Downsides of having an Agency: A make or break your career decision

The Australian Supermodel of the Year Blog: Downsides of having an Agency


The modelling and influencer world is an exciting yet multifaceted industry that offers a variety of career paths. One fundamental decision aspiring models and influencers face is whether to seek representation from a modelling agency or embark on a freelance journey. This blog explores the pros and cons of both paths, offering insights into what each entails and the factors to consider when making this crucial career decision.

Table of Contents:

  • 1.1 The Modeling Dilemma: Agency or Freelance?
  • Exploring the fundamental choice that aspiring models and influencers must make.
  • 1.2 Agency-Backed Success: The Pros and Cons
  • Examining the advantages and disadvantages of signing with a modelling agency.
  • 1.3 Freelance Freedom: The Pros and Cons
  • Delving into the benefits and challenges of pursuing a freelance modelling and influencer career.
  • 1.4 The Advantages of Agency Representation 
  • Highlighting the key advantages of having agency representation in the modelling and influencer industry.
  • 1.5 The Advantages of Freelance Modeling and Influencing
  • Discussing the unique benefits of choosing the freelance route in the industry.
  • 1.6 The Importance of Guidance and Mentorship
  • Stressing the significance of mentorship and guidance, whether with an agency or as a freelancer.
  • 1.7 Making the Decision: Which Path Is Right for You?
  • Offering guidance on how aspiring models and influencers can make an informed decision based on their goals, resources and circumstances.
  • 1.8 Final Thoughts: Embracing Your Modeling Journey
  • Wrapping up with a reflection on the modelling and influencer industry, emphasising that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and that personal preferences and goals should guide one’s path.
  • 1.9 Balancing Act: Navigating a Hybrid Career
  • We will discuss the potential for models and influencers to blend agency representation and freelance work to maximise their opportunities in the next ASOTY Blog. 

This comprehensive guide aims to empower individuals with the knowledge and insights needed to embark on a successful journey in the modelling and influencer world, whether through agency representation or freelance work.

Downsides of having an Agency & How the positives outweigh the negatives: 

At Australian Supermodel of the year we understand that the choice between being signed with an agency or pursuing a freelance career should indeed align with an individual’s unique circumstances, goals and level of industry knowledge.

While agency representation provides a structured and supportive path into the modelling and influencer world, freelance modelling offers greater independence and creative control. However, it’s crucial for freelance models to have a deep understanding of the industry, strong self-management skills and a reliable support system, which can include mentors, guides and parents who can provide guidance, especially for younger or less-experienced models.

Having a mentor, whether you’re signed with an agency or working as a freelancer, can be immensely valuable. They can offer insights, advice and industry wisdom that can help you navigate the complexities of the modelling and influencer industry more effectively. This guidance can be particularly important in an industry that very often requires a blend of talent, business acumen and networking skills.

In essence, the key is to choose the path that aligns with your personal strengths, goals and resources, while also considering the level of support and mentorship you have access to. Both agency representation and freelance modelling can lead to successful careers, but they each have their own advantages and considerations that should be carefully weighed based on individual circumstances.

While there are many advantages to having a modelling agency represent you, it’s important to be aware of the potential downsides as well. Let’s explore both the negatives and positives of agency representation to understand how the benefits often outweigh the drawbacks.

Downsides of Having an Agency:

Commission Fees: Agencies typically take a percentage (usually around 10-20% but can go as high as 40-60% in short term contracts ) of a model’s earnings from each job. This can reduce your overall income sometimes barely paying enough for your travel and living expenses in a new city.

Limited Control: When you’re signed with an agency, you may have less control over the type of work you do and the clients you work with. The agency often decides which jobs to pursue on your behalf. 

Contracts and Commitments: Agency contracts can be binding for a specific duration. This means you may be obligated to work exclusively with that agency for a set period, limiting your flexibility.

Competition within the Agency: Agencies often represent multiple models in the same niche, leading to internal competition for jobs and exposure.

Agency Preferences: Agencies may prioritise certain models over others based on factors like looks, experience or client demand. This can lead to uneven opportunities among their roster.

Location Constraints: If you’re signed with a local agency, you may be limited to opportunities within that geographic area, potentially missing out on international gigs.

How the Positives outweigh the Negatives:

Access to Opportunities: Agencies have extensive networks and industry connections, providing access to a wide range of job opportunities that would be challenging to secure independently.

Expertise and Guidance: Agencies offer professional guidance, mentorship and training to help models improve their skills, portfolios and overall marketability.

Safety and Advocacy: Agencies protect models from exploitation, ensure fair working conditions, and advocate for their rights, providing a safety net in a sometimes-unscrupulous industry.

Streamlined Bookings: Agencies handle the logistical aspects of auditions and bookings, saving models time and energy, and allowing them to focus on their craft.

Industry Insights: Agencies possess invaluable knowledge of industry trends, client needs and market dynamics, which can help models make informed career decisions.

Variety of Opportunities: Agencies often represent models in various niches, providing a range of opportunities that can diversify a model’s career and income streams.

International Exposure: Top agencies have a global presence, opening doors for models to work in international markets, expanding their reach and profile.

Validation and Credibility: Agency representation adds credibility to a model’s resume and can make them more attractive to clients seeking professional and reliable talent.

Career Development: Agencies invest in a model’s long-term career development, helping them build a sustainable and successful career in the industry.

Support and Mentorship: Many agencies provide models with mentorship programs and emotional support, which can be invaluable, especially for young or inexperienced models.

While there are some downsides to having an agency, the benefits of agency representation often outweigh the negatives. Agencies provide access to opportunities, expertise, advocacy and a support system that can significantly boost a model’s career. The key is to carefully choose an agency that aligns with your goals and values, and to maintain open communication to ensure a mutually beneficial partnership. Ultimately, the right agency can be a powerful ally in helping a model navigate the competitive and complex world of modelling.

The Power of Representation: Why Models Should Partner with Agencies

The decision to sign with a modelling agency can be a game-changer. Modeling agencies act as crucial intermediaries between models and clients, offering a myriad of benefits that can significantly enhance a model’s career. The Power of Agency Representation

Industry Expertise: Modeling agencies are experts in the field. They have an in-depth understanding of the industry, market trends and client needs. By partnering with an agency, models gain access to this invaluable knowledge and experience.

Access to a Network: Modeling agencies have extensive networks of contacts in the fashion, advertising and entertainment industries. They can connect models with clients and opportunities that would be challenging to access independently.

Professional Development: Agencies provide guidance and support to help models develop their skills and portfolios. They offer workshops, training and mentorship to improve a model’s posing, runway walk and overall image.

Safety and Advocacy: Agencies ensure that models are treated fairly and ethically by clients. They negotiate contracts, protect models’ rights and advocate for their interests. This level of protection is especially crucial for young and inexperienced models.

Streamlined Auditions and Bookings: Agencies handle the logistics of auditions and bookings, saving models time and energy. They organise castings, arrange transportation and manage schedules, allowing models to focus on their craft.

Variety of Opportunities: Modeling agencies represent models in various niches, including fashion, commercial, social, editorial, fitness and more. This diversity provides models with a range of opportunities to explore and diversify their careers.

International Reach: Many top agencies have a global presence, opening doors for models to work internationally. This exposure can elevate a model’s profile and lead to exciting international gigs.

Tips for Getting Signed by a Modeling Agency

Securing representation with a reputable modelling agency is a significant milestone for any model. Here are some tips to help you get noticed and signed:

Build a Strong Portfolio: Invest in professional photoshoots to create a compelling portfolio that showcases your versatility and range. Your portfolio is your calling card, so make it stand out.

2. Know Your Niche: Identify your modelling niche and target agencies that specialise in that area, whether it’s fashion, commercial, fitness or other segments of the industry.

3. Research Agencies: Research modelling agencies in your area and beyond. Look for agencies with a good reputation, a track record of success and positive reviews from models they represent.

4. Attend Open Calls: Many agencies hold open calls or casting events where aspiring models can meet with agents. Attend these events to introduce yourself and make a positive impression.

5. Prepare a Comp Card: A comp card is a model’s resume. Create a professional comp card with your best photos, measurements and contact information.

6. Stay in Shape: Maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay in good physical shape. Agencies look for models who can meet the physical requirements of various assignments.

7. Develop Your Skills: Invest in modelling classes and workshops to improve your skills. Agencies appreciate models who are committed to professional development.

8. Be Professional: Approach modelling as a business. Be punctual, reliable and professional in all your interactions with agencies. 

9. Stay Persistent: Rejection is part of the modelling industry. Don’t be discouraged by initial setbacks. Keep refining your craft and trying different agencies.

10. Seek Feedback: If an agency declines to represent you, consider requesting feedback. Constructive criticism can help you improve and increase your chances of success with other agencies.

Maximising Your Agency Partnership

Once you’ve secured representation with a modelling agency, here are some tips to help you get more work:

Maintain Communication: Keep your agency informed about your availability and any changes in your contact information. Effective communication is essential for securing bookings.

2. Be Professional and Reliable: Consistently demonstrate professionalism by being punctual, prepared and easy to work with. Building a reputation for reliability will lead to repeat bookings.

3. Build Relationships: Forge positive relationships with your agency’s bookers and agents. They can advocate for you and recommend you to clients for suitable projects.

4. Be Open to Feedback: Embrace constructive feedback from your agency. Use it to enhance your skills and adapt to client preferences.

5. Market Yourself: While your agency will promote you, don’t rely solely on them for self-promotion. Maintain an active and engaging online presence through social media to attract clients and opportunities.

6. Keep Updating Your Portfolio: Continuously update your portfolio with new and diverse work. This showcases your growth and keeps your image fresh.

7. Network: Attend industry events, fashion shows and parties to network with potential clients and industry professionals. Networking can lead to direct bookings and collaborations.

8. Stay Informed: Keep up with industry trends and news. Being aware of the latest developments can help you tailor your skills and image to align with current demands.

Partnering with a modelling agency can significantly boost your modelling career. The advantages of industry expertise, access to networks and professional development make agency representation a wise choice for aspiring models. By following these tips to secure agency representation and maximise your partnership, you can navigate the competitive modelling world with confidence and success.


Our verdict is unequivocal: it is undeniably sensible, advisable and overwhelmingly beneficial to be signed with a reputable agency. The advantages of agency representation far outweigh the potential downsides, making it a pivotal choice for aspiring and established models alike.

Signing with a modelling agency is a sensible decision primarily because it opens doors to a world of opportunities that would otherwise remain elusive. Agencies possess a wealth of industry knowledge, expertise and connections that can propel a model’s career to new heights. Their guidance and mentorship are invaluable, providing a structured path to success in a highly competitive field.

Choosing agency representation is not just advisable but often essential for safety and career advancement. Agencies act as protectors, ensuring models are treated fairly, ethically and professionally by clients. In an industry that sometimes exposes models to exploitation, this advocacy is paramount. Moreover, agencies offer mentorship, training and professional development, helping models refine their skills and portfolios.

The benefits of agency representation are numerous and far-reaching. From access to a vast network of industry contacts and diverse job opportunities to international exposure and credibility, the partnership yields both immediate and long-term advantages. Agencies streamline bookings, handle logistics and provide models with the support and mentorship needed to flourish.

Aligning with a reputable modelling agency is a definitive career enhancer. It empowers models to navigate the complexities of the industry while offering a safety net against exploitation. The collaboration elevates their profile, expands their opportunities and positions them for long-term success. Thus, it is not merely sensible or advisable but profoundly beneficial for models to be signed with a good agency on their journey to fulfilling their modelling dreams.

FAQ section with answers to 10 important questions

1. What are the key differences between agency and freelance modelling careers?

  • Agency modelling involves representation by a modelling agency, which provides support, access to opportunities and industry expertise. Freelance modelling, on the other hand, means working independently without agency representation, offering more creative freedom but requiring self-management.

2. Why is it advisable to get signed with a modelling agency?

  • Agency representation provides access to a wide network of industry contacts, professional development, safety measures and credibility, making it a sensible choice for many aspiring models.

3. What advantages do freelance models enjoy?

  • Freelance models have greater creative control, potentially higher earnings, and flexibility in choosing clients and projects. They can also develop direct client relationships.

4. How do outsiders perceive signed models compared to freelancers?

  • Signed models are often perceived as more professional and reliable due to agency endorsements, while freelancers are generally seen as having more creative freedom and independence.

5. Can I blend agency representation and freelance work in my modelling career?

  • Yes, many models successfully balance agency representation with freelance work, maximising their opportunities and income streams.

6. What kind of support and mentorship can I expect from an agency?

  • Agencies offer guidance, training, portfolio development and advocate for models’ rights. They also provide mentorship and help models navigate the industry.

7. Are there any downsides to agency representation?

  • Agency models may face commission fees, limited control over their bookings and competition within the agency. They may also be bound by contracts and location constraints.

8. How can I decide which path is right for me – agency or freelance modelling?

  • Consider your goals, resources, industry knowledge and level of support. Weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each path to make an informed decision.

9. Is it possible to freelance as a model and influencer without prior industry experience?

  • Yes, but it requires a strong understanding of the industry, a solid portfolio and the ability to self-manage. Having a mentor or guide can be particularly helpful.

10. What’s the most crucial advice for aspiring models and influencers regardless of their chosen path?

  • Regardless of your path, professionalism, reliability and continuous self-improvement are key. Seek guidance, stay informed, and always prioritise your safety and well-being in the industry.


Perceptions and Realities: How Outsiders View Agency Models vs. Freelancers

Next week we will explore how industry professionals and clients perceive and interact with signed models and freelancers.

Modeling agencies act as intermediaries between models and clients. They help models find job opportunities, negotiate contracts and provide guidance in building a successful modelling career. Working with an agency can help you access a wider range of opportunities and professional support.

There are several types of modelling careers, including fashion, editorial, commercial, runway, fitness, petite, street, modest, plus-size and activism modelling, among others. Each category has its own requirements and target audiences.

To start a modelling career, you should begin by creating a portfolio with professional photos. Attend open casting calls or send your portfolio to modelling agencies. Building a strong online presence on social media platforms like Instagram can also help you gain visibility.

Fashion models typically need to meet certain height and body size requirements, which can vary among agencies and markets. However, the fashion industry has become more inclusive in recent years, with opportunities for models of diverse body types.

While professional training and modelling classes can be beneficial, they are not always necessary. Many successful models have learned on the job. However, training can help you refine your skills and improve your chances of success. It is also a great way to network and create a sisterhood.

To avoid scams, research modelling agencies and individuals thoroughly before signing contracts or paying fees. Be cautious of anyone asking for upfront payments or promising unrealistic success. Seek advice from experienced models or industry professionals.

Personal branding is crucial for models in the digital age. Models can use social media platforms to create and promote their unique brand, connecting directly with fans and clients. A strong personal brand can lead to more opportunities and endorsements.

A healthy lifestyle is essential for models. This includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, sufficient sleep and effective stress management. Maintaining mental well-being is equally important, so seeking support when needed is encouraged.

Models may encounter challenges like intense competition, rejection and inconsistent income. Maintaining a positive attitude, resilience and adaptability are key to overcoming these obstacles.

The modelling industry has become more diverse and inclusive in recent years, embracing models of various ethnicities, genders, sizes and abilities. This shift reflects a growing recognition of the importance of representation and inclusivity in the fashion world.

Professional modelling cards that showcase your portfolio and contact information. They are usually handed out to clients, agents and industry professionals.
Challenges in Modeling; In the exciting world of fashion modelling, aspiring models encounter various challenges on their path to success which include tough competition

About the author: Kal

Kal Kalim is a fashion photographer, brand strategist and communication designer based in Melbourne, currently working on fashion, beauty & educational projects in Bali & India. He has been working on projects creating strategies, campaigns, content and communication for fashion and beauty brands in Australia, India, Indonesia, Italy, France & South Africa for the last two decades.