Why I Don’t Manage or Represent Creators
How I decided to go all-in on being a Sponsorship Coach (and how you can make tough decisions about your own business too).
I recently shared a bit about my decision to shut down my influencer marketing agency, Trending Family.
But ever since I started educating creators about brand partnership strategy, I’ve had a surprising number of people straight up say: “This info is great but I’d prefer to just focus on the creative stuff. Can you just manage me instead?”
Honestly…it’s been tempting.
Especially because a lot of these creators asking are very big and have deals in hand representing a huge amount of money (consistent 5 and 6-figure deals).
If my cut was 15-20%…well, you can do the math.
But after a lot of soul-searching, I decided to go all-in on being a Sponsorship Coach.
Here’s how I made that decision (and how you can make tough decisions too).
1 - Longevity
Give a creator a sponsorship and they’ll have cash for a month.
Teach a creator how to negotiate a sponsorship and they’ll have cash every month.
(Yes, that was a riff on the “teach a man to fish” proverb. Don’t @ me)
The point is:
Educating creators has a much longer-lasting impact on their careers.
By giving you the tools to negotiate your own sponsorships, you become empowered to take control of your own financial life.
And that empowerment will last a lifetime!
Lesson: will this decision you’re about to make be a short-term win or long-term? Which is more important to you right now?
2 - Control
I believe creators should always have a grasp on how their business functions.
Especially when it comes to their finances.
Offloading sponsorships entirely to a manager can actually be a little risky because it kinda gives you permission to check out.
It’s one thing to want to focus on the creative side of things (totally legit) but you can’t completely ignore the business part.
Particularly because it opens you up to the possibility of exploitation.
There are tons of superstar athletes who have lost millions thanks to questionable investments (or even downright scams) made on their behalf by their handlers/management.
Now, I’m not saying the creator economy is full of vultures waiting to take advantage of the next successful creator (though there are certainly some out there).
But what if your manager suddenly decided to quit, for example?
Even if you could replace them within a couple of months, you’re still putting your livelihood in serious jeopardy.
I realized that my ability to empower creators would be hugely amplified by giving them control over their own financial destiny, rather than by managing it for them.
As a creator, you should understand exactly how your income is generated, and be in control of that process.
I actually spoke about this last week on Kirk Nugent’s podcast if you wanna go deeper 👇
Lesson: will this decision you’re about to make give you more or less control over your future?
3 - Reputation
I want to preface this by saying there are a lot of amazing managers out there.
But as someone who’s seen all sides of the table, I wanna give it to you straight.
The truth is this:
Many brands will actually avoid working with you if they see you have a manager.
Sadly, managers can sometimes have a reputation for being a pain in the butt for brands to work with.
Some are slow at replying to emails and some even have a “gatekeeping” complex where they’re reluctant to let brands get anywhere near the folks on their roster.
As a result, some brands think dealing with a creator’s manager is more trouble than it’s worth.
I feel it’s important for you to be aware of this because it could potentially impact your future deal flow or even your reputation.
Allowing someone ELSE to speak on your behalf can have a big impact on how you’re being represented to brands.
If your manager is difficult to work with, brands will think YOU are difficult to work with (even if that’s not the case).
I spoke in more detail about the Pros vs Cons of having a manager here if you wanna check it out. 👇
Lesson: will this decision you’re about to make improve or potentially endanger your reputation?
4 - Novelty
Honestly? I’m having so much fun getting to work with creators across a huge variety of niches, platforms, and industries.
Podcasters, TikTokers, event organizers, YouTubers, community managers…you name it!
Don’t get me wrong, I definitely worked with some amazing people when I was running my agency!
But as a Sponsorship Coach, I’m no longer limited to working with more traditional ‘influencer’ type creators. I’m now able to branch out and coach creators growing businesses on “owned” platforms too!
I even helped a creator who started using my techniques to increase sales in his T-shirt printing biz lol.
I’ve realized over more than ten years in this industry that you have to truly love what you do…if you want to do it long-term.
And by expanding the types of creators I’m able to serve, I wake up every day with new, novel challenges.
Variety is the spice of life, as they say!
Lesson: will this decision you’re about to make help keep you engaged and interested in building your business?
5 - Impact
When you strip everything else away, it comes down to this:
I love this industry.
I love being a creator.
I love working with other creators.
And when I see people in this space doing incredible work and I’m able to play even a small role in helping them get paid their worth, it gives me that warm & fuzzy feeling inside that I crave!
So, ultimately, my goal is to have an impact on as many people as I can.
I wanna keep sharing everything I’ve learned over the years with as many people as it could possibly benefit.
What’s a better purpose in life than that?
Lesson: will this decision you’re about to make fundamentally fulfill you…truly?
One more thing…
You might’ve heard me mention this a few times but I have a mission to help creators big & small land 1,000,000 sponsorships by 2032 (in ten years).
I’m thrilled to announce that I’m building a way to actually TRACK this goal.
Are you interested in being a beta tester before I publicly launch?
All my best,
Thanks to George Blackman for contributing to this piece.