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How To Become A Model Without Spending Money

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The road to a successful modeling career can take many paths and you can become a model without spending money. There are many traps and pitfalls in the modeling world though where money can be wasted without much to show for it.

Can You Model Without Spending Money

It is possible to start a modeling career without spending money. If you don’t want to spend money on modeling, work on building up your brand image, which can usually get you into modeling jobs. You’ll need to have a strong Instagram account and we also recommend starting a YouTube Channel to promote yourself. The main purpose of building up your brand is to get as many potential model scouts as possible to see you in different lights. The more avenues you put your work in the better your chances will be.

Steps To Starting Your Modeling Career Without Spending Money

Clean Up Your Social Media

The first thing you need to do to start your modeling career is to clean up your social media and start presenting yourself in a manner which will invite photographers and brands to work with you. We’ve written an entire article on what you need to do before applying to a modeling agency, but the main points are:

  • make your account public
  • list your country
  • state you are a model
  • delete images that take away from your brand
  • pick a username that is professional

If you skip over this important first step you’ll never get through the door. We check the Instagram profile of every model that applies with us. If the profile is set to private, we can’t see anything so we just move on. Also, if we don’t know where the model is from or how serious they are about modeling it is hard to make a decision on them.

Learn Poses and Runway Walks For Modeling

You’ll need to learn a variety of poses so you can have pictures that look different from one another. You should also be proficient in various runway walks. We’ve got helpful videos on posing and walking on our YouTube Channel if you need instruction.

Have Modeling Pictures Taken

You don’t have to spend money to get modeling pictures taken. If you’ve got a nice active Instagram profile, you can reach out to photographers in your local area and ask them to do a time for prints shoot. This simply means that both of you will get to use the pictures in your portfolios afterwards and nobody pays the other for the shoot. It is a trade of services that benefit both parties.

There are always new photographers looking to get photos of models to boost their own portfolios. You don’t need to pay a top level photographer for this, just find someone that does good work and wants to work with you. If you have trouble finding someone local to your area follow other models near you and ask them which photographers they use. They’ll usually tag them in the credits of their photo, so just follow them from that.

If you follow 10-20 local photographers on Instagram and you’ve already cleaned up your profile like we mentioned, chances are a few of them will reach out to you for a free shoot.

model without spending money

Use Every Opportunity

We see models waste opportunities to build their brand all the time. This is the biggest deterrent to them getting scouted and becoming a model. That shoot that you just scheduled with a local photographer should be a video audition as well. Bring a friend with you and have them create vertical and horizontal video content for your Instagram, TikTok and YouTube accounts.

Anytime you are modeling, it isn’t just about the current modeling you are doing. Showing other photographers or agencies your skills through video can get you instantly scouted online. These are the types of opportunities you should not let go to waste.

Create Modeling Accounts

You can also branch away from social media and start creating accounts on modeling websites. These websites always come with a free and paid version. Bypass the paid version and just use the free features available to you. If someone wants to work with you, the type of account you have won’t be a factor.

These websites are also places to look for free shoots or even paid jobs in your area. Everything you do should again be focused on building your brand and portfolio as well as your skill.

Some good websites to start with are Model Mayhem and

Apply To Modeling Agencies

You’ve done it all and now it is time to apply to some modeling agencies. It can be a scary step, but if you’ve followed our advice it shouldn’t be. You’ll want to start with some smaller local agencies instead of applying to places in New York City (unless you are from there).

Gather a list of agencies in your city and go to their website. Each agency will have specific instructions on how and when you can apply. Follow them exactly. Some will even have open model calls and castings that you can attend. Don’t hound them about your application, but do reapply in 6 months if something has changed on your end, such as you’ve increased your skill level.

Applying and showing up at model castings is a great way to start a relationship with professionals in your area. Even if they don’t have an opportunity for you they might know of someone who does. Never burn a bridge or get mad if the answer is no, because it might be yes a few months later.

If an agency is trying to get you to buy classes or sign up for photo shoots that cost money you should walk away and just politely tell them no thank you. If they really thought you could make them money on some upcoming jobs they wouldn’t need to get money from you for pictures or classes.

Be very careful when vetting a modeling agency. It is a good idea to find out who some of their other models are. Go to those models social media profiles and look for signs of jobs they’ve worked on. If they were on a paid job surely they would post about it. If you don’t see anything from any of the models at a particular agency it is best to move on.

Wrapping It All Up

It is possible to model without spending money and in fact it is the best way to go. Spending money on modeling doesn’t usually get you much for what you spend. When you model without spending money you’ll know the people that are working with you actually want to work with you and aren’t just in it for the payday you might bring them. We advise spending as little money as possible when starting your modeling career. There are no shortcuts and money cannot help you skip the line. Your success in modeling will be determined by your skill, look, and relationships, but not your money.

Robert Marmion
Robert is a modeling scout for NGM modeling and is the lead photographer. He has scouted more than 1,000 models in his career, and has published over 500,000 pictures of models.