Updated November 5, 2020:

Who Can Operate This Type of Business?

Learning how to start a modeling agency requires some careful planning. A modeling agency is a great business venture for anyone who can think quickly on his or her feet and enjoys working a flexible schedule. Flexibility is necessary because some jobs have to be handled very suddenly and in short time frames. Additionally, cancellations are an inevitable aspect of this business.

To succeed as a modeling agent, you should be a “people person” as the job involves interacting with potential employers and models. An agent must be highly self-motivated and very organized since he or she will act as a manager for the models within the agency. 

Typical Day at a Modeling Agency

What an agent will do in a typical day at the agency will vary. It could involve directing and guiding the models as they're being photographed. Alternatively, it might be working with the brands to decide which photos are best for promotional and marketing materials. On most days, an agent will seek out jobs for his or her models as well as look for models to work with on future jobs. When working with models, agents will also arrange meetings with clients that would be a good fit.

As soon as an agent establishes a working relationship with a model, it's important to start thinking about the kind of work the model is best suited for, such as in print materials or fashion runways. When working with models, an agent will provide all information about related jobs to the model and work hard every day to find work for the model. Agents may also support models by helping them find:

  • Doctors
  • Trainers
  • Nutritionists
  • Other professionals to help them look their best

Target Market 

When starting a modeling agency, it's up to you to decide what type of business you want to run. You may think of fashion magazines and runways. However, there are numerous other types of models as well. These include people who work behind the scenes to perfect the designs, as well as people who hold props for photoshoots. Before you start an agency, it's smart to evaluate the various types to decide which one works best with your strengths and skills as a business owner.

One of the most lucrative types of agencies is high-fashion modeling. This is also one of the most competitive. A modeling agency owner in this area of the industry must have previous experience with talented models as well as connections with important people. For a new modeling agency, starting with catalog modeling is often more realistic. You can network with companies in your area as they prepare for season catalogs. Another option is to open a niche modeling agency, such as one with full-size models. 

Skills and Experience Needed for a Modeling Agency 

To run a successful modeling agency, you will need to have many different skills. You should also have either formal education or experience with business, marketing, or related subjects to help establish and build the agency.

Some of the ways to build your agency include:

  • Doing research
  • Reading magazines and understanding the fashion industry
  • Attending fashion runway shows
  • Watching fashion and modeling shows on television
  • Staying up-to-date with current events in the fashion industry

It is also valuable to have some type of experience in the industry, such as working for a modeling agency or directly with models. It is easier to establish a network of fashion contacts when you have previous experience in the industry. Contacts are especially valuable in fashion. Those relationships can help you find and establish steady work for your models.

Costs Involved in Opening a Modeling Agency

The cost to open a modeling agency can vary between $2,000 and $10,000. Since an agency can be run out of your home, the cost is lower than what you might find when opening another type of business that requires a storefront. All you really need is a computer to handle the main duties as an agent. They may include:

  • Contacting companies 
  • Connecting with possible employers
  • Searching for open jobs
  • Supporting models as they market themselves.

If you need help with how to start a modeling agency, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.