I’m writing this article with the freelance/non-agency ModelMayhem (MM) model in mind, but this could be useful for other models too. Also, I may skim some topics on use of the site, but for the most part this is not a tutorial on actually using the site (tags, comments, etc).
Here are a few things I would recommend doing to get you started:
1. Make use of MM. Browse through photos and save the ones you like a list (upper right corner of the photo page should have a link to do this). Make note of what you feel you would be comfortable doing now as well as images that interest you but that may not be within your comfort zone.
2. Upload the best photos you have and avoid candids (shots of you at random parties or just standing in your living room), mirror shots, cell phone shots, and tons of shots of the same outfit (one or two is fine). Do not forget to credit the photographer either in the comments or with the Add Credits feature. You do not need a ton of photos to get started, but you do need at least one good shot of your face and a full length shot.
3. Fill out your profile, including all of your measurements as soon as you can. Your About Me section should let people know a bit about what you want to shoot, when you are available, if you can travel, and so on. Try to refrain from negativity or too much personal information.
4. Use the browse feature to find others in your area. Look for local models who are experienced and try to connect with them so you have someone to ask for advice. Add photographers you would like to work with as friends and send messages introducing yourself and asking if they would be interested in a TF shoot to the ones you really like. You can also check casting calls in your area.
5. If you do choose to venture into the forums (and you probably have if you are reading this), keep in mind that everyone has an opinion. Some people have experience to back up their opinion. Some people are just looking for drama. I recommend only posting in the newbie forum for a while and reading the posts that interest you in the other forums until you have a feel for how things work.
If you do these things, you should be on your way to booking more shoots and getting connected. I recommend your read a few of my other articles as well:
How to Act Like a Professional Model
Rates & TF Q & A
When and Why Might a Model Be Paid
I also recommend you skim this list of articles put together by Rachel Jay (a fantastic model). You will find articles on common misconceptions, model safety, posing help, and many, many more topics.