As of August 2015 I have worked completely agent-free.
I’ve hunted out my own sponsored work, I’ve liaised with PRs over briefs, read through contracts, worked to a deadline, sent invoices, chased invoices and I guess, been my own manager.
And I won’t lie, I’ve absolutely loved it.
I mean, not so much when it’s 92 days since I’ve sent an invoice and I’m like coo-ey me over here, uh, can you contact your finance department and ask them what’s going on? THIS GIRL GOTTA EAT AND PAY HER EXCESSIVE DATA USAGE BILL.
But I’ve loved it for the most part.
I’ve loved the whole hands-on learning about the industry side of it. The fact that I’ve made loads of contacts at brands I love, contacts who come back to me time and time again because they like the content I create and have found me easy to work with. I love that discussing money (and asking for it) no longer feels like a dirty, awkward thing to do. I love that it’s made me feel more confident in myself and what I’m doing. It’s helped me to value myself within this crazy online world.
But most of all, I’ve really loved the control element of handling the commercial side of my business, as well as the creative side.
The fact that every email inquiring about paid work comes into my inbox. That it is me who gets to decide which ones are worth replying to (and which ones are going to offer me $45 dollars for a pre-written post about lawnmowers).
And that ultimately, the entire business side of my blog (and Instagram and YouTube) is down to me and nobody else.
And I can trust me. I know what me likes and how me likes to work.
But, with some sort of seahorse alien growing inside my tummy, it seemed unlikely that I’d be able to create content, filter through the 100+ emails coming into my inbox every day, to-and-fro over collaboration ideas and costs and contracts and y’know change nappies and cry over how cute my baby is or whatever it is new mums do.
I mean, I do plan on taking some maternity leave (albeit unpaid – one of the ahem, perks of being self-employed, you don’t work, you don’t eat), but I need someone to be able to say to me ‘Look Hannah, I know you only had a baby six weeks ago, but this INSANE offer with one of your favourite brands has just come in and I don’t think you’ll want to miss it’.
I need somebody else.
I’m admitting that I can no longer do this alone.
I can no longer be a one woman show, downing coffee and fueling myself on the belief that if I can just push myself a bit harder, the online world will be mine.
Mostly because actually, and this is pretty life-changing, I can’t actually just think about myself anymore.
I have to pull back and remember it’s OK to accept help because THERE IS AN ACTUAL OTHER PERSON I AM IN CHARGE OF LOOKING AFTER.
And I’m already in charge of looking after them and therefore actually have to make decisions that don’t just impact on me.
I’m already trying frantically not to feed it prosecco poison and bacteria-laden Brie, despite every instinct I’ve ever known saying EAT IT DRINK IT EAT IT DRINK IT.
So yeah, I’ve taken on an agent.
I mean, it’s probably something I should have done a little while ago. Because pre OMFG THERE IS A POSITIVE LINE ON THIS STICK, I was very much trying to dance in the middle of a seesaw.
I was on the cusp of pushing myself too hard. And there were too many days when the anxiety from my workload was actually greater than I let on – but the pure bloody joy and passion for what I do would blind me to the fact I was piling way too much pressure on myself to succeed on a super human level.
And actually, that’s one of the things I’ve found hardest recently – not relinquishing control of my income to someone else – admitting that actually, right now, it makes me a better parent to pull back, to relax, to take it easy, to rest up.
And not to keep pushing myself the way I like to push myself.
Because not challenging myself goes against everything I’ve ever told myself. It goes against the person I am. The person I worked very hard to become.
But I am excited for this next chapter, and however odd things feel at the moment with all the little changes (working less, getting an agent, saying no to opportunities) and the big changes (ahem, baby), they also feel really, really right.
And for any of you reading this who are like BUT HOW DO YOU EVEN FIND AN AGENT AND ARE THEY GOOD?
I have no answers. In fact, it’s the main reason I’ve put it off for so long. The digital world seems to be overflowing with new agencies popping up left, right and centre, trying to cash in on a fast-growing industry, and it’s hard to work out who actually knows their shit, and who, well doesn’t.
So in the end I went with the recommendation of a friend, and y’know what? That’s good enough for me.
Watch this space.