Ah, the strange and wonderful world of Instagram modelling. Most people can’t even believe that Instagram models are a thing, or that anyone could make a decent living just by posting pictures on their social media, but there are a select few models who have managed to turn Instagram into their own personal piggy bank and there are a whole lot more people who desperately want to become Insta-famous (and rich!). Of course there are some basic requirements that you have to meet in order to be an Instagram model. Namely, you still have to be really good looking, or at least really good at making it look like you’re good looking. But being an Instagram model isn’t just about looking pretty, and becoming a really successful model actually takes a crazy amount of work and includes a crazy amount of rules.
While Instagram models make their living off of making it look like they have the most picture-perfect lives anyone could imagine, it takes a ton of effort to create that perfect picture, and they have to do a lot of the legwork themselves. And once they’ve made it to the highest echelon of Instagram success and have brands that actually pay them to do promotional posts, those brands also have a ton of rules, requirements, and guidelines that these models need to meet in order for the brands to do business with them. These models might be doing everything they can to make their ads look casual and easy, but in reality they’re anything but casual and easy. So what rules do they have to follow in order to get some serious branding deals, and what do they have to do to keep them?
15. They Shouldn’t Post Any Memes On Their Pages
Who doesn’t love a good meme? Surely most Instagram models out there enjoy memes just as much as the rest of us, but they’re pretty much always better off laughing at it and forgetting about it instead of posting it to their Instagram feeds. Why? Well there are a whole lot of reasons.
Silly memes don’t really project the kind of image that most Instagram models are trying to project, and while memes are funny they can include things that some people might find inappropriate or offensive, which is obviously the last thing you want if you’re trying to make your living off of spectacular photos of yourself.
And weirdly enough, brands don’t particularly like many meme posts simply because a lot of memes include other brands. And whether or not the portrayal of that brand is negative or positive, they might not want to associate with them, or they might be asking themselves why they’re paying an Instagram model to promote their brand when she posts other branded stuff for free.
14. They Shouldn’t Make Cheesy Quote Posts
Okay, so this one might not be a totally hard and fast rule, especially since it seems like everyone who has ever used Instagram has posted a random “deep” quote post at least once in their lives, but it’s not the best look in general. First off, they’re cheesy as heck, and if your life goal is to make money by posting cool pictures on Instagram then posting a random text post is really not the way to do it. Secondly, it’s something that every average Instagram user probably does, so if you’re spending hours getting yourself ready and arranging the perfect picture then you don’t really want to lump yourself in with the people who find a vague quote on google image search and then post it to make themselves sound smarter. Plus, when Instagram models have newbies looking at their Instagram pages they want it to look appealing as a whole, so having a random text post amid all of the pre-planned beauty shots just doesn’t look good.
13. They Can’t Overuse The Hashtags
It’s kind of absurd thinking about some business executives in an office somewhere discussing exactly what Instagram tags they should be using for their products and how many tags is too few or too many, but apparently many Instagram ads are planned down to the letter.
It’s understandable that a brand might want to make sure they’re getting a specific message across clearly and quickly, but social media ads are a bit tricky because many times the brands who are promoting their products don’t necessarily want their Instagram posts to look like an ad.
Of course, Instagram advertisers are legally obligated to publicly state that their post is an ad, so for brands who are looking to sneak in the advertisement disclaimer hashtag in the hopes that not a lot of people notice it’s even more important to pick just the right amount of hashtags and just the right hashtags in general.
12. If A Photo Doesn’t Have Enough Likes, They Should Take It Down
When people say that image is everything, it doesn’t always mean the literal image that you’re looking at on someone’s Instagram. For an Instagram model, the image of success and popularity is an enormous part of what they do, and while their actual photos and videos reflect that image of success they also want the response to their social media to give off an image of success.
And it’s not just the models who want this; a lot of brands prefer that models take down any of their posts that don’t have enough likes because in a lot of ways they’re paying for a model’s popularity, so they want her to look popular, whether it occurs naturally or if it’s something they achieve by being a bit sneaky.
11. If They Don’t Have Enough Followers, They Can’t Guarantee A Paycheck
10,000 followers is supposedly the magic number that wannabe Instagram models have to cross to be considered legit, and most of the big name Instagram models are paid for the promotional posts they make on their social media.
However, for models who don’t have much of a following they might not even get paid for their promotional posts. They might be expected to do a promo post for a brand if that brand sends them products to promote for free.
This is still considered advertisement and the models who do this are still obligated to label these posts as ads, but just because they’re advertising for someone that doesn’t mean that they’re actually making any money off of it. Getting free products is certainly a very cool benefit to being an Instagram influencer, but for the models who are hoping to turn Instagram into an actual job the promo in exchange for goods deal isn’t such a great one for them.
10. They Are Obligated To Say Nice Things About A Product – Even If They’re Lies
If you’re aspiring to be an Instagram model or are already successful as an Instagram model, then on some level your Instagram feed is already a lie. Or rather, it’s a collection of pre-planned and carefully organized images that project an overall image that you want to project.
But once an Instagram model becomes successful enough to actually be paid by brands to promote their products, often times they are not allowed to express their genuine opinion about said product (especially if they have a negative opinion of it).
This seems like a pretty predictable caveat for brands to include in their promotional contract, but considering how many Instagram promotions are for things like makeup, beauty products, diet teas, and a lot of other products that people put on or inside of their bodies it can be a pretty sketchy or inappropriate rule. For the most part these deals go off without a hitch, but every so often you get a bad product like the Fyre Festival that has considerable negative blowback on it’s promoters.
9. If A Post Is Sponsored, They’re Legally Obligated To Tell You
Of course, being legally obligated to do something doesn’t mean that all Instagram models will be up front about their posts that are paid promotions, but because of a lot of Instagram influencers being sneaky and taking advantage of what used to be a gray area when it came to Instagram advertising, the US legal system decided to iron out some hard and fast rules for this kind of promotion. The Federal Trade Commission has actually come down on quite a few Instagramers for not following the rules about advertising transparency, because they believe that a lot of social media advertising constitutes deceptive trade practice. It’s pretty easy to follow the rules when it comes to paid promotion, so long as the influencer adds a hashtag that indicates that their post is an ad or a promotional post then they’re fine. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of Instagram stars who try to skirt that requirement.
8. They Need To Maintain A Cohesive Look
When someone is working as a regular model, it’s typical to expect different designers or stylists to transform your look from job to job, but when it comes to Instagram models they normally want to do the opposite.
Obviously their ultimate goal is to be making money by selling a product, but in order to become Insta-famous they first have to sell themselves and the personality and lifestyle that they’re trying to present.
So when it comes to brands working with Instagram models for promotion they usually want to find a model that is already suited to their brand, which means that Instagram models can’t really have their Instagram pages look like they’re all over the place. Everything is curated to make their lives look as fabulous as possible, but they’re also curated in order to present certain ideas, lifestyles, and overall looks that are cohesive and have a kind of connected theme.
7. They Need To Post At The Right Time
Having a lot of followers is probably the number one way to get your Instagram posts noticed by a lot of people. However, there is quite a bit of strategic thinking that goes into an Instagram post in order for the Instagram model who’s posting it to reap as much benefit from it as possible and make sure as many eyes see it as possible, which means that they usually figure out a particular schedule for when they post things and when they don’t. It sounds like a relatively simple idea, but considering the kind of lifestyle that Instagram models are trying to sell it can also become strangely complex.
For instance, if you’re traveling and on a different time schedule, you still have to make sure that you’re posting your photos at the optimum time.
You might have to come up with multiple activities that make sense for the times that you’re posting. If you’re eating a perfect breakfast but posting the picture at 9 PM, people will obviously know something is up.
6. They Usually Style Themselves
Obviously taking a great picture of yourself for Instagram isn’t as difficult as taking actual editorial photographs that you’d see in a magazine. However, Instagram models also wind up doing pretty much all of the legwork for their pictures themselves. Hair, makeup, clothing, lighting, setting – for an Instagram model presenting an entire perfect picture is the goal so there are really no details that are left unnoticed.
So as casual and carefree as a lot of Instagram models might try to make their pictures seem, they in fact may have spent hours preparing for just one photo.
Not to mention, while some Instagram models will get freebies in exchange for using a product and possibly promoting it on their Instagram, the models who are less successful are doing themselves up to the nines and are usually the ones paying for all of the wardrobe, makeup, and hairstyling tools that are required to perfect their looks.
5. If They Don’t, They Might Not Get To Choose What They Post
If an Instagram model is getting their clothing provided by a brand they’re working with or is being professionally styled by a brand for their promotional Instagram post, then usually that model doesn’t get the final say on which pictures get posted and which don’t. Obviously if a brand is paying you to advertise them then they want to be able to use the promotional materials that they decide on, which can mean that they take the input of the Instagram model into account or can mean that they just choose the photo that gets posted and that’s that. In terms of traditional advertising this is absolutely what anyone would expect, but because Instagram advertising has so much grey area this particular rule might come as a surprise to some people. After all, Instagram models normally treat Instagram as a means of promoting themselves as models, and Instagram is still their personal social media, so the fact that they don’t always have control over their image or what they post is a little odd.
4. They Don’t Get To Take Breaks
Turning your Instagram feed into your job definitely has its perks, one of the biggest and most obvious being that your job goes anywhere with you and your job is essentially to keep doing cool stuff (or at least pretend you’re doing cool stuff) often enough that it keeps the attention of your audience.
However, seeing as the job is completely dependent on the audience, that means that Instagram models don’t get to take a break from social media – ever.
If brands want to partner with someone to advertise their products then it needs to be someone who consistently has the attention of a whole lot of people, and having any lulls in your Instagram feed can put brands off. There are plenty of Instagram models who are super consistent posters and have thousands or even millions of followers, so when it comes to brand promotion, it’s the consistent models that usually win out.
3. Every Photo Has To Look Perfect
If you’re actually trying to make a living as an Instagram model, you can’t afford to have any bad pictures of yourself on your social media. A lot of traditional models like to post humanizing pictures of themselves on social media to make themselves more relatable, but Instagram models don’t have that luxury.
Whether they’re posting a picture of themselves modelling a bikini, standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, taking a picture of themselves in their bathroom mirror, or even just eating a cheeseburger, they can only post it if they can manage to do these things while looking flawless at the same time.
And if you want to be a successful Instagram model then yes, this even applies to the posts that you’re not being paid for. In a weird way it’s kind of like every other American workplace. If Instagram is where you “work” then your bosses don’t want to see you doing anything inappropriate or unappealing while you’re working.
2. You Always Have To Keep Your Model Look
This might seem like a given since it has been a requirement of models since modelling was a thing, but you’d also think that an Instagram model might get a bit more leeway because their promotion is more about creating a good image than it is about being able to fit into certain measurements or clothing sizes.
However, the brands that work with Instagram models are nearly as strict about them keeping up their physique as they are with your standard runway models.
Of course you can do a few photography and positioning tricks to make yourself look better, but ultimately the people paying for Instagram promotion want you to present a perfect picture to your audience. And obviously the same goes for your hair, face, makeup, lighting, or anything else under the sun. Unless a brand specifies that they want a model to do something different, they’re absolutely paying them to keep things the same.
1. Beware Of Throwback Thursdays
A lot of Instagram users are big fans of the daily and weekly events on the social media site, but an Instagram model needs to carefully consider whether or not she should post a “woman crush Wednesday” or “throwback Thursday” photo. For someone who sees Instagram as their own personal advertising site, they also see the product as themselves. And if they want to present a picture-perfect image at all times then posting themselves looking silly, or possibly posting something that the brands they work with might find unbecoming, is probably not the best idea. And given the arrangement photos on an individual Instagram, posting a picture of yourself at 12 years old in braces might really stick out like a sore thumb if the rest of the page is carefully curated Instagram glamour photos. Instagram might be how some models sell themselves, but they’re certainly not trying to sell reality.
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