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Modelling | Travel | Health | Nutrition

How much money do models REALLY make? | Part 1

Tokyo, Shanghai, New York,  Miami, Paris just to name a few. ‘How do we afford to travel all around the world?’ you might ask. Well, most of the time we don’t…

Today I thought I’d write a bit about a model’s earnings and all things money-related in this industry. In the era of social media, it’s easy to perceive models as girls who make millions and live in luxury. This may be true for top models and VS angels. However, I’ll be talking about the other 99% of us. If you’re someone who has just started modelling or you want to find out more about our earnings, this post is definitely for you.

On-stay contract

Most times, as a way to earn money, models travel to another country for an on-stay contract. What that means is we pack our bags and leave for a couple of months without knowing whether we will make money or not. That’s the nature of such contracts – money is not guaranteed. How much you will earn depends on the season, your looks (of course) and if the clients like you.

An on-stay contract simply means that we go to castings every day to meet clients who choose which model gets the job. This determines if you earn money or not. If the season where you’re staying is ‘slow’ (this often happens during fashion weeks when all the important clients travel to Paris, for example), you may find you’re not getting any jobs and there aren’t even castings to go to. Usually, it’s hard to predict whether you will make money, not to mention how much.

Who pays for all of it?

Imagine this: you’re planning a modelling contract to Milan for 2 months. The agency in the country you’re going to pays for the flights, the apartment and additional things like a taxi from the airport. Most times it’s possible to get pocket money for your daily needs. I remember getting 50 euros a week in Milan and 80 euros in Paris. It was enough for me but it just depends on how much you spend; I know most girls used their own money because they ran out of what was given to them. Other than that, you get a book and comp cards with your pictures which you take with you for castings. For this the agency also pays.

Sounds too good, huh?

Firstly, agencies always take a commission from your earnings, which is completely normal – between 20% to 50%, depending on the country. Then, you need to give back everything the agency has paid for you. What’s left after that is for you to keep.

If you make less money than the total cost of all of the expenses I mentioned above, you come back from the contract with nothing. But this also means you don’t need to give back any money to your agency.


And let’s be honest, none of these commodities are cheap. The model apartments are more or less as expensive as a good Airbnb. Not to mention intercontinental flights. Here are the average expenses of a modelling contract in Milan, Italy. Bear in mind it’s not as expensive as LA or London; but because so many beginner models travel to Milan, often for their first contract, I thought this city would be the perfect example.

Flight – depending on your country. Let’s say it’s around 60-150 EUR

Apartments – 700–1200 EUR per month

Book (a portfolio we take to castings) – 10 EUR

Compcards (a card with our picture, measurements and height) – 35 EUR for 50 printed cards

Show package (if you’re there during the fashion shows and the agency needs to send our materials to potential clients) – 150-350 EUR – it’s always a bit shocking for me

Web + image fees (you need to pay for being on the agency’s website) – 150-300 EUR per year

Another thing is when you’re booked for a direct booking, which is a job that you travel for especially. It lasts for 1- 5 days most of the time. This is when the client you’re working for pays for your travel expenses and accommodation. We all love direct bookings!!

Mario Testino for Vogue USA

It’s better, however, to expect bigger expenses than this. Some agencies have a tendency to add unexpected costs of your stay. When you get your statement, you may find your earnings are lower than what you calculated yourself. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s better to stay alert. That’s why I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep track of all your expenses.

So you’re probably waiting to hear how much models make per day – I explain it all in detail in the next post – part 2 is coming very soon!

Is this how you imagined the life of a model? What did you find surprising? Or maybe you never thought of modelling as something glamorous? Let me know in the comments! And I’ll see you in the next post.

Zuza xx

8 thoughts on “How much money do models REALLY make? | Part 1

  1. Mega fajnie opisane ! Aż chciało się dokończyć czytać ❤️❤️❤️ Czekam na part 2 ! Bravo ☺️

  2. Wait, so you need to pay for being on the agency’s webpage? That’s ridiculous! The agency connects you with the clients and gets it’s comission for that.
    Which tools they use should not affect models wallet. Maybe in next few years they will start to charge models for each written email?

    1. Thank you for your comment! Yep..that’s how it works, unfortunately. There’s not much we can do about it, just hope the amounts they take away aren’t going to be enormous.

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