Following my recent post and interest in Ralphie’s modelling I wanted to chat more to you about the ins and outs of being an agency represented model/ insta baby and what’s involved for him and me as his chaperone/ Mum-ager!
I have tried to answer all of your questions and cannot thank you enough for your continued interest and support in Ralphie’s journey.
How did it all begin? I posted Ralphie’s first picture to Instagram when he was just two weeks old on the 6th January 2017.
Don’t get me wrong at the start of our journey my pictures were horrific (and some still are!) and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing or how to style my photos. I was using filters and over exposing my images! The quality looked so poor and didn’t do his cuteness any justice. But this comes naturally over time once you become more confident and find your niche!
As I posted more of him on his Instagram I had lots of people telling me to put him into modelling and how gorgeous he was. We were asked by a few insta brands if we would accept some gifted items in return for some photographs of Ralphie with their products which was exciting! The positive response to his photos encouraged me to take the advice on board and invest a bit more time into styling his photographs, pushing the Instagram account and exploring all avenues with regards to baby modelling.
The first thing you need to consider with Instagram is what style you want to go for on your account. You need to stand out and do something different otherwise you’ll end up blending in. An example of this styling would be by a favourite of mine and fellow Instagram Mumma Naomi “Mother to Greeks”
You have to ask yourself are you willing to dedicate the time into engaging with followers; posting regularly and supporting small businesses and brands because like anything nothing worth having comes easy. Ralphie’s influencer account is a full time job for me and is very demanding and time consuming.
I believe what got us really recognised at the beginning was Ralphie’s personalised “RW” Clothing from Forever Sewing . He got a lot of exposure on their Instagram and the followers and likes for his wardrobe and outfits flooded in. We are very humbled and proud to have already worked with some amazing brands and businesses at such an early stage of our influencer journey. And will continue to support the brands we love and help them grow their businesses.
“What is an INFLUENCER? - A Social Media Influencer is a user on social media who has a growing/ established credibility in a specific industry and access to a authentic audience and can persuade/ influence others by virtue of their opinion and recommendations.”
I know we all say it but I genuinely thought Ralphie had “something” from day one. He was such a laid back newborn and would just lie there looking like the angels had strategically placed him on earth. He just loved having his photo taken.
Like most people I started googling “modelling agencies Essex/ London”. So many agencies were coming up and I was so overwhelmed with where to even start. I had come across a couple of baby model mums and asked them for some advice as I knew they lived locally to me. This was truly invaluable advice and they play a huge part in the reason why I got him signed up. I think if I hadn’t of asked I would of given up as there is so much information to take in and it really is very overwhelming and depends a lot on your location.
Can you sign up with more than one agency? There are two types of agencies when applying ‘Sole and Non Sole’. Ralphie’s agencies are both NON-SOLE meaning we are free to have more than one agent. Giving him the best opportunity, exposure and reach to different areas/ brands across the industry. So it’s worth checking when signing up what the agency contract states. This also allows us to work directly with brands should the opportunity arise.
Does everyone get accepted to all agencies and can I sign up a newborn?
Some agencies only open their books for a certain period of time meaning there’s a window for applying to join and this is very agency specific so worth looking on each website. Again all agents are different but Ralphie’s agencies accept from 0-17yrs and you will normally hear back within two weeks.
Can you recommend any agencies in the UK?
Kiddiwinks, Kids London, Scallywags, Tiny Angels, Bruce and Brown, Allsorts, Urban Angels, Alphabet Kidz, Bonnie and Betty, and Grace and Galor.
What is the difference between sign up fees, portfolio fees and commission charges and what did you pay out for Ralphie?
Both our agencies were free to join we never paid any upfront joining fee, nor paid for any professional portfolio images. I did these myself following the image criteria and guidelines as personally we didn’t want to spend out whilst we were unsure whether it would work for us as obviously no agency can guarantee your child work. However both our agents simply take a % commission on completed photographic and tv work before the money lands in our bank. Ralphie has his own ISA where all his money gets paid into. Some agencies don’t - but ours requested this was put in place before the first payments were initiated. He can’t touch this money until his 18th birthday. Please beware of any upfront costs and fees. There are reputable agencies that do charge however from my experience we’ve never had to pay upfront to get where we are today. You know your child’s worth and there’s no fee on that.
How often do you have to reapply to your agency or is there a contract? No, once you’re successfully on the books the only thing you have to do is keep your photos and profile up to date. This includes any holidays, contact details and clear headshots for your profile which I tent to update once every 3-4 weeks. These are the images your agent uses to send to the brands.
Do I need to take my child out of school if they are older than Ralphie? – Yes! Most castings/ jobs are in term time, however from chatting to other mums - most school age specific castings are usually after school hours approx 4-6pm.
Do we need to reside within London or a big city like Manchester to be successful ? – We’ve found most castings/ jobs in our region are within London and the M25. Some agencies do prefer that you are within an hour commute of London but this is not imperative just convenient as casting calls are generally very last minute and do not give you much notice. So planning for these and traveling with a young baby can be difficult especially when you are literally in castings less than 2-3 minutes sometimes and have travelled 2-3 hours. Personally I prefer to drive into London which 9 times out of 10 does result in hours of traffic. But for me Ralphie is a lot safer and more comfortable in his car seat than travelling on the tubes and me struggling up stairs and escalators.
How do you apply for jobs do you do this or does the agent do this? – If you are accepted to an agency you will automatically be put forward for any jobs that you are suitable for. Most brands will put forward a requirement /specific look and the agency will shortlist their books based on this request.
What happens when Ralphie gets picked to shoot?
Sometimes you can wait 2-3 weeks to hear back from a casting. Agencies won’t normally tell you unless you’ve been successful. You will then accept the location, date and time of shoot and the agency will then begin the process of applying for your child’s modelling licence. A licence is required for all child models working in entertainment industry. This licence is obtained from your local council and you cannot shoot until this is obtained. And you will need to take this along with you on the day.
A few days before shooting you will receive your child’s call sheet. Which will contain all of the relevant schedule and contact information. You will receive crew details and names, location, and your expected timings (arrival, hair and make up, lunch, call time etc!) I always plan my journey route and check parking ahead of the day. Our iPad is a god send on shoot days as in-between shooting or outfit changes Ralphie’s quite happy to chill watching Peppa Pig. There can be a lot of waiting around on shoot days so take toys, snacks and distractions. Be prepared for the stylist to style your little one different to your preferred taste. This was quite a big deal for me seeing him dressed in clothes I wouldn’t put him in at home and some hair teams on set even want to cut and restyle their hair.
Expectation Vs Reality
DON'T expect your baby/ toddler to be raking in £1000’s, don’t get me wrong it’s good money when the jobs come in but you could be waiting weeks/ months or even years before you land a job and sometimes when you weigh it up parents taking time off of work for castings (which are 9/10 unpaid) and shoots etc you’re actually loosing money. Unless they offer a chaperone fee for the shoot day which is between £65-£100.
DO leave a casting or shoot if at any point you think you’ve been waiting too long or you’re not happy with how you’re being treated. And let your agent know ASAP. It’s not worth it if your baby’s not happy. And in the past I’ve pulled Ralphie off set when he’s being asked of unreasonable demands for his age or he’s become agitated or upset. I will never put him in a situation unless he’s 100% happy.
How are all his photos so perfect, does he just stand there? No! He’s a baby, I think Mummy should be paid too some days as they have me performing like a monkey in a circus when he goes onto set waving, singing ,shaking toys to get his attention and focus. He’s really good and does generally play ball but there’s been shoot days where I’ve literally felt like I’ve done a full work out chasing him around set to return to the spot and look in a particular direction at the camera. It’s all about timing, lighting, distractions and luck! Every shoot day is different with a baby/ toddler.
Just DON’T expect the super star treatment. This is very rare but on the other hand some brands and companies are absolutely fantastic with the babies and children and will go above and beyond to ensure they are happy at all times.
Just remember you can do anything if you put your mind to it. And no matter how big your house is, how recent your car is, or how big your bank account is, our graves will always be the same. I get a lot of messages saying how people are jealous of things we post and places we go and my intentions were and are never to create jealously but to inspire others of their potential. Stay humble, be kind, be thankful, and dream big!
Kid, you’ll move mountains! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way! - Dr Seuss
Any comments, love or shares would be hugely appreciated.