Do you Need an Influencer Manager or Agent?
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Today I discuss what exactly is an influencer manager, what is the difference between an influencer manager and agent, how many followers you need to get an influencer manager, how much you have to pay an influencer manager/agent, and the best way to find a great influencer manager.
What is an Influencer Manager?
This is someone that you hire as a creator to help you deal with your brand deal flow and advise your career. These managers will negotiate with brands, understand contracts, keep you on track with projects, and help you achieve your larger goals as a creator.
Influencer Managers vs Agents
A common question is what is the difference between an Influencer Manager and an Agent? When most people talk about agents they're referring to the big Hollywood talent agencies like WME or UTA or CAA, and these are the agencies that rep most of the celebrities. In my experience many big influencers, especially those with millions of followers eventually get a talent agent because they have much larger aspirations, like they want to go into film or TV or something like that. And it can be a little confusing because if you're a traditional actor or actress, in the state of California, agents are the only ones who can legally negotiate your contracts and can only take a max of 10% of your deals and managers are the ones who are helping with the day-to-day coordination of your career.
In the Influencer Marketing world, it's still somewhat of a gray area with respect to regulation. But I expect that may change in the coming years.
Do You Just Need Help?
Do you just need a personal assistant or additional team members that you can delegate or offload some of your workload? In my experience, most influencers start thinking about hiring a manager when they're feeling burnt out or just overwhelmed by everything. So, it's one thing if, as a creator, you only like creating content and you just couldn't care less about the business side of things, but you know you need brand deals because it will continue to provide a livelihood for you. But your main passion is the creative side, right? And that's okay and then maybe, in that case, getting a manager is the right call! Or maybe you can handle the brand deal negotiations, but you just want a lawyer to read through and kind of give a blessing on all your contracts.
Another solution to consider is maybe you can hire a personal assistant, right? They can help you with your emails, with your schedule. Maybe they can even do some editing or color correction or things like that. And they could be potentially virtual, right? There's a lot of companies out there that offer virtual assistants.
How Much to Pay a Manager?
How much do you pay an Influencer Manager, right? Typically most Influencer Managers are compensated 10-20% of brand deals depending on the deal size and how it was sourced.
So for example, if a brand reaches out to you directly through your social platforms, maybe the manager would get less for handling the deal verses than if the manager was out there finding deals themselves then they would larger percentage for finding them. I mean that setup is kind of the best-case scenario. Because you're only compensating them when you get a deal and if they bring it to you, you should be happy to pay them more. Because you wouldn't have gotten that deal otherwise.
There are some managers out there who may want a monthly retainer, especially if they're more involved, like helping you run the day-to-day of your creator business or helping you on larger projects. Or maybe you can negotiate with them for some flat fee structure for a finite project like helping you launch a product line or something.
Number of Followers
There is no number of followers or rule of thumb of when to hire an Influencer Manager. I would say that the best time to look into getting a manager is when your deal flow is getting overwhelming and the quality of your work may be starting to suffer or your ability to stick to a timeline is diminishing. First you need to analyze your situation like we discussed. I would say that once a creator or influencer reaches 50,000 followers, most management companies or solo managers will have a conversation with you.
How to Find An Influencer Manager?
How do you find a good Influencer Manager? So there are a lot of digital influencer management companies out there like Digital Brand Architects (DBA) or Select and so on as well as solo managers but the absolute best way is to ask other creators in your network for a recommendation or a referral. In my experience, you really do want the testimonials of your fellow creators based on their direct experience with the manager and how they behaved in negotiations and professional situations. You also need to ask the manager directly for references of both current and past clients that you don't know.
The past clients are really the key because you'll likely get the most honest assessment from those folks. If you don't know anyone in your network who has a manager, just try cold emailing a creator that you admire and ask if they have a manager and if they'll refer you and I think you'd be surprised at their willingness to help you out.
Word of Caution About Influencer Managers
A lot of managers can be very demanding. They aren't very responsive or timely. A lot have this gatekeeper complex like they won't let a brand even talk to an influencer on the phone or things like that. I'm definitely not saying that all managers are like this but a lot are, in my direct experience. I've had some managers take like 3-4 business days to respond to an email inquiry about a partnership for an influencer that they manage. I've had some cuss me out or just be super unreasonable.
In a few situations, I've actually wanted to reach out directly to an influencer and just let them know, are you aware that your manager is being super unreasonable, super unprofessional? Even for simple requests that a brand is making. Because I think a lot of the time, influencers don't even realize that these things are going on. It just makes me kind of not even want to work with that creator again, just because of the person that manages them. And some brands actually make a decision on certain campaigns that they only want to work with creators who don't have managers just because it makes the whole thing so much easier. I've spoken to a lot of people across the industry and this type of thing happens much more frequently than I think most people realize.
And one way to ensure that you're keeping your manager accountable, especially in the beginning is just ask to be CC'ed on all communications so that you can ensure that they're being a good advocate for you and strengthening your reputation as someone who's great to work with.