How to Start a Modeling Agency

Written by Dave Lavinsky

start a modeling agency

Starting a modeling agency can be very profitable. With proper planning, execution and hard work, you can enjoy great success. Below you will learn the keys to launching a successful modeling agency.

14 Steps To Start a Modeling Agency:

  1. Choose the Name for Your Modeling Agency
  2. Develop Your Modeling Agency Business Plan
  3. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Modeling Agency
  4. Secure Startup Funding for Your Modeling Agency (If Needed)
  5. Secure a Location for Your Business
  6. Register Your Modeling Agency with the IRS
  7. Open a Business Bank Account
  8. Get a Business Credit Card
  9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits
  10. Get Business Insurance for Your Modeling Agency
  11. Buy or Lease the Right Modeling Agency Equipment
  12. Develop Your Modeling Agency Marketing Materials
  13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Modeling Agency
  14. Open for Business


1. Choose the Name for Your Modeling Agency

The first step to starting a modeling agency is to choose your business’ name.  

This is a very important choice since your company name is your brand and will last for the lifetime of your business. Ideally you choose a name that is meaningful and memorable. Here are some tips for choosing a name for your own modeling agency:

  1. Make sure the name is available. Check your desired name against trademark databases and your state’s list of registered business names to see if it’s available. Also check to see if a suitable domain name is available.
  2. Keep it simple. The best names are usually ones that are easy to remember, pronounce and spell.
  3. Think about marketing. Come up with a name that reflects the desired brand and/or focus of your modeling agency.



2. Develop Your Modeling Agency Business Plan

One of the most important steps in starting a modeling agency is to develop your startup business plan template. The process of creating your plan ensures that you fully understand your market and your business strategy. The plan also provides you with a roadmap to follow and if needed, to present to funding sources to raise capital for your business.

Your business plan should include the following sections:

  1. Executive Summary – this section should summarize your entire business plan so readers can quickly understand the key details of your modeling agency.
  2. Company Overview – this section tells the reader about the history of your modeling agency and what type of modeling agency you operate. For example, are you a casting agency, commercial, fashion, runway, plus-size, or a petite modeling agency?
  3. Industry Analysis – here you will document key information about the fashion and modeling industry. Conduct market research and document how big the industry is and what trends are affecting it.
  4. Customer Analysis – in this section, you will document who your ideal or target customers are and their demographics. For example, how old are they? Where do they live? What do they find important when purchasing services like the ones you will offer?
  5. Competitive Analysis – here you will document the key direct and indirect competitors you will face and how you will build competitive advantage.
  6. Marketing Plan – your marketing plan should address the 4Ps: Product, Price, Promotions and Place.
    • Product: Determine and document what products/services you will offer 
    • Prices: Document the prices of your products/services
    • Place: Where will your business be located and how will that location help you increase sales?
    • Promotions: What promotional methods will you use to attract customers to your modeling agency? For example, you might decide to use pay-per-click advertising, public relations, search engine optimization and/or social media marketing.
  1. Operations Plan – here you will determine the key processes you will need to run your day-to-day operations. You will also determine your staffing needs. Finally, in this section of your plan, you will create a projected growth timeline showing the milestones you hope to achieve in the coming years.
  2. Management Team – this section details the background of your company’s management team.
  3. Financial Plan – finally, the financial plan answers questions including the following:
    • What startup costs will you incur?
    • How will your modeling agency make money?
    • What are your projected sales and expenses for the next five years?
    • Do you need to raise funding to launch your business?

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3. Choose the Legal Structure for Your Modeling Agency

Next you need to choose a legal structure for your new modeling agency and register it and your business name with the Secretary of State in each state where you operate your business.

Below are the five most common legal structures:

1) Sole proprietorship

A sole proprietorship is a business entity in which the owner of the modeling agency and the business are the same legal person. The owner of a sole proprietorship is responsible for all debts and obligations of the business. There are no formalities required to establish a sole proprietorship, and it is easy to set up and operate. The main advantage of a sole proprietorship is that it is simple and inexpensive to establish. The main disadvantage is that the owner is liable for all debts and obligations of the business.

2) Partnerships

A partnership is a legal structure that is popular among small businesses. It is an agreement between two or more people who want to start a modeling agency together. The partners share in the profits and losses of the business. 

The advantages of a partnership are that it is easy to set up, and the partners share in the profits and losses of the business. The disadvantages of a partnership are that the partners are jointly liable for the debts of the business, and disagreements between partners can be difficult to resolve.

3) Limited Liability Company (LLC)

A limited liability company, or LLC, is a type of business entity that provides limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners of an LLC are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The advantages of an LLC for a modeling agency include flexibility in management, pass-through taxation (avoids double taxation as explained below), and limited personal liability. The disadvantages of an LLC include lack of availability in some states and self-employment taxes.

4) C Corporation

A C Corporation is a business entity that is separate from its owners. It has its own tax ID and can have shareholders. The main advantage of a C Corporation for a modeling agency is that it offers limited liability to its owners. This means that the owners are not personally responsible for the debts and liabilities of the business. The disadvantage is that C Corporations are subject to double taxation. This means that the corporation pays taxes on its profits, and the shareholders also pay taxes on their dividends.

5) S Corporation

An S Corporation is a type of corporation that provides its owners with limited liability protection and allows them to pass their business income through to their personal income tax returns, thus avoiding double taxation. There are several limitations on S Corporations including the number of shareholders they can have among others.

Once you register your modeling agency, your state will send you your official “Articles of Incorporation.” You will need this among other documentation when establishing your banking account (see below). We recommend that you consult an attorney in determining which legal structure is best suited for your company.



4. Secure Startup Funding for Your Modeling Agency (If Needed)

In developing your modeling agency business plan, you might have determined that you need to raise funding to launch your business. 

If so, the main sources of funding for a modeling agency to consider are personal savings, family and friends, credit card financing, bank loans, crowdfunding and angel investors. Angel investors are individuals who provide capital to early-stage businesses. Angel investors typically will invest in a modeling agency that they believe has high potential for growth.

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5. Secure a Location for Your Business

When looking for a location for your modeling business, there are a few things to consider. The first thing to think about is the cost of the location. You’ll also want to make sure that the area is accessible to your target market. Another thing you’ll want to consider is the size of the location. You’ll want to make sure it is large enough to accommodate all your needs. Lastly, you’ll want to consider the area’s amenities. You’ll want to ensure the location has everything you need to run your business smoothly.


6. Register Your Modeling Agency with the IRS

Next, you need to register your business with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) which will result in the IRS issuing you an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Most banks will require you to have an EIN in order to open up an account. In addition, in order to hire employees, you will need an EIN since that is how the IRS tracks your payroll tax payments.

Note that if you are a sole proprietor without employees, you generally do not need to get an EIN. Rather, you would use your social security number (instead of your EIN) as your taxpayer identification number.



7. Open a Business Bank Account

It is important to establish a bank account in your modeling agency’s name. This process is fairly simple and involves the following steps:

  1. Identify and contact the bank you want to use
  2. Gather and present the required documents (generally include your company’s Articles of Incorporation, driver’s license or passport, and proof of address)
  3. Complete the bank’s application form and provide all relevant information
  4. Meet with a banker to discuss your business needs and establish a relationship with them


8. Get a Business Credit Card

You should get a business credit card for your modeling agency to help you separate personal and business expenses.

You can either apply for a business credit card through your bank or apply for one through a credit card company.

When you’re applying for a business credit card, you’ll need to provide some information about your business. This includes the name of your business, the address of your business, and the type of business you’re running. You’ll also need to provide some information about yourself, including your name, Social Security number, and date of birth.

Once you’ve been approved for a business credit card, you’ll be able to use it to make purchases for your business. You can also use it to build your credit history which could be very important in securing loans and getting credit lines for your business in the future.


9. Get the Required Business Licenses and Permits

To start a modeling agency, you will need a business license and a permit from the local zoning board. You will also need to register with the state as a modeling agency. Check out the licensing and permitting requirements in your state to make sure you are compliant. 



10. Get Business Insurance for Your Modeling Agency

You need a few different types of insurance to start a modeling agency. The insurance you need may vary by state. 

Some business insurance policies you should consider for your modeling agency include:

  • General liability insurance: This covers accidents and injuries that occur on your property. It also covers damages caused by your employees or products.
  • Auto insurance: If a vehicle is used in your business, this type of insurance will cover if a vehicle is damaged or stolen.
  • Workers’ compensation insurance: If you have employees, this type of policy works with your general liability policy to protect against workplace injuries and accidents. It also covers medical expenses and lost wages.
  • Commercial property insurance: This covers damage to your property caused by fire, theft, or vandalism.
  • Business interruption insurance: This covers lost income and expenses if your business is forced to close due to a covered event.
  • Professional liability insurance: This protects your business against claims of professional negligence.

Find an insurance agent, tell them about your business and its needs, and they will recommend policies that fit those needs. 


11. Buy or Lease the Right Modeling Agency Equipment

Some general equipment you will need to run your modeling agency includes a computer and internet access, telephone, and printer. You should also have a filing system for both your paper and electronic files. To market your agency, you will need to create a website, as well as print marketing materials.


12. Develop Your Modeling Agency Marketing Materials

Marketing materials will be required to attract and retain customers to your modeling agency.

The key marketing materials you will need are as follows:

  1. Logo: Spend some time developing a good logo for your modeling agency. Your logo will be printed on company stationery, business cards, marketing materials and so forth. The right logo can increase customer trust and awareness of your brand.
  2. Website: Likewise, a professional modeling agency website provides potential customers with information about the services you offer, your company’s history, and contact information. Importantly, remember that the look and feel of your website will affect how customers perceive you..
  3. Social Media Accounts: establish social media accounts in your company’s name. Accounts on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or other social media networks will help customers and others find and interact with your modeling agency.


13. Purchase and Setup the Software Needed to Run Your Modeling Agency

The software you need to run a modeling agency is a customer relationship management (CRM) system to manage customer data, an accounting system to manage your finances, and a photo editing program to edit models’ photos.


14. Open for Business

You are now ready to open your modeling agency. If you followed the steps above, you should be in a great position to build a successful business. Below are answers to frequently asked questions that might further help you.



How to Start a Modeling Agency FAQs

It can be hard to start a modeling agency because the fashion industry is highly competitive. However, if you develop a strong business plan and take the time to network with other industry professionals, it is possible to start your own successful modeling agency.

The best way to start a modeling agency with no experience is to do some research and learn all you can about the industry. There are plenty of online resources and books on starting your own business that can help you get started. You'll also want to find out what the legal requirements are for setting up a modeling agency in your area. Once you have all the information you need, put together a business plan and start marketing your new agency.

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on a variety of factors, such as the size and location of the agency, the services it offers, and the talent it represents. However, a commercial modeling agency is typically a profitable type of agency, as it focuses on placing models in advertising and marketing campaigns. Fashion and lifestyle agencies are also quite profitable, as they work with high-end clients and brands.

The cost of starting a modeling agency will vary depending on the size and scope of the business. However, as a general rule, you can expect to spend at least $10,000-$15,000 to get started. This covers things like advertising and marketing expenses, office space and supplies, and employee salaries.

The expenses for a modeling agency can vary depending on the size of the agency, the services offered, and the location. However, some common expenses include advertising and marketing, staff salaries, and rent and utilities.

A modeling agency typically makes money through three main sources:

  1. Fees from models for representing them.
  2. Fees from photographers, designers, and other clients who hire the agency's models.
  3. Sales of photographs and other marketing materials featuring the agency's models.

Some agencies also make money by running workshops or classes for aspiring models. 

The modeling industry is a multi-billion dollar industry and there is a high demand for new faces in fashion magazines and advertising agencies. Owning a modeling agency can be profitable because you will have access to the latest trends and be able to book your clients with high-paying jobs. You will also be able to negotiate higher rates for your models and charge commission on their work. Additionally, you can expand your business by offering modeling classes or workshops.

The most common reasons for modeling agencies and fashion houses to fail are financial instability, poor management, and a lack of talent. Financial instability can be caused by a number of factors, such as mismanagement of funds, bad investments, or not enough clients. Poor management can lead to a lot of problems for an agency, including high staff turnover, low morale, and poor customer service. Lastly, a lack of talent can be a death knell for an agency, as it will have trouble attracting and keeping clients if it doesn’t have enough models to support their needs.


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