The Difference Between Freelance/Instagram Modeling and Modeling with an Agency
Before I get started, I'd like to point out that this blog post is biased to how I found my own way in the modeling industry and everyone's story is different. Every story is acceptable. Leave comments below explaining your own personal modeling experiences down below or if you have anything to add, please do so other readers can see what you've got to share.
For those of you who have been following me on social media for the past few years, you’re aware of the progress I’ve (slowly but surely) made with my modeling and the difference between what my social media used to look like vs. what it's become now.
Right from the get, I wanted to model and I wanted to keep everything personal and translucent for my followers. Little did I understand how much this hurt me for anyone looking at my page who wanted to see a serious model.
I went from posing (for free!!!) in lingerie and doing implied nude shoots to gain exposure and more followers so that when people clicked on my page, they’d question “ who is this girl? ." I figured they'd be more interested in seeing what I have to offer to just realize... it wasn't what I wanted. I was so unaware of how hurtful all of it would be to my career!
When I started to get into blogging, it became more apparent to me that I am my own brand and what I post on social media could make or break me.
While doing implied/lingerie shoots, I was looking more to getting attention and exposure than I was looking at building a name for myself. I thought everyone wanted to see me in lingerie so that’s what I should be posing in, right? Wrong. Men of instagram seemed to be my accidental target and my bad judgement ended up clouding exactly why I was modeling to begin with.
While I truly believe Instagram is great for marketing (for many brands/bloggers/models) I knew my calling was for an audience bigger than the people who may or may not see me as a serious model (people who only want to follow you if you life looks more interesting than theirs *rolls eyes**). I’ve always wanted to be considered a REAL model! That is essentially where my agency comes in.
Frank Model Management and my agent in particular, Alison, were the reality check I needed. Alison sent out a detailed e-mail to all models about branding ourselves and that’s when it all clicked. There was a particular statement that stood out the most to me, “We have talent with Instagram followings in the 100k+ range who are making no money at all- just the occasional offers of free clothes, free travel (a trip to Costa Rica!), or a feature on a different, more popular feed. We have a model in NYC who has about 4,400 followers, but made $50k for two days of shooting for a major client. Which would you rather be?”
I want to be taken seriously as a model, not a free-for-all traveling mannequin to advertise clothing for brands who I later find out are paying models with higher instagram followings! I take my modeling very seriously as of late and my only goal now as a serious model is to only work with serious brands. I've invested money into test shoots, my image, my website, etc. Why should brands still think it's acceptable not to invest in their dreams like models have theirs?
The major difference I see with modeling with an agency vs. freelance is that my agent does ALL negotiating with brands for me. Whereas when I was freelance, I settled with pricing amounts I was sure brands couldn't turn down but Alison demands from clients the higher prices I work for an won't accept a job for me unless it's beneficial for my image and ultimately, my life.
When a serious client pays for my work, it isn’t all always fun and games like everyone seems to think modeling life is. [Although, I won’t lie, when the client/s have good vibes and positive attitudes representing it, a shoot can be more fun than work but that isn’t always the case.] It’s nerve wracking; you’ve got to make sure everything is perfectly set up for what the client wants. You have to be prepared to wear goofy shit that you would never wear in your entire life out and about and ROCK IT like it’s your favorite outfit in the world. It’s long days of hours standing in the sun and having your makeup re-applied 500 times just to make sure you can get that perfect shot your client is looking for. Serious modeling means going to castings full of beautiful, tall competition that makes you second guess if you can handle this career. It means you’ve got to put your coffee and food aside so you don’t make a mess of your shirt or teeth before a gig or casting. It’s anxiety about giving high paying clients EXACTLY what they’re looking for because the CLIENT is most important, not you as the model. You are merely their irl doll to dress and pose as they command.
After taking it all into consideration, I've had to let go of some of my favorite brands and photographers because I have to hold myself to a higher standard than just receiving free photos and clothing. I thought getting free clothes from brands was DOPE until I worked with bigger brands and realized girls are getting paid $500+ for the exact same work I was doing.
I have no hate/negativity towards the ladies modeling for free clothing and bigger shares on instagram, I've just decided I want more out of this career than materials. In fact, if you can make that lifestyle work, more power to you! However for someone experiencing the same/similar situations as I have, once you've got yourself in a comfortable spot with your photos (portfolio), it's time to demand the currency you deserve. Your low instagram follower count doesn't dull down the quality you're producing. Don't let other people's social media psych you out because BIG, REAL serious brands aren't going to look at your social media, they look at the images you have on your agencies page: photos that have nothing to do with your amount of likes or followers but rather the quality of your image.
Cheers to the gals who are struggling with their positions and the woman doing freelance work who have found their way in the game and the gals who gave it all up because it's hard being in such a shallow industry and the woman working at their dreams and taking hits to their egos and staying humble while chasing such a suck-you-dry career.
You've definitely got to be careful in this modeling world; whether you're freelance or with an agency you have to continue to keep yourself you. Don't get sucked into the shallow waters; stay humble and congratulate other gals when they get the jobs you didn't! Be the model who encourages other gals to work harder instead of the girl who wants to tear down the competition. We're all human, we all want this, we can all help each other by giving encouraging and motivational advice.
Let me know if you found this post helpful in any way. I want to inspire you all to chase your dreams and open your eyes to a modeling world outside of social media.
Thanks for reading. Peace & so much love, babes!! Go get 'em!!