Another $500 Bike?

Day 19 | $24,666 paid | $66,051 till freedom

You know you’re on a mission to pay down $90k in 10 months when you write two blog posts on a Friday night!

Dating Then Not
So the girl and I are no longer. I called her up and we talked about it, and it seemed like the best thing to do was to end it. It wasn’t a money issue–she didn’t care about money. In fact, she probably lives more cheaply than I do. And while she didn’t want money–something I don’t have right now–she did want time, which is another thing I don’t have right now. It sucks that it ended that way, but at the end of the day, I’m not in marriage-mode right now, and I’m not going to lead somebody on for ten months in a relationship where we hardly see each other for something that’s probably not going to be very long-term, anyway.

Instead of seeing her tonight as planned, I’m going to be posting this blog (one hour) and working on the landscaping business website. At 9 AM tomorrow, I have a meeting with Michael, my friend who thought of the idea, to flesh out the rest of the business plan and launch the site.

Odd Friday Night
On the typical Friday night, I’d either be downtown with my friends or on a date. Tonight is the first Friday that I’ve spent at home in a long, long time–for as long as I can remember, in fact. Even last Friday, I wasn’t home–I was downtown pedi-cabbing. But it’s okay–I’m actually really looking forward to working on the site and planning the business. I think we have such an incredible opportunity on our hands. Michael is a really sharp guy who went to A&M and is a landscaping guru, and I think we’re going to be able to do something really special when we put our heads together. I’m energized.

A part of me definitely misses downtown and hanging out with my friends, and in fact, my buddy texted me to go smoke a hookah at Kasbah, get some Torchy’s Tacos, and go downtown. That sounded incredibly tempting, I was extremely close to saying yes, and it was only with serious willpower that I said no thanks. We’re all getting together at my buddy’s house tomorrow night to watch the fight and possibly go downtown after, so I have that to look forward to. I’ll bring the flask just in case we do end up DT. I haven’t had a guys’ night in a couple of weeks, and I’m looking forward to it.

The Modeling Thing
I met with Nicole from a local modeling agency today and while it went well, it took me to a critical decision point.

The agency has offices in Miami and Hong Kong, and they just started actively recruiting talent for their new Austin office three weeks ago. Nicole and I hit it off and we had a casual conversation for about 30 minutes before getting down to brass tacks.

She had me fill out a form with my measurements and skills. When I asked her if she just wanted my resume instead of a list of my skills, she gave me this really puzzled look and told me no thanks. When I pressed her for details on what kind of skills I should list, she told me to list whatever I can do that a potential client might be interested in when they’re casting models. I still had no idea what she meant, but I didn’t want to risk looking like a complete amateur and asking her to explain further, so I took the bull by the horns and wrote, “ride my motorcycle, run, lift weights, bicycle, hike, business.” I felt like a complete idiot.

Then Nicole told me I’d have to get some pictures taken with a local photographer, Steve, who charges about $400 for a portfolio. Visions of my $500 pedi-cab bike flashed in my head. Uh-oh…here we go again. I swallowed the lump in my throat as she went to explain that without my images, they wouldn’t be able to effectively market me to clients. That part makes sense. On top of that fee, the agency takes 20% of everything I make from their clients. That also makes sense. Both parts make complete sense if the model is awesome and gets assignments left and right. But me…? I wasn’t so sure, but I didn’t tell Nicole that. The meeting wrapped up as she she told me that she never asks anybody to sign on the spot, and that I should call her when I’m ready to proceed.

I went to the gym to work out and talked it over with a buddy who asked me how long it would take to make the $400 back. Valid question–why hadn’t I asked Nicole that?

I called Nicole when I got home,  gave her the context of the pedi-cab situation, told her I didn’t want to get burned again, and asked her to be very, very candid with me and tell me if I even had a snowball’s chance in hell of modeling in Austin and how long it would take to earn back the $400. She assured me that they weren’t taking on models just to fill their roster, and that I wouldn’t have been at the interview if they weren’t seriously interested in me. She went on to say that I have a “clean-cut/businessman/fitness/guy next door” look that will do well for commercial print in Austin, which is apparently more lifestyle/commercial than a place like New York, where “edgy” models tend to do better than guys who look like me.

She also referenced the guy who came to see her after me–I had actually passed him on the way out, so I knew whom she was talking about. She told me that she told him his look might not actually sell in Austin. He has a great face, and while Austinites encourage everybody to “keep Austin weird,” she told me his tattoos might actually be an issue that will prevent him from being picked up. She claimed that she disclosed all of this to him.

I didn’t tell her this, but I’ve never been super confident about my looks. For the first nine years of my life, I had a dark red birthmark on my face that strangers used to stare at and kids at school used to tease me about. They’d laugh at me and ask me why I had “kool-aid” on my face. I got it lasered off at age ten and  had about two years to work on my less-than-stellar self-image until adolescence struck with a vengeance, putting severe acne all over my face, in my ears, and on my back.  To say that dates were hard to come by would be an understatement! I struggled with the acne for several years until I was 16 and got on a six-month Accutane treatment. It worked like a charm and no scars were left behind, but the damage was already done; I had developed a really negative self-image that lingered for years.

I’ve finally gotten over it during the past few years just by increasing my self-awareness and by dating enough attractive girls to realize that I can’t be too much of an ogre. But to go from what I looked like during my formative years to…modeling? I’m filled with skepticism. Nicole told me on the phone to think it over and not be impulsive–nobody has a gun to my head forcing me to sign. She does want me to sign and thinks I would do well, but I should do it only if I really want to do it.

I’m going to marinate on it for a bit and maybe see how the landscaping and SAT tutor jobs go before I commit. I’m leaning towards doing it. I just wish pictures had some sort of a return policy like the bike did! 

Finally Some Incremental Revenue
On a ver positive note, I deposited $1,943 today from the roommates’ first and last pro-rated months and security deposits, and I got an extra $287 on my bi-weekly paycheck by taking my 401k contribution down to nothing. Three weeks after establishing this goal, I’m finally banking some incremental revenue!


Filed under Increase Revenue

17 responses to “Another $500 Bike?

  1. Mike

    Kudos on the rental income.

    Re: Modeling, I always was told — by friends in the business, if I recall — that legitimate agencies let you pick your photographer. I Googled it and come upon this quote:

    — Begin —
    “We are interested in you but you need to test shoot with our photographer and it’s going to cost you.” Legitimate agencies will provide you with a list of photographers that you may go to on your own. Many will have a place by the front door for photographers’ business cards that you can take on your way out. You should be free to go to any photographer you choose. If the agency tells you that you must use their photographer, watch out.
    — End —


    This sounds like another $500 bike to me!

    My advice: Keep renting out. Pursue the web site (provided there’s no high costs, which there should not be). Shelve the modeling.


  2. V

    I got a bad feeling about it too as soon as I read “Nicole told me I’d have to get some pictures taken with a local photographer, Steve”. Sounds scammy just on the fact that she casually dropped the name of someone you’d “have” to get the pictures from.

    • V, I agree with both you and Mike, but important point of clarification: Nicole told me I could actually use anybody I want. She recommends Steve because she has seen his work and she knows he’s good. Also, whenever the models choose him, the agency director and she contact him to tell him what looks they want to go for with each model and what wardrobe to use, so the relationship has simply developed over time.

  3. If you want to do the modeling here’s what I would say:
    1 – Do more due diligence.
    2 – If you really want to do this – save up for that extra $500 until you have it. And make sure you can use the photos for other things you might need (e.g. profile shots for your lawn business, LinkedIn profile shot, etc)


  4. TX Reader

    100% agree that the modeling offer sounds like one of the extremely common “modeling” scams out there. In fact, this kind of scam is so ubiquitous that it has even featured as a plot line in various sitcoms (for example, an Everybody Loves Raymond episode where the brother, Robert, was shocked to discover that the photographer to which he had paid $1,000 for photos had cleared out of town with his money, along with the agency itself).

    They may not even be planning to clear out of town. A variant on this scam is the photographer takes your money, takes the pictures, and then, unsurprisingly, “we’re working on it” turns into “your look just isn’t selling in Austin the way we expected,” etc., etc.

    There are various details that you mentioned that point towards this definitely being a scam. For example, Austin, while a great city in many ways, is not a super hot market for modeling. It’s extremely unlikely that an international agency would choose to set up its third office (after Miami and Hong Kong) in Austin, as opposed to New York, L.A., or another larger city that would offer more of a market. The pieces just don’t fit.

    I think your overall plan to pay down your debt aggressively is a really good one. But, I honestly believe that you would be better off flushing your $400 down the toilet, based on the scenario you described. It seems like a really risky $400 gamble when you have other alternatives.

    (To be honest, the modeling things seems so obviously a scam that I’m wondering if you are just messing with your readership. In which case, this post is hilarious and I look forward to the next “gotcha!” post!)

  5. Kenta

    Im not shure how its in the USA but here in Tokyo/Japan the initial photoshoot was paid by the agancy. They put some of the costs on my first paycheck and 30% comission, though. Maybe you can nagotiate something like this. In my case it was also quite time consuming, they give you audition dates you can take or leave, most of them were on weekdays, so i would suggest asking them, if there are auditions on weekends or evenings. I couldnt get too many jobs when i was doing an internship on weekdays.
    Interesting blog you have there! and good luck on your quest

  6. Some hearsay on my part here, but as far as I have heard, modeling is another type of job where there is a lot of downtime before the work is actually done. The pay per hour might work out to be a lot better than pedicabbing, but in terms of the pace, it might push the same buttons that pedicabbing did – you may spend a bunch of time sitting around not actually doing anything before you get paid. Food for thought.

    • I’m sure there’s some truth to that, but I might be able to tolerate it. The thing that killed me about waiting around while pedi-cabbing is that I was never sure I’d actually make money. If I were waiting around for a guaranteed shoot it would be one thing–otherwise, I’d just feel like I were wasting my time, as I did when I was pedi-cabbing. Worst. Feeling. Ever.

  7. Zeona

    Aspiring models typically work night jobs to keep their days free for go-sees. You have no time to dedicate to that industry and there are so many scams around it, I would recommend just forgetting about it. I know it’s an ego stroke, but it will most likely end up being a waste of time and money.

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  9. Amy

    Just curious on who you went through to get your site up and going, any certain domain site?

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