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What is Freelance Modelling?

  • Amy Bebbington

What Is a Freelance Model?

Models find work one of two ways. They either sign to an agency (the most common method) or they independently source work by becoming a freelance model. In short, a freelance model represents and promotes them self without signing to an agency.

There are various pros and cons about freelance modelling and we’re here to help you decide if it is the right route for you.

Is Freelance Modelling for Me?

It requires a huge amount of determination and hard work. The moment you decide to represent yourself, you are in full control of your career. You are the only person responsible for your income and your career success depends entirely on your ability to sell yourself. Not only do you need to have the expected qualities of a model (the look, personality, ability to photograph well) you need to be confident enough to walk into a room and sell yourself to complete strangers, be well-organised and very importantly, business minded.


Networking Is Crucial to Your Success

You will need to approach brands continuously, by phone, email or in person at events/jobs and organise meetings to introduce yourself and share your portfolio. You will need to be in charge of your own diary, your own finances and legal documentation. At the start of your career you will not have anyone to recommend you and people will employ you based on first impressions and what they see in your portfolio. It’s for that reason that your portfolio needs to be of an impressive standard and of industry level.

You’re in Control

This may sound like a lot of responsibility – and it is – but the rewards are worthy. Freelance models have total control of when they work, whom they work for and what types of modelling they engage in (if a model signs to an agency, this is very much decided for them).  Financially speaking, freelance models also take home 100% of their earnings. This is not heard of by a signed-model as agencies take a percentage of fees to cover their representative costs.


How Much Do Models Get Paid per Shoot

Once you have secured a photoshoot with a client, it is up to you to negotiate your price. It is worth doing some research into this area by asking around and looking online to understand what the going rate is. Do you want to be paid by the hour or one sum? It may differ depending on the work project or the company you are hired by yet try not to sell yourself short. Unfortunately, some designers will try to save money by paying as little as possible however; you have to pay rent and bills. Therefore, your work hours need to be beneficial.

Freelance employment can be very lucrative yet it demands a lot of hard work and dedication to find employed work that pays well. Initially, with little experience, you may charge less than an established model yet overtime you can build on this each shoot. Remember there will be no set structure with payments sporadically appearing in your account. Make sure you set up a plan so that you have enough money until the next cheque clears. Also, as a freelancer you are expected to pay your own tax each year, so it is worthwhile putting a set amount into a savings account each month.


In a nutshell, that covers the fundamental differences between a signed-model and a freelance model.

Are You Business Minded?

Thanks to fourteen years of industry experience, we have found that this type of modelling is best suited to the business minded man or woman, and those who generally have more get up and go about them, or indeed, part time models specialising in real-life, commercial or advertising modelling. However we recommend that high-fashion models explore the route of being signed to an agency if they want to reach the top of their game. Top designers such as Dior, Gucci and Chanel will have specific agencies that they work with.

Also, be realistic you may not find full time work as a model straight away therefore, look into other possibilities. Search for part time jobs that are flexible and that you are talented in. Become a writer, stylist or actor as like modelling these professions are less structured. Juggling different careers can be challenging but finding success in linked areas can be beneficial to your modelling. Make sure you set aside work time for socialising as it is easy as a freelancer to be constantly working.

Stay Safe

Our advice to freelance models comes in two parts. Firstly, we must emphasise how important it is to stay safe. Without an agency behind you, you cannot guarantee that brands are legitimate. It’s therefore a good idea to take someone to a shoot with you; or let someone know where you will be and at what time. Also, research a brand/photographer’s credentials before attending. Finding modelling jobs online can be risky as you have never met the individual in person. It is easy for scam artists to hide behind a computer screen so make sure you do your research before accepting.  When finding an ad that states ‘fashion models for hire’ do not let you enthusiasm and desperation overlook your instincts and cautiousness.


How to Be a Freelance Model

Our second piece of advice orientates around the business side of modelling. In this situation a portfolio is an essential tool of the trade. Because you won’t have an agency behind you  you need to prove your skills another way; a professional portfolio will show how you photograph, the various looks you can pull off and how confident you are. If you’re signed to an agency, brands and photographers realise someone has seen potential in you already.

Freelance models also rely on word-of-mouth recommendations and networking. Z-cards (the model equivalent to a business card) and eFolios (website portfolios) are favoured extras. If you’re interested in either, log on to the UK Models website to seek support from our model support team. We can, if you so wish, provide you with all three.

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Posted by Amy Bebbington

I express my love of fashion through writing, blogging and styling. My creative personality ensures that I produce unique and original work. I am a keen knitter and enthusiatic dancer.