1. Practice and get some experience

The first ever 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 activities 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

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.

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, a makeup artist, and a stylist all contribute to a shoot. While none of you will get paid, 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 your composite card and casting photos

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 customized 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-colored 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 for 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 to it!

6. Contact industry professionals

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.

© Aisha Preece/OutandBeyond-2022

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