Let's first put everything into two basic categories of Freelance and Agency modeling.
Freelance modeling is you finding your own work, weeding out who you work with, basically being your own manager. But this way no one takes a cut of the money you make and you don't have to listen to anyone other than yourself. The downside to this is that agencies can usually get you bigger casting roles since they should already have more contacts. Being a freelance model can be great, you don't have any set rules to live by. It's alright if you take a year vacation from modeling, plus you don't have to worry about anyone firing you!
Agency modeling would probably be most ideal for anyone looking to getting into modeling. However, as you can expect they know this, and therefore they will have much harder standards to reach. Most agencies call for a height and weight ratio to be met. Don't be discouraged if you get turned down for many agencies, most petite modeling like myself don't get a second glance from agencies. If you do get signed by an agency you can say goodbye to your freewill as a model; they dictate who you can and can't work with, what pictures are used, as well as taking a part of your pay for gigs.
Once you've decided if you want to be a freelance model or an agency model, you can then decide what off branches of modeling you want to do:
- Runway Modeling- probably what most of the general public thinks of when you say you model.
- Product Modeling- Revlon, Neutrogena, Victoria Secret. Just to name a few. (This can overlap with runway, photography, promotional, catalog, and commercial/acting)
- Photography- The basic modeling. Posing for a photographer usually with set themes, like lingerie, goth, lifestyle, (add endless list here).
- Promotional Modeling- You need to have good social skills for this as it requires you to go to events and promote whatever product is being sold.
- Acting/Commercial Modeling- This can be products, music videos, Youtube videos, plays, and movie roles. I've freelanced modeled for 3 years and I've only ever been asked to be in music videos. I'd say if this is the route you'd be interested in going, apply to be an actor/actress to an agency.
Now everything above is not so black and white. There are loopholes in everything, and there are even many off branches of these. I didn't want this to be a long article so I'm just going to give you some ideas of what I mean:
For example, if you want to be a commercial model and you can't get an agency to sign you, you might be able to commercial model a product from a smaller company who is just starting out. So no, you might not be on TV but at least that company would be promoting your video on their page and as they grow, so will you. You may also be able to get growing companies to trade with you-- what I mean by this is that you could model their product in pictures and they could use it in their catalog.
There are many, MANY types of photography modeling. A lot of themes that are popular now are cosplay, alternative, pin-up, plus size, lingerie, lifestyle (like wedding), glamour, fantasy, and fitness. You don't have to limit yourself to just one of these, you may fit several categories. Since there are many more types of modeling, the more specific types you do the more chances you have of being published in magazines and on websites that center around said themes.
There's also modeling for money. I'm not going to cover this too much, but some people model strictly just for the money and they couldn't care less about what "type" of modeling they're doing. If you're going to model for money and money ONLY, then I suggest nude and erotic modeling would be the go-to choice since it's the most easily sold. But then you're basically just doing porn. I do not recommend this modeling to anyone.
I tried to sum it up as much as I could, so it's quite possible I missed some. If you have any questions about types of modeling then you can post the questions below, or you can send me a message on my Facebook.