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How to Become a Model

Becoming a professional freelance model.


Let me start off by introducing myself. My name is Brianna Payne. I have been a professional freelance model since 2016 and want to share my knowledge with those who want to live their dreams! The modeling industry has changed drastically in the past decade or so and is becoming more accessible to EVERYONE! But where do you start? Look no further because in this guide you will learn what you need to get started as an aspiring model, how to be confident in front of the camera, the do's and don'ts in the industry, types of modeling and more!

My goal for you is to feel more comfortable by the end of this guide and be able step into the industry with confidence!

What is a Freelance Model?

Freelance models are generally paid by the hour to model for clients. This is a great opportunity for those who love to travel because there are tons of work from home opportunities, as well as in person. You are also not tied to a contract, giving you more flexibility to work with different clients and explore other types of modeling. Some freelance models will even sign to non exclusive agencies to broaden their work opportunities.

The major difference between an exclusive contract and a non-exclusive contract is with an exclusive contract, you are tied in with the agency and have to have all work go through them. For example, let’s say that a company reaches out to you personally wanting to work with you, they will have to contact your agency and your agency will get a percentage of what they are paying the talent. If you are a freelance model, all the money goes to you. Another thing to factor in is that companies are actually saving money booking freelance models because agencies charge an agency fee on top of the talent fee AND take up to 20% of the talent rate that goes to you.

Ten Types of Modeling

  • Editorial

  • Runway

  • Parts

  • Plus-size

  • Fitness

  • Glamour

  • Lingerie

  • Swimsuit

  • Promotional

  • Catalog

Tip #1: Building your Portfolio

Once you know what type of modeling you want to do, you can start building a portfolio optimized for the content you want to create and the type of brands you want to work with.

A portfolio is like a digital resume and is one of the first steps to becoming a freelance model. Your portfolio needs to highlight and showcase your best work because this will be the first thing a client sees before hiring you. You can hire a professional photographer to take high quality photos of you and sometimes be able to do trade work with beginner photographers also looking to build their portfolio.

Instagram is a great tool to use as a portfolio. Post your best shots and use hashtags in your local area. You can even take it a step further and create a website to showcase your best work. Always remember to include at least an email in your bio so potential clients can contact you.

Tip #2: Finding Jobs as Model

There is a plethora of ways to find jobs as a freelance model. It does take a little extra work because you are essentially representing yourself. You do the work an agent would otherwise be doing. You have to stay consistent in searching for work everyday, new listings pop up every hour.

There are quite a few reputable casting sites where you pay monthly/yearly fees and majority of the work through these sites are verified. Some of my favorites are Backstage, Actors Access, and Casting Frontier. You make a profile with your best work and apply to jobs that best suit you.

If you don't want to pay any fees, I have found that joining Facebook groups for photographers and models in my area is a great way to network and find jobs. Be very cautious of scams (talked more about in Tip #3...).

When you have a quality portfolio with sufficient exposure, you'll have potential clients reaching out to you. I know hashtags can seem cringy to use but TRUST ME, at least 50% of the work I book is from being scouted through adding #(location)model to my Instagram posts.

If you are going to sign to an agency, I recommend signing to a NON EXCLUSIVE agency. This will give you more freedom to do independent work and not have to pay an agency fee. Signing to a non exclusive agency can be beneficial because they do the work for you and send out castings when they have a client looking for talent.

Tip #3 - How to Avoid Scams/Industry Safety

Unfortunately, we live in a cruel world and there are a lot of individuals trying to take advantage of people. But don't let that discourage you, the signs are there, you just have to know what to look for. Take it from someone who's fallen for it a couple of times.

Some of the top red flags are when they ask you to pay a fee, lots of misspelling/grammar errors, unusual email addresses, suggesting things you’re uncomfortable with, etc. I always block and report, if possible.

Never meet one on one with a photographer you've never worked with before. There are individuals out there that will try and take advantage of aspiring models, it's best to keep your wits about you and use common sense when dealing with strangers. Never do something that endangers you or your boundaries including removing any amount of clothes when otherwise unaware.

DO YOUR RESEARCH!! When a company or photographer inquires about hiring you, ask for a portfolio/website. I even contact other models who have worked with a photographer to see how their experience was.

You're Ready to Follow your Dreams!

All in all, modeling is a job that needs to be taken seriously. I know that it can be very discouraging at times, but consistency will take you so far! The main thing to remember is to have fun! If you have any questions, leave a comment below!

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