Do you want to be in the spotlight? Do you like making money? If so, freelance modelling may be for you. To become a freelance model, it is important that you know what steps to take and pitfalls to avoid.
This article will provide information on how to get started as a freelance model with tips, tricks and expert advice from people who have been there before!
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What is freelance modelling?
Freelance modeling is the act of working as a model for other companies without being an exclusive model for any agency. Models are usually freelance when they are in demand and are not exclusive to one client.
A freelance model is someone who models professionally, but they are not contracted or signed to an agency.
This means you will be representing yourself and finding your own jobs – which can be a challenge without the proper know-how. You’ll need to organized and good at coordinating scheduled in order to attend appointments and gigs.
What is the difference between working for an agency and being a freelance model?
Difference between working for an agency vs freelancing
The difference between working for an agency vs freelancing is that when you work with an agency, they take care of all the details. You just need to show up and do your job. When you freelance, you have to take care of many details including finding jobs on your own.
When you freelance as a model, it is important that you keep track of all your money coming in and going out so that you know what to pay in taxes.
In general, agencies are favored for high-end clients.
Agency models get prestige and sometimes can command a higher rate, but the agency also take a percentage cut of their earnings.
Agency models may also qualify for employee benefits depending on their contract with the agency although many models are classed as independent contractors even when they work with agency.
On the other hand, working as a freelance model has a lot of benefits, especially if you are looking to do this as a side hustle for some extra money.
The Benefits of Working as a Freelance Model
It’s not all doom and gloom. While you might not have the prestige of working for one of the big modelling agencies, as a freelance model, you will reap the rewards of a lot of other benefits:
Flexible schedule – work when and how often you want
Pick your own work – you will be able to choose whatever jobs you want to take
More Money – no hefty agency fees to content with
Control – no worries about adhering to the rank and file of agency rules and regulations (which are sometimes very strict)
If you have never modelled before, working as a freelance model is a great way to get started in the business.
Many successful agency models start off doing freelance modelling jobs before they sign up with a large agency. It’s a great way to get your feet wet in the business.
How Much Can you Earn as a Freelance Model?
Being a freelance model can be lucrative, but the pay may vary depending on the type of work they are doing and how much time is involved in the project.
A good rule of thumb is that general model rates for freelancers start at around $50-75 an hour but bear mind that many successful models work on large projects that span whole days or weekends such as fashion show.
The average freelance model salary depends on a few factors:
- Your level of experience
- The quality of your modelling portfolio
- The demand for models with your profile
- The type of modelling shoot – hourly rates differ a lot depending on whether you are shooting photos or videos.
What are the requirements to be a freelance model?
You don’t need any academic qualifications to become a model, and it’s all about finding the right opportunities for yourself.
The only real qualification you will need is to be the right fit for the modelling job that you apply for.
The main things you need in order to become a successful freelance model are:
- A professional portfolio
- Posing and camera knowledge
- Confidence and a great attitude
Types of Model and Requirements
There are all different types of model so you can sure that there is work for you!
If you are inked and want to get work as an alternative model, make sure to read my in depth guide on how to become a tattoo model.
Here are the types of traditional model
Fashion Model or Runway Model
The traditional modeling you know from magazines like Vogue or Elle.
These kinds of models are also called editorial models and women are normally between 5″9 and 6ft.
Glamour models need to be 18 years old as the photos are normally more risque than for other types of modelling gigs.
Fitness models are normally hardcore health enthusiasts who may be into competitive fitness competitions.
Swimsuit models do not need to be as slender as editorial models but they need to look good in a bikini!
Fine Art Model
Work as a life drawing model and spend your days laying around being watched! These models pose for artists in different clothes and poses. The only catch is that you often have to stay still for hours on end.
If you have a specific part of your body that is amazing, then you could become a freelance body-part model. Eyelashes, hands and hair are all very popular body- parts for modelling.
If you have great feet, then you can make an entire career selling pictures of your feet as a foot model.
Promotional models works at events such as Formula 1 or sporting events.
It is possibly the easiest kind of modelling gig to get as a freelance model. You must be friendly and enjoy talking to people to be a good promo model. (this is not one of those Side Hustles For Introverts)
Sometimes called a print model, you would promote clothes or retail products in print and catalogs. The main requirement is that you must fit into the sample size clothes.
How to Become a Freelance Model –5 Easy Steps
If you are ready to become a fashion model and want to get started, here is your step by step guide to getting gigs as quickly as possible:
- Take a course
- Compile your portfolio
- Create your own website and social channels
- Network with other modeling professionals
- Start your model job hunt
My Experience As A Model
When I was a teenager, I briefly worked as model for an agency and I remember distinctly the modelling course that I had to complete before I could work at fashion shows and jobs.
We had to walk back and forth in a room with a book on our heads and at meals we were constantly poked between the shoulder blades to make us sit up straight.
Although you may thing that being a model is easy, learning to walk correctly and to create a rapport with the camera while you are put in strange positions can be hard work .
If you are interested in learning more about how to act in front of the camera and how to be a success in the modeling industry, you can take an online modelling course.
The Best Online Modeling Courses
There are a number of institutes that run classes for the freelance community and the nice thing is that you can do them from the comfort of home (no shoulder blade poking for you!)
My favorite is Udemy because their courses are so reasonable (under $50 in most cases) and they offer a 30 day money back guarantee.
Here are my favorite Udemy courses for independent freelance models:
Who this course is for:
- Anyone interested in beginning a career as a professional model.
- Someone who believes they have the following traits: a good sense of style, adaptability, a positive attitude, excellent stamina, communication skills and the ability to look good on camera at all time
This is the highest rated modelling course on Udemy and it is a really good value (at the time of publishing, it was only $19.99 USD).
Who this course is for:
- Aspiring models.
- Professional models.
- Talented people.
- Modeling Industry Professionals
Who Is This Course For?
- People who want to become models
- Models who are looking for a transition in their career
- Models who want to travel abroad
- Parents of children who want to become models
- New agencies
- People who are curios about modeling business
- People who want to enter an entertainment industry
- Someone who has positive attitude, communication skills and looks great on camera
2. Compile a Portfolio
Freelance modeling can be a lucrative and rewarding profession, but it is important to put your best foot forward.
Your portfolio is the single most important thing when it comes to getting freelance modelling jobs.
If you have decided not to go the agency representation route, you won’t have agency to put in a good word for you with their contacts, which means you need your portfolio to really shine.
What is a model portfolio?
A model portfolio is a collection of photos and other artistic materials related to your career. It informs prospective clients about your experience, style, and availability.
A model portfolio may include magazine, newspaper, or online clippings of editorial photographs in which you have been featured.
For example, if you were recently in a magazine that features weddings in the winter time, you might include a copy of this article with the view that it will help your pitch for being a spring wedding model.
One of the most important pieces of your portfolio is your resume, which you should build out before you start contacting potential clients. Your resume should include the following information:
- height and weight
- hair color and length
- eye color and shape
- portfolio of pictures
- Notes such as special skills you have (ice skating, gymnastics etc)
An essential item in your portfolio is a list of your physical measurements and characteristics such as age, height, weight, shoe size, hair colour, eye colour, hair length, etc.
Most measurements you will know (or can easily find out), but some can be tricky to get right:
- Bust – Measure around the widest part of your chest (generally across the nipples) whilst wearing a bra. Breathe normally. Do not suck in a big breath to expand your chest.
- Waist – Measure from around two inches above your belly button or the smallest part of your waist. Do not hold your stomach.
- Hips – Measure at the widest part of your bum (or roughly eight inches below your waist) and as close to the skin as possible. Do not pull the tape measure in.
Do You Need A Professional Portfolio?
When you are first starting out, you can probably get away with your own portfolio of quality photos but the sooner you get some professional shots done, the better.
As you are not working with a modeling agency, you will need your portfolio to really showcase your modelling abilities.
It is not too expensive to get a professional photoshoot done (you might be able to find one for under $300 for an hour) and it is well worth it.
Look on Craigslist and Kijji for a professional photographer who is looking to build their own photography portfolio and you might have a mutually beneficial business deal!
Other ways to build up your modelling portfolio include:
- Take small jobs or volunteer to promote brands for friends in exchange for photos
- Participate in TFP shoots (time for photos) where the freelance community (photographer, model, makeup artists, set designer etc) gets together to contribute to a shoot resulting in photos they can all use.
- Do promotional work for small businesses in your area in exchange for photos showing you working
The more diverse the photos that you can use in your portfolio, the more range of modelling you will be able to show to a new client. Consider this when choosing your photos.
For example, if you are applying for an activewear shoot, your portfolio should have shots of all your best activewear shoots in it. Likewise, if you want to break into lingerie modelling, make sure to showcase a few examples.
In addition to your portfolio of photos, you will want to get some casting videos that show your camera walk and different poses. Many auditions are not in person and simply ask for a video sample of your work so make sure to have something ready.
3. Your Website and Social Media Channels
If you decide to go the freelance route, you will need to spend a lot of time on self promotion.
In addition to your portfolio, you will need to create comp card, videos and social media pages for your business.
This is especially true for freelancers who do not have the benefit of an agency promoting them.
The first thing you should do is to create social media accounts for your modelling business and upload all your portfolio photos. An online presence is really important and can go a long way to securing modeling jobs.
Include information about the kind of modelling you offer and examples of jobs and have fashion events you have already worked at
If you have aspirations to be a successful model , it is a good idea to have your own website. If you pick a domain name that is the same as your own name or very similar, it will help to establish your brand.
Creating your own modelling website is really easy and you can do it in an afternoon.
What To Include in Your Website
It is possible that prospective clients will look for you online so you want your website to include text mentioning all of the search terms that they might use.
For example, your full name + model, the different kinds of modelling jobs you will do and any other relevant information.
Include the following pages on your freelance model website:
- A photo gallery with regular updates
- Link to your Instagram feed
- Contact Information
- An about page
- An “as seen on ” page highlighting your previous work
- A PDF of your comp card
What Is A Model Comp Card?
A model comp card is a small paper card created by models which displays their information to prospective clients. It typically includes the model’s name, contact information, and reel of pictures.
A model comp card is sometimes also called a composite card, Z card, zed card or Sed card and they are used by both models and actors.
Think of it as a business card to hand out to potential clients.
Model comp cards are typically half of a standard business card in size.
A model should have at least three comp cards, but it is advisable to have more than that if you want to be considered for many different types of modeling jobs.
To obtain your comp card, you can use an online service such as SedCard. Prices range from $19 for a PDF comp card to up to $200 for a top of the range hard copy.
The next step in your journey to becoming a successful freelance model is to get your name out to all other fashion industry professionals.
Photographers, make-up artists , fashion designer businesses and producers are some of the best places to start.
Although you might not get work right away this way, creating contacts is important when carving out a freelance career will pay dividends.
Send messages to people who are active on social media and professionals that you would love to work with. Introduce yourself and let them know that you would love to work with them.
You might even want to follow other freelance models in your area as they might know of upcoming jobs you can apply to.
Always include your details, comp card (if possible), or portfolio and make sure to mention their work so they know your message is personal and not just a generic cold call.
5. Where Can you Find Freelance Modelling Jobs?
Now you have done all the prep work to becoming a freelance model, it’s time to find some freelance modelling jobs.
There are plenty of opportunities for work depending on the kind of model you want to be.
Here are the top freelance modelling agencies Worldwide. It is worth signing up for as many as possible so you can find the most modelling jobs possible.
This UK-Based site is full of photographers and is ranked as one of the top freelance modelling sites by models and the people who hire them.
This is the longest established major site and models can join for free. It is based in the USA and offers modelling gigs Worldwide.
This German site has models from around the World.
Here is another freelance modelling site that you can join for free and upload your portfolio, apply for castings and send messages to photographers.
This website is not as big as some of the other ones but it is free to join and gets good reviews for model jobs
To find more model jobs, you can search for “Freelance modelling jobs near me” on Google and also look for talent agency websites that allow models to sign up.
How to be a successful freelance model
If you want to start a modeling career, make sure you are ready for a lot of work, and fun! Being your own boss is fantastic but it can be hard too. Here are some of the best tips to being a successful freelance model.
Practice will make perfect with this one but being confident in yourself and your abilities are the best way to ensure you land modelling jobs from the get-go.
Love The Camera
And make sure the camera loves you. An online course can help you master different facial expressions and great body language.
Work On Your Physical Appeal
Every modelling job is looking for someone different but the truth is, a great smile and a healthy, toned body are essential for this job.
Personal care and fitness are very important as are good body proportions.
Remember, you will be the face of a brand so you want to show yourself in the best light possible.
Have A Good Attitude
Modelling can be tiring and involve long days. A lot of work that models do is nowhere near as glamorous as you might think.
Make sure to learn about stress management and develop a fitness program that will help you to relax on on your days off – yoga or pilates is ideal.
Focus On Time Management Skills
Being a freelance model means running your own business in a way.
As a freelance model, you will be in charge of managing your own schedule and staying organized. You need to make sure to be on time to all your castings and modelling gigs.
Admin skills are also very helpful as you will need to develop some business acumen to stay on top of your bookings and invoicing clients for work completed.
Modeling Scams – What You Need To Know
You likely already know this but the modeling industry is awash in scammers. Although it can be a great side hustle to get into, you want to take all the cautions you normally would online and when meeting strangers in person.
Fake agencies and photographers prey on women and men who are trying to break into the industry.
Freelance models, in particular, can be vunerable to modelling scams as they do not have an agency vetting potential clients.
How To Avoid Modeling Scams
Give Yourself a Modelling Name
There’s no reason to use your real name on your portfolio. You could use an alias for your modelling name. In fact, it might be better to avoid using your real name,
Vet All Contacts
Don’t accept any job or go to any casting unless you have vetted the photographer or brand. Always make sure to tell someone where you are going.
Never Pay To Model
Apart from your portfolio and education in the form of a course, you should not have to pay to become a freelance model. Anyone who says they can get you modeling jobs for a fee is likely a scammer and should be avoided.
Get A Contract For Every Freelance Modeling Job
This is something that new models often skip but it is very important to have your job duties and the expectations of your client written out to avoid legal actions in the future.
A modeling contract can be a very simple document that outlines what you are expected to do and when you will get paid. It should also include information about the allowable image uses for the photos and videos taken on the job.
Become A Freelance Model – Final Thoughts
If you have your heart set on a career in fashion, then working as a freelance model might be just the thing for you.
Be your own agent by learning to market yourself. Get ahead by educating yourself about the modeling industry, networking with professionals, keeping portfolio updated and you will be well on your way to a successful freelance modeling career!
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