The Good, The Bad and The Plain Ugly Truth Behind Bloggers Modelling for Brands.

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’*

Truth Behind Bloggers Modelling for Brands, worst makeup ever

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.

exposure, Truth Behind Bloggers Modelling for Brands.

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.




  1. Laura Hadley
    24th March 2016 / 11:31 am

    Loved reading this post Georgina. I’ve been asked to model once and it was a 50 minute car drive away, baring in mind I can’t drive so would have been closer to 2 hours through trains. They said they were sure I could figure something out to get me there (without travel expenses) and when I discovered that I don’t match their clothes sizes I was even more stunned. I didn’t even respond to their last email because I was outraged that they wanted to use and abuse a blogger for their own gain with nothing in return. I don’t want to model unless it’s a shoulders up shoot anyway as I’m not confident enough so I was confused as to why she asked in the first place as I’ve never expressed a wish to model. I don’t blame you for feeling so annoyed, it’s not on to take advantage of bloggers, not feed or pay for expenses at the minimum.

    Hope you’re looked after better in the future! xxx

    Laura |

  2. Kitty Wood
    24th March 2016 / 11:45 am

    So as a photographer, the idea that you’ve not been fed on shoots is just disgraceful. Usually models are working on their portfolio with me, so I’m the one being paid, and I always make sure there are cups of tea and coffee (neither of which I even drink), cold drinks and refreshments. I’ve cooked full meals for models post shoot and shared a pizza! It’s not hard to care for a model, and make sure they are comfortable. I’ve been asked to model once, for a brand that I’m sure won’t surprise you, and they weren’t prepared to offer travel costs from Grimsby to London, so no chance. I can’t afford to essentially pay for my own exposure!

    • 24th March 2016 / 12:43 pm

      Agreed. Full day without being fed (or only given a bag of crisps) is so good for your health too.

  3. Sanne Claudine Born
    24th March 2016 / 11:56 am

    Loved reading this and it’s great that you’re opening the conversation! Thank you and hope you’re treated better in the future!
    Sanne Claudine |

  4. 24th March 2016 / 12:00 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this post. It’s not something I have experience in but if I ever were to have an opportunity like that, I’ll be more aware of what to say/do/ask for! Thank you for sharing your story, even though it wasn’t necessarily a positive experience every time for you xx

    Holly ∣ Closingwinter

  5. Miriam Goh
    24th March 2016 / 12:36 pm

    This is really such a great post. I think it not only applies to modelling but even attending events or launches. Like how you mentioned how we bloggers are actually great for the brand marketing strategy especially as we will be doing live shares etc. This would make many bloggers who feel that they are just small and need exposure to know their value.


  6. 24th March 2016 / 12:50 pm

    This is such an interesting read Georgina, such a good post full of information that you have clearly done research for too. I don’t think I’d ever be ‘model standard’ ok infact I’m miles from it haha! Can you imagine little old awkward me modelling. It’d be a disaster but even if I had the opportunity I don’t know how I would handle it, it all seems very intimidating!

  7. Jayne Watson-Gray
    24th March 2016 / 2:14 pm

    What a fabulous read!! And also excellent for all the up & coming bloggers out there, some companies/brands should be ashamed of themselves for treating people like that. Well done you for exposing the truth. Jayne. X

  8. 24th March 2016 / 2:21 pm

    This was super interesting to read, and it’s awful that models and bloggers etc are still being taken advantage of, ahhhh.

    Sophie x

  9. 24th March 2016 / 3:25 pm

    This was a really interesting read. I think this applies to most blogger opportunities, like your exposure post states, but I like how this post is focussed in on one aspect. I personally think for a day’s work you should be paid – you’ve given up possibly 12+ hours with travel to work with this brand, and the least they can do is treat you like any other model would be treated. I get that they may not have the budget to pay thousands, but a little bit of reimbursement for you time is surely not too difficult?

    The food bit is also terrible! If they’d run out of food they should’ve sent someone to get more. They can’t expect you to stand and work for hours without anything.

    Sophie x | Essential Twenty

  10. 25th March 2016 / 6:52 am

    Very interesting post… thanks for sharing!

  11. Hayley Ann Stewart
    25th March 2016 / 10:26 am

    Really helpful post hon. At the end of the day people need to realise what they’re getting themselves into and decide from there if it’s worth it. There have been some truly horrendous experiences!

  12. 26th March 2016 / 1:00 am

    I face similar issues in one of my areas of work. There are unpaid or low paid roles floating around but I personally won’t even consider these now because I have experience and know what I’m doing and should be paid for it. You also sometimes turn up to a shoot and discover that people from other agencies are being paid a different amount to what you’re receiving. Conditions can vary as well. Usually on set catering is amazing but the worst I experienced was when we were shooting on an airbase (we all had to be cleared to even get past the gate) and when it came to lunch break we discovered that despite there being around 100 extras there they’d forgotten or just not bothered to organise food for us. On an airbase there was nowhere for us to try and get food ourselves so we had to make do with a bag of crisps and bar of chocolate each that they found from somewhere. I won’t reveal exact details but this was a music video for a well known British female singer x

    Becky @ The Little Blog of Beauty

  13. 26th March 2016 / 1:16 am

    No experience with anything like this, so not a worry for me. But still as an ‘outsider’ its an amazing and insightful post! I tried to put myself in this situation and I’d be totally LOST. Like I really wouldn’t know where to begin! Another really good and important post written here, congrats and thank you lovely xxx

  14. kitty kaos
    26th March 2016 / 4:34 am

    Beautifully written and a must read for all bloggers!x

  15. J e s s i c a
    26th March 2016 / 10:14 am

    It’s interesting to read the other side of modelling and what can really happen. I sorry it wasn’t really a pleasant experience for you. I hope the next time your asked you get the experience you rightly deserve!

  16. 30th March 2016 / 2:55 pm

    Really interesting to hear your story and I can’t believe how you have been treated by the different PR’s and brands. It’s funny how we simply assume all models are certainly paid for each shoot and most probably have their fees covered too, so I was really surprised to hear your experiences and how they differ. You always look amazing and any brand would be lucky to have you involved in any collab – and in my opinion you should be appropriately compensated for your time as a model and social exposure as a blogger. A great tip of yours to get any future collab in writing so you have something concrete to refer to. Xx