Updated: Apr 5
Many new models are surprised to hear that they’re expected to create and pay for their marketing materials. Maybe they didn’t know models needed things like composite cards, portfolios, and web profiles. Or perhaps they thought it was the modeling agency’s responsibility to put together these essential items. Whatever the reason, the real story is that models are considered to be independent contractors, and these marketing materials are considered to be crucial start-up items that don’t involve the agency. It’s just the cost of doing business.
One of the most critical marketing materials you’ll ever use is a composite card, which can be called a comp card, z card, zed card, or sed card. This small piece of paper has the power to bring big results!
Who Needs Comp Cards
Composite cards are essentially business cards. They’re an inexpensive and effective way to make a good first impression, to professionally showcase your abilities, and to share your contact information with agencies, scouts, clients, photographers, and other industry professionals. So, any model who is serious about their career, whether it’s commercial, fashion, plus-size, or any other type of modeling, needs to have composite cards! Keep in mind that if you plan on doing multiple kinds of modeling (like commercial and parts modeling, for example), you’ll need to have a separate comp card for each type.
Online Comp Card or a Printed Comp Card
These days, many models use a combination of digital and physical composite cards. They’re basically the same, but with one obvious difference: One you email, and the other you snail mail or hand out.
However, if you are just starting out then an online composite card is the way to go. The beauty of an online composite card is that you can quickly swap out photos yourself rather than having to reprint hundreds of cards at the printing company. Online comp cards are the most inexpensive choice for new models who are often changing their photos in the beginning. Once you become a little more established, then you can invest in printed cards. All comp cards, whether they’re online or not, act like mini-portfolios and are a quick and easy way for agencies, scouts, and clients to see what you’re all about as a model, and shows them that you’re serious about a future in modeling. It’s good to have both kinds on hand just in case the recipient prefers one type over the other.
What a Comp Card Looks Like
No two comp cards are identical, but the industry standard layout includes one large photo (your best one!) and four smaller photos, with your name, details, and contact information at the bottom. Online comp cards are simply an eye-catching image that contains all of these elements, typically with the large photo on the left and the four smaller ones stacked on the right. Physical comp cards are typically double-sided (one large photo on the front, smaller photos on the back) and printed on an 8.5" x 5.5" piece of glossy cardstock.
Information on a Modeling Comp Card
In addition to the photos, your comp card should contain all of the vital details that agencies, scouts, and clients need to know, such as your name, height, measurements, hair color, eye color, shoe size, and dress size. But most importantly, you need to include contact information, either for your agency (if you’re signed with one) or for yourself. You’ll never get booked if people can’t get a hold of you!
How to Select Photos
If you’re signed to an agency, there’s a good chance they’ll help you pick the photos that best represent you. If you aren’t with an agency yet, you’ll need to choose your photos very carefully and possibly tweak your choices until you find the combination that gets the best results.
Your main photo needs to be eye-catching and engaging—one with a true “wow factor.” This is the most important image, so make it count! That doesn’t mean you can choose any old photos for the remaining images, though. Even though they’re smaller, they need to give the viewer a strong look at your skills and versatility. Think of them as an abridged version of your portfolio.