How to become a Freelance Model

by Sarah McDowd on October 26, 2012

How to Become a Freelance Model

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If you haven’t yet been signed to a modeling agency, or if you simply like the idea of “being your own boss” without the help of a modeling agency, then freelance modeling may be for you.

“Freelance modeling” means that you are representing yourself. You will be responsible for finding and booking your own work. You will be responsible for building your own portfolio, marketing yourself, educating yourself about the modeling industry, networking, updating your resume… and the list goes on. Seems like a lot of hard work, right? Well, that may be true- but for MANY people, the flexibility and freedom of freelance modeling is more-than-worth the effort required! Upon achieving their first bit of success, that momentum propels many into experienced, well-known, and even full-time, professional models… all without any agency telling them what to do.


There are no actual physical ‘requirements’ to be a freelance model… but being highly-attractive with a toned body and a great smile is DEFINITELY going to help you along the way. Freelance models can work in as many fields of modeling as they would like. They can work as print models, promo models, commercial models, fitness models, glamour models, art models, catalog models, music videos models, magazine models, and much more.

There are plenty of opportunities for freelance models these days, especially with the help of the internet. It is just a matter of finding the work, having a great attitude, arriving early to every job, being reliable, respecting your coworkers, and making contacts within the industry as you go along. The more satisfied clients you impress with your professionalism, the more referrals you receive. These lead to more jobs… and the cycle continues.


The good news about being a freelance model is that although you are not exclusively signed to a modeling agency, you may still be signed non-exclusively with as many modeling agencies as you want! Your non-exclusive modeling agencies will submit you for work and get you booked on jobs… and the more agencies you are signed with, the more opportunities that will be sent your way. Note: you WILL have to pay a percentage to them, but many of these agencies are able to secure high enough modeling rates that it is totally worth giving them 10%. (Side note: we will be adding tons of future posts on the subject of non-exclusive modeling agencies, how to get signed, expectations and etiquette when on the job for them, etc. We also have a GIANT list of non-exclusive modeling agencies around the country, which we will be sharing with our readers as well. Be sure to subscribe to our free newsletter to stay in the loop- great things coming soon!)

In addition to going the non-exclusive route, you can also find freelance modeling work on your own, thanks to our good friend… the Internet! A great website to search for modeling castings and find freelance gigs is Be sure to include your contact information, have a good selection of your portfolio photos uploaded, and include a short (yet thorough) blurb about your modeling conditions: for example, explain what types of modeling work you will and will not accept, whether you will shoot TF*/TFP or if you require paid work only, etc.

The best method to search for modeling work on ModelMayhem is to click on their “Castings” section ( Input your search terms as follows: choose Artist Type (Either Female Model or Male Model). Enter your location in the drop-down menu. If you want to search specifically for TFP, Negotiable, or Paid gigs, click on the “Advanced Search” tab, and input your selection. If you would like to search for all casting types, then forgo this step and just click search!

You can also search for freelance modeling gigs on Craigslist, BUT YOU NEED TO BE EXTREMELY CAREFUL. We will post a separate article (or five! – it’s an important topic) on Craigslist castings in the future. But until then, please heed our advice, and proceed only with your best judgment when it comes to finding work off of Craigslist. If you have any questions on whether a job sounds legit or not, feel free to contact us via email:

One more note: There are MANY more great websites where you can find freelance model jobs. In addition to our list of non-exclusive model agencies, we have another GIANT list made up entirely of casting/modeling job resources and websites. (Many of these websites we have personally gotten legitimate modeling work from and can vouch for.) We will also be unveiling these resources in upcoming posts. So stay tuned, and feel free to subscribe to our newsletter to be kept in the loop!


Freelance model rates certainly vary with each and every individual. Many modeling gigs have a predetermined rate, set by the company hiring you, which is disclosed before you agree to the job. Modeling jobs, rates, hours, and job duties vary WIDELY with each and every individual job. It is impossible to say you should expect one general “rate”, because it is entirely situational. (We will go in-depth on this subject in future posts as well).

As far as photoshoots go, there will likely come a time when you decide you want to start charging for some photoshoots, while continuing to shoot TFP for select photoshoots. (Disclaimer: This “time” should NOT come if you have only done 3 photoshoots, ever, yet decide that you deserve to start charging money because you feel like an ‘experienced model’ now… just sayin!)

Depending on your level of experience, how impressive your portfolio is, your look, what you can add to the photographer’s portfolio, how many positive referrals you can provide, etc., a good “starting off” rate can be somewhere around $50/hour. You can certainly adjust it as time goes along. You will know when the time has come to raise your rates- but DON’T get greedy. Evaluate your progress, analyze your strengths, and choose a rate that you genuinely feel is fair.


As a freelance model, it is imperative to have your own personal website. Not a “Modeling” Facebook page, not a link to your “Model Mayhem” portfolio, not a Tumblr account with all of your cell-phone photos on it… your own personal website; i.e. “”

Now, this is not to say that you can’t use your Facebook, ModelMayhem, or Tumblr account as a means to network, market yourself, and find freelance modeling jobs… those are all great avenues to do so. However a professional, official website reflects upon you in many ways. There are plenty of models who don’t bother taking this step. If those models are applying for the same job as you (sending their Facebook link), and you are applying with a link to your actual website… how much more professional do you look by comparison? These small yet important details can definitely give you the edge in booking modeling jobs over your competitors.

We will be adding TONS more posts on how to become a freelance model… Keep checking back, or simply subscribe to our free newsletter (below), and we will keep you posted on all of our new content! xoxo

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freelance modeling

How to become a Freelance Model

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