How to Become a Freelance Model (Secret Tips That Will Set You Apart)

How to Become a Freelance Model (Secret Tips That Will Set You Apart)

Have you ever stood in front of a mirror striking killer poses in your bath towel, or sashayed down an imaginary catwalk, wondering how to become a freelance model?

No? Just me then O_O

The thought of getting to wear glamorous clothes, stand in the limelight, and be the face of a brand or product is an exciting idea that many dream about.

Well, wonder no more, because I am here to guide you through all the steps you need on how to get into freelance modeling and kickstart your fabulous modeling career.

How To Become A Freelance Model

  1. Practice and get some experience
  2. Take some online courses
  3. Compile a portfolio
  4. Prepare your comp card and casting photos
  5. Publish and update your profile
  6. Contact industry professionals
  7. Search for jobs and get bookings


Some of the links on here are affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.

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What is a Freelance Model?

A freelance model is someone who models professionally, but is not contracted or signed to an agency. 

As a freelance model, you will be representing yourself and are responsible for finding and booking your own jobs or work. 

This means keeping track of your appointments and schedule, and promoting or marketing yourself in order to secure jobs. 

It also means educating yourself about the modeling industry, networking with industry professionals, and keeping your portfolio and resume updated.

Difference Between Working for an Agency vs Freelance Modeling 

If you are an agency signed model, your agency will be in charge of finding jobs for you.

This means they have bigger control over your schedule. As an employee of the agency, you may qualify for employee benefits.

Being an agency signed model comes with prestige and usually a higher rate, but the agency also takes a percentage cut of your earnings.

In return for representing you, publicizing you, and taking care of administrative details such as work permits, transport, accommodation etc especially if you are not a resident of the country. 

As a freelance model, you will be responsible for all of these yourself. This means you will need to look for and contact potential clients yourself, market your portfolio, and take care of your booking schedules and logistics.

Benefits of Working as a Freelance Model

If freelance modeling sounds like a lot of work, you may be wondering what the benefits of becoming a freelance model are.

As a freelance model, your benefits include:

  • Flexibility of schedule – accept jobs at your own discretion and time
  • Taking home 100% of your earnings/payments
  • Freedom to pursue clients and book jobs – even if you are signed to an agency, there is no guarantee they will find jobs for you
  • Freedom to change your look – think tattoos, hair colour, piercings, body size etc.
  • More control over your life – no agency telling you what to do!
  • Being your own boss

That being said, being a signed model with an agency is usually preferred as it commands higher rates and often lands more jobs. 

Most models aim to get signed to reputable agencies, and many models start out as freelance models and continue on to sign for agencies later on.

We all have to start somewhere right ?

How Much Can you Earn as a Freelance Model?

A good starting rate for new freelance models is around $50 per hour for studio catalogue shoots. 

However, if you are just starting out and are trying to build your portfolio, you may have to charge even lower. It’s important to know details of the shoot so you can adjust your pricing accordingly.

As you gain experience and become well established, you can start raising your rates. Analyse your strengths and progress and decide on a fair rate. An established freelance model can earn up to $150 per hour.

A freelance model’s rates can vary widely and depend on a lot of factors such as:

  • Experience – rookie, mid-level, or seasoned pro
  • Your look – are you a niche model, high fashion, etc
  • Shoot type – studio/indoor, outdoor, catalogue, lookbook, campaign
  • Image rights – online only, print, billboard etc, and usage duration
  • Portfolio – how varied or focused your portfolio is
  • Production size – small business shoot, multinational corporation, big budget ads, or anything in between

Some models choose to offer pre-set time bookings, i.e, half day and full day rates.

However, this is uncommon in the freelance modeling line, as freelance models usually charge by the hour.

How to Become a Freelance Model – A Step by Step Guide

If becoming a freelance model sounds like the perfect job for you, here are the steps you can take to make that dream a reality.

1.Practice and Get Experience

The first thing you need to do to start your freelance modeling career is to rack up the experience. Start small! Set up a good camera in front of a plain background and practice posing and taking photos of yourself. 

Learn by copying poses and figuring out how to position your body to best showcase your features.

Practicing and engaging in modeling activity sharpens your skills and increases valuable experience, which will go a long way to impressing and landing clients.

One of the easiest ways to gain experience is to volunteer your modeling services. This could be to family, friends, or local events.

2.Take some Online Courses

You may be thinking,I have no experience! Is there any training on how to become a freelance model?

Absolutely. Getting some training will set you apart and speed up your learning so you have a competitive edge early on.

If you have no experience and are keen to get proper training, here are a few online courses that will teach you how to become a freelance model from the comfort of your own home. 

The prices of these courses are much cheaper than if you received full blown certification from a modeling academy. 

If you’re looking for professional certification, you can invest and enroll yourself in modeling academies or schools.

3.Compile a Portfolio

While your home-photos may start you off, you need to build a substantial portfolio before you will be ready to take on paying jobs.

Take up small modeling gigs or hire a professional photographer to shoot photos of you. 

You can also participate in a “time for photos” or ‘TFP’, where a group of creatives including yourself as a freelance model, a photographer, makeup artist, and stylist all contribute to a shoot. 

While none of you will get payment, you will be exchanging your time and effort to create photos for each other’s portfolios.

For beginners, this is a win-win!

Your portfolio should showcase your diverse range, any niche you want to explore, and cover a variety of shots and poses. While a business social media account is sufficient, you should also look to compile your portfolio into a pdf or a website so you can share it easily.

4.Prepare a Comp Card and Casting Photos/Videos

A comp card is a summary of your details and portfolio. Think of it as a freelance model’s business card.

It will usually include your name, contact details, body measurements, and a selection of 4-5 of your best and most varied photos. 

A good idea is to prepare customised comp cards based on the client you are submitting them to. For example, a modest-wear client would not be particularly interested in your lingerie photos.

A casting photo or video is what scouts or clients will usually see first when they put out casting calls. Set your camera on a tripod or even surface and stand against a plain, light coloured background and make sure you are well lit. 

Take photos of several angles of your face and full body (wear neutral, non-distracting clothing and minimal/natural makeup). Include several poses and facial expressions. For video, do the same but also shoot yourself walking and moving.

5.Publish and Update your Profile

Sign up to freelance model websites and upload your portfolio and details to your profile. 

These details include measurements, contact, and any links you wish to include. Make sure you read the categories carefully to determine what kinds of shoots you are open to and what you are not comfortable with.

Include a short, thorough blurb about yourself and your modeling career. Don’t forget to add your personality and passions into it!. 

For example – ‘I love working hard, creating beautiful shoots for my clients, so I can spend time and money with my fur babies, Tara and Momo’.

6.Contact Photographers, Stylists, Make-Up Artists, Potential Clients

Get your name out into the industry! Send formal emails to photographers, makeup artists, ad agencies, companies, and stylists you would love to work with. Always include your details, comp card, and portfolio for them to easily refer to.

While cold-calling may not get you many responses, don’t lose faith! 

Keep your social media updated and keep hustling so you are visible to industry insiders. With luck, they may remember you and decide to book you for upcoming jobs.

Contacting professionals in the industry also expands your network – something that is essential in any freelance career. 

Once you land jobs, tag the people you work with, the location, and other details (always check about confidentiality with your client first!) which would make it easier for you to find and be remembered.

7.Search for Jobs and Get Bookings

If you’ve done all of the above, it’s time for you to hit the pavement and look for jobs! Search online through the freelance model websites, keep an eye out for casting calls on your social media groups, and advertise your availability.

Once you land a job, make sure you note all the details regarding the shoot and prepare yourself for the job. Get a good night’s sleep (we don’t want those dark circles and eyebags!) and make sure you are punctual to your appointments.

Where Can you Find Freelance Modelling Jobs?

Freelance models can work in as many fields of modeling as they like. For example, as a freelance model, you can work as a print model, promo model, fitness model, runway model, glamour model, catalog model, music video model, commercial model, and many more.

These days it is easier than ever for you to find freelance model jobs. Here are some avenues you can use to find work as a freelance model:

Modeling job boards – Search for model castings all over the world through popular model job sites Model Mayhem or Model Management. These websites list freelance models for hire to casting agents all over the world

Networking – Make friends with other models – not only will you be getting valuable insight, you will also be getting your name out there. Friends are also more likely to recommend friends, and make sure you return the favour by referring them to your contacts too.

Reach out – Contact photographers, make up artists, ad agencies, and stylists you want to work with. You can also pitch directly to brands and companies you would like to model for. Include your comp card and link to your online portfolio.

Social media – jobs are often posted by brands on their social media pages, and you can also join freelance groups on Facebook where jobs and career advice are posted.

 You may also find jobs in related fields such as production extras, trade show models, or stock photography castings which can add to your portfolio

Agencies – As a freelance model, you may have the option of signing non-exclusively to as many modeling agencies as you like. These non-exclusive agencies will get jobs for you and submit your comp card for casting. 

The more agencies you sign with the more opportunities you will get. Do note that the agency will keep a percentage of your pay if you land jobs through them.

Just google,’ Freelance model agencies + your location’.

What are the Requirements to Become a Freelance Model?

There are some skills you will need, to become a freelance model. If you have them, great! You are on to a good start. 

If you don’t have them, don’t fret. They can be learned over time 🙂

Confidence – The most important requirement! You need to be able to work confidently and strut your stuff in front of many people

Photogenic – you need to know which angles are flattering, which facial expressions suit your features best, and how to maximise your look in front of the camera.

Good attitude – As a model, you will be working with numerous people, receiving direction and instruction throughout your job. Having a friendly, pleasant and positive attitude, being able to work well with others, and being open to comments and criticism is crucial. 

Good body proportions – models usually adhere to specific ranges of measurements in terms of height and proportions. That said, the modeling standards are becoming more inclusive and different body types are getting represented better.

Physical appeal/beauty – Models will usually have a certain degree of beauty/physical appeal. A toned body, great smile, and clear skin for example. While classic beauty is very marketable, unique features are becoming increasingly valued and sought after.

Knowledge – Modeling is more than just having a pretty face. Knowledge on walking styles, poses, posture, angles, and body language are just some of the things you need to learn

Stress management – modeling is a cutthroat and very competitive industry. Knowing how to manage your stress is crucial for your mental health

Personal grooming – A freelance model should always be presentable, you never know when you will come across job opportunities or catch the eye of scouts

Styling – a big part of being a freelance model is self promotion, you will stand out with impeccable and unique personal style

Health & Fitness – Photoshoots can last a long time, so stamina and endurance is vital. You should also know how to keep your body (including face and skin) in great condition

Organisation and time management –  You will need to organise your appointments and booking schedule. There’s nothing more damaging to your reputation than being late or missing appointments! 

Admin skills – As a freelance model, you will be in charge of your own admin and bookkeeping. This means handling communications, filing your taxes, invoicing and receipts, and accounting.

Communication – Besides verbal communication, excellent listening skills are needed to be a successful freelance model. You must be able to receive direction and guidance easily and gracefully. You must also know how to voice out your concerns/opinions in a gentle and friendly manner.

Tech-savvy – You should be familiar and comfortable with social media and online culture. Having a strong online presence for yourself will help you land clients. You should also know basic photography and lighting to ensure your portfolio is top-notch.

Work ethic – Like any freelance job, you will have to hustle to build a good reputation. Networking will help you to grow your client list while keeping updated on trends will put you ahead of the game. Being reliable and punctual will impress clients and lead to more bookings.

Tips to Succeed as a Freelance Model

Be professional and friendly – no one likes working with divas or someone with a sour attitude. The more clients are satisfied and impressed by your professionalism, the more referrals and bookings you receive. 

Don’t be afraid to showcase your unique side – if you love dancing, or are a fitness enthusiast, or have a passion for the outdoors. Your uniqueness will probably land you niche jobs and make you memorable!

Be relevant – Be up to date and keep your eye on fashion and makeup trends. Better yet – be a trendsetter yourself!

Stay connected – Keep in touch with the professionals, friends, and contacts who helped you on your way up. Keep networking even after you have established yourself – don’t be someone who uses people then drops them!

Things to be aware of /watch out for when Freelance Modelling 

While freelance modelling may sound glamorous and exciting, there are some things you should always look out for and be aware of.

Scams – The internet is filled with scammers looking to prey on the gullible and naive. Always do a thorough background check on castings and offers to model. Find out as much as you can about any listings, clients, and jobs before signing up.

Extortion – Some unscrupulous scouts may try to extort money out of you in return for jobs – this is a big red flag. 

You should never have to pay to model unless it is by your own terms (eg, paying a professional photographer to take your photos)

Contracts – It is in your best interest to have a freelance modeling contract for any jobs you take on. This could be a simple document outlining the agreed payment terms, shoot conditions, etc.

Some clients may prepare a contract for any freelance models they hire – make sure you read through these carefully.

Image usage & model release – When booking a job, always know what the photos will be used for before signing off your model release rights. 

If the model release states that the images will be used in your clients website, yet you find that they also use your photos on printed banners or billboards, for example, you are entitled to charge a separate fee or even sue. 

Other Options for Freelance Modelling :

There are many niche options for you to start off as a freelance model. These modeling jobs can usually command a higher rate due to their niche status..

A Face Model 

A face model is a term used by the industry to describe beauty shots taken primarily focused on your face. These are highly coveted as they not only mean you will be the face of the product or brand, but will also make you recognisable and springboard your career. 

Face models usually represent skincare and cosmetic brands. If you’re interested in how to become a face model, one of the key requirements is flawless skin and balanced proportionate facial features.

A Dance Model 

If dancing is in your blood and you can’t stop moving whenever you hear music, maybe becoming a dance model is for you!

 If you’re confused on how to become a dance model, just know that as long as you can express emotions through movement, leap and twirl gracefully, and follow choreography easily, you are on the right track!

An Eyelash Model

This is a relatively new field, as more and more people are opting out of wearing false lashes in favour of eyelash extensions or more temporary eyelash lifts. An eyelash model will usually have striking eyes and long, thick lashes. 

If you’re interested to know more about how to become an eyelash model, let us know in the comments and we will provide a comprehensive step by step guide!

If being your own boss is something that rocks your boat, or if you haven’t been signed to a modeling or talent agency, freelance modelling may be for you! 

Through the internet and social media, it’s easier than ever for aspiring models to launch their careers. 

Once you start landing jobs, it’s just a matter of having a sunny attitude, being reliable, and expanding your contacts for your career to flourish.

A Foot Model

Here is an in depth guide to become a Foot Model

Hopefully this article answered all your questions on how to become a freelance model – now go strike those killer poses and make some money!

How to Become a Freelance Model (Secret Tips You Need to Know About)

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