Does an Influencer Need an Agent?
Does a social media influencer need an agent? What does an agent do for an influencer? They can do a lot. Now, can they do it well? I guess that’s an open question. The role of an agent is to do two things: one, find sponsorship opportunities for the influencer and bring them to them, and then two, negotiate the terms of the marketing agency contract, the payment, the frequency, and how much the influencer must do. And then they act as a shield between the sponsors and the influencer. There are plenty of influencers who are more than capable of doing this on their own. However, I’m not necessarily sure that’s the smartest business strategy.
You can’t do everything as an influencer. If you are creating content, coming up with ideas, negotiating with the sponsors, going out and finding your own deals, you are not going to have enough time in the day to really do and focus on what you’re good at. An agent can take a huge burden away from an influencer by, as I said before, being that shield and then handling all the details of that relationship. Now, the downside of working with an agent, well, obviously you’re giving up a percentage of whatever you’re making from the sponsors. Any agent is going to get a percentage of your commission from the sponsor’s compensation. Normally, that’s around 20%. So, you’re giving up essentially 20% of your income to this agent. Now, you also must think on the other side of that, alright, well, this agent should be providing more than the 20% that you’re paying them in potential opportunities.
Every good agent, manager, marketing agency, whatever you want to call it, has established relationships with brands, and then their job is to push their people to those brands so that they see them as an asset and will use them in their influencer role. So, a good agent should be well worth the 20% by, one, bringing many more opportunities to the influencer than they would have if they would’ve been doing it on their own. And then two, negotiating the compensation. I find that many influencers are just starting out and maybe they’re building their brand and doing a great job of providing great content and gaining followers and that type of thing. Other topics of interest include:
They just don’t know what their worth is. And so, if someone does reach out to them and they decide to do it on their own, they have no idea if they’re being paid fairly or well underpaid. Whereas a good agent is going to tell you, you are worth this exact amount based on your metrics. The average view duration on YouTube is important and the audience, the age of the audience, and how many people are watching that are subs versus not. There are a ton of metrics that go into what makes an influencer worth it to partner with the sponsor. And then all of the metrics, the sponsors are going to want to see, and the agent should be great at facilitating the correct compensation for the influencer.
Now, before you enter any relationship with an agent, a marketing agency, manager, or whatever you want to call it, you absolutely need a contract that dictates the terms of that relationship. I have found, especially influencers who are using like a friend who’s like, oh, I know how to do this. And they just go about it with a handshake which is a terrible way of doing business. As an influencer, and you are going to make money as an influencer, you are a professional, you need to act like a professional, meaning, you need to have contracts in place with all of the people that are working for you. And that contract needs to absolutely dictate the terms of the agreement such as how much you’re paying them, what they’re doing for you, exactly how long the contract lasts, how it can be terminated, what happens if there’s a dispute, all of those things need to go into the contract because if those things are not in a contract with an agent and they do pop up, that’s where litigation, legal disputes, whatever you want to call it, can happen.
So, does an influencer need an agent? No, not necessarily, however, if they’re good, they will be worth their weight in gold to the influencer. I can promise you that. Now, I find there are a lot of charlatans in this arena, meaning, people that hold themselves out as having all of this experience and have all these connections. So, you need to absolutely do your due diligence when finding an agency or an agent or a manager, who else have they represented in the past. Reach out to those people and just ask them, what was their relationship like? Are they still working together? Is there a reason why they ended their relationship? If somebody can’t provide you with anyone that they’ve worked with, or you’re the very first client, you need to think again about doing that.
I mean, think of it this way: I graduated from law school 20 years ago. And when someone talks to me about their contract, I can say, yes, I have 20 years of experience doing this. And these are all the things that I’ve done. Whereas, if someone is just out of law school and just passed the bar, would I want to use someone who’s been a lawyer for one week versus 20 years? Now, I’m not saying they have to have 20 years of experience, they absolutely do not. But putting your career in the hands of someone who has no experience is just a bad business strategy. So, anyway if you have any questions about a potential influencer management/agency contract, feel free to call my law firm.
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