So you’ve amassed a significant following on social media, your content is on point, and brands are knocking at your virtual door to collaborate with you. Life as an influencer seems pretty sweet. But before you get carried away by the allure of free products and sponsored posts, have you ever considered whether it’s time to take things up a notch?
That’s right, we’re talking about getting yourself an agent – someone who can be your guiding light through the murky waters of brand partnerships, negotiations, and all those pesky legalities.
But should you jump on the agent bandwagon or keep riding solo? Let’s embark on this rollercoaster ride together and find out if having an agent is truly worth the hype or just another flashy accessory in the world of influencers.
[Side note, I’m a talent manager which you’ve probably already figured out. I’m going to do my darndest to shed some light on when and why you should hire an agent as an influencer. We’re not for everyone, nor are more people ready for one. Let’s get into it.]
Defining Influencer Agents and Their Industry Role
Influencer agents, often referred to as talent managers, are professionals or marketing agencies dedicated to representing influencers in the vast and competitive realm of social media and digital marketing.
Our main role is to bring brand collaboration opportunities to fruition, meaning negotiating a signed agreement for a brand collab. We serve as a face and touch point for an Influencer’s business. We are oftentimes the first point of contact a brand has with the talent, aside from consuming their content on social media.
Us Influencer agents are the bridge that connects talent with opportunities. We play a pivotal role in managing an influencer’s career, handling various aspects of their business affairs.
This includes but is not limited to securing collaborations, negotiating contracts, managing day-to-day operations, and serving as a strategic partner in the influencer’s growth journey.
Now, let’s delve into why many influencers opt to have an agent. There are several compelling benefits to consider:
Contract Negotiation: Negotiating contracts with brands can be complex. Agents are skilled at securing the best terms, ensuring you’re fairly compensated for your work. Make sure the agent you work with has a negotiation approach that works for you. Do they negotiate like a shark? Or more chill than that?
I know of a few people who left their management company and one of the reasons they both cited was that they didn’t think their manager was aggressive enough. Figure out what you want and make sure her style aligns with your expectations.
Relationship building : All too often I speak with Influencers who don’t have a system for staying in touch with their past brand contacts. This gives me a heart attack. Those are hot leads for you! Ideally when you bring an agent onto your team, she can do that for you, ensuring more campaigns from people who already know, like and trust your work.
Time Savings: With an agent handling the negotiations, brand communications and project management, you have more time to concentrate on what you do best—creating content!
“For me, I was missing out on brand campaigns. I was too busy doing what I do best, creating content and I was getting bogged down from the day to day of negotiating, going back and forth on briefs/contracts, and forgetting to chase down payments. I also felt like I wasn’t the best at advocating for myself. This meant not getting paid my worth (which affected my long term business growth and short term business load) and getting emotionally caught up in every potential gig” — Jessica Serna of My Curly Adventures
Common Misconceptions About Influencer Agents
While influencer agents offer numerous advantages, there are also misconceptions that need to be addressed. Here are a few common ones:
Agents are only for the famous or social media profiles with large amounts of followers. Nope. Influencer agents cater to a wide range of influencers, not just mega-celebrities. Personally I like working with creators that are considered mid tier, under 100k. Whether you’re just starting out and earning your first $50k or have a substantial following, there’s potential for agent representation.
They take a significant cut. Argh! This language and mindset makes me so angry. It’s totally triggering for me. No, I do not TAKE your money. I earn my money, 10000%. While agents do take a commission from your earnings, this cost is often outweighed by the increased opportunities and income they can help you secure.
And please keep in mind that about 75-95% of the deals that come your way are trash so majority of our time isn’t compensated.
I wrote more about how we earn our money via this “Comprehensive Guide : how much does an Influencer Agent cost?” for those of you who want to read more about it.
Loss of control: Some influencers worry that having an agent means giving up creative control. However, a good agent should work collaboratively with you, not dictate your content.
The way I view myself is that I’m here to sell you, the product. You’re the talent, the product, who the brands want to work with, not me. I’m the middlewoman if you will, to help close the deal and help the influencer marketing agency see your value as a social media influencer.
Understanding these aspects of influencer agents is crucial for influencers considering whether to seek representation. The decision should align with your goals, values, and where you stand in your influencer journey. In the following sections, we’ll explore in more depth the situations in which having an agent can be a game-changer and when it might not be the best fit.
Do I need an agent as an Influencer?
The decision to partner with an influencer agent is a significant one and not one to be taken lightly! It’s an exciting time and whenever I hear of someone who is starting to explore an Influencer talent manager, I get super jazzed up, like when my friend Nick Rowley commented on my Linkedin post about this article.
Let’s delve into the key factors you should consider when deciding if an agent is right for you.
Factors to Consider Before Getting an Agent
Influence and Audience Size: The size of your audience matters. If you’re a micro-influencer or just starting, you might be able to manage on your own initially. As your following grows, an agent can help you navigate the complexities of brand deals and collaborations more efficiently.
Content Creation: Think about your capacity for content creation. Do you have the time and resources to consistently produce high-quality content, engage with your audience, and manage business affairs? An agent can relieve this administrative burden, allowing you to focus on your creative work.
Goals and Ambitions: Define your long-term goals. If you aspire to secure larger brand partnerships, expand your reach, and turn your influence into a full-time career, an agent can be an invaluable asset in helping you achieve these goals.
Network and Industry Knowledge: Assess your connections in the industry. If you lack a network or are new to influencer marketing, an agent can open doors and provide valuable insights into the industry landscape.
Advantages of Working Independently, without a manager.
While influencer agents offer numerous advantages, there are also compelling reasons to consider managing your influencer career independently:
Creative Control: As an independent influencer, you maintain full control over your content, collaborations, and brand partnerships. This can be especially important if maintaining your creative vision is a top priority.
Cost Savings: When you don’t have an agent, you don’t need to pay a commission on your earnings. This can be financially advantageous, particularly if you’re just starting your influencer career. But don’t overlook the additional income you may earn by having someone else negotiate for you.
Learning and Growth: Managing your own career can be an invaluable learning experience. You gain insights into negotiation, contracts, marketing, and the influencer landscape that can serve you well in the long run.
Situations Where Having an Agent is Highly Beneficial
While many influencers start independently, there are specific scenarios where having an agent becomes highly beneficial:
Complex Contracts: As your career grows, so does the complexity of brand deals and collaborations. Influencer agents are experts in negotiating and ensuring that contracts protect your interests.
Time Constraints: If you’re overwhelmed with the administrative tasks that come with being an influencer, such as correspondence, scheduling, and campaign management, an agent can help you regain valuable time.
Industry Navigational Challenges: Navigating the influencer industry can be challenging, with evolving trends, regulations, and competition. Agents provide strategic guidance to help you make the right decisions.
Strategic Growth: If your ambition is to scale your influencer career, an agent can be a strategic partner in helping you make the right connections and capitalize on emerging opportunities.
In essence, the decision to get an agent hinges on your unique situation, your aspirations, and your capacity to manage your influencer career effectively. Understanding the pros and cons of both scenarios will assist you in making an informed choice, ensuring that it aligns with your goals and vision for the future.
The Benefits of Having an Agent
Now that we’ve explored the decision-making process regarding influencer representation, let’s take a deeper dive into the specific advantages of having an agent in your corner. These benefits extend far beyond the basic aspects and can significantly impact your influencer career.
Detailing the Advantages of Having an Agent
Leveraging Industry Experience: Influencer agents bring a wealth of industry knowledge and experience to the table. They understand the nuances of the influencer landscape, market trends, and brand expectations, ensuring you make informed decisions.
Access to Exclusive Opportunities: Agents often have access to exclusive brand partnerships and collaborations that might not be accessible to independent influencers. They can open doors to high-profile campaigns and lucrative deals. (our network)
Strategic Career Growth: Agents work with you to develop a long-term career strategy. They help you define your brand, identify your target audience, and set achievable goals to ensure consistent growth.
Negotiating Better Deals: Experienced agents excel in contract negotiations. They advocate for your best interests, securing favorable terms, and maximizing your earning potential.
Administrative Relief: The administrative aspects of influencer marketing can be overwhelming. Agents take care of the paperwork, correspondence, scheduling, and logistics, allowing you to focus on content creation and audience engagement.
How Agents Facilitate Brand Collaborations
Influencer agents play a pivotal role in facilitating brand collaborations:
Matchmaking: They identify brands that align with your niche, style, and values, ensuring collaborations are authentic and resonate with your audience.
Campaign Coordination: Agents manage the logistics of campaigns, from coordinating deliverables to ensuring deadlines are met.
Quality Control: They provide oversight to maintain the quality and consistency of your content, helping you maintain a strong online presence.
Contract Negotiation Expertise :Contract negotiation can be a daunting task, especially for those new to the influencer industry. Agents offer expertise in the following areas:
Maximizing Earnings: Agents are skilled at securing the best compensation for your work, including cash payments, products, and additional perks.
Legal Protections: We do our best to make sure contracts are legally sound, protecting your rights and interests.
In essence, having an agent as an influencer opens doors to a multitude of opportunities, provides industry expertise, and ensures that you navigate the challenges of brand collaborations and contract negotiations effectively. The benefits are undeniable, and for many influencers, they are the key to sustainable, successful, and lucrative careers.
How to find an Influencer agent
Selecting the right influencer agent is a critical decision that can significantly impact your career. To help you navigate this process, we’ll provide a step-by-step guide on how to find and choose the perfect agent for your influencer journey.
Simple steps how to find an Influencer Agent
Step 1: Define Your Needs and Goals
Before you begin your search for an influencer agent, it’s crucial to understand your expectations and reasons for having one.
Things to consider :
- Why do you want a manager?
- Are you a full time influencer and ready, financially for a manager? (I wrote more about how to become a full time influencer here).
- What are your expectations of having one?
- What do you bring to the table that would be an asset to her agency?
- What are your brand values and niche, and how do you want an agent to align with them?
- Do you want to be a big fish in a little pond or a little fish in a big pond? What I mean by this question is, do you want to be the second person on their roster who does Mexican food or the 32nd person on their roster with this profile?
Step 2: Research and Shortlist Potential Agents
I can’t say this enough – do your research. Weekly I have people slide into my DMs, ready to hire me, to hand over their business baby to me without even so much as a phone call. They don’t know my vibe, how I work, how I earn money, what I do for my clients etc.
In what other profession would you ever dream of doing that, sight unseen?!
This could be the most impactful hire to your influencer team. You want to ensure it’s a positive one.
How do I find an influencer Manager
Use the google. You’re here, reading my article online and I’ve got a whole bunch of other content and resources on my website.
Referrals : Guaranteed you know someone or follow multiple people online who have a manager. Ask them. Put up a question box in IG stories. Ask on LinkedIn. DM your fave influencer and ask if they have one.
Industry Networking: Go to conferences, attend panels, ask questions, meet people IRL at industry events or even local meetups for Influencers. I host a gathering in Denver of people involved in Influencer Marketing so believe me when I tell you that managers are meeting up in cities across the USA.
Agency Websites: Visit the websites of talent management agencies to learn more about their services, clients, and industry reputation.
I wrote this longer article “How to find an influencer agent” for you.
Step 3: Do your due diligence
Now that you’ve got a list of agents, it’s time to do your own research on them.
If you’re speaking directly with a talent agent, ask us for client testimonials, or better yet to speak directly to our clients (I always ask prospective clients to do this).
Ask for our track record. Ask us about how we conduct our agency and what we look for when bringing on new talent.
Ask us about the brand connections & relationships that we have to ensure it aligns with your type of content. For example, if you’re a fashion influencer, I wouldn’t be the best fit for you as I don’t have a lot of fashion agency connects.
Check out our online presence. I’ll be honest – this is a tricky one. I know A LOT of amazing talent managers who don’t have a strong online presence for their business nor do they create educational content about being a talent manager. Which is fine. It does NOT reflect their level of success as their work.
Don’t overlook LinkedIn – what is your potential talent manager posting across all platforms? Are they a cheerleader for their talent? Do they hype them up? Are they posting questions and commenting with solutions?
Step 4: Compatibility and Values
It’s essential to choose an agent who aligns with your values and vision. Consider the following:
Communication Style: Evaluate their communication style and whether it matches your preferences. And be real, what’s your communication style? Are you communicative? Responsive? Better at text vs email? Make sure you know what you bring to the table and how you show up.
Alignment with Brand and Values: Ensure that the agent’s brand and values align with your own. This ensures that they will represent you authentically and ethically. There are definitely shady talent managers out there (which I hate because one or two apples truly ruins the bunch). Do NOT be afraid to ask a lot of questions. They should be open to chatting and being transparent with you.
Negotiation and Strategy: Discuss their approach to contract negotiation and career strategy. Make sure their methods align with your career objectives. How aggressive are they? What’s their process for when they loop in talent?
Project Management : How do they manage projects with talent once an agreement is signed? What platforms do they use? Ask them to walk you thru their process.
Step 5: Questions Influencers should ask
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, schedule interviews with potential agents. Prepare a list of questions to ask during the interview, such as:
What do you look for in prospective talent? How are you growing your roster?
How would I fit into your agency?
Can you provide examples of successful influencer collaborations you’ve facilitated?
What is your communication style? What would you expect from me?
What is your commission structure?
How do you stay updated on industry trends and regulations?
What’s your agency vibe?
That last one I suggest asking because there’s a lot of different agency vibes out there. For example, with my agency, all of my roster is super close, connected and supportive. I host monthly agency chats, we’ve done annual retreats in person, we do a holiday zoom to connect and celebrate the year, we’ve got an IG DM group chat going on.
BUT – that vibe isn’t for everyone. Personally I can’t imagine not wanting to take advantage of the collective wisdom of everyone, but to each their own. Most agencies I know aren’t that close with their roster and manager.
Step 6: Trust Your Instincts
Can’t say enough about this. Trust your gut. Ultimately, the decision should feel right. Trust your instincts and choose an agent with whom you have a strong rapport and shared vision.
Selecting the right influencer agent is a significant step in your career, and don’t forget, you to hers as well. Take all the time you need to find the right fit for you.
What to Expect When Working with an Agent
Entering into a partnership with an influencer agent is a significant step in your career. Congrats! We all know how expectations can be tricky, especially when there’s money involved, so let’s talk about them for a moment, shall we? I truly want to make sure you have a great, realistic understanding and expectation of how the relationship could/should unfold.
Understanding the dynamics of this relationship, including roles, responsibilities, costs, and maintaining a productive partnership, is essential for a successful collaboration.
Overview of the Agent-Influencer Relationship
The agent-influencer relationship is a partnership built on mutual trust, shared goals, and defined responsibilities. Do not ever forget that you are responsible for 50% of it’s success, meaning don’t put it all on your agent from the beginning. You’re in it together.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect:
Representation: Your agent serves as your representative, actively seeking opportunities (if that’s part of what they do), managing your brand partnerships, and advocating for your best interests. It’s imperative you unequivocally trust them as they are often the first interaction a brand has with you, the talent.
Brand Collaborations: Agents identify and negotiate brand collaborations that align with your niche, values, and audience, ensuring the best fit for your brand. We’re here to negotiate for your best interests. You should never feel pushed or pressured to sign anything.
Contract Negotiation: We handle the negotiation and execution of contracts, ensuring that you receive fair compensation, and the terms are in your favor. I always like to say to my clients, “I try to get the most for the least”..if you know what I mean! I do my best.
Administrative Support: Truthfully I hate saying we do admin but we do in some way, shape or form. For my clients, I handle their content scheduling (or at least flagging when content is due and what dates to hold to go live, the project management of the brief, messaging docs and anything else you need to create the content. Some of us send out invoices, some of us don’t but either way we’ll help you track down your money. Believe me, we all want to get paid!
How much do influencer agents charge?
100% of us Influencer agents work on a commission-based model, earning a percentage of the influencer’s earnings from brand partnerships and collaborations that we negotiate and close. Current industry standard is 15-20%.
Be very clear what % your influencer agent earns and on what types of things they earn their money. Some agents earn money from your affiliate earnings, others of us do not. I wrote a longer article, a comprehensive guide about how much does an influencer agent cost for you.
Whatever your agent’s model is, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of how and when they earn money before you enter into an agreement. Ensure that it aligns with industry standards and that there are no hidden fees.
PRO TIP : The sooner you can get comfortable talking about money with strangers, the quicker your business will grow. It’s also empowering!
Contract Duration: Make sure you have eyes wide open about how long your contract is for, if there’s any length on it. Some agents do a 90 day trial to see how it goes (and if they do, what are the benchmarks to be aware of), others of us don’t. Be clear before you say yes to anything.
Maintaining a Healthy and Productive Partnership with your Agent
To ensure a positive and productive partnership with your influencer agent, consider the following tips:
Open Communication: Maintain open and regular communication with your agent. Don’t be a stranger with or to them. Talk about your goals, aspirations, and any concerns you may have about your career. What’s working for you, what’s not?
Have some major life events coming up? Make sure to share them with your agent because she may know of some castings or opportunities for you that would be a great fit that she can pitch you for.
Honestly, my clients and I are never not in communication with each other, lol! Be it via text, phone calls, emails, IG DMs, smoke signals and carrier pigeons, I know more about my client’s lives, what they’re up to and what’s on their mind, probably just as much (if not more than) as their partner!
I know who started hot flashes, which one has a kid about to graduate, who celebrates Day of the Dead (a lot of my clients do – check out these great partnerships with Yvette Marquez and Lodge Cast Iron, Jessica Serna and Bud and Laura Muller and Food4Less) and who is moving their kid into college next week.
Set Clear Expectations: Clearly define your expectations from the outset. Discuss your preferred level of involvement in decision-making and how you want your brand to be represented. Expectations are always what trip people up, when expectations aren’t met or they aren’t aligned. The best and only way to avoid this is open, clear communication. Don’t ever assume or be too afraid to ask.
Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular check-ins to review your career progress and strategy. This allows you to adapt to changing circumstances and stay aligned with your long-term goals. I don’t do this with my clients as we’re constantly in communication. I’m always sharing where they are in terms of closed deals, what might be in the hopper etc.
Trust and Respect: Building trust and mutual respect is key. Trust your agent’s expertise and guidance, and maintain professionalism in your interactions. Don’t forget, in order to get trust, you must willing and able to give it.
Flexibility: Be adaptable. The influencer landscape is ever-evolving, so be prepared to pivot strategies when necessary. A conversation I’m often having with my clients is about latest trends, skill sets, what type of content catches a brand’s eye so that they aren’t rusty and resting on their laurels.
What got you to the level of success you have, will not be what gets you to the next level.
We all know that influencer marketing is ever evolving and at a decently fast pace. Do NOT fight change.
Remember that the agent-influencer relationship is a two-way street. It’s not just about what they can do for you as an influencer to build your career, but how are you helping their agency and also, is the product that we are selling (your profile, your content creation) the best it can be?
“There comes a time when you need someone who excels at something you yourself cannot do, and the time came and Johanna was that person for me. She is incredibly amazing at facilitating partnerships, managing clients and making sure projects roll out smoothly. — Ismail Mpiana of My Culinary Adventures
Section 7: The Risks and Downsides
While an influencer-agent relationship can offer numerous benefits, it’s essential to be aware of the potential drawbacks and challenges that may arise. Understanding these risks is crucial for making an informed decision and ensuring a successful partnership.
One of the primary concerns when working with an agent is the potential loss of control over certain aspects of your influencer career. I don’t agree with this because at the end of the day it’s your brand, your content and you know your audience best.
If you’re engaging with a prospective manager who is telling you to completely change things, take it with a grain of salt. Ask questions. Understand why they want you to do that & what they know that you don’t.
People also assume that you lose control over the choice of brand collaborations and partners you choose.
Not at my agency. It’s your brand, your choice. I would never make someone do a partnership that they didn’t want to do. Or conversely impede their opportunity to do a collab that aligned and made sense for the talent.
How do you overcome talent management issues?
For me, it all comes down to open communication and crystal clear expectations. When those are synched up, you’re working like a V6 engine with your manager, hand in hand.
I can’t say enough how important it is to discuss your influencer aspirations and ensure they align with your agent’s understanding of what you want. Some people want to do this full time and have a certain income number in their mind, expecting their talent manager to aggressively pitch them. Others are cool with doing it on the side, for whatever comes their way.
Understand exactly how you fit into their roster. I mentioned before big fish, little pond vs little fish, big pond. There are pros and cons to each.
Know what YOU want for an Influencer Talent Manager and how that would work with their talent management agency structure.
When people don’t have confidence talking about money, it shows. Put on your big girl pants and ask the questions about how the talent manager earns commission, and how you fit into that structure.
Don’t ever hand your business over to someone who does NOT know what they’re doing? How do you mitigate this? Do your research. That’s on you. And yay for you reading the article! I wrote this article about what does an influencer talent manager do to help you.
Make sure you’re talking regularly with your manager. Don’t be off ghosting them and making you and them look back with your unresponsiveness.
It’s on you to make sure your brand presents as the best in the business! Do you need to hire a photographer moving forward? Work with an editor? Be on your game, all the time.
Should I get an agent as an Influencer FAQs
How many followers do you need to be an Influencer?
Great question. There’s no set number or threshold at which someone becomes an influencer. What I do think is really important to remember is that it’s not based on your follower count but on what you’re an expert on. What do you share about that people continually come back to your profile page? You could have 3488 followers who absolutely ADORE the educational content you put out about homeschooling while living in a Yurt.
I wrote more about it in this article, “The Magic Numbers : How many followers to become an Influencer?”
Can I hire someone to help me become an Influencer?
I mean…….not really. Can you hire someone to help you increase your follower count? Sure. But to be an influencer (and really, check out the question above), you’ve got to be super knowledgeable about something. Can you outsource that? No.
Here’s an article I wrote about the 12 best influencer habits. If you want to be a full time influencer, these habits are a great way to build your influencer business.
How much do influencer agents make?
We make 10-20% of the brand deals we close. If our roster has done $100k worth of brand projects, then we earn $20,000 for those of us who earn 20%. Our success as a talent manager is intrinsically tied to yours as the talent. We don’t win if you don’t win, you know what I mean?
Do Influencers have agents?
Yes, they sure do. Not all of them have agents tho. It’s really a personal decision based on the things I’ve outlined above. I know a number of really large sized (by follower count) uber successful influencers who keep talent management in-house vs hiring someone to do it for them.
How to work with brands as a micro influencer?
This is a hard question to answer quickly. In fact, I wrote a longer article here about it “How to work with brands as a micro influencer” but I can tell you that it requires a lot of work before you start pitching to brands. You’ll need to figure out your niche, identify what sort of content will you create, how you deliver value and what your aesthetic looks like to name a few key items.