Build your A-team
Every creator grows at a different pace -- ask yourself if it’s time to build a support team and learn what to consider when hiring them.
When should you consider building a team?
Most channels start off as a one-person operation or small team that handles not only the creative side, but also the business side. At some stage, after balancing these competing sides, you might consider hiring some extra people to help.
The right time to hire the right people will vary. However, these scenarios may signal it’s time to start:
- When you’ve found your voice and are regularly producing videos. This tells potential team members that you are committed to your career and know how to produce videos that your audience loves. A team can help amplify your brand and find new opportunities for your channel.
- When you want to take yourself out of the negotiations process. Potential team members like a lawyer, an agent, or a manager should be willing and qualified to have the tough conversations on your behalf. Additionally, they can help you establish a market rate for your services based on talent benchmarks and industry knowledge.
- When the business side of your brand has grown too time consuming and prevents you from developing videos the way you want to. It could be helpful to determine your business priorities and which tasks you find the most unpleasant. Then, hire the right representatives who can handle those aspects. Remember that you don’t need to hire a full business team at once.
Actions you can take:
- Take an inventory of your business responsibilities and determine how much time they take you.
- Make a list of what tasks you want help with because they are time-consuming or not fun. Prioritize this list.
- Set goals for how you could grow your business with additional help.
Who should you hire?
Early on, there are three types of representatives that creators often consider bringing onto their team: a manager, an agent, and a lawyer. Figuring out who to hire first will depend on your business needs.
A manager is someone who is invested in you for the long-term, so it’s an ongoing business relationship. Your manager can counsel, advise, and provide general career direction; however, unless they’re also a lawyer, they probably cannot negotiate contracts on your behalf.
An agent is someone you would hire for more transactional, short-term business opportunities that can be acted on quickly, like going on tour or pitching a TV show. Agents are primarily focused on obtaining employment for you and negotiating contracts. Keep in mind that agents typically specialize (e.g., literary agent, film agent), so you may need more than one of them depending on your goals.
A lawyer is someone who, among other things, can negotiate and review contracts on your behalf. You'll likely want an entertainment lawyer with experience in digital media. Although lawyers often charge by the hour, some entertainment lawyers choose to work on commission. Laws vary geographically so it’s a good idea to look for a lawyer with the knowledge and certifications in the locales you may want to work in.
Review your needs and then consider which type of representative can help you.
Actions you can take:
- List ways you could use a manager, agent, and lawyer to grow your business.
- Research commission rates typical for your area.
Will they be a good fit?
The team you hire should represent you and your interests in business settings. So who you hire should be a reflection of you, or, at the very least, be supportive of your vision. Consider these questions so that you can find representatives you’ll get along well with:
- Do they understand the landscape you work in and the types of deals you want to make? The current digital media landscape can be complicated (and differs from “traditional” media) so it’s a good idea to look at their past experience, and past clients, for clues that they can handle your business needs.
- Do they represent like-minded people or other YouTube creators? Find someone who loves your content and is investing in the types of creators you admire. Try reaching out to creators in your network to get referrals of who represents them.
- Do they have ideas for how you will work together, both with your existing team and with new members? You should know exactly what each of your representatives can offer and how they will work together for your benefit. Remember, you might not need all three people at once, so grow your team as necessary. Your first hire may be able to recommend other people for your team in the future.
- Will they work effectively with the rest of your team? Remember, it’s not just you they have to get along with. Your representatives are a single team and they all need to work together on your behalf.
When bringing on new team members, ensure you’ve got a clear understanding of how they should contribute to the overall team.
Your team may also be evaluating you throughout this process to see how committed you are to your career and how easy you are to work with. Can you develop a relationship based on trust? Are you consistent?
Actions you can take:
- Make a list of questions you would ask a potential team member.
- Determine your biggest priorities. For example, do you care more about a manager’s years of experience or their experience working with creators similar to you?