Promotional Modeling has many different opportunities for people of all ages to earn money. In this economic time of more people being without jobs and needing extra money… this may be helpful. Even though this is a division of the modeling industry, there are opportunities for males and females to earn money without seeking a career as a stereotypical fashion or commercial print model. References are made to the modeling industry throughout this article, but non-industry professionals seeking this type of work can excel at certain types of promotional modeling and earn income, too. No matter what place, product, service, or person you may “promote” during this type of job… it can change from day-to-day, so people who are flexible with their schedule and not shy tend to do well in these types of bookings.
Promotional Modeling is a term used to distinguish it from a model that’s being hired to be photographed to specifically appear only in print form. Although a model in print can be “promoting” something, they are not referred to as promotional models by the industry. A promotional model means “in-person”. In person (not print), a promotional model “PROMOTES” something like we see face-to-face in salespeople with their expressions, personality in communication, personal presentation of themselves and product, etc… you may have seen them promoting many times without knowing that their service was as a promotional model.
These models are rarely employees of the promoted service or company they are hired to represent. They are hired specifically for an event that may last just a few hours, a full day, a few days or even an extended length of time. A promotional model can appear on location at a huge variety of locations to promote an event, person, product, or service. The bookings may start very early in the morning, during the afternoon, or evening hours and the types of models used are as diverse as the actual jobs. They may work at conventions, malls, bars, or on location at retailers, etc. There sometimes are age restrictions if promoting tobacco, alcohol, or any adult content event. Sometimes they are spokespeople with specific things to mention, sometimes they just smile and hand out samples, or sometimes they must even wear costumes!
The type of model that can be hired as a promotional model depends on the client’s diverse needs (just like any other model), but the strict images of “looking like a model” may be considered more flexible or not even necessary. Their look need not really “look like” a model, unless it’s a specific client’s request for that image (ex. Model in bikini at bar attracting attention for promoting an alcohol brand), but in general the promotional model is attractive, well-groomed, approachable, and friendly. Think of your nicest and sincerest smiles, using your best posture, looking at people in their eyes, shaking hands when appropriate, overcoming shyness or tendencies to have an overpowering, dominant attitude, etc. There’s a fine line between confidence and just too much “confidence-talk” that sounds cocky. That can be annoying and not give the right impression to people. Being a promotional model is all about the way you make the connection to people and how they perceive you as you “promote” the product or service.
Promotional modeling jobs are more plentiful to find and book than the other types of commercial and fashion print and runway modeling jobs. BUT they are often not the sought after jobs by models. Maybe the jobs are not what the model sees themselves wanting to do or maybe there’s any other excuse. It’s a paying job, so maybe the model should be weighing the disadvantages versus the benefits to their circumstances if they need money to re-invest in their career.
Even though the prestige may not compare to some contracts that models strive to get… promotional modeling is often a sure way to earn a consistent flow of money versus some other more competitive types of modeling. Sometimes actors will share these jobs with models. The concept of being a promotional model is not considered glamorous by many models, so the work can be overlooked by many thus leaving availability for paying work to other more eager models. They are willing to work at any job that can help them financially continue their journey in the modeling industry.
It takes time and money to keep a modeling career afloat long enough to help develop their career, so if promotional jobs can help earn some money, build and increase interpersonal skills, and increase their networking capabilities… what’s so unworthy of a model’s time than any other commercial or fashion job? Tons of commercial and fashion jobs aren’t all that glamorous, either, so get used to making the best out of a situation.
Don’t give in to the stereotype that some in the modeling industry debate about whether or not “promotional models” are even models at all. That’s just a matter of someone forgetting the definition of what a model REALLY is and the numerous ways that they provide a service of promoting a product or service, etc. Fashion and commercial print is NOT the only modality of making money as a model, so models that work just as hard doing long hours under some diverse conditions like in promotional modeling should have much more respect. Okay, maybe less glamorous than what they envision, but models need experience in adapting to different modeling situations, dressing themselves appropriately to suit different clients, communicating with fickle consumers, facing rejection, doing their own make-up, building endurance for being uncomfortable for hours, etc… it’s not just about having a one-dimensional “smile” that will impress every client… because it won’t!
Every model needs to adapt to their situation and give their client their best abilities. Clients expect it… even if they are not paying the model very much money. Speaking about money and promotional modeling, the model can earn about $15.00-$30.00+ an hour or a rate for a day’s work of about $100.00 -$300.00+. Compared to the other occupations in society requiring degrees, specialized training, and a large investment of money for college versus working for minimum wage… $15-$30+ isn’t anything to turn your back on if you want money without having a heck of a lot of other professional skills. Quite honestly, at each and every job the model should make the most out of the booking (and client) and add it to their modeling resume as an experience that helped make them a better model. Use the money you make wisely, and keep evaluating your career to what is your next step.
If you don’t like being a promotional model, but you’re having no advancement in any other type of modeling, then you need to get some things in check. Clearly evaluate what area of the country that you live in and be realistic to the kinds of clients that are hiring models in your area. If you are in the right area of the country that has the work you want and you really feel you meet the requirements of the specialized model that you want to be… you’ll need multiple professional opinions about what steps you can take to get closer to your goal. For instance, if your height is over 5’9″, and agencies say your look is “commercial”, but you desire “fashion editorial”… simply ask if they think you could change your hair, lose weight, re-shoot more pictures, etc. and have any chance of looking editorial.
Now, considering that you are young enough to still be considered editorial is a slim timeline. Promotional models are usually no younger than 18 except for “teen” opportunities that may require less interaction (ex. mannequin models in store windows for store promotion, teens handing out sale flyers or coupons, etc). And, if you’re over 21… that’s very late to start an editorial-fashion career. At this point, before you make any drastic changes in your hair, body, or location that you live… have you considered enhancing your commercial look in your portfolio to get more jobs? This is what I mean by getting some things in check.
Don’t waste too much time at each part of your career fighting who you truly are as a model. Make the most out of your look and personality to make the most money and advance your career. A good agent will guide you to how to optimize your look because it will help make THEM more money by booking you. Most modeling agencies across the country (with the exceptions of the larger city markets) will book promotional jobs as a full-service modeling agency. Now, if the promotional jobs are coming in and you get asked by your agent if you are available to work and you keep saying no… don’t think that helps you stay on their good side. They’ll know that they are being blown off and if they can’t book the models… the agency will lose potential money from that booking. That’s not good when it interferes with the business aspect of the agency. They’ll be less likely to think of you as dependable and professional and may pass you over when pulling models in for other bookings that you would have liked! Ah… politics are everywhere!
Only my opinion, but you could do 20 paying promotional jobs while you wait for that one print opportunity that pays money. No matter how much you may have not felt like a glamorous model doing those jobs, they are NOT posted in your portfolio for all to see, nor does everyone need to know about them publicly if you don’t share that info (except for potential income taxes). Other clients may never even know that you’ve earned any money dressed up in a costume or handing out brochures… that doesn’t go into your portfolio as a print model! It’s funny to think of some of the things models have had to do while developing their careers, and some of the photo shoots may have been just as testing as wearing a costume depending on the concept of the ad, so hang in there!
Again, promotional models earn money and gain interpersonal, professional experience, so if a model does need extra cash… it’s not the worst way to earn money. Some promotional jobs are actually very fun and you can meet a lot of very interesting people. Like life, a model’s job is what they make out of it! Don’t complain to the wrong people, either… not professional. If at all possible, find a way to work out any confusion before fingers point to everything being your fault because unfortunately many occasions are blamed on the model even when it’s not.
If the model gets the promotional job through a modeling agency there will be the agency’s commission deducted from that rate just like any other type of modeling. Some opportunities are posted on the Internet or posted in some newspapers, too, for unrepresented models. (There are many promotional modeling jobs out there.) Some independent models who work without an agency may be able to find direct bookings with certain clients and earn the rates stated without paying any commission. There are pros and cons to being an independent model, so research any opportunity to ensure it is valid, safe, and reputable. Make sure it’s clear and established in writing as proof that you’ve worked and get a realistic idea of how long it will take to get paid. Even models in an agency must wait for the client to send the money to their agencies and that can often take many weeks.
An independent model must do a lot of the extra work in getting necessary information and handling payments that the agency usually takes care of… that’s another reason agencies get commissions. It’s not just about getting you a booking, but it’s also a way to have someone act on your behalf to complete the booking and GET PAID! That’s why an independent model must learn quickly to manage their careers as a promotional model because the more they work… the more responsibilities they have. All models should be better organized not only in their bookings for jobs, but in their financial bookkeeping affairs. If personal bookkeeping is too complicated for the model to undertake, they should seek assistance or even hire someone to help them. (When first starting out as a model, though, become familiar with what a model can claim on taxes as expenses and the rules that apply.)
During these economic times, it’s good to know there are some nontraditional options while seeking employment… and not just for models. Good Luck!