5 Ways Even Ordinary People Can Become Paid Models

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y Paul Michael

Some people are born genetically gifted. People like Gisele Bündchen, Adriana Lima, and Tyson Beckford may all work very hard to maintain their ravishing good looks, but let's be honest -- they started with a huge advantage. And while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, these people are making millions because most people find them very easy on the eye.

But what about the rest of us? Those who are real, regular, everyday Johns and Janes? What can we do to get a slice of the modeling pie? Well, it's not all about perfection (or a casting agent's interpretation of it anyway). Here are five ways you can get paid to be in front of the camera.

1. Take Advantage of Your Hands, Legs, and Feet

Sometimes, you don't need a great body, face, or physique to get paid big money for modeling. If you have the right hands, legs or feet, you can make some very good money modeling.

One of the first advertising shoots I attended was for a financial company promoting DIY loans. We needed a shot of a guy's hand painting a wall. So, we hired a hand model. When he arrived, he looked like the average guy you'd see in the street or at a ball game. But he was wearing gloves. When he took them off, his hands were flawless. Rugged, masculine, but with great skin and proportions, and perfect nails. He had a bag with him that contained all of his equipment and supplies, including a manicure set, lotions, creams and balms.

If you have nice hands, legs or feet, you could earn as much as $1,200 per day. However, you may not be able to help with the dishes going forward -- which is another plus.

2. Contact Model Agencies Specializing in 'Ugly' People

That is a horrid word to describe anyone, but it has become something of an acceptable word in the modeling industry. As it turns out, if you're not perfect, you're ugly. And there is an awful lot of demand for ugly people, which is a category I apparently fall into.

Take a look around Ugly Models, and you'll see that the site is filled with people who are simply not supermodel material. They may be taller, shorter, fatter, thinner, or plainer than your typical supermodel. But they are by no means ugly. Many are actually very good looking; most are average or above average in the looks department. They represent the vast majority of us all and get paid well to do so.

3. Model for Life Drawing Classes

If you are not shy and want to earn a little extra money, there is great demand for life models who are "real" people. I speak from experience on this one. I studied fine art and visual communication at college, and life-drawing classes were mandatory. By far the most boring people to draw were those with no character; people with no visible body fat, no wrinkles, no scars, no signs of aging. We used to call them mannequins.

When a 60-year-old guy with 50 pounds of extra huggability undressed, we all knew we were going to get something much more interesting for our portfolio. People who are taller, shorter or just more unusual were always favored by the class.

Now, your first few times will be tough. You have to go through a lot, and you don't get paid very much. Expect just $40-$50 for three hours of work, which includes a large variety of poses, and a lot of time spent sitting very still. The easiest way to get work is simply to call the local art schools and studios in your area. There will always be work, if you have the nerve.

4. Model for Catalogs

Clothing catalogs, tool catalogs, and even gardening catalogs do not want to feature high-end models or stunningly attractive people in their publications. They want real people with regular bodies and common features. The reason? They don't want you looking at the people, they want you looking at what they're wearing or using.

Now, they also don't want people who are considered overweight or obese, unless they market those specific types of clothing. But yes, you can find modeling work if you are very overweight, especially now that a large percentage of the U.S. population is obese. Do some research for terms like "overweight models" or "plus size modeling work." Men, women and children of all sizes can find work in the catalog industry.

5. Become a Background Artist or Extra

Imagine if movies and TV shows were only filled with the most beautiful people in the world? It would completely remove you from the world the directors and scriptwriters were trying to create. It's for that reason that there will always be paid work for background artists.

You can find work as an extra much more easily if you live in a place that is known for making lots of movies and TV shows. For that reason, Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago will always be top of the list. But, there are movies and shows being made all the time in nearly every city, including yours. Wikihow has some great advice on becoming an extra, and it's not difficult. You will need a headshot (which you'll require for any other kind of modeling work anyway) and a flexible schedule. Most of the work involves standing around waiting for the director to yell "action." You most likely won't have a speaking role for many years, which is why you're basically being paid to be a "moving model." It can also be a very fun way to meet people,-- and add a splash of color to your resume.
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