How to start an influencer talent management business: Annelise Campbell
- Annelise Campbell quit her job as a marketer to create an agency focused on diversity and inclusion.
- Campbell launched CFG, an influencer marketing and talent management company, in late 2019.
- In its first year, CFG added 20 clients to its list. Here’s how she started her own business.
As a digital marketer, Annelise Campbell has seen firsthand the disparity between what black influencers have experienced in the industry and what their white counterparts have done.
In her early twenties, Campbell worked at marketing agencies like Golin and January Digital, leading digital strategies and influencer campaigns for multiple brands.
“My team was sending outbound opportunities from influencers and we were getting rates, and you could just see the gap right in my inbox,” Campbell said, referring to the pay rates influencers would charge on campaigns on social networks.
“I could see which white influencers were more established, who had been represented, what their rates were like versus people of color who didn’t really know what to charge, how to get into that,” she added.
Campbell saw it up close while working as a part-time video editor for lifestyle influencer JaLisa Jefferson in 2019.
“As a side note, she had mentioned how much the brand was paying her for the video I was editing,” Campbell said. “And I was like, whoa…you’re well, well, well, well, well underrated.”
Campbell started working as a freelance manager for Jefferson and, after several months, decided to start his own management company – Campbell Francis Group – at age 26. In November 2019, when Campbell launched CFG, she only had one influencer on the list: Jefferson. Within a year, CFG had signed over 20 influencers.
Today, CFG represents 30 influencers, and Campbell describes the management company as “deliberately diverse, intentionally inclusive.”
CFG’s list is made up of creators of color who post content about lifestyle, beauty and family – many of whom are “micro” influencers, a category of influencers who typically have fewer than 100,000 followers.
Inside launch a talent management company
Campbell manages her clients’ billing, content schedules, and ensures they are on track to meet their revenue goals. And if not, she and her six-person team strategize about brands and how many brands they’ll need to feature.
When Campbell started CFG, she wondered, “How many clients do I need to sign up? How much do they need to generate on average in terms of revenue? goals? What percentage are we going to take?”
“Honestly, the most important thing was to determine the profitability of the business because at that time, at the beginning, it was just me,” she said.
One of the first costs Campbell faced was hiring an independent lawyer to review the contracts.
“I had to pay attorney fees and I had to make sure I understood, if we have many XYZ contracts, I have to pay this attorney, how is that going to decrease profitability in terms of billing standard rates ?” Campbell said.
Navigating the time to allocate to each client was another obstacle. During that first year, Campbell had to drop a client she signed because CFG took on too much work, she told Insider.
“It was a tough lesson,” Campbell said. “I couldn’t give this client the amount of attention he needed… We’re still learning. We’re still growing. And after that, I figured this would never happen again.”
In CFG’s first year, the management company booked between $1 million and $1.5 million in brand deals for its talent and brought in just under $200,000 in revenue for the management company itself. even, she said.
In May, CFG secured more than $1.5 million in brand deals for its influencers in 2021 and expects more than $500,000 in revenue for CFG by the end of the year, Campbell said.
CFG’s six-person team is working flexible hours, remotely, as it has adapted to the pandemic, Campbell said. Currently, the team is paid by the hour, but the company plans to transition everyone to full-time salaried employees by 2022.
Building a management company requires commitment and a deep understanding of the industry, she said.
“Don’t just treat it as a side hustle because if you’re trying to build an agency, you can’t do it well with a side hustle mentality,” Campbell said.
“Those first two months, I was like, what did I do?”
Embarking on an entrepreneurial adventure involves challenges. But when Campbell launched CFG in late 2019, there was no way she could anticipate the year ahead.
“In the first two months, I was like, ‘What did I do? Why did I do this?'” Campbell said. “It was hard.”
The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has put a looming question mark over the
industry. Many branded deals have been put on hold, events have been canceled, and creators and marketers have been pivoted in every possible direction.
“In March and April, we were really nervous and had to reassure our customers that everything would be fine when, transparently, we weren’t 100% sure they would be,” said Campbell.
Drawing inspiration from his past work on the marketing agency side, Campbell reached out to the agencies and asked how his influencers could help them create content while production facilities were closed.
Then in June, the industry grappled with how to respond to the Black Lives Matter protests and the death of George Floyd.
“Brands were freaking out, like literally freaking out to be represented,” she said. “And people were reaching out to our customers and us at rates we’ve never seen before.”
In addition to her role as manager of about 12 black designers at the time, Campbell educated brands and other agencies on how to work with black designers and what they could do better, he said. she stated. Campbell posted an article to Medium in June outlining what brands needed to know before working with black creators, including contributions from CFG’s own roster.
“It was grueling,” Campbell said.
Some of her clients didn’t want to post sponsored content during this time, and many just needed a break, she said.
“I’ve had clients walk away because brands’ responses to everything were incorrect,” Campbell said. “And I was like, I’ll die on this hill with you.”
As a manager, it’s not about pushing his clients to accept every transaction; it’s about longevity and defending its customers, Campbell said.
“If I wanted to make $200,000, I could just go work for Facebook,” Campbell said. “If it were all about the money, we wouldn’t have to bend over backwards to do all of this for our customers, but it’s because we care about them, we invest in their success and well-being.”