Understand that while modeling for Gucci or Prada would be ideal, it is unwise to start at this point. Most high-fashion does not pay because of it’s prestigious place in the industry. Most models trade this work out because looks good in their portfolio. To designers, this is no secret. Gucci and Prada pay well, but the competition is hot. A good way to look at it is the 80/20 rule. Twenty percent of paid bookings are high-fashion and eighty percent are commercial. Eighty percent of commercial bookings will be paid work and twenty percent of high-fashion bookings will be paid work. Commercial bookings pay a lower dollar amount than high-fashion but the bookings are more frequent. Is it more important for you to work to get paid or is it more important to add more photos to your portfolio (trade-for-print)?
If you’ve developed your portfolio book already, there’s no need for you to continue doing trade unless it’s for a well-known brand and you can get a tear from it. Abercrombie, for example, doesn’t pay their models because they know they have enough people that would be willing to do trade-for-print. Another benefit of TFP is if you have a full portfolio already, but it’s missing a particular look for a market you’re trying to break into. These two examples are great ways for you to receive the images you need and submit yourself to a target client.
Now, you won’t want to consider all paid bookings. What if a company is willing to pay you a fee but their product is intimate apparel? Are you prepared to model in your skivvies? If so, you’ll want to make sure they’re willing to pay a higher rate- your rate for that type of work.
Establish a minimum day and hourly rate that is worth your time. You’ll also want to increase this amount as your time gets more valuable- say, when you start getting a lot of paid bookings. Say you’re day rate is $200 for an 8 hour “day rate”. This would make your hourly rate $25. Most models-and agents- require a minimum number of paid hours in order to accept a booking. You may want require a client to book you for a minimum of 2-4 hours for it to be worth your time. Consider you’ll have to travel, make arrangements in your schedule, and cover expenses, for example. Know where you draw the line before negotiating so you don’t end up regretting it when you accept your next booking.