One, people say agent when they're really either talking about agent or manager. That is two different things. An agent should be someone out there bringing you deals. I think that if you have an agent at least Year 1, at least 20% of the deals you close should come from them, not you. I think that should move toward 50% potentially as your relationship with them progresses. An agent you should be able to tell, "In the next year I want to work with Nike, I want to work with the Four Seasons, I want to work with Apple", and that person should go out and make that happen.
If you're not ready for that, they should tell you what you need to do to get ready for that. An agent is out there as your agent. If you just think about the word, they are like an extension of you out there trying to grow your business, trying to bring you more deals, bring you more attention, opportunities, et cetera. A manager, in my mind, is more taking inbound requests, trying to negotiate up for you, trying to get you a little bit of money, helping to manage your inbox, helping to manage your brand deals, et cetera. Unfortunately, I think both manager and agent take the 20% out of what you make.
I am shocked that influencers give 20% of their money away for someone to check their fucking email. Truly, I don't understand it. I understand being bad at it, but I don't understand giving 20% away with no cap. If you bring in a $200,000 deal, you're going to give them $40,000 to answer your email and negotiate that. We are not negotiating major motion picture deals with licensing and action figures. These things are-- they can be complex but for most people, especially if you're under a million followers, they are not that complex.
I think that a lot of influencers are flushing a lot of money down the toilet because they don't want to answer their email and they feel icky negotiating. Now, an agent can be incredibly helpful when they're good. Something that I think is really important, whether it is an agent or a manager, that person works for you not the other way around. You need to train them how to operate inside of your universe. You should have standards for how do you answer an email? How quickly do you answer an email? What tone do you use? How do you turn people down? How do you relay bad news? How do you relay good news? What does your reporting look like?
How do they speak about you? Do they bring you deals before they answer or do you want them to negotiate before they bring you-- try and get the negotiation to a point of a number before they bring you the deal? These are all important things that should come not from your agent, but from you. You are giving your money away for them to work for you. You are their boss. I think that if I had an agent here, I'm happy to have this conversation in future episodes, they would say it's more of a partnership. I think that's kind of bullshit. I do think it is a partnership but at the end of the day, as the influencer you're the talent.
If they are making over 50%, over 50% of the money is coming from you, from inbound brand deals, they work for you and they need to operate in the way that you find effective and you need to make sure they're not out there giving you a bad name. I've said this before, I will say it until I'm blue in the face, there are influencers that we love, that we love working with, that we can't work with because their agents are so incompetent. It's a really sad thing when it happens and I always wonder if influencers are auditing their agents, if they're looking at the emails they send, if they look at how long it takes.
If your agent takes 36 hours to get back to a brand with big money that wants to pay you, I would fucking fire them instantly. I don't put up with that shit in here if I hear of a client trying to get in touch with one of our employees, I lose my fucking mind. You can answer an email, it is your job and influencers need to be auditing these relationships because while there are many great agents out there, there are people ruining their client's reputation in the space. I don't think enough people talk about it and I don't think enough influencers think to check it. Get in there, look at those emails, ask to see the chains.
If you hear of anything negative feedback about the agent, I would be like, "Hey, I want to look at every single email you've sent on my behalf in the last two months and audit that stuff." I would get very, very serious about it. End of the day, what we want is this thing to be great and to be a great relationship but it is a relationship. You have to train your employees and again, while this isn't a traditional employer-employee relationship, you need to train them. How do you want them to sign off on the email? Is it cheers? Is it regards, regards and cheers or regards and XO are two very different vibes. I think as an influencer, you need to be setting those standards.
The short answer to the question of what should an influencer agent relationship look like? It should look how you want it to look. You are paying them and again, it's different than a traditional model to agent relationship where people come to the agency and then the agency says, this is who I have and then they book the model. In that relationship, the agency has more power than the talent but people, if they're coming to you, you have the power and you should set the standards.
- Inflating View Counts, Agents and Managers, Travel Influencers