Content creator, personality, creative director, social media manager, marketing manager, concept engineer, researcher, writer, editor, graphic designer, campaign manager, data analyst, accountant, photographer, videographer. In my first 6 years of blogging, I had filled 15+ roles in a full-time capacity on my own.
Really though, I should start by telling you that I’m an Enneagram Type 3 (The Achiever), and an ISTJ, which translates to…a stubborn over-achiever with (mild) control issues who has a hard time outsourcing.
Fast forward to late 2020, I finally found myself at a crossroads where I knew it was time to hand over the reins to an influencer management agency. I’ve now been with my agency for over a year and can confidently say that it was one of the best decisions I’ve made for my business to-date.
Today’s post is all about how to know when it’s time to hire an influencer management agency, plus some of the pros and cons that go along with handing over your projects to an agency.
How I knew it was time to hire an influencer management agency
I was leaving money on the table
Wearing those 15+ hats, although I didn’t like to admit it, I was overwhelmed most of the time which directly affected the workload I felt comfortable taking on. I found myself ignoring most of the emails that made their way into my inbox or turning down collaboration offers for the sheer fact that I didn’t have the time to manage the process of a new project from start to finish.
I was barely skimming my contracts
For the projects I did choose to take on, when it came time to carefully read through and negotiate my contracts, I rarely allowed myself the time to do anything but skim them over. I'll now watch my managers carefully pull apart each contract we receive, and can't help but think about all of the opportunities I missed to flag usage rights, advertising, and other add-ons that had the potential for a higher paycheck.
I wanted to take on more projects, but I avoided committing
Initial discussions, scope of work, contract and rate negotiations, creative briefs, content approvals, etc.…to dive into this process for one project felt overwhelming at times, and often the thought of diving right back in to start another just felt like too much. There were many opportunities that I genuinely wanted to take on, but I avoided committing to them. Whether I had been in the middle of another project or had just wrapped a project and felt like I needed a breather, I was yet again leaving money on the table.
Why I finally said yes
I didn't know it was time to hire an influencer management agency right off the bat. In fact, when my management agency first reached out to me to have an initial discussion, my immediate inclination was to say no. At that point, I had been approached by different agencies over the years, and it was basically an automated response.
I had been in the middle of a busy month, having taken on a year-long partnership with a huge scope of work and very detailed deliverables throughout the year. Looking back, I really owe it to that project. Had I not felt like I was in over my head, I would have sent out that automated response and moved on.
A call can’t hurt, right? So I hopped on the introductory call which would turn out to be the call that flipped the switch for me, and helped me to realize how much I needed an agency to help manage my projects. During that call, we talked about the logistics; what do my business and projects currently look like? What does the influencer/manager relationship look like? What’s in it for me? What’s in it for your agency? Most importantly, I also got a feel for who I would be working side-by-side with, which ended up being a big part of my decision to say yes.
What are the advantages of working with an influencer management agency?
Pitching and negotiating is done for me
Pitching alone has the ability to take up such a significant amount of time. From planning your outreach to finding contacts, writing and personalizing pitches and remembering to follow up, it can sometimes feel like a full-time job (especially when you’re relying on income from your collaborations). I work with my managers to come up with a list of brands I’d love to work with, and they take care of the rest. Primarily, they work brands to negotiate things like deliverables, timeline, rates, usage rights, etc. Although I felt confident negotiating for myself prior to management, my team kicks it up a notch and has worked to negotiate the highest possible brand deals for me.
Tip: Ask to see the pitch template your managers are using before they send it out.
This way, you can ensure that you’re both on the same page, and know that what’s being sent on your behalf is in line with your expectations. My managers also loop me into every conversation, which I love. Transparency is key!
I can hand over my contracts to the pros
While I had seen my share of contracts over the years and could flag certain things to look out for, 80% of the time, I had no idea what I was reading. Most of us don’t come from a background in contract law but as influencers, we’re expected to read, redline and sign away at the dotted line. Being able to hand my contracts over to a team who knows exactly what to look for has been such an advantage. On top of that, we’ve also been able to negotiate higher fees in certain scenarios due to clauses or terms I never would have picked out on my own.
My managers provide inside knowledge of the industry
Bringing on a team also means bringing in new industry relationships and knowledge that you didn’t have before. My managers are able to leverage their own relationships and connections to bring in opportunities I would have never had alone. In addition, they also bring with them a knowledge of the industry that’s unmatched. I’ve learned things from them that I hadn’t learned in my 7+ years blogging and for that reason alone, having them as a resource has been invaluable.
I have an outside party to advocate for me and vouch for my quality of work
I’m a big believer in advocating for yourself, but simultaneously understand how it can sometimes be difficult to prove your worth to someone with your word and your word alone. With my team in place, I now have a partner on my side to fight for my worth. It adds another reason for brands to believe you’re worth investing in, in my opinion!
My managers act as a buffer between me and the brand
No matter what your approach is, some conversations can be tougher to have. Having a team who can step in and have those conversations for me or on behalf of me is a huge advantage. Not only does it create a buffer between me and the brand, but it also takes some of the pressure off of certain asks we may be proposing for a project.
My team brings a level of professionalism that I didn't have on my own
Having a team versus working on your own steps the level of professionalism up a notch. They also bring with them a business structure and a very organized way of working that many brands have really appreciated. I credit a lot of that to my managers themselves; another reason why it's so important to know who you'll be working with before signing on with management.
What are the disadvantages of working with an influencer management agency?
I want to start by saying that the advantages of working with an influencer management agency far outweigh the disadvantages for me, personally. That said, it's important to look at both sides and understand the full picture before diving in!
You'll hand over 20% of your paycheck for each project
Handing over $400 for a $2,000 project? Sure, doesn't sound too bad. Handing over $4,000 for a $20,000 project? Definitely stings a little bit more. 20% is the standard fee that most management agencies will take. I think it's easy to look at numbers as a whole (ex: If I'm bringing in $100k, I'm giving $20k away) and feel some type of way, but in reality, you have to look at that 20% as a valuable investment in your business.
You lose your 1-on-1 personal relationship with brands
While there are so many advantages to having a team in place, one could also argue that with management, you lose the 1-on-1 relationship that you would have if working on your own. While I'm not nearly as involved in discussions with brands as I used to be, there's still plenty of room to make that personal connection.
Tip: When you've wrapped up a collaboration, take the time to send a personal note to the brand to leave the door open for future opportunities. Something like this will mean more coming from you than it will coming from someone on behalf of you!
Depending on your agency, you may be mandated to hit an earnings quota
Some management agencies require you to bring in a minimum monthly income in order to stay on their roster. An earnings quota might drive someone to grind really hard, but for me, it would be an immediate no. I've always valued quality over quantity and that may translate to earning 20k one month, and 2k the next. I strongly believe that ebb and flow is a natural part of the business, and wouldn't ever want to feel pressured in a scenario like that.
Why I love my managers & what sets them apart
I had spoken with a handful of agencies prior to first meeting my agency, and no one felt like the perfect fit until they came along. What might be my perfect fit though, may very well not be yours. My managers align with my lifestyle, my core business values and my overall business structure and on top of it, I love them as people! Looking at you, Mikaela & Karine 😉
My time spent with my managers is very personalized
I am not the only influencer my team manages, but when chatting with my managers, I feel like I am. They're always prompt (way prompter than I am), always available, and have acted in my best interest since day one.
My one-on-one relationship never feels compromised
One of the biggest complaints I often hear from friends in the industry about their management is that they don't always feel prioritized (in other words, the weight of the other influencers their managers are juggling seeps into their relationship, too). I've never been in a position where I've felt like my time felt any less important than anyone else's.
I genuinely feel that they have my best interest in mind
One of the first things my managers said to me in the very beginning was, "we never want you to feel obligated to take on a partnership that you aren't 100% on board with", and that really stood out. I never feel pressured to take on a project but simultaneously, would trust my team 100% if they pointed out a great opportunity. I feel very valued by my team, which speaks for itself.
Knowing when to hire an influencer management agency isn't always black and white, but I hope this helped to give you some insight into the pros and cons, along with my personal experience!