Small Markets

Getting Jobs in Smaller Markets

The key to all modeling is "hustling" or "getting off your butt." This is especially important when it comes to smaller markets -- where there are few modeling agencies, and many of the "agencies" are actually "charm schools" which make most of their money by selling "classes" rather than taking a "sales commission" on the jobs they line up for models.

This means than in smaller markets -- you will likely have to go right to the businesses that hire models, in order to get "known" and get hired.

Getting Prepared

If you are going to market yourself directly to clients, you'll have to get prepared first. The first step is to do a careful inventory of your look and the types of jobs that you would be appropriate for. You then have to consider how your look fits into the types of advertising which is done locally where you are living. If you are looking to do runway fashion work in Des Moines, IA -- you're kidding yourself. It doesn't matter if you have the "runway height," figure and age -- if there aren't jobs in that type of modeling -- you're not going to get work.

Smaller markets tend to push more conservative clothing (Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Sears), consumer services (banking, insurance, health clubs), home furnishings and major appliances (sofas, TVs, freezers), food (groceries and "diet" food, restaurants), and cars. You need to think in terms of how your looks and age can fit into these types of advertising.

Next -- you'll want to have a few photos taken showing you in "like situations" for the types of jobs that you are qualified for. If you are interested in doing consumer services work -- you should have some photos which include you in an office setting (or if you want the health club angle, working out on fitness machines). The key to getting jobs is that you "get what you show." If you're trying to do consumer services work and all you have are a bunch of "runway" type photos -- you won't look very credible for being able to do that kind of work.

Developing a List

In smaller communities, there are few places that actually hire models. You need to develop a list of businesses and contact people that you can mail your photos to and to set up interviews with. How do you find out who to send information to? It's as simple as calling and saying, "I'm a local commercial freelance model, and I would like the name of the person in charge of hiring models for your advertising --- so that I can send in a resume and some pictures." Once you have the name, you need to actually SEND the photos (they will be expecting them now), and if they haven't called you back within a week, you should call to "ask" if they got the photos (they did) and if you can set up an interview to talk about their future model needs.

So... WHAT businesses should be on the list? Every community is different, but here's a good starting list that you can search through in your local Yellow Pages.

  • Advertising (anyone who sells or creates advertising is a potential client)
  • Appliances
  • Associations
  • Automobile Dealers
  • Banks and Financial Services
  • Beauty Salons
  • Bridal and Formalwear Shops (especially for the limited amount of runway work available)
  • Clinics and Hospitals (for community "health newsletters" and other publications)
  • Clothing
  • Furniture
  • Grocers
  • Insurance
  • Motels / Hotels (with "lifestyle" photos of people using facilities)
  • Printers (they "print" advertising for businesses, and can refer models to those who need them)
  • Publishers
  • Real Estate (lifestyle photos of people enjoying "living spaces")
  • Restaurants (lifestyle photos of people enjoying dining)
  • Schools and Universities (photos of "students" for catalogs and brochures)

Taking Action

The first step is to find out the contact names of the people in charge of hiring models. If the business doesn't use models, then you should ask, "if a model needed to be hired, who WOULD be in charge of that?" Getting the correct name is extremely important, because it separates the "junk mail" from the mail which actually gets opened.

The next step is sending out photos (and resume if you have considerable experience) and a statement about why you want to be a model for that business. You need to focus on how your talents and skills can help show off the company's product or service in a better light, thereby generating more customer interest.

Don't say "I've always wanted to model, and you could pay me to do that."
WRONG! BUZZER!!! You need to say something like

"Modern vehicles have more safety features than ever, and these features and safe-guards are very important to professional women purchasing vehicles.
As demonstrated in my photos, I have a very good 'professional, working mom' look, which would allow the ad text to talk about why professional working moms should buy the XYZ Ranger Deluxe Cab."

The key is that you have to show how their product or service can be BETTER advertised because they use YOU in the advertising.


The jobs you take are similar to the products you buy. Quality should count more than quantity.

Especially in a small market, if you start being the "spokesperson" for ANY product that comes along, you'll quickly dilute the sales potential you have for larger accounts and jobs. After all, who wants to have someone represent their prestigious firm when they look like they are only endorsing the product for the money?

Therefore, it is much better to have a few LARGE clients, and to do steady work for them, than to have many small "one-time" clients. Your focus should be on creating a "spokesperson" job -- where you are out there "pitching" the company's products. For instance, if you are in top shape and have won several fitness awards / trophies, you should approach local health clubs and try to work out an arrangement of doing 8-12 different ads during the year which all feature you "pitching" the clubs latest specials or new gear.

By focusing on a few larger clients, you are helped in another way as well. With a few large clients, you won't be constantly scrambling for work at low pay, as you would for most smaller one-time jobs. Again -- trying to be "all things to all people" will make your use as a "spokesperson" useless. Also -- by being a "spokesperson" in advertising over and over again -- you might eventually find yourself in the position to ask for a part-time ongoing job as a PUBLIC RELATIONS position with the company -- going out and talking about the products or services offered (to community groups, at trade shows, etc.).

Several of these small "part-time" positions can turn into big $$$ for a model in a small market.