You’re lying in bed.
The room is dark, lights out.
But in your mind—you can clearly see the striking camera flash-lights aimed at you.
Your arms wrapped around the sleek waist of a hot girl—her giggles tinkering bells in your ears—the touch of her smooth skin transporting you to heaven.
You’re a successful model.
Earning tons of cash. Enjoying a lavish lifestyle. With millions of fans on Instagram.
You’d love that to be real, right? And why not? You have all the reasons to believe modelling is your true calling. For instance:
Girls giggle and say “hi” as soon as you enter the classroom. Boys your age are jealous of your looks—you could see it in their eyes. Your friends comment, “Dude, why don’t you try making a career in modelling?”
And you start imagining hot girls, tons of cash, and celebrity status.
Well, not so fast.
Before you hit the road, you need to know a) What does it mean to be a model and, b) If you’re willing to pay the price to become one.
Here’s a checklist for you:
#Fact Check 1: Becoming a Model Is Easy
Most people think that a career in modelling is one of the best routes to earn easy money.
You don’t need to do much, you know. Stand in front of a camera with branded clothes on. Let the steaming hot girl hugs you from behind. Get some pictures clicked, get lots of money, and go home, right?
A modelling career may appear glamorous, but that “glamour” comes at a price—hard work.
I had acted in a modular kitchen TV commercial in 2009. The call time was 9 am, and I was on time, but the female model wasn’t. I waited for her for more than 5 hours. The cameras didn’t start to roll until about 4 pm and stopped only after 11:30 at night.
No breakfast. No lunch. Just a burger and a glass of soft drink. Dinner was at midnight.
Damn! You call that easy?
So, yeah, if you’re willing to put in a lot of hard work to become a model, then go for it. But if you’re thinking of earning some “extra cash” by having fun, well, rethink, my friend.
Mad at me?
I am OK with that. You see, I am not going to tell you everything is fine. My job is to give you the cold, hard truth about the modelling industry. That’s what friends do, right?
So, what kind of hard work?
Well, we’re talking about:
- Working out regularly in a gym to achieve an attractive physique.
- Polishing communication skills, especially your spoken English.
- Grooming yourself (table manners, general etiquette, and things like that).
And you need money for all that. Yep, you need the dough while still trying to become a model.
The question is: Do you have it?
If not, then how are you planning to get it?
Can you persuade your parents to support you? If they’re not in a position to afford or are unwilling, then you’ll need to figure it out yourself.
Here are some ideas:
- Can you move to a cheaper hostel to save some money?
- Would you start giving tuition to junior students?
- How about working part-time in an office?
- Have you ever considered designing websites as a freelancer?
- Can you give up the cinema visits and “Chhoti gold flakes” (at least for the time being?)
What would you do to get the money?
#Fact Check 2: You Can Become a Model Even With a Fat Tummy
Well, you certainly can. If you’re planning to land the role of some “Uncle Ji” in a B-grade TV serial or a pathetic porn movie.
But is that what you want? I don’t think so.
Then you must take care of your health, and your appearance—you must have an appealing physique.
By eating healthy, and working out.
You need to focus on eating healthy foods like:
Whole grains: Dalia, oats, and Muesli.
Fruits: All types of seasonal fruits
Vegetables: Green-leafy ones and all other kinds of seasonal vegetables.
Nuts: Almonds, raisins, cashews, and walnuts.
Smoking. Alcohol. Drugs?
Working out is a must. Period.
Maybe you’re used to late-night parties or watching movies up till late at night.
Guess what? You’ll need to change that.
#Fact Check 3: You Need to Be Fluent in English
Not necessarily, but yes, it helps.
You see, modelling is just like any other career—accounting, hotel management, engineering, etc.
It does help if you could talk in English. Not accented or stylish English, but simple, everyday English. And that should not be a challenge for convent-educated boys. But for the rest of us, spoken English can be a bitch.
So what will you do to improve your spoken English?
- Would you join a spoken English institute?
- How about participating in your college group-discussions and debates?
- Or would you prefer practising on your own with the help of self-study courses like fluentzy?
#Fact Check 4: A Career in Modelling Can Make You Rich Overnight
Yes, it can.
If you could market yourself, but not everybody is good at self-promotion.
But there’s no need to lose sleep over it. You see, nowadays you can learn anything if you’re willing to put in the work—and marketing yourself is no different. But don’t expect to get rich overnight. You need to work your ass off, and even then, there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to make it big. Because you see, a career in modelling is as risky as it is lucrative.
I am not saying you can’t make it big. I am only saying there are no assurances. Also, in the beginning, you may have to work for free. And when you become a known face in the market, you might start getting some low-budget assignments.
And if everything goes well, you’ll be on your way to becoming a highly paid model, or even the highest-paid one.
#Fact Check 5: Modelling is a Long-Term Career
A career in modelling is indeed full of opportunities, but it’s not what you’d call a “long-term career”. So before you decide to get into it, you need to figure out what are you going to do once it’s over.
So, what can you do? Umm…let’s see…
Well, You can get into TV serials and eventually into movies (feature films, to be specific). And for that, you need to keep working on your acting skills while still trying to make it big in the modelling industry.
So, that was the checklist, and now, on to my story about making a career in modelling.
I Wanted to Become a Model. Here’s My Story (And the Lessons I Learnt)
The first time I faced the camera was in 1997. It was a telefilm audition—the film never went on the floor.
You see, I was a fresh Delhi University graduate, and I wanted to make a career in modelling but had no idea where to start. So I tried whatever came my way and suffered miserably. Later, I realised that the folks I was hanging out with were a bunch of smart-asses: people who make money by exploiting aspiring models like me, who have big dreams but no experience.
I spent 5 thousand rupees on my portfolio (a collection of photos). And later, found out that the photographer duped me. The “portfolio” was nothing but a couple of low-quality photos compiled in an even lower quality plastic album).
And you know the irony?
I had no money to pay for the photo-shoot, and so I borrowed the cash from a relative. I lost the money along with two precious years of my life.
Then I faced the camera again in 2006, working as a TV anchor for a health and lifestyle channel.
In 2009, I shot for 13 episodes of a low budget sex-problems TV show, in which I asked silly questions on behalf of the viewers. (By the way, that show is still being aired on some TV channels late at night. You may watch me talking with two doctors who call themselves “psycho-sexologists.”)
Later, in 2010, I also shot a TV commercial and a Hindi documentary.
So you see, I have quite an experience in the field.
Am I a Model? Or a Celebrity?
Far from it.
At present, I am a blogger and voice actor.
Let’s come back to my modelling quest. Now, I realise that I couldn’t succeed in modelling because I didn’t like being a model or a TV show host. The primary intention behind trying my luck in modelling was to earn some money.
You see, I wasn’t sure if modelling was for me, and so, I was kind of “testing the waters”—checking if it was the right career for me. So there you have a lesson—If you’re trying to become a model because of money, don’t.
Choose a career only if you like it. Money shouldn’t be the primary motivation behind choosing a career path, because if it is, then it won’t last long. And even if it does, you shall be miserable all your life.
I am not trying to scare you. In fact, I want you to succeed as a model, I really do. That’s why I want you to stay clear off the mistakes I committed:
1. Believing Everything, You Hear
Media is a diverse field, with various career opportunities. For example, did you know that instead of becoming a model, you could become a “model-coordinator?”
A model-coordinator helps a model get new assignments, kind of like a “talent-agent.” These people work behind the screen and are supposed to help their clients grow professionally, which eventually help their career.
Also, if you have an impressive voice, and a good command over Hindi & English (or another set of languages) you may try luck in the field of voice-overs. I’ve already written an article on this, titled “How to Become a Voice Over Artist.”
When somebody suggests you should try your luck in modelling, by all means, consider it. But don’t close your eyes to other options (in the same or similar fields).
2. Never Cross-Checking
During my “hunting” I met a guy who was a lookalike of a Bollywood star. He was a genuine person but not smart enough for a field like modelling. He assured to help me make my career as a model.
But his “help” was more of a burden: I had to put in a lot of time helping his elder brother at their shop, something that I hated like anything. I used to do that almost every day—waiting for my “break.”
Between, one more thing happened:
You see, the most important thing for any aspiring model is a portfolio—a collection of photographs to demonstrate how good you’ll look on screen. And that guy arranged for a photographer to shoot my portfolio.
I didn’t realise the portfolio I received was utterly useless until I approached a modelling agency for work. The model-coordinator gave me a strange look while going through my photos. And then she showed me some portfolios. OMG! Those portfolios were something I had seen for the first time. Mine? It was nothing compared to them.
Despite their best intentions, some helpful people can hurt you just because they’re not cut for this field.
3. Clinging to False Hope
Despite my initial failures, I thought it was just a matter of time. So, I put in more efforts and waited for some more days, and wasted some more precious years of my life.
Don’t let that happen to you. A positive attitude is great, but there’s a thin line between being positive and being naive, and you must know the difference. Every day you pass clinging to false hope is a day wasted.
If you’ve realised modelling is not for you, don’t wait, quit.
What You Need to Become a Successful Model (And How to Achieve That)
Certain unique features make you distinct and recognisable from other people.
A pointed nose.
Dimples in your cheeks while laughing.
Your facial features are (almost) set in stone. You have little control over them, and you cannot change them entirely. Though, some celebrity magazines claim that a few movie stars have changed/improved their facial features with cosmetic surgery.
Yes, cosmetic surgery is advancing leaps and bounds by the day, but not everyone can have access to such insanely expensive methods to change/upgrade/refine their facial features.
But yes, it is an option if you have the money.
The complexion is also a unique feature that you cannot manipulate much. But yes, you can get a little fairer than you currently are—certain creams can help. For example—
You’re supposed to apply it on the face at night time, right before you go to bed. Here’s how:
Wash your face with soap or face wash and pat dry. Take a little cream (almost equal to the size of wheat grain) and massage it on your face in a circular motion for about one minute. You’ll feel a little warmth on the skin, and also experience a little sweat. It’s normal. Within 21 days you’ll notice glow and fairness on your face.
Betnovate – C
Betnovate – C is a wonderful cream to remove dead skin from your face. You can literally see the dead cells coming off of your skin.
But this one is a little tricky to use. Apply it only at night (before going to bed) because going out in the sun with the cream on your face can damage your skin.
Betnovate – N
It’s a cream you can use regularly. Helps with under eye dark circles and black spots.
I had experimented with Neem leaves during one of my summer vacations. Though, when I started the experiment, I had no intention to get fairer skin. I did it for some other reason:
You see, mosquitoes love me. And I hate them. My eldest grandmother used to boast, ‘Mosquitoes bite you because your blood is sweet. They don’t bite me because my blood is bitter. I used to eat 4–5 Neem leaves every day when I was your age.’
I didn’t believe her but decided to give Neem leaves a chance.
And so the neem juice experiment began.
I was crushing the Neem leaves with a stone grinder, pouring some water, filtering the Neem juice, and drinking it daily.
The taste was disgusting, and the results heartwarming. No improvement in “mosquitoes-bites”, but yes, my skin grew fairer. So, behold, I present my Neem secret:
Neem Juice Formula
Wash Neem leaves, add just a bit of water and grind them. Then add 200-300ml of water and run the grinder for one more minute.
Separate the water from the mixture with a sieve—you have the miraculous Neem juice ready. The smell and taste? Oh! Please don’t ask.
Imagine the sweetest dish you can, close your eyes and gulp it down in one go. Eat some sugar to counter the bitterness. Do this for at least 21 days. Come on, be brave.
Plucking, washing, and grinding Neem leaves daily for 21 days can be overwhelming. So, here’s an alternative—Neem leaves powder.
Get a good amount of Neem leaves, wash, and rise. Spread the leaves on a cotton cloth or a bedsheet and let them dry in the shade—about three days in summers, and about eight days in winters. Grind the leaves in a mixer to make a fine powder. Now, transfer the powder to a glass jar and keep it a cool and dry place, away from direct sunlight.
Take 1-2 teaspoons of this powder daily with water. It’ll not only help you get a fairer skin but shall also tackle many other skin problems.
A doctor in the old Delhi area claims his medicine can help you gain a little more height even after 35. It’s called “Herbo Height Therapy.”
You can check it out for yourself (of course, with the understanding that there can be no guarantees, simply because not everything works for everybody).
Exercises are mainly aerobic and anaerobic:
Aerobic Exercises (For fat loss)
Aerobic exercises help keep the body fit and healthy, but they cannot help you gain muscles. (If you want to increase muscles, then you must consider anaerobic exercises or “weight training” commonly known as bodybuilding).
Here are some:
Climbing the stairs.
And a lot more.
Anaerobic Exercises: (for muscle building)
Bodybuilding is huge. There are many exercises to develop chest, shoulders, upper back, lower back, abdominals, biceps, triceps, forearms and other body parts. Familiarise yourself with bodybuilding in general before you start.
BodyBuilding.com is an excellent source for bodybuilding enthusiasts where you’ll find lots of articles on diet, exercise, supplementation, rest and recovery, and a lot more.
Here’s an overview of the exercises used for developing a muscular physique:
- Bench Presses
- Dumbbell Presses
- Dumbbell Flys
- Lat machine
- Bent-over rowing
- Seated rowing
- Military Presses
- Arnold Presses
- Lateral Raises
- Behind the Neck Presses
- Leg Raises
- Barbell curls
- Dumbbell curls
- Preacher curls
- Concentration curls
- Hammer curls
- Pulley push-downs
- Skull crushers
- Close-grip bench presses
Bodybuilding and Steroids
They invoke fear, confusion and confidence at the same time.
Steroids (sometimes called anabolics or anabolic steroids) are synthetic compounds (produced in laboratories) similar to the natural substances the human body produces. Many people claim you can achieve a muscular physique with steroids which would be impossible otherwise. I’ve heard that most of the fitness models and pro-bodybuilders use steroids to gain muscle mass and increase strength.
There are many different forms of steroids but for the sake of basic understanding, let’s talk about “synthetic testosterone.” And even before that, let’s first understand what testosterone is and what it does.
Testosterone is a male hormone produced naturally by the body. This hormone is responsible for maintaining muscle mass and sex drive. In youth, the body produces sufficient testosterone in healthy male adults. With age, the production of testosterone decreases and men tend to lose muscle mass, and may also start gaining fat.
Synthetic testosterone is similar to its natural counterpart except that it’s produced in a laboratory. Doctors use it to cure low levels of natural testosterone to prevent premature ageing and related conditions.
When a healthy young adult (whose body is already producing optimal levels of testosterone) uses a synthetic steroid to boost his testosterone levels further, he is “abusing” steroids. And abuse can create havoc if you don’t know what you’re dealing with.
I Tried Synthetic Testosterone for Gaining Muscles
The first time I used synthetic testosterone was way back in 2001 when I wanted to gain some weight. A past friend of mine had the basic knowledge of steroids, and he explained that steroids were not magical, as some people would like you to believe. One must follow a healthy diet to reap the muscle gain benefits.
I tried a single dose but had to discontinue because of lack of money. I was in between jobs and was hardly able to eat two meals a day, forget about eating a healthy and nutritious diet (which is a must if you’re using steroids).
Later, I tried them again after several years. But even at that time, I under-dosed because I didn’t want to get into an uncomfortable situation.
I noticed a slight improvement in my body weight and strength. My diet was clean, and I was also working out in a gym. But I discontinued because I had no intention to harm my body. It was more of like testing the waters, rather than being enslaved to something I did not understand.
Planning to Use Anabolic Steroids?
Be careful with what you use and how. Educate yourself first and get a basic understanding, so you know what you’re dealing with. Lack of proper information and education can cause severe harm.
Experienced steroid users warn that a 20-year-old boy has no business mingling with steroids. If he does abuse steroids, side effects can be devastating. You cannot blame anyone but yourself if things go south. It’s your responsibility to take care of your health. Decide if you’re willing to take the risk because the risk is always there.
If I were to choose between sleep and food, I’d pick the sleep.
You can get away without eating dinner. But you cannot get away without sound sleep.
In earlier times, people had no difficulty sleeping. Life was slow-paced and less demanding. But times have changed. Now we live an overstimulated and fast-paced life. And one of the major reasons for sleep deprivation is the overuse of electronic devices—mobile phones, tablets, TVs, etc.
I mean, look at the people around you—the majority of them are busy checking WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and whatnot.
Social media, mobile phones, TVs—all that stuff was invented to stay connected. But we went overboard. The result? Our minds are preoccupied most of the times—not getting enough rest. And sleep needs time because it is a gentle and slow phenomenon.
Has there ever been a day when the sun was in the sky, and suddenly it went down the very next minute? No, it doesn’t work like that. The process of day turning into the night is a gentle process: The sun sets down, the darkness crawls in, gradually. And that’s how the body is supposed to prepare itself for sleep.
In the modern age, quite often you find yourself watching TV, or playing video games or working on your laptop. Then you look at the watch, and you’re like, ‘Oh my god! It’s 11:30 already (yawn). I should get some sleep now.’ And then you go straight to bed—you just gave your body and mind a “jerk” instead of a transition—the result shall be shallow and disturbed sleep. Fortunately, you can learn to master the transition:
Letting the Transition Happen
First of all, watching the news at 11′ o clock in the night is a bad idea.
Because let’s be honest, what does the news show? Political scams, murders, rapes, scandals, and things like that, right? That’s a negative overload for your mind.
But, our concern here is to get some sound sleep, so let’s keep the negative vs positive debate aside. Now, you see, watching TV or staring at a mobile phone screen tricks your brain that it’s still daytime, which forces your body to stay awake. Turning off your TV, laptop, or any other electronic gadget at least 45 minutes before the sleep time can make a difference in your sleep quality.
Here are some more tips:
Use a Camphor Dispenser
It’s a cute little thing used for burning camphor. Just turn off the electric lights and enjoy the otherworldly aroma of camphor.
Wash Your Legs and Face
Washing legs up to the knees have a calming effect on the mind. If your feet are aching, soak them in warm, saline water. Also, wash your face.
Play Relaxing Music
Music is always the best bet for good night sleep. You can listen to soft, relaxing music to help your mind slow down and prepare itself for sleep. Try this piece of Celtic music. And here’s another one by one of my favourite artists Adrian Von Ziegler.
Stare at the Moon
Funny? I know, but it works like a charm to calm the mind. Try it
Drink Warm Milk
Drinking a cup of warm milk 30 to 45 minutes before going to bed will help get a deep sleep.
If you’re serious about becoming a successful model, then you must have excellent communication skills.
But let’s get this straight: communication skills does not mean spoken English. Of course, work on your spoken English, but don’t confuse excellent communication skills with excellent spoken English skills. Having excellent communication skills mean you can express yourself with clarity; that’s it.
Respect Your Mother Tongue
Many young people from rural areas don’t speak in their mother tongue because they’re ashamed of it.
If you want to get success in modelling, or any other field, for that matter, you must learn to respect your mother tongue. Else you’ll keep wrestling the fact that you were born in a rural area. You may start hating your parents and yourself and may even feel intimidated seeing boys and girls speaking in English. I know I used to.
But then I realised that everyone’s life is unique. And, so, accept who you are. Own and respect your mother tongue.
Remember: your mother tongue is the foundation of your communication skills.
Opening Yourself Up
Want to gain confidence in talking with people? Start reading a small paragraph for 10-15 minutes each day, aloud.
Reading aloud forces your vocal muscles to get more open and flexible. Soon, you’ll notice a significant improvement in your voice.
Specific vocal exercises can also help. For example, this one:
Sit in a relaxed posture, breathe deeply and chant “Aum”, seven times, preferably in the morning before breakfast.
You may have been following some dated fashion rules, and that can keep you stuck in the past. So, refresh your wardrobe a bit. Bring in some modern colours and styles.
“Modern” does not necessarily mean western, mind it. Also, by modern, I don’t mean bizarre-looking costumes, either.
I’ve once had the misfortune of eating alongside a man who was making annoying sounds while chewing. Arggh! I can still hear him.
Now, Just think for a moment…
Do you make weird sounds while eating? (Chop-chop sound being the most common).
Do you pick nose while talking to somebody? (Yes, some people do).
Is munching on biscuits while speaking over the phone your favourite pastime?
Are you guilty of shoving in and pushing people while using an elevator or metro train?
You do? Rethink.
Learn to be Selfish
Wondering what does being selfish have to do with modelling?
In fact, you must also be wicked along with being selfish. You see, the modelling industry is a highly competitive field. And people can go to any, and I mean any extent to grab an assignment.
Let me tell you from my experience that such people will make friends with you (not because they like you), but because they want the information you may have about the next big modelling assignment.
The worst part?
You won’t even suspect a thing until one fine morning you’ll wake and find out that the project you had pitched for is freaking gone. Guess who? Your “best friend”, who else?
So, if you can’t stand being selfish and wicked (not even a bit), then modelling is not for you.
Pay Extra Attention to Your Portfolio
A portfolio is a collection of professionally clicked photographs. These photos demonstrate how you would appear on the screen or the glossy magazine pages.
Getting a portfolio of 30-40 pictures can take around 2 to 3 days, depending on how many costumes (clothes) you change during the photo shoot.
A portfolio can cost anything (depending on the photographer you choose). Selecting a professional photographer who’s good at his craft can be challenging when you’re a beginner. So, the best way to choose one is to ask people in the industry.
Post a query in online forums.
Read online articles.
And yes, don’t approach your neighbourhood photographer. It won’t cut it.
Beware of Low Profile Photographers and Agents
If you compare the rates of a professional photographer and a low profile photographer, the latter would have lower prices. But even if you get a portfolio for cheap, you most probably will not lend any assignment.
Have Your Portfolio Ready? It’s Time to Find Work
Make sure you have the pictures both in digital and physical form.
Search “modelling agencies in (your city)” on google. And you’re sure to get many results.
Once you’ve shortlisted some reputed modelling agencies, research about them. Find out what others have to say about their services. Read reviews. Also, try to get in touch with some models who worked for them or still are working). That’ll give you a general idea about the agency’s credibility and professionalism.
Approach the agency via phone or email and ask for details. Some agencies might ask for a “registration fee.”
Don’t pay any money to any agency no matter how reputed they claim they are. You see, there are many fraudulent agencies and also some individuals who guarantee overnight success in modelling if you paid them money. Beware. It can be a scam to rip you off.
The golden rule? Never pay anything to anyone.
Some agencies might ask for a share of the money you’ll be receiving for the assignment. Now, it’s a tricky situation. If you feel like it, say yes. Pay the agency their share after you’ve received the fee from the client, not before.
Get a Website (or at least a Facebook Page)
Anyone wanting to become a model must be visible on the Internet.
You should have a single-page website or at least a Facebook page to market yourself.
A single-page website serves as an online resume. You can post some of your best photos along with brief intro and contact details. If you’re willing to spend some money, then your aim should be getting a domain name (preferably in your name). But if you don’t want to spend money on a website at this stage (which is understandable), then you can build a website free of cost on WordPress.com.
What’s the Difference?
Let me use my name to help you understand. i.e., Avdhesh Tondak
You’re reading this article on avdheshtondak.com.
“avdheshtondak.com” is the domain name of my website, which is an individual domain. I have purchased it, and I pay every year to keep this domain name active (along with hosting services and some other necessary stuff).
However, if I wished to create a free website, I could search for the domain “avdheshtondak” on WordPress.com. If the domain name’s available, I could create a website on WordPress.com.
The difference would be in the web address of the two websites.
The website with individual domain name shall be “www.avdheshtondak.com”, and the site with the domain on WordPress.com shall be “www.avdheshtondak.wordpress.com.”
Basically, by creating a free website on WordPress.com, you’re building a site on a sub-domain. In this case, “avdheshtondak” shall be a sub-domain of the primary domain WordPress.com.
So, there you go. I hope this guide has made things clearer about making a career in modelling.
Will you give me an autograph once you’ve realised your dream of becoming a model, please? 🙂
All the best!