Model in China: Guide to Boost your Popularity and Make More Money

This article will help all western Models in China that want to develop their Careers and we will explain all their options to boost Awareness and make more money.

China was a closed country for a long period of time. When it finally was opened to the world, never seen there before westerners considered it as something exotic. Western appearance quickly becomes hugely needed for any kind of advertising among the Chinese.


The modeling market in China more than ten years ago started with just several arrived model agencies. This kind of business was so lucrative and easy to make money, that with highly reputed agencies on the Chinese mainland quickly appeared hundreds of local enterprises.

Chinese model agencies, apart from their western colleagues, didn’t care very much for living accommodations or good English-speaking managers to communicate with their models. However, for arrived westerners, apart from local inconveniences and everyday misunderstandings, it was really possible to make good money during their contracts. For 3 months “on ease,”  westerners could make 6-12 k$ and go home.

Demand for western faces was huge. Chinese clients weren’t very intelligent, their consumers weren’t very demanding. That all created a mess: many agencies appeared and disappeared, and a lot of its managers and models started to work on their own.


Several years ago, China was really a dream for the modeling industry to make fast and easy money. But everything is changing. Today’s high competition between agencies, the rivalry between a large number of coming models, growing legislative/regulatory/ taxation pressure from the government, and finally becoming more and more savvy, choosy, and picky Chinese clients, make this business not as easy as it was before.

Chinese model agencies are quickly adapting to the challenges of their native market. For them, this business currently is still large, perspective, but, of course, less lucrative and more competitive, than before.

Coming western models nowadays are still considering the Chinese model market as a perspective. Today getting into a Chinese model agency for them is even more adorable. But in fact, each time when contracts with agencies are finished, the majority of westerners are returning to a home without any money. Even after several attempts they still remain a hope that next time they will definitely be successful in China.


In 90% of cases, Chinese agencies are working with models on credit base contracts. It means, that before starting to make money in China, the model has to cover expenses mentioned in his/her balance sheet. Once enough amount of the job is done, the model can start to earn with a deduction of the agency fee for each job.

Just some lucky and well-experienced models are coming to China with “warranty contracts”, where Chinese agencies are obligated to pay some salaries to them on a monthly basis.

From the beginning for a westerner that arrived at a Chinese model agency, everything goes well. Agency provides a lot of castings and proposes many kinds of jobs. The model starts to make future plans and waits when finally “minus” will be covered. But suddenly, when it comes time of making money, the number of jobs is falling down.

The model still goes on castings, but unfortunately, almost all jobs are taking those models, who just arrived at the agency. After the contract finishes it turns out, that model hardly can “cover a minus” and earn almost nothing to bring home.

Chinese agencies are “pushing” just-arrived models to give them more jobs, but quickly switching to another when those are about to cover their balance. They also never tell models real prices for the jobs they’re giving. In fact, they always levering the price tag for 20-50%.

Chinese model agencies’ strategy of making money on westerners could be seen as imminently unfair, but in fact, this is the only way most of them can still survive in their highly comparative market.

So before going on modeling to China think about the following things:

  • Chinese agencies never lose money. They’re making it on you
  • You never know “how much”. They’re telling it to you
  • You can’t change or control anything – you are not in your country
  • In China, your contract is just a paper


Chinese modeling market is still remaining huge, but due to high rivalry and a large number of coming models, it is extremely difficult for most of them to get enough jobs. If it comes to modeling, only the most successful and already highly qualified models with good portfolios can earn good money. In fact, 80% of models are coming to China to “feed” local model agencies.

In current realities, it is much more interesting to be a model agency in China than just a model. But as I mentioned before China is changing. Today Chinese modeling agencies are facing more and more challenges from both the government and their picky clients. Soon this market will come under strict control and will be balanced like in the best part of the world.


When it comes to modeling in China, it is already difficult to earn good money for westerners there. But if to keep in mind, that western faces are a good tool for advertising to the Chinese, then a much better solution for their usage can be found.

During the last few years, the Chinese advertising market amazes the world not only with the digitalization pace but also with the growing promotion power and salaries of its social media Influencers.

KOL influencers

Influencers or Key Opinion Leaders are not something new to the western world. These are people with large auditory followers on social media networks, such as Kim Kardashian, Selena Gomez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Beyoncé, and others.

Companies are cooperating with Influencers and paying for the promotion goods and services among their followers. In China, Influencers have much more promotion power than in the rest of the world.

Chinese are very connected and they don’t mind being advertised on their social media.

They even like when their celebrities cooperate with the big brands and want to follow them in what they do and the products they’re suggesting to buy. In contrast, western audiences are not really tolerant of promotion on their social media.

According to 2019 statistics, western influencers with one million followers are earning on average 3000$/post on Instagram and 7000$/post on YouTube.

Whereas the Chinese are earning about 5000$/post on their Weibo and 11000$ on WeChat.

Chinese influencers are already earning on average 2 times more, than westerners as their auditory is loyal to advertising and they can do much more promotions than their western colleagues. Prices for their services are increasing every year.

50 000USD per Post

For example, Chinese Influencer Tomas Ye (Gogoboi) charges about $50,000 per promotion and can run up to 15 brand collaborations monthly.

That’s $9 million of yearly revenue from WeChat advertising for an account estimated to gather around 8 million followers. 

Gogoboi’s Weibo account, with 9,5 million followers, likely brings $15,000 per post, with around 10 collaborations per month, netting another $1.8 million per year of revenue from Weibo advertising.

Another good example of a successful Chinese Influencer can be fashion blogger Tao Liang (Mr. Bag) who set two sales records during the last two years.

In 2018th Tao helped brand Tod’s to sell 300 luxury handbags with a net worth of 470 000 USD (about 1570$ for each one) within just 6 minutes after promotion. In 2017th he sold Givenchy’s handbags for a net worth of 170 000$ within 12 minutes.


Good question…

Western Influencers are already trying to hit the Chinese market, but both without much effort and results. Let’s compare some of them: Kim Kardashian 138M on Instagram vs 232K on Weibo; Justin Timberlake 55M on Instagram vs 3M on Weibo; Adriana Lima 12M on Instagram vs 51K on Weibo. Moreover, the engagement level (likes and comments) in their post is several times lower even in comparison to the middle Chinese Influencers.

Don’t think that if world stars still didn’t succeed on lucrative Chinese social media, then no other westerners can. Of course, world celebrities are not really famous in China due to the lack of Google, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and many other western sources of information. But the real and most important reason why they still didn’t hit the Chinese market lies on the surface. It is just enough to quickly look through their posts.

Western influencers are not trying to understand the needs of their local auditors in China. For most Chinese is very important to be connected with their leaders with more soulful content and in their native language.  Still no brand, trademark, business, or celebrity succeeds in China without a genuine connection with the Chinese audience.

Another thing is that Chinese social media platforms have their own peculiarities. For example, the most popular open Chinese social media Weibo is likely to be more a mix of Instagram and Twitter. So perfect post there should contain not only pictures but also a well-written part.


If talking about western models become Influencers, they have great potential in China.

Great Potential


Their appearance is still very demining for local advertising, but due to all changes in the market, it is no longer possible to earn a lot as just a simple model.


If becoming an Influencer, Chinese language challenges for posts in social media can be overcome with just having a small team in the background that will professionally deal with content and speak to followers in the name of the main account owner.


As a suggestion, is better to develop yourself in some specific, but popular and potentially capacious field. For example, now in high demand is content from long-distance journeys and high fashion.


The key for an influencer is to create Buzz, get exposure, and get a maximum of followers. Because the more follower you get, the Higher the Price for a post.

The more follower you have, the more brands want to collaborate with you.
And we can help you to get more exposure.

Usually, a KOL in China is never alone, they have a whole team that promotes, prepares content and negotiates with Brands

We can be this strategic team.

Imagine, how a western Influencer can open to Chinese followers’ culture, nature, and historical background of his native destinations or how could be interesting for Chinese luxury fans not only exclusively estimate fashion novelties but also to see through the gap in the life of western beau monde?!!


We are a Digital Native Marketing agency. We work with KOL every day, with Brands, and are the perfect suits for Ambitious models that want to be more than just a model.

  • Contact us to see our case studies
  • We have also a White book about Personal Branding in China (Free to get it)
  • and if you want to speak to Gabriel the expert in Marketing New influencers in China, email us.

This article is written by Gabriel a Model / KOL / Agent /Marketer in China.


  • Dua Ali Bhutto

    I Want Be A Model In China

  • Hello, I am a Russian male model and think about getting into China’s model industry. I already have my accounts on wechat, Weibo and douyin but my follower base is still very low and I don’t know how I can manage to take off. Can you help me with that? And can we get in touch? I can sen you some pictures and info about me if needed. Thanks

  • Martin hassani

    Hello .
    I’m martin . I was a model. Bcz of some issues i drpped it away , but now i got decide to start deal with in china. Size: 190 cm w: 90 KG . Age : 31 I have some modeling photos for sending

  • The center of a modeling career focuses on having representation by a modeling agency. There are other ways for unrepresented models to find work, but the role of a modeling agency should be understood by the model to compliment their career.

  • Fashion is booming in China, and Chinese Brands love use foreign model for their ads.
    If you are nobody you will be in taobao shops.
    If you have a minimum of authority, you can really work with big Brands.

  • Hi,
    I am a model, and think of have social media account in China, to promote myself.
    How much Chinese Brands can pay for influencers?

    • I want to be model in china

    • Good move , it is trendy to pay foreign KOL. Brands can pay a lot, depend on your influencer actually (follower)

      • Ampumuza Genesis

        I need help this goes OLIVIES VEROT . i like modeling and I want to help my mom am 15 but am very tall . yeah and please get a place in modeling . I it help me and my mom please I need get some money😭😭😭 or call me . and am form Ugandan😂

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