The Good, The Bad and The Plain Ugly Truth Behind Bloggers Modelling for Brands.
A slightly more dramatic title than I was originally going for with this piece but it’s something I’ve wanted to write about for quite a long time now. Bloggers modelling for brands is becoming an increasingly popular ‘campaign idea’ amongst a lot of UK plus size fashion brands, but it isn’t always what you’d expect. Usually it would be the top UK bloggers in the campaigns but brands are now choosing to work with bloggers with audiences across the board, which is great news for all the upcoming bloggers who want to make a name for themselves, but are brands doing this out of the kindness of their hearts? Or simply to save the money in their pockets?
My first modelling experience was an absolutely disaster, for many reasons….
1 – I didn’t know what to charge.
2 – I didn’t have anyone to ask for advice on what to charge, as it was such a new thing.
3 – I didn’t know what to expect.
4 – I didn’t take anyone with me in case I did need help (and I did.)
5 – I didn’t think that I had any say in how I looked
As a result, I ended up looking like a clown and the photos (apart from one that escaped) were never used, thankfully I will add. I was the only plus model there amongst the most gorgeous models I’ve ever seen, their hair and makeup was beautiful and I couldn’t stop staring at them. I text my mum tearfully as I wondered if it was ‘make fun of the fat girl,’ I hadn’t felt so self conscious since I was 11 years old and genuinely wondered if they cared at all about their plus range to make me look so hideous. *Insert never before seen photo of what my eyeliner looked like AFTER I told the MUA I usually wear ‘pretty flicks’*
The day itself was fun, in the brief moments that I forgot what I looked like, learning how to pose and how fast I had to change pose was a real experience and the team were lovely. It wasn’t until later that evening when I stayed later due to an off-peak ticket that one of the team members slipped up over wine….
‘We love using the younger models as they’re so enthusiastic and think that £100 plus travel is a proper model fee.’
Have a guess how much I was offered? He meant no harm, he was actually really lovely and made me feel SO comfortable on the day but it’s comments like these that I’ve heard too many of, hence wanting to finally speak out.
That’s definitely my worst experience, the best experience was the one that followed….
Hearing about my terrible experience, in private, I was then offered to shoot with a group of amazing bloggers, in one of the most incredible venues and it was such a laid back, exciting and almost as if it was a princesses playing dress up kind of day. It wasn’t paid, but travel was and we were all fed throughout the shoot and even went for a meal afterwards. It was what you’d expect when doing a shoot for exposure, we all got the choice to do our own hair and makeup, or have the professionals on hand help out. There was no pressure, it was just such fun and an experience I will always cherish.
I will point out now that on a shoot for exposure, this is exactly what you’d expect. You’re modelling as a blogger so you need to look like YOU, whether you do your hair/makeup yourself, or have a serious say in how you’re styled, it’s important to make sure you remember and know this.
It shouldn’t feel like a hard day’s work, you’re there to promote the brand because of your image and status, you should be having fun not feeling overworked.
Travel should really be paid if a fee isn’t, it’s the least they can do for you giving up a day to model for them.
You should always be fed on a shoot, not necessarily a 5 course meal, but some kind of food should be there as it’s not easy standing, posing, rushing around getting changed.
My third and fourth modelling gigs can be summed up in a couple words. Stressful, unorganised, and chaotic. I don’t really want to get into the time where the shoot was so unorganised that my own boyfriend, with very little experience in shooting fashion, had to take over. Unpaid too.
My only other positive experience was the last time I modelled with a big brand, I mean I’ve still not been paid my £20 train fare or seen the rest of the photos to use on my blog as promised, BUT, it was organised, laid back, they had very good hair and makeup people and the photographer was a dream. I was also finally paid, not by them but the brand whose clothes I was modelling.
There are bloggers who have hugely successful careers from modelling with brands, they’re respected, treated well, paid well and looked after by the brands and that’s how it should be.
Not only am I sharing my own personal experiences with modelling for brands, but I also asked fellow bloggers in an anonymous survey and the results truly angered me. (I had 23 responses and they all appear to be plus size bloggers from their comments.)
69% of the people I asked have NEVER been paid to model.
50% had to pay for their OWN travel.
45% weren’t even FED whilst modelling.
38% said the day wasn’t worth it at all.
When I asked why the 69% weren’t paid, 43% said they didn’t even ask whilst 33% got the response of ‘no budget.’
I asked them why they would model if it wasn’t paid and 58% said it was for the experience, an experience that 38% of people said wasn’t even worth it. As they were not paid, they were offered exposure instead so I asked the exposure was worth a day modelling? 62% said no.
Some were given clothes as payments, others were given nothing. On one shoot, ‘there wasn’t actually enough food (we were promised to be taken out for lunch but then got told this wasn’t happening because it would cost too much) so while there was food provided, it was very little and the MUA’s got to it before us, eating most of it. Meaning that i personally didn’t eat anything as the veggie options were gone.’ Which is just simply unacceptable!
It’s not until afterwards that people realised, ‘they saw free labour and sold it to us as a favour to us. Using body positive language to make it seem like a good thing, when the only real benefit was to their wallet.’
In some cases some were paid and other’s weren’t, ‘”no budget” I was told… Only to find that 2 other models at the shoot who were also bloggers were being paid.’ How is that fair when you’re doing the same work? I can definitely agree with price brackets depending on your reach but to not be paid at all when others are is ridiculous and shameful.
Some of these experiences where their first and it’s certainly put them off, for other’s these were simply one bad shoot amongst many good ones.
In my ‘Bloggers Working for Exposure‘ post, I touched on why some people work for free regardless of professional/full-time bloggers protesting against it and it’s simply because they don’t need money from their blogs to live, so it’s just fun for them. Some others explained that they do actually want to become models so it’s great experience, I can understand that. We can’t exactly deny people fun and of gaining new experiences but people need to wise up to when they’re genuinely helping out a brand they love, and when they’re being taken advantage of.
Call it naivety, call it being vain, but being asked to be a model is a very flattering thing to happen and you can get swept up and unless there’s people like me to expose what really happens, how are you meant to know any better? How are you meant to know what questions to ask? To ensure you’re not taken advantage of? Unless people actually share their experiences and tell the truth, it’s so easy to go in blind.
If you think about it, if everyone said no to modelling for free the brand would have no choice but to hire a model and pay their fee, so why can’t they find A fee for bloggers? I’m not talking about being paid thousands of pounds (unless your reach and status warrants it) but people need to realise that whether it’s a bit of fun or not, it’s a day’s work, it’s HARD work and you don’t always get out of it what you put in.
When brands ask bloggers to model it’s not *always* because they want to show diversity. It’s because they want your reach, they want your followers, and they want you to promote every single shot you were in, let’s face it if you’re in a shoot, you do promote everything. If you’re approached by a brand to model you have to think WHY. Brands social accounts go through the roof when they’ve got 10-20 bloggers tweeting in the upcoming weeks to the shoot, on the day whilst they’re there, and then every time a new photo is realised. It’s a clever marketing campaign and if they’re not paying you, it’s a cheap marketing campaign too, the more the merrier some brands might think.
I cannot recommend enough to have in writing what you expect to get out of the day, whether it be money, exposure or clothes. Even if it’s a taxi or bus fare, don’t pay for your own travel as that’s the very LEAST they can do and should do! If ever in doubt, try and ask someone who you know has either worked with the brand before, or modelled for a brand before. Some bloggers don’t care for helping others, but some (like me) don’t care and I’ll share my rates and all the advice I have in order to make sure you’re being looked after properly.
Obviously if it’s a brand you love you might be persuaded to ignore all of this, but I still had to write it. Modelling for Brands isn’t always all glamorous and exciting, sometimes it’s hard work that isn’t rewarded in any way, shape or form.
I certainly won’t be working with any brands that don’t respect me enough to pay me for my time again, I definitely think I’ve got the t-shirt for that one.
*No names, if you know the brands you know them, if you don’t, it really doesn’t matter.