Your agency is going to be a major component in the amount and type of work you get. This is because it is not only the agency’s job to find modeling work, but also push you for those jobs. A good agency will present you well and try to persuade clients to go with you because they believe in you and your ability. So if you feel as though your agency does a poor job of this, or worse, doesn’t even care about their models and or who gets the job, then perhaps it is time for you to try another agency. But here is the kicker, do your research first.
The best way to do this is to ask numerous people who are working with this agency and have good things to say about them. There is no point in going from one bad agency to another. The idea is to find the best agency for you and that may be different from person to person. An agency may treat a few of their models very well (the ones who make the money) and somewhat forget about the rest. So do your homework. Make a list of the things that are important to you in an agency, and find that agency.
Many agencies will ask you to sign an exclusivity contract. This means that you agree to work with no other agencies in any nearby areas. They will likely have all of this specified and expect you to follow their rules. Now this is not a bad thing as long as this agency takes good care of you and gets you a decent amount of jobs. But if they don’t ask you to sign an exclusivity contract (and they are okay with this) try working with more than one agency. This can be a touchy scenario as you don’t want to burn any bridges in the process, but if an agency is open to the idea, see if you can work with more than one. This will only increase your opportunities and potential jobs. Just remember, this can be a touchy subject for agencies as you will obviously be working with competitors. Total honesty is required with both agencies and if you feel as though this may hinder you more than it may help, don’t do it. Better to have one decent agency than to have two poor agencies.
The other thing you can do to help your chances of getting more jobs is work outside the agencies, basically marketing yourself. Now there are two paths to take here and it all depends on how far you take the self-marketing. Many established models who have been in a specific market for some time may eventually decide to go free-lance, meaning they are their own agency and work for no one else.
Free-lance models work on their own, apart from any agency, to network and find their own modeling jobs. The major benefit of this is that they do not have to pay any agency fees. There is no middle man (agency) to pay. The client directly pays them. This allows them to further negotiate their prices up or down, depending on the job and hours. The major disadvantage of being a free-lance model is that they must find their own jobs and as noted above, this can be very difficult. In order to be a free-lance model, you must have great networking and personal skills. You should probably already have many connections in the modeling industry and you must stay on top of them. You are building your own brand. You are selling yourself as a model.
Even if you do have an agency this does not mean you cannot try to find work on your own. For the most part I have always had an agency, but I remember the first time I tried to model for Men’s Health on my own. Instead of trying to sit around in hopes that the agency may call or have a casting, a friend of mine named Mike and I decided that we were going to go about it ourselves. So Mike found a Men’s Health magazine and inside of it he searched for the Chief Editor, I remember his name was Mark. Next to Mark’s position as Chief Editor was his email. Bingo, we had a contact inside Men’s Health. We emailed him with some info and inquired about possibly modeling for them. Mike wasn’t in great shape, but I was. We didn’t really expect much back other than an automatic response or someone showing disinterest. But wouldn’t you know it, he responded back. He wanted to see me! Now I lived in Baltimore and they were in NYC. So I packed my bag for the day and went up to see Mark, the Chief Editor of Men’s Health. In the end they decided I was a little green (inexperienced) and the truth is, I was. I was exceptionally green at the time this happened. I had only begun modeling a few months before this. But the fact remains, by putting ourselves out there and reaching for the stars, we landed an appointment with one of the biggest magazines in fitness and I had only been modeling for a few months.
So when looking for the best agency, take your time and research them all. In the end, by taking the proper time to do so you will save yourself a lot of headaches. Do what it takes to find the best agency for you. If possible, try working with a couple of agencies. But if that doesn’t work, focus on the one agency and you can always try market yourself on the side. Just make sure not to step on anyone’s toes and as a rule of thumb, always be honest. The main goal is to get jobs, so find the best agency, or strategy, that allows you to do that. Whatever you do, do it with honesty and integrity!