Are Blogger Agents the Future in Blogging?

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Throughout the past year, I have heard vigorous discussions revolving around the recurring topic of bloggers signing with agents. This past weekend was no different. A post on the Global Bloggers Network Facebook group tallied over 110 comments, proving that the topic of blogger agents is still hot.

While attending various community events over the past year, I heard many agent proponents profess how agents allow bloggers to focus on their craft, provide direction and focus for the blog and act as invaluable intermediaries or negotiators. On the flip side, I heard concerns over agents influencing the work of bloggers in such a way that the integrity of a blog could be compromised.

Meanwhile, over the past year, I have also observed an increase in the number of travel bloggers who create content as a full-time job, represent brands, and publish blog posts that are marked as sponsored.

So what does this mean for the travel industry and travel blogging?

A New York Times article published a few months ago regarding fashion bloggers might lend a bit of insight. The article focuses on several bloggers who recently signed with a new agency in New York that represents fashion and lifestyle bloggers. According to the article,

The [Digital Brand Architects] agency, which represents about 50 bloggers who publish sites like The Glamourai and Bag Snob, operates out of a small office in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Like any talent agency, it takes a cut of its clients’ earnings, in this case 15 percent.

In the NY Times article, Lindsey Calla, the 27-year-old behind the fashion blog Saucy Glossie, addresses the the fact that “‘Anybody that [sic] renders their services wants to be compensated.’” Admittedly, Calla has always shied away from the money topic, concluding that, “‘If somebody else is handling the negotiation, you’re left to do the creative stuff.’”

Besides your typical fashion or Hollywood agent, another common type of talent agent that springs to mind is one who represents those on the speaking or literary circuit. These speakers and authors, one could argue, are somewhat akin to power bloggers. Perhaps a look at the relationships between these clients and agents and their effect on the respective industries can provide us with some more insight into what the future holds for the travel industry.

It could reasonably be concluded that if someone had connected the dots sooner between influential bloggers and companies looking to get their message out, the travel blogging landscape would look very different than it does today. No matter how you look at it, the emergence of agents who represent bloggers unequivocally points to the evolving influence that bloggers have in their chosen vertical.

What do you think? Will blogger agents change the future of blogging?

 

IMAGE: Ezra Wolfe

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7 Responses to “Are Blogger Agents the Future in Blogging?”

  1. Durant Imboden November 29, 2011 7:58 pm
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    I think fashion blogging is a little different from travel blogging, for three reasons:

    1) The typical celebrity fashion blogger reaches a much bigger audience than the typical celebrity travel blogger does;

    2) Readers of fashion blogs are more likely to go out and spend money on things that are recommended by a blogger than readers of travel blogs are (it’s a lot easier to spring for a dress or a pair of shoes than for a trip to Indonesia);

    3) There’s an agency infrastructure in place for the fashion industry. (If I recall correctly, the NY Times article said that blogger agencies were departments within modeling agencies. There’s nothing similar in the travel industry, so it would take a while to build up an intrastructure of “travel blogger agents” with industry credentials, contacts, and credibility.)

    Another thing to consider is the fact that there are different kinds of agents and agencies. A successful travel blogger might have a literary agent for book projects, a speakers’ bureau for personal appearances, and a rep firm to sell advertising and sponsorships.

  2. The World of Deej November 29, 2011 10:50 pm
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    While its easy to see how one of these arrangements would work when it comes to monetary compensation, what about when no money changes hands, but the client still received something from a sponsor. How are they compensated for their portion of value of say a press trip to Fiji? With so much of travel bloggers “compensation” coming in this form I think it would prove tricky…

  3. Durant Imboden November 29, 2011 11:31 pm
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    Press trips aren’t supposed to be a form of compensation. If they’re perceived that way by the recipients, the hosts haven’t been vetting trip candidates adequately.

    As for the role of agents, I think what we’re talking about here is payola. The blogger gets paid to write about Widget Fashions (or, in the case of travel blogger, Whatsit Hotels or Croesus Cruises), and the agent takes 15 per cent. That’s where the “integrity” issue raises its ugly head: Bloggers who become shills are advertorial writers, not journalists. (Of course, some bloggers may not mind being advertorial writers–or putting their paying clients’ interests ahead of their readers’.)

  4. Lincoln Adams November 30, 2011 3:09 am
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    I really hope this is the beginning of a new trend, as one of the worst aspects to professional blogging (at least for me) is having to wear multiple hats: you are a designer, a coder, a marketer, a publicist, and finally when all that’s said and done, perhaps occasionally, a writer too. 😀

    I like the idea that I could outsource these things for once and focus on what drew me to blogging in the first place: content creation. Nobody expects writers like Stephen King to do the marketing work all by himself after all, so I hope the day soon comes where the publicity and marketing work to help raise a blogger’s profile can be done by agents as well.

  5. Nomadic Matt December 22, 2011 4:51 am
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    I have an agent.

  6. John O'Nolan December 22, 2011 9:48 am
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    Is it worth it?

  7. Adam Pervez January 8, 2013 5:12 pm
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    It’s a complicated issue. On the one hand agents might lead travelers astray with the lure of money and promotional opportunities. On the other hand, you can’t travel without money and have the experiences and opportunities that made you successful in the first place.

    As with everything in life, a balance is necessary and, in my opinion, full disclosure if you’re blogging about an experience you were paid to have.