WRITTEN BY OMAR SHAHID |
Friday, December 7, 2018 ;
7 Minutes Reading Time
Life – what a journey it can take you on.
Over the past 5 years, I’ve managed Influencers in music, sport, comedy and public speaking. I’ve travelled the world with them: Australia, South Africa, Turkey, America, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, and many more.
I’ve been with the artists through their victories, when they’ve packed out venues, proved people wrong and produced some of their best pieces of work.
They’ve given me some of the most memorable moments of my life and allowed me to pursue a higher purpose.
I’ve supported the likes of Khaled Siddiq, Ali Official, Bilal Zafar, Prince Umi, Mikhaael Mala, Ibn Ali Miller and many more.
But it has also come with its fair share of troubles. Influencers are just as prone (arguably more so) to mental health issues, like depression.
They have mood swings. They become arrogant. Argumentative. Require validation. And get themselves into major problems while exploring and trying to find themselves.
And on top of this, many just don’t understand basic business!
I’ve realised it’s now time for me to move on from being an artist manager.
A new stage in my life beckons.
But during this transition phase, there are some key learnings that I wanted to pass on to not only those who I’ve worked with, but also budding artists and Influencers, especially if you’re looking to carve out a full-time career.
1. Your art and your life is difficult to monetise.
Naturally so, it’s subjective. What you like, may not be what everyone likes.
There’s a reason why only 0.1% of artists can actually carve out a sustainable career. It’s bloody difficult.
For the artist, their art will always be more about the ‘product’ than the ‘market’. But you have to consider both.
Unless your art is genius and has tapped into something people are feeling right now, the current market will always dictate the success of the product.
The most important thing in the success of any business is timing.
Is the market ready for you?
You need a market for your product or you’ll have nobody to sell to.
Saying that, thanks to Youtube and the global audience now at your fingertips, there is always some kind of niche for whatever you’re selling, your product just has to find a way to get to those people.
However, there’s always a fine balance between making your art truly reflective of who you are and making sure it’s sellable.
2. Don’t fall into the Zeitgeist
The nature of the Entertainment Industry is that you have to constantly do something new, something controversial and push (often ethical) boundaries to remain relevant.
Such is the way of our current capitalistic society.
I’m all for pushing artistic boundaries, but push the moral boundaries too far and you’ll end up losing yourself.
3. What is your purpose?
Purpose is the starting point for everything. And business, careers, personal journeys are no different.
Your purpose is what anchors you.
It allows you to know what move to take next. From your purpose, you form your principles and values.
In fact, businesses that have a purpose earn three times more money than businesses that don’t have one, according to Brand Z.
Your purpose gives you meaning and allows you to continue, especially when things get rough or money dries up.
4. Money is important!
I know I’m talking about businesses a lot but if you want to create a career for yourself, you need to look at yourself as a business.
In fact, Ali Official, a popular British-Asian content creator who has over 700k followers, is convinced that every artist, Influencer, content creator, should set themselves up as a limited business.
Once you do this, you take yourself and your work more seriously.
So here’s the thing. Every new business needs to concern itself with earning money.
There’s a reason why the majority of businesses close down within 3 years – it’s because they can’t survive anymore due to a lack of finances!
So design your brand in such a way that you can monetise what you do.
I’ve seen too often Influencers try to carve out a career, not thinking about how to make a sustainable income, and then complain they have no money!
As a result, they’ll make poor, hasty career decisions because they need to scrape some money together.
5. Corporate experience helps
Having run an Influencer Marketing agency for the past 16 months, one thing that has stood out is, Influencers who either work, or have worked in a professional environment often do much better.
From knowing how to communicate professionally, to being prompt and timely, to performing well and maintaining relations, that corporate experience really teaches you key skills that you can transfer.
6. The Internet is not always your friend
Sure, the internet has revolutionised marketing and has given a career to millions in our current generation.
Making a full time career of just posting selfies on Instagram still seems insane, but it’s a reality!
However, don’t underestimate the ability of platforms like Instagram can have to destroy your career, especially when you’ve lost sight of your responsibility.
95% of your followers may either be indifferent to your success or may actually want you to succeed.
But not everyone does.
People have their own agendas. They get jealous. Some people are just plain evil.
So the next time someone starts flirting with you on DM, think twice about replying.
Not only do you not know their intentions or what they intend to do with your reply, but you also don’t know how far down the rabit hole you’ll find yourself if you begin replying.
7. Don’t forget your responsibility
Some Influencers try to shrug off responsibility, as carrying the weight of the platform you’ve built can be heavy.
Naturally, you want to be free to create and not overthink your content, as it may begin to paralyse you.
However, with the more followers you gain, the greater your responsibility, especially if the followers you’ve generated are young and impressionable.
But the truth is, responsibility will make your content that much more meaningful and add another layer of depth and integrity to it.
Ultimately, if you want to remain an enduring brand that can last long into the future, you will need to take responsibility for what you put out, or eventually, your lack of responsibility will catch up on you.
People will see through your content. Recognising it to be more in your interest and not other people’s.
8. Be grateful
There is a powerful verse in the Quran: If you are grateful, and I will increase you [14:7].
But this idea is not limited to religion. It’s an oft-repeated idea by business leaders too.
Tony Robbins, public speaker and one of America’s most successful businessmen says: “…Focus on adopting an abundance mindset and focusing on what you can be grateful for… if the only time you are happy is when things are going your way, you’re not going to be happy very often. And the more you start to make these subtle shifts, the more you can cultivate a sense of abundance, the more you will begin to experience joy, and, eventually, create a new emotional home.”
There is so much to be grateful for, let alone the idea that you can make a living ng something you love, the comfort of your home. A negative and resentful mindset won’t breed success, it will hinder your progress.
9. Don’t chase followers
Followers are not the be and end all.
In fact, what’s much more important is your engagement, loyalty and the ability to win hearts.
If your thousands or millions of followers don’t result in them taking action, or converting when you’re trying to get them to act, what good are they?
But beyond that, chasing followers is just a poor strategy for success.
There will never be a number you’ll be happy with. Is 1 million enough? 2 million? 10 million. It never ends.
What you’ll find happiness in is pursuing something meaningful, pursuing a higher purpose, and delivering against that.
10. Remember you don’t know everything
I’ve seen a trend while working with Influencers.
Influencers are super reliant on their management when they are new to the game. But with a bit of success they start to feel reassured, they gain confidence and start brushing off valuable advice.
One thing that a mentor of mine once said to me has always stuck with me: “The moment you feel you are above advice from your closest ones, is the moment you will fail.”
Don’t forget to not only take advice, but to seek it, too. There is only so much that we can ever know and, on top of that, we are all infallible, flawed people with only a certain amount of knowledge and life experiences.
Sometimes we need those who’ve been through what we’ve been through, or seen more than what we’ve seen, to give us a new perspective.
11. Save your damn money!
Following on from the last point about the importance of earning money, what’s equally as important is saving it.
I’ve seen countless times Influencers make money, only to then go and blow it. It’s not about how much you make, but how much you keep.
Saving is important, not only because you have a back up for a rainy day, but also because it relieves pressure from you, knowing that you have money if you need it.
But on top of that, having money allows you to have a healthier, happier life, one less burdensome. Not having money will make you stressed, bitter and begin blaming and stressing out other people.
To those wanting to become a manager or those who’ve just become one, sometimes it will feel like you will exhaust all avenues and nothing is working out.
Keep trying fresh approaches. But most importantly, you have to find what makes you Influencer tick.
My other advice would be, don’t jump into management. Start off as an agent, finding work for your Influencer, and when things get busy, then turn into a manager.
Being a manager requires a type of mental strength, thick skin, the ability to deal with different personalities and even recognising that, at times, the Influencer’s parents may call you!
And, finally, my piece of advice to all Influencers would be this: Discover your purpose, turn it into your passion, find a way to be able to do it consistently and put that all into a larger, long term picture so that you can create a legacy.