Lifestyle brands face a tremendous challenge: it's become very challenging to work with rising digital talents without suggesting some fees.
It's obvious - brands are using digital influencers' images, their networks and sometimes some of their skills like photography, writing or even designing.
What we've been experiencing in the last couple of months is the boom of talent managers or agents, who represent the influencers and deal with agencies, brands and potential partners.
Jennine Jacob, founder of the brilliant fashion think-tank and network "Independent Fashion Bloggers", wrote a very bold post two years ago, which claims that bloggers don't need agents. Few arguments are pushed forward: bloggers are creative business people, bloggers can negotiate for themselves, agents don't work for bloggers and bloggers can handle legal issues etc.
So what are the questions that are interesting to rise when it comes to picking or not picking an agent?
Do I have a talent manager or am I a modern display advertising medium?
It might sound a bit provocative, but a talent manager must believe in the talent he/she works for. There must be an authentic relationship, a mutual trust. In another industry, music, when a manager takes care of too many talents, most of them are left behind and become simple alternatives to the number one.
Be then extremely careful when it comes to giving your digital self to someone - is he/she going to add value or are you actually bringing him/her even more power in this niche market?
Do I really need to sign an exclusivity contract?
As a fashion blogger myself, we receive a lot of proposals from talent agencies. Once I've signed a contract for a project with a brand, I accept that my image is going to be widely spread across the digital sphere. It is however annoying, if I sign a contract that contains an exclusivity clause with someone who wants to represent me.
Make sure you're not trapped for a very long time with the person who represents you. You have a value today, but who knows if you're not going to reach a tipping point in the coming months and that your growing community is going to support you?
Agents should suggest very dynamic contracts and partnerships, to make sure you can grow your talents; flexibility in the number of intermediaries you can work with, for instance.
What's the intangible value of an agent?
He/she might have a network which can help you in connecting with interesting people, brands, creators etc. However, there are many other assets an agent or a talent agency can bring you: training, social media advice, conferences, bootcamp etc.
They are tremendous ways to enhance your digital experience, while learning new things.
Can you become an agent for you... and your siblings?
Style bloggers or beauty bloggers often have their own tribes or "crews". Most of them connect naturally during events, develop strong relationships, develop projects... maybe one of them could become the agent for the other. As brands try to reach "homophily" as explained by Franck Speiser, it might be an idea to become a cluster of influence...