In a world where Instagram filters and sponsored posts reign supreme, it’s easy to assume that influencers have it all figured out. But behind those perfectly curated feeds and #blessed captions, lies a hidden truth: many of these social media stars have an ace up their sleeve – agents.
Yes, you heard it right! These self-proclaimed digital gurus often rely on savvy individuals (like yours truly!) who navigate the complex terrain of brand collaborations, negotiations, and securing those coveted endorsement deals. So, do influencers use agents?
Let’s peel back the layers of this glitzy influencer bubble and uncover the secret sauce that keeps these online moguls at the top of their game. Get ready for an inside look into the high-stakes world where hashtags are currency and selfies are investments – welcome to Agentville!
What are Influencer Agents?
Think about your favorite sports star, say Megan Rapinoe, Sue Bird or Sha’Carri Richardson and I’ll bet you can think of their name associated with a brand. Megan partnered with Nike, Smirnoff and Proctor & Gamble to name a few. When you think of Sue Bird do you think of her face next to Nike (just like her wife!) and American Express? Also with Nike is Sha’Carri Richardson. That my friends, is Influencer Marketing. And those are all companies that work with Influencers.
The person who negotiated those deals for each of those women is their agent, a broker between their client, in this case the female athlete and the brand that wants to align with the female superstar. Us Influencer Agents do the same things for our clients, negotiating deals between well known household brands but our clients are social media influencers.
Influencer agents are an essential part of the Influencer’s team that helps to run their business. Us Influencer agents stay on the business side of negotiations and handling brand collabs., I leave the content creation up to my clients.
As more and more brands embrace digital marketing and put billions of dollars into the creator economy, it continues to fuel the growth of Influencers across all social media platforms – Instagram, Tiktok & Youtube for example. As a result, there’s more and more talent management agencies popping up to support this industry and then number of people who are full time content creators, earning a living. With the growing popularity and significance of influencers in the modern digital age, so too shall influencer talent agencies.
What’s the role of Influencer Agents?
Our job is to be brand forward facing, meaning that we are usually the first person to respond to an inbound brand inquiry about working with a talent. This could be an email from a brand asking about a talent’s availability to partner with a certain brand, sharing the SOW, timing and asking for the Talent’s rate. This could be a DM sent directly to the talent’s social media inbox expressing interest in partnering for a collaboration.
As soon as there’s some inbound interest, us Influencer agents respond. Personally, I think being responsive is a key element of being a successful talent manager. Oftentimes an inquiry will come across with a deadline of when the brand needs a reply in order to consider the talent. I wouldn’t ever want to miss an opportunity because I took too long to respond.
So we respond and gather as much information as we can about the opportunity. What’s the brand? What’s the goal of the collaboration? What’s the SOW aka the scope of work aka the list of deliverables ie the content to create? What’s the timing of the project? What’s the exclusivity and desired usage by the brand?
Those are my initial round of questions I ask. It’s all top tier, important info that will not only impact the rate but also if my client, the talent, is interested in the project. So we gather that information and work closely with the talent aka the creator, to chat thru the project so that I can get back to the brand with either a yes, no or here are some other questions/thoughts we have about the collaboration.
Once the project becomes a yes and both parties agree to terms, the manager then handles the agreement or contracting part of the campaign. We look at the agreement, redline it to make edits and negotiate the edits back and forth until everyone is happy with the agreement. Once the agreement is signed, us influencer talent agents get the creative brief, concept for our client for approval and then become a bit more hands off once the project moves into content creation.
Other hats that agents wear are to be a set of eyes and ears for our clients. I do this whenever I see casting opportunities via my network of agency and brand connections or even from other talent managers. I’ve got a great group of women that I’m close with and we’ll share casting calls amongst us. Some agents do a lot of outbound pitching for projects.
Helping to work on the strategic side of the business for a content creator is also something us managers do. I’m often chatting thru content planning, ideal brand partners and ways to get creative with our collaborations with my talent.
All of us agents are also cheerleaders, therapists and hypewomen for our clients. (Honestly, this is what we do the most for our clients!)
How do influencer agents get paid
All of us Influencer agents earn a majority of our money as a percentage of the brand deals that we close on behalf of our clients. Industry standard is 10-20%, meaning when I close an $100,000 partnership for a client of mine, I earn $20,000. Some agents also have a retainer model in place with their clients. I have a retainer model + 10% commission for the first 90 days of bringing on a new talent to my roster.
The reason I do this is because it takes a lot of time invested to onboard a new talent – helping them update their media kit, create a talent bio page on my site and start to pitch them for projects.
If you’re curious to read more about how Influencer Agents get paid, I wrote a much longer, more detailed article about it for you. How much does an Influencer Agent cost : A comprehensive guide that you can read here.
Benefits of having an agent as an influencer
Let’s talk about the benefit of having an agent as an influencer agent. There’s a couple that come to mind.
First, having an agent ideally, best case scenario provides increased opportunities for brand collabs and sponsorships. Could this be because your agent pitches you for projects? Yes, meaning they will outbound emailing on your behalf, to try and learn about collaborations and influencer campaigns that would be a good fit for you.
It could also be that your agent has connections with brands/agencies, so they receive those agencies’ casting calls for campaigns. More opportunities could come about because your agent does a good job of maintaining their relationships with decisions makers in the industry. For example, I use a CRM to share agency news, new talent alerts and inquire about specific campaign opportunities such as for Hispanic Heritage Month or Day of the Dead.
Secondly, it’s beneficial to have someone else negotiate for you. I don’t care how good you are at it yourself, it’s always better, IMHO to have someone else negotiate on your behalf. Having a manager allows you to put forward a very professional (hopefully) and business like person to represent you.
A great manager is the first step towards a smooth, successful campaign when everyone is happy because it went so well and all expectations were met. Your manager can ask all the questions to ensure you 100% comprehend what the project calls for. It will ensure that your compensation is appropriate for the project.
Having a manager is beneficial when a negotiation gets tough and you, as the creator may be inclined to agree to terms that aren’t favorable to you. Whereas for us managers, nothing’s personal. If and when I get feedback about a budget that is under my creators rate, I don’t get emotional about it. It’s just a number and a conversation starter.
Finally, having a manager is beneficial because it allows you the content creator to focus on what you do best – which is create the content!
Challenges faced by influencers without agents
With benefits, of course come challenges for an Influencer working without an agent. Two obstacles that I often hear about from Influencers who don’t have an agent.
The biggest challenge is that you don’t have someone in your corner advocating for you. Perhaps it’s for increased pay or a different SOW for the rate. It could be having someone who you can lean on if the client’s being difficult, pushy or needy. Oftentimes, it’s us agents who handle that before it stresses out the creator. It’s always a bonus to have someone who can argue for your concept or content should the agency totally want to rework it.
The other challenge for Influencers without an agent is missed opportunities. How many people are talking about you in rooms you aren’t in? A really good manager has a great network of colleagues, agency reps that source talent for campaigns, brands that are trusted partners and even other talent managers that will forward along casting calls when they see them.
How to find a talent agent
Perhaps now you’ve decided you’re ready to look for a talent agent. Your inbox is brimming with paid influencer marketing campaigns. Yet you’re missing out on them because you’ve got too many projects going on.
First, do your research. I can’t stress this enough. Hiring a manager or an influencer talent agent hopefully is one of the best, most impactful hires to your team. Do not just do a light google, find one and call it a day.
No, you want to interview multiple influencer talent management agencies. Ask us a lot of questions about our roster, past successes, track record, what type of content is our strength in terms of connections. For example, I’m a great manager for Influencers of color in the food and travel space. But I’m not a great manager for you if you’re heavy into fashion, make-up or parenting. I’ve not done a lot of those partnerships so my contacts aren’t strong in that area.
You can find us influencer talent managers on google but more so on social media. As your favorite influencers who they recommend. Reach out to people that you already follow. Find us on Instagram and slide into our DMs.
Wanting to know more about how to find an Influencer agent? I wrote this article for you to go more in depth and answer a lot more questions.
You want to make sure you identify reputable influencer talent management agencies. Speak with others on their roster about their experience working with that manager and on digital marketing campaigns. Email me and ask me for recommendations. Ask if I’m taking on new talent or can introduce you to my network.
Some of the best influencer management agencies I adore are :
- Molly Tracy of Vrai Digital
- Jenny Dinh Safransky of JDS Projects
- Molly Benton of CookIt Media
- Kamla Pande of Moondust Management
- Elle Queen of Queen Consulting
- Cara Braude of Cara Mgmt
- Georgia Farquharson of Farq Media
Yes, if you’re looking for top Influencer Managers, these women (and yes, including me!) are a great place to start your search.
I also wrote a longer post about this for you. Should I get an Agent as an Influencer? Say you’re not quite ready for an Agent but you want to become a full time influencer, I have that article outline how to grow your social media presence.
This is an ever evolving landscape. Are there managers who act as their own agents AND are doing really well? Yes, absolutely. This isn’t to say that all influencers do, or should have, an Influencer Talent Manager or Agent.
How much do influencers make?
Influencers make from zero dollars into the millions of dollars, and of course everything in between. Being, or becoming a successful influencer is hard, hard work. It will quite possibly be one of the hardest things you’ve ever had to do. Is it worth it? Yes, for some but becoming an entrepreneur isn’t for the faint of heart.
Those who do make money at it, invest a lot of their money into building their profiles and social media empires. They hire photographers, videographers, managers (of course!), stylists, editors, hair and makeup artists to name a few expenses. They buy props, rent studios, travel for content and make a recipe 4x just to get it right.
Is this an industry where there is money to be made? Yes, but dare I say it could be the hardest you’ve ever had to work for your coin. Don’t be fooled by the glamorization of Influencer marketing online. This is hard work.
Do Instagram Influencers have agents?
Yes, Instagram Influencers do have agents. Some influencer talent agencies exclusively represent Instagram influencers or Tiktok talent, while others have more diversity on their roster, like me. Curious who I represent? Here’s my talent roster.
What do talent agencies do for influencers?
We do so much, truly, so much. We negotiate, close brand collaborations for Influencers, manage social media content campaigns for brand deals, hype our clients up, give them a shoulder to lean on, or an ear when they need to vent about a project while also being a strategic partner for their business. I wish I had one of me in my life!
How much do influencer agents make?
The income of an Influencer Agent is tied to the income and success of our talent. With the talent management agency model of earning a commission of all the brand deals we close, we only win when our clients win. If my clients are having a great, prosperous year, then so am I and my income reflects that. If my clients aren’t having a good year with minimal brand collabs, then my income also suffers.
Do influencers use talent agents?
Yes, they sure do. Hopefully as you’ve read this article you know that Influencers use talent agents.
How to get an agent as an Influencer?
When you’re looking for an agent as an influencer, look at your profile and platform first. Are you worth of a manager? Are you a great platform, talent for them to sell? If you have a low amount of inconsistent content or really low engagement or crappy, low quality photos, you need to up your game and get your internal house in order before you reach out to an Influencer Agent.
Remember, we are only as good as the product we have to sell. If we can’t close a deal on your behalf, that’s not always, or necessarily on us. Make sure your brand and platform are the best in the business.
Do Influencers use agents FAQS
Are influencer agencies worth it?
Influencer agencies are worth it when they make financial success. If you’re earning $30,000/annually from brand partnerships, does it make sense for both you AND your manager to work together? Ideally your manager with their killer negotiation skills can earn you more on brand opportunities than you can yourself, essentially earning their pay.
That would mean your agent is earning $6,000/annually. As a manager that’s not worth it nor is it a sustainable business model. If you’re earning ballpark $100,000+ in brand partnerships annually, then it makes sense financially to work with an agent.
If you want to keep everything in house and maintain 100% control over every aspect of your business, then no, it doesn’t make sense to work with an influencer talent management agency.
Can I hire someone to help me become an influencer?
No, you can’t hire someone to help you become an influencer. BUT, hear me out, you can hire someone to help you grow your business as an Influencer. Here’s what I mean.
In order to be an influencer, it does NOT mean you have a lot of followers and post whatever you want. No, it means you have influence, you’re an expert in something. People come to your page for some sort of value be it educational, entertaining, aspirational or inspirational. What are you all about?
What value do you provide and how do you do that (blog, reels, tiktoks?) No one can make that for you with authenticity. That’s all you.
But once you do know how you serve others and what value you provide, yes you can absolutely hire people to help you grow your business – create content, take photos, edit your content, pitch for you etc.
Do influencers actually use the products they promote?
Yes, my clients do use the products they promote. Yvette is often talking about Quaker oatmeal, Lorraine’s always talking about supplements and Laura uses Mazola all the time. In fact, a lot of the time, the reason they have the partnership is because they’ve shared about the product on social media organically.
How do social media influencers get brand deals?
Great question. First, the social media influencer has to have a great brand, a great profile and platform. Brand deals come about via a couple different ways. There are influencer marketing platforms that influencer agencies search to find talent. Brands also find talent thru creators that tag them organically on social media. Influencers also find campaigns thru the relationships they have with agencies who source talent.