In the modeling industry, getting agency representation is almost every model's goal, but you do not have to have a modeling agency to get modeling bookings. Many models get started in the industry doing what's known as freelance modeling before seeking agency representation. Some models are even so successful that they choose to stay freelance and never sign with an agency.
So, what is freelance modeling? A freelance model is a model who is self-represented and not signed with any modeling agencies or talent managers. They put together their portfolios and comp cards, find their own bookings, and handle all payments, marketing, and promotion.
While this is a tremendous amount of work, social media and the influencer industry has shaken up the processes of the modeling industry and has been a massive asset for freelance models in particular. With many of them now being able to promote themselves and book jobs through social media, they often choose not to sign with a modeling agency and continue to manage themselves.
Many find the idea of freelance modeling very attractive because it does come with some perks. For example, you don't have to give a cut of any of your paychecks to your agent(s), you aren't legally bound to a contract, you have more control over your schedule, and you have no restrictions on what types of jobs you can or can't do or how you choose to present yourself.
While these things sound incredibly appealing, don't let it fool you! As I stated above, being a freelance model is a ton of work. Without the agency doing all the behind-the-scenes work for you and using their extensive network of clients to book you jobs, you are responsible for getting in front of the right people and finding out about potential modeling jobs. Many big clients won't even consider booking freelance models, which can significantly limit your options.
Suppose you did land a big booking and the client decided not to pay you after you did your job, or they started using your images outside the agreed-upon terms. In that case, you don't have the legal power or protection of an agency to help you get your hard-earned money and can be more easily taken advantage of.
Before making the decision to be freelance or sign with an agency, make sure you consider all your options and make the decision that is best for you and your career goals.