitement, but not everyone can survive the hectic schedule successful modeling managers keep -- or the occasional quirky behaviors of the people they represent. After all, folks who earn a living under a camera's ever-watchful gaze can be high maintenance.

That said, if everything about the modeling business intrigues you and you're willing to expend lots of energy and enthusiasm on behalf of your clients, you could earn top dollar from the booking commissions that propel your best people to the top. As an extra benefit, you can launch this type of business without having to spend money on an office until you've gotten yourself established.

  • Legal contracts

1 Hire an attorney

Hire an attorney to draw up a general managerial contract, or use an Internet legal site to draft one. Use language that covers your level of authorization to make deals on behalf of models, explicitly stating your responsibilities for negotiating bookings on their behalf. Include other rights associated with their work, image and appearances. Include language that stipulates the length and terms of renegotiation, too. Contract law professionals recommend short contracts -- three or four months at the onset of a relationship -- so either party can get out from under the agreement should it prove to be a bad fit. Typically, 30-day-notice language applying to both parties will suffice. Short-term contracts can also help you polish your negotiation skills as you expand your client base.

2 Draw up an agreement with your model

Draw up an agreement with your model(s) to establish business boundaries. Discuss the types of assignments each model is willing to take and those he or she would prefer not to take. You will be making booking agreements with clients on their behalf, so it's important that you both be on the same page to avoid potential conflict. As a rule of thumb, fees are paid directly to the agent, at which point your negotiated fee is subtracted from the job (typically 20% of the payment). You write a check for the remainder of the fee and send it to the model. Such tasks sound simple, but when money enters relationships, things can break down fast if agreements aren't spelled out.

3 Find clients

Find clients. One of the best ways to approach this important step is to contact photographers in your area. Make appointments to meet with them individually to show off photos of the models under contract to you. If there is interest in one or more, leave behind a copy of their modeling composite so the photographer will have your contact information on hand. In addition to contacting photographers, prepare packages of information about your agency (a brochure and a letter will suffice) and mail to ad agencies, public relations firms and area convention centers, all of which employ models year-round. Finally, use the Internet to set up a website with your agency information and photos of the models you represent.

4 Recruit models

Recruit models. Consider holding a regular audition to recruit models. Run a display ad in a newspaper that attracts young readers, extending invitations to be interviewed to those who wish to launch a modeling career. You might be able to strike a deal with a mall to hold this event in their main court. Don't discount exhibiting at high school and college career days in your area. You might also wish to launch a "friend-get-a-friend" program that lets your clients recruit on your behalf. Should a referral lead to a new contract, a bonus would go to your client.

5 Open an office

Open an office. Once you've got your feet firmly planted financially, consider hiring a sales staff and clerical help. You might want a separate room reserved just for photography so if a client needs a photo at the last minute for a specific brand, you can shoot it on the fly. Consider clerical help with graphic design skills so you can output composites for your clients.

6 Grow your business wisely without stretching yourself too thin

Grow your business wisely -- without stretching yourself too thin. As relationships with models grow, expand the length of time you put clients under exclusive contract to cement the most important of your relationships. You may also take charge of other aspects of your models' careers by offering services like booking and underwriting updated portfolio shots and model's composites.

Based in Chicago, Gail Cohen has been a professional writer for more than 30 years. She has authored and co-authored 14 books and penned hundreds of articles in consumer and trade publications, including the Illinois-based "Daily Herald" newspaper. Her newest book, "The Christmas Quilt," was published in December 2011.