In this day and age, it is very difficult to generalize and say, "I am in the modeling industry". The so-called "modeling industry" is very fragmented and includes a wide range of niche markets within it. Now that almost anyone can join an online social network and call themselves a model, the "industry" has become more segmented than ever.
There are still the main genres of modeling that include: fashion, fitness, commercial, art, nude, and glamour. However, there has been a rise in gothic, alternative, pinup modeling and everything in between. The Internet has made it easier for you to access your market, but at the same time it has created a vast amount of competition that would not have been possible without it.
So, if you want to model, then first and foremost, you need to learn what your market is and whether or not it is sufficient enough to support you and the thousands of others who are vying for the same piece of the pie.
To learn what your market is, take a look at some of the more prominent models and photographers in each genre. Then, realistically asses your body type, facial structure, interest, and shooting style to see where you fit. You can't market yourself as a fashion model if you are very curvy, and don't fit the agency standards. That is NOT a bad thing, because there is another market that you can fit. If you have good muscle tone and even proportions, you like sports, then you should try to market yourself as a fitness model. If you are curvy and are not afraid to be scantily clad, then try glamour modeling.
Look at different magazines and catalogs that cater to specific markets, such as Vogue=fashion, Oxygen=fitness, American Curves & Maxim=glamour, Inked Magazine=alternative, Sears Catalogue & Travel Brochures=commercial, and see what suits you based on a realistic assessment of your look. For example, I love sports and working out, have muscle tone, and I'm passionate about fitness so I primarily market myself as a bikini or fitness model.
Aim to work with people who also shoot your style and who have connections within the market that you are trying to reach. Where you find them is up to you, but you should spend time contacting and working with people whose portfolios represent what you are trying to accomplish. Also, pay them if you have to.
Then, figure out how big the market that you want to enter is. You can do so by finding out how many readers the publications that cater to your specific market have, approximate number of people who shoot your style (ie. browse Model Mayhem), and how many publications are targeting that particular market.
Generally, the bigger the market, the easier it is to get a significant enough piece for you to make some money. At the same time though, there is more competition that you have to watch for in a bigger market. If it is a small market that you are trying to enter, then it may have some dominant players who have the majority of the market share (most likely because they started before you did), making it difficult for you as the new entrant. However, this does not mean that you can't just blow the dominant players out of the water and leave them in the dust if you offer something unique that your market accepts.
Some models have been successful in their careers by creating their own markets. The key is finding enough people who like that style. So, if you have a totally unique idea that won't cost you too much time and money, you can try to execute it and see how many people accept it and buy into it. It's possible to create a market where there is none.You don't know until you try, right?
Lastly, the key points are: be realistic in your market assessment, be aware of your competition, find a way to appeal to your market, and do your best. Good luck!