So, your social media following is in good shape and you’re looking to take your influencer career to the next level. You’ve started thinking about whether a talent agency could help, but you’re not sure where to start.
What does a talent agency really do in the first place, and what should you watch out for when applying to one? Let’s find out.
What is a talent agent and what do they actually do?
A talent agency is a broad term that can include many different elements. At its core, a talent agency’s role is to work with content creators and social media influencers to grow and take their careers to the next level.
A talent agency’s remit can typically be broken down into 3 areas:
1. Helping content creators grow their existing social media presence
Firstly, a talent agency will work with you to define content strategies and reach your goals on your existing social media platforms - be it TikTok, YouTube, Instagram or Twitch, for instance.
They will use their extensive experience from working with other talent, a variety of brands and campaigns, and a deep expertise of the various social channels to formulate a clear plan that nurtures your accounts.
2. Securing and managing brand deals for creators
Part of a talent agency’s scope is to proactively approach brands and pitch them content creators who are relevant to their products, target audience, and brand values.
Conversely, brands will reach out to the talent agency regularly with new campaigns and other work they need content creators for.
A talent agency will:
Review the detailed creative brief provided by the brand or influencer marketing agency. This will include key information around the campaign’s goals, target audience, tone of voice and success measures.
Pick out the most relevant influencer profiles from its talent roster. Also called “culture matching”, this ensures the talent’s personality, type of content, audience and values are aligned with the brand’s.
Once a deal has been agreed, the talent agency will handle the end-to-end process of settling on fees, organizing invoicing, managing timelines, logistics and expectations with the brand throughout the process.
Coach talent to help them fit the campaign brief as best as possible, provide ongoing feedback, or even specific training to make sure the content is of the highest quality and meets the requirements.
Provide incentives to content creators as an added bonus; for instance branded gifts and products to keep talent motivated and engaged. Celebrating wins, such as a successful branded campaign, is important to build fruitful and long-term relationships.
In a nutshell, working with a talent agent should free up your time so you can solely focus on the creative side of the work. They’ll take care of organizing and setting everything up for you, which takes away the hassle of finding work, negotiating terms, and going back and forth with brands.
A good talent agency shouldn’t stop there, though.
3. Working with content creators to develop their own brand into thriving businesses
Beyond growing your existing social media profiles and landing brand deals, a talent agency will look to expand your personal brand in a much broader sense.
This could include anything from merchandizing and launching your own fashion line, to publishing books, appearing on TV, podcasts or booking parts for movies, depending on your specific ambitions.
A talent agency should take the time to understand your goals, and what you want to achieve in the near, mid, and long-term. They will then design a plan to meet these goals as your partner, leaning on their industry expertise and contacts to open the right doors for you.
When should you consider getting a talent agent?
Before you jump in and apply to a talent agency, it’s important to know where you are at as a content creator - and whether you do need a talent agency’s services to begin with.
Ask yourself where you fit in those 2 scenarios:
1. You are starting out or don’t have an existing deal flow
The work of a talent agency will be much harder if you don’t already have an inbound deal flow from brands. They’ll need to actively build that pipeline for you.
Agents will look at your potential deal flow and typically seek proof of existing demand for you as an influencer before signing you up. Some may be open to onboarding newer influencers, but may charge higher fees for the service.
So if you’re relatively new as a content creator or influencer and have not landed any brand deals before, seeking a talent agency may not be the best route. Instead, focus on improving your content and growing your online profile until you do.
2. You have an established online profile and an existing deal flow
A large part of the added value of a talent agency lies in filtering those opportunities for you. So you can focus on the most relevant ones and simply do what you do best, whilst the business side of things is being taken care of for you.
You might find yourself in a position where you are too busy answering emails and hopping on calls with brands to actually produce the content you’d like to; this is holding you back and you want to free up more time for the creative part of the business. You need a more professional set up so you can scale your career without burning out. At this point, you probably have a larger following on one or multiple social media platforms.
In this case, working with a talent agent could make a lot of sense.
If you feel you’re at the right stage of your career as a content creator, then you’ll need to know what to look out for when speaking to a talent agency.
How to know which talent agent is right for you
There are several elements to consider here.
1. What is their approach to talent development?
Your talent agency should see you not just as an influencer or content creator, but as a budding brand and business more broadly.
Ideally, the talent agency shouldn’t have a short-term, transactional approach with its talent and the brands they work with. Instead, they should have a real passion for building the most influential personal brands and businesses out of their talent, working in partnership and establishing repeat business with brands and sponsors.
Don’t just take their word for it. Ask to get in contact with their existing talent so you can ask them open and honest questions.
Does it generally feel like the agency has their best interest at heart? Do they have a positive experience over time? Try to get a true feel for what working with them is like from the inside, and what the pros and cons are.
2. How personal do they get?
The talent agency should be an expert at connecting content creators like you to the most relevant brands, campaigns and deals.
They should know their talent roster inside and out, and offer a hyper personalized service to each individual creator.
What is the ratio of talent agents to signed creators? How many creators each agent looks after might influence the quality of service and attention they’re able to provide.
One thing to bear in mind: some influencer managers may not respond to enquiries or be as responsive as they should be, because they’re spread too thinly and cannot give every talent proper attention. Bigger doesn’t always mean better!
3. How relevant are they to you?
Do they have the right experience for what you want to achieve? Have they helped creators (ideally in your niche) land exciting brand deals, launch their own books, get on podcasts or land roles in movies before — if those are your goals?
Any talent agency needs to have strong relationship management skills and an address book of great contacts across industries. Get an idea for how relevant their network is.
Do they specialize in one social media platform or multiple? Where is your online presence, where do you want to grow it next and does it match the agency’s skillset?
Could you see yourself producing content around the brands’ products or services in their books? Are these brands the type you’d want to work with? Are you excited by working on campaigns they have landed for their talent in the past year?
All of these are important questions to ask yourself before getting stuck in.
4. Do they have a track record?
Ask the talent agency to show you the creators they placed in previous campaigns, and what the outcomes were. Do they have a proven track record of successfully placing talent with the right brands, and how do they achieve this consistently?
Beyond this, can they demonstrate how they’ve helped content creators grow into larger brands and hit their personal goals?
5. What are their terms and conditions?
Find out how their contracts are structured and under what terms they can represent you.
First off, ask for their fee breakdown to understand how their business model works. How much commission will they take off what they charge brands, versus how much will end up in your pocket?
A talent agency might sign content creators on a 6-month basis as a trial period of sorts, and then move them onto a 2-year agreement. Others will directly sign talent on a longer-term basis.
This can provide more stability but you need to understand the clauses that apply if the relationship didn’t go as expected and you need a way out.
Some agencies will go as far as offering a guaranteed revenue or number of brand deals per month or year. Again, make sure to probe this.
Payment terms are also key. In worst case scenarios where a deal falls through after the work has been done and you’ve completed your side of the contract, make sure they have policies in place to take on this risk on their end and get you paid.
6. What kind of support do they provide?
Last but not least, make sure they are able to support you on a 24/7 basis.
The work of a content creator never stops, and deals may require you to produce content at any time of the day, night or on weekends.
Your talent agent should always be on hand to offer guidance and support, when you need it.
Working with a talent agency can make your life easier as a content creator, so you can focus on your craft and scale your career faster than you could on your own.
To make it worthwhile, you should ideally already be working full-time on your content, and have an existing pipeline of deals and opportunities coming your way that you need help managing.
Ultimately, the relationship with your talent agent should be that of business partners, growing your business and brand together as a team.
Make sure they have the right experience for what you want to achieve, and a long-term approach to developing talent. Understand their terms and ways of working, and compare several agencies before choosing the right one for you. Good luck!
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