I recently shared this article on my fitness Facebook page, but it's worth sharing again. I wouldn't want to scare anyone away from competing who has it in their heart to do so. BUT...there are things to consider.
First and most importantly, and I cannot stress it enough: if you have body image issues, body dysmorphia, or an eating disorder, I HIGHLY recommend that before you ever hire a prep coach, buy the bling, sign up for and pay for that competition, or step on that stage, you deal with those body image issues first. And then, after you've successfully dealt with those issues, wait six months before starting to prepare for a competition. Competing messes with your head. Sure, you look good up there, but the real challenge is mental and how you view yourself AFTER you step off that stage.
Second, hire a GOOD coach. Get references. Interview them. Don't put your health, body and mental health into the hands of someone just because they say they're a prep coach.
Third, It's EXPENSIVE. If you can't pay your rent - you have no business signing up for a competition. Make sure you can pay your bills before taking on this very expensive HOBBY. Don't forget it's a hobby.
Here are many other excellent points in the following article.
7 Competition Realities Veterans Don't Tell Rookies