A freelance model works independently of an agent, finding their own casting calls and work opportunities. Freelance models typically have more control of their work, but working as a freelance model demands dedication and drive.

In this article, we will cover some details about working as a freelance model, including:

  • Benefits of freelance modelling
  • How to get modelling jobs
  • How to pay your tax and manage your finances

Benefits of freelance modelling

As a freelance model, you’re working as a sole trader, not an employee of a modelling agency. You represent yourself and are responsible for booking your own jobs. This means keeping track of your appointments and schedule and promoting yourself to secure jobs. Additionally, you need to educate yourself about the modelling industry, network with industry professionals, and keep your portfolio and resume updated. 

As a freelance model, your benefits include:

  • Flexibility of schedule – accept jobs at your own discretion and time
  • Taking home 100% of your earnings
  • Freedom to pursue clients and book jobs – even if you are signed to an agency, there is no guarantee they will find jobs for you
  • Freedom to change your look – imagine tattoos, hair colour, piercings, body size etc.
  • More control over your life – no agency telling you what to do
  • Being your own boss

That being said, being a signed model with an agency may usually come with higher rates and often lands more jobs. Most models aim to get signed to reputable agencies. Many models start out as freelance models and continue on to sign for agencies later on.

How to get modelling jobs

  1. Build your portfolio

All models need a modelling portfolio to showcase their experience and range as a model. Whether you’re a freelance model or signed by an agency, a portfolio is necessary. Think of a model’s portfolio as like a CV, except instead of words, there are photos. 

  1. Create profiles on modelling sites

To connect with other industry professionals like photographers, makeup artists and hairstylists, get active on some online networks where models and other creatives showcase their work. For example:

These are just some examples of networking platforms available for freelance models. Sites like these allow you to upload a portfolio, apply to casting calls, get hired for projects and find other creatives to collaborate with. 

  1. Get active on social media

Aside from dedicated modelling platforms, social media serves as a great networking tool. Most models and photographers now have portfolios on Instagram, making it easy to view their work and reach out to them instantly. Learn more about how to market yourself on social media here.

  1. Set your boundaries and rates

Make sure you explain the types of modelling you are happy to do and never feel forced to pose nude or topless. A successful freelance model can easily earn upwards of £50 an hour, depending on your comfort level. 

Decide on the niche you would like to excel in and approach companies or photographers who work in this area. For example, commercial modelling covers a broad range of jobs and can be easier to break into than high fashion.

How to pay your tax and manage your finances

Working for yourself instead of an agency means that you’re responsible for paying your own tax and National Insurance contributions. 

One of the first things you will need to do is register for Self Assessment with the HMRC. Learn more about how to register as a sole trader here

Self Assessment tax return

As a sole trader, it’s your responsibility to keep accurate income and expenses records for your yearly Self Assessment tax returns.

People who earn money from sources other than wages, savings on pensions must fill in a Self Assessment tax return to show how much they made during a tax year. Most business owners need to complete one, send it to HMRC and pay their tax bill by 31 January after that tax year ends.

You must file a Self Assessment if you were one of the following in the past tax year (6 April to 5 April):

  • A sole trader earning more than £1,000 before taking off anything you can claim tax relief on
  • A partner in a business partnership

You may also need to send in a tax return if you earn money from:

  • Renting out a property
  • Tips and commission
  • Savings, investments and dividends
  • Another country

Check if you need to file a tax return here.

How to manage your finances

  1. Separate business and personal finances

The best thing to do to keep your finances organised is to open a business bank account or a separate personal bank account that you only use for business purposes. This way, you can funnel all your business expenses and income through one account, making it easier to organise the data when tax time comes.

Make sure to use your business account only for business-related expenses. Find out more about why you need to separate business from your personal expenses here.

  1. Track your income and expenses

Tracking your income and expenses is essential when it comes to organising your finances. Categorising your expenses can save you money because controlling your expenses is easier when you clearly understand where your money is spent.

You can probably deduct some of your business costs from your taxable income, and keeping an accurate record of income and expenses makes your tax return easier to complete.

Tracking your income helps you provide correct information on your tax return and pay the right amount of tax. Submitting truthful and accurate tax information can help you avoid a tax audit. But if you get audited, HMRC might ask to see your income and expense records, which is another good reason to keep everything organised.

Save time and organise your finances with Countingup

Financial management can be stressful and time-consuming when you’re self-employed. That’s why thousands of business owners use the Countingup app to make their financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Seamless, simple, and straightforward! 

Find out more here.