Do Influencers Really Need
It's a question I've been asked a lot, by budding bloggers and also full time influencers. Everyone at every stage in the influencer game can question whether they need someone to be managing their schedule, their time and most importantly, their projects. And after speaking on the Blogosphere podcast recently about just this, I thought it was something I should briefly touch upon on the blog. My thoughts on management teams vs personal managers, as well as whether you even need someone to manage you.
There will be pros and cons to all three options for your management journey. The first journey being, to join an agency and to be managed by one or two people, alongside other talent whom they manage. The second option being, to pay someone to personally manage you - whether that's a salary or commission and salary. And the third, to go it solo and do it all yourself. Here are my thoughts on each.
There are a multitude of Social Media Talent agencies now and more and more seem to be popping up every month. Mainly because, as the influencer pool grows, so does the need for managers.
A manager does a few things for you. They give you advice on your work and work path, ensures that you look after your social channels responsibly (sometimes things can just take a second pair of eyes in the heat of the moment), they handle your schedule, your projects and most importantly for me, the legal side of this industry. Signing contracts shouldn't be done lightly, and it is necessary that trained professionals handle your contracts. You never know what you might be signing. So having a manager to look after all negotiations, work amends and signing off both contracts and work, can be extremely helpful. I also love to meet with my team to chat about ideas for work, future projects I'd love to work on and possibilities for the future. My managers were the ones who helped me to organise the possibility of writing a book, helped me to organise all of the work projects I have done and have offered me valuable advice over the years as to things that may have been detrimental to my career.
So for me personally, my managers are more than that - they're part of my team. In the same way that I would employ staff to work with me, I feel that even though they are actually part of an agency, we are all on the same wave length when it comes to Inthefrow and I've been rewarded abundantly by having managers looking after me.
Alternative to an agency manager, a personal manager is your manager only, unless they do also personally manage other influencers separate to you. But in a lot of cases, influencers will pay someone to handle their projects, their emails and their schedule in the same way that an agent can - only that the manager won't also usually be looking after a few other influencers in the process. Of course this means that the manager's time and focus is on that influencer's work alone. Their mind won't be filled with three sets of schedules and projects; it is just yours, which of course sounds really dreamy for you. They can handle your emails, organise your meetings, talk to new potential clients and also handle your legal contracts - but again they need to be trained in this professionally.
If you're lucky enough to find someone, who can do all of the above and can also spend a day or so a week at your house, for a team atmosphere, then you should snap them up. Working alongside your manager is extremely useful and productive, and if they have all of the skills I mentioned, then they are the dream. Of course you would need to work out paying their salary and commission monthly, but you will reap a lot of benefits from a personal manager.
The only downside may be two things; reputation and contacts. Someone who is new to the industry may not have the contacts that an agency has built up over the years. And similarly, may not have the reputation needed (at the beginning) to contact new potential clients. But if you have spent years working with brands and have formed your own reputation, then there should not be much issue and they can become the point of call, for you.
The issue may also be, finding someone with this set of skills, who you are able to trust. This person will oversee your entire business down to your gross profit per year, so you want to ensure you fully trust them to keep your interests at heart.
I think going solo in this industry is extremely commendable. I know of one or two people in the industry who do everything themselves, even though they attend every fashion week, are flying all over the world constantly and working on huge projects. Sometimes I wonder how on earth they do it.
In some cases, it is a boyfriend scenario that helps, where the husband/partner/boyfriend is the business brains behind the operation. They look after schedules, contracts, organisation and negotiations, leaving their influencer gf to plan content, come up with ideas and to keep up with the brand image. Of course, it's a lot of pressure on the relationship, and arguments are bound to happen, but for a lot of couples, it works in their favour. And most importantly, they aren't sharing a percentage with someone else. It stays within the business.
I also know of influencers who are single, with millions of followers, extremely busy and doing every single email and contract themselves. Maybe with the help of a solicitor for the legal aspects, but otherwise they're flying solo. You will just have to be extremely strong willed, very organised and really understand the business side of the industry.
If you are someone with a great following from 100's up the 1 million mark, then it's definitely possible to do this alone. If you have someone who can help you with your contracts legally, and you're capable of getting through all emails, and you feel competent doing so, then fantastic. There may not be any reason to be paying someone else - unless you really feel you need the help. You may get extra contacts, more opportunities and more time to focus on your content creation, if you work with an agency, but I feel you need to work out your own pro's and con's if you're unsure.
Finding an Agent
Something I wanted to add into the mix here, whether you're looking for an agency to join, or looking for a personal manager. Please be careful when opting for any agent. Like I said, there are a lot of agencies now, and you don't want to get yourself signed into a contract with an agent that you actually realise will take a percentage for doing nothing. So watch out for some of these things:
- How long is your initial contract? In a lot of cases, you can go on a 6 month probation to try out an agency for a while, with no obligation to continue afterwards. Definitely ask if that is a possibility. If it's not, question why not, as you don't want to be pushed into anything too fast.
- How much commission do they want to take? Personally I'd say do not give away more than 20%
- How much time are they going to put into your work - who else do they look after? Personally I wouldn't want to be looked after by someone with more than four other influencers to manage as you may find your work isn't being given enough attention - but the it really depends on how busy you are and how much time you actually need. So weigh that up overall as you may find that having a manager with 9 other influencers to manage is actually perfect for you.
- Does this agency have a good reputation and are they liked by people in the industry?
- Does this agency have a number of great contacts that they can introduce you to? What benefit will they be to you?
- Do you actually like your manage that you're going to be spending a lot of time talking to - and are they personable with your contacts and people they are emailing. No one wants a manager who is blunt and somewhat rude when they email potential clients and brands.
Any other questions on influencer management, let me know below - and I'll maybe add some more info to the post. But I hope this was helpful if you were looking for some thoughts on where you could maybe go next.