Blogger's Guide: AGENCIES
The topic of agencies can be scary and overwhelming for a blogger who's use to managing his or her own social platform. If I join, will I get more campaigns? Will I have less responsibility? Will I make more or less money? How does it work? Don't worry. Today I'll be going through my own experience working as a client from two different agency and my own thoughts about the nature of an exclusive influencer platform.
I just want to clarify that we are not talking about non-exclusive platforms for influencers such as Revfluence, Social Native, etc. To very briefly summarize the difference between the two, an exclusive platform for influencers defines you, the blogger, as their own client they advertise to potential brands. You cannot be represented by any other platforms that connects you to a brand because you are exclusively theirs. In contrast, non-exclusive platforms also help loosely connect you with brands, but more so on your own terms where most of the work is still being done by you.
For one full year (December 2016-2017), I've been in two agencies. For privacy reasons, I won't be disclosing the agency I was a part of, but I will be referring to them as Agency One and Agency Two. There are slight variations in the way both these agency conducted themselves, but overall the idea is still the same. With that being said, I'll be breaking down the topic into the following sections.
Will joining an agency make me more money?
This depends on what you currently value your content. There is no definitive way to define what your content is worth and often times the range of price for what blogger's charge brand can be quite large. There are a few websites that will help you gauge a general rate based on your following and likes, but there's quite a lot that go into determining what is an appropriate rate for your content. While your following is the easiest way to gauge how much you can charge, if your engagement (likes/comment/reach/saves) is not there, then your rate would be compromised. Your rates also depend on the quality content you put out - it's no surprised that those who creatively shoot with a quality camera and put out unique content consistently will be able to charge more than say someone who shoot similar mirror photos with an iPhone. The amount of work you put in your content will definitely matter.
With that being said, agency's take anywhere between 10%-25% commission for the campaigns you secure. More often than not, the rate is closer to 20%-25%, 10% usually from start up agencies. The agency may ask you what you would like to charge, but they also have a rate they recommend for you (which they often don't disclose until you have signed with them). I find that it's usually $100 for every 25-30k followers you have. With that being said, this rate is extremely flexible (as i mentioned before) and you may often have to accept campaigns that pay much less than they initially quoted you due to the nature of securing a campaign. If you successfully pitched yourself from a rate that is much higher than this standard, chances are you might be disappointed with the pay. Keep in mind that the price they recommend you charge includes the percentage they take as well.
How does an agency work?
All your emails, negotiation, legal documents, etc., will be handled by your agency now. You just have to do your part and complete your end of the collaboration. This is usually done by assigning you a new agency email (Username@AgencyName.com) to put in your instagram biography box, or having you forward all your email over to the manager in charge. The agency will follow up on all your emails, and pitch to brands they are connected with on their side as well - giving you a larger scope of brands to work with.
Although this all sounds great in theory, I will make note of some of the downside to this as well. Depending on who represented you, most agency's do manage large numbers of clients. If you are someone who likes to stay on top of everything, it may come as a disappointment to you that emails do get delayed quite often because they have so many people to handle. In some cases, you may find that emails are ignored altogether if they don't see a potential paid opportunity. In terms of being pitched to brands on their end, do note that opportunities rarely happen instantaneously and a lot of time you may not hear from them just as you would when pitching yourself to other brands. Just be aware that an agency is not the secret to securing hundreds of collaborations, and everything takes time, just as they do if you were managing yourself.
A bit of advice on this. Just because a brand that your agency pitched for you didn't respond back, doesn't necessarily mean they don't want to work with you. I found in a lot of cases after going solo, many of the brands Agency Two said they never heard back from, ended up wanting to collaborate when I personally seek them out. In my opinion, perhaps representing yourself can make a bigger impact then how some agency represent you - so don't be afraid to reach out on your own!
Biggest advantages to agencies?
The biggest advantage may be the opportunity of working with bigger brands we know and love. It's a great way to spruce up your media kit and portfolio when looking to work with more legit brands in the future. Of course you could always reach out to these brands on your own, but it helps to have something on your resume.
Biggest disadvantage to agencies? I find that this is usually anything money related. Don't be pressured to take any work that you feel is less than what you're worth - the time you take to produce quality content is a justifiable reason to declining jobs. Some agency may try to secure a deal at a lower rate so that they could also cash in on the collaboration, but just be sure to state what you're comfortable with. You have the choice to stay true to what content you want to put out. Do not be fooled by a paid opportunity if you do not think it will fit with your page - you do not want to compromise your audience for poor pay.
I also find that with most agency, your pay is often delayed to certain times of the month which can be a little inconvenient. Pay is more often than not, in the form of a cheque or through western union for tax purposes - it could be a little more troublesome if you prefer PayPal.
After joining two agency for one full year, and having the chance to go solo before and after, I'd have to say working without an agency is what I prefer the most. Like most bloggers entranced by the idea of limitless opportunities found within an agency (or so it seems), my high expectations were eventually let down by the reality of it all. But joining an agency didn't leave me with regrets either - I was able to learn a lot of the ins and outs through observing how they organize their collaborations and how they they negotiate with their clients. It was a great way to gain some experience in the field, in which you can use to apply to future collaborations you pitch to when you decide to go solo. Of course, this is only the opinion of one person, and my own experience doesn't dictate the experience of everyone else who's happy in their agencies. I personally found it easier to manage myself. With that being said, if there's any other questions you have regarding this topic, I'd be more than happy to try and answer them.