The Old Blogger Agent
In the old days, bloggers only heard the never-uttered word “agent” in conjunction with the less-than-never uttered phrase “book deal”. Ah, the coveted blogging book deal.
These days, when bloggers talk about book deals as the next holy grail, I laugh inside.
First off, getting book deals is hard. The Pioneer Woman, Stuff Christians Like, Five Dollar Dinner Mom, and Money Saving Mom, to name a few, are all great examples of bloggers who worked darn hard to get their deals. These were not overnight achievements or easy wins. Even in the case of apparently quick successes (Jon Acuff’s book deal for Stuff Christians Like came just a few months into starting the hysterical Christian satire site), weren’t so quick. In reality, Acuff, like many “overnight blogging successes” had been toiling away, practicing his trade for years on lesser trafficked blogs that didn’t pay the bills.
Secondly, book deals for first time authors rarely produce the big bucks authors dream of. Sure, Julie and Julia does happen once every blue moon. (For those unaware, in 2004 Julie Powell reportedly received a few hundred thousand advance for a book based on her blog. That book, Julie and Julia, then became an Oscar-nominated movie.) But the majority of successful bloggers will be lucky to pay a year’s mortgage (in a modest, two bedroom/two bath in Kansas City) or a new, low-end sedan with their first advance.
Now, that’s not to say book deals aren’t smart career moves. There are a number of fantastic reasons to write a book and to strike a book deal. I’ve done it before, and I’d like to do it again.
But some bloggers these days see book deals as the only “guaranteed” way to put themselves on the map monetarily and to get the representation they need so the world can start looking at them like “real” professionals.
Not so Boston. (A palindrome, if you’re paying attention).
The New Blogger Agent
This week, Sway Group LLC announced that it is opening its doors as an agency exclusively designed to help bloggers broker deals with brands on a daily basis. Starting with a lineup of 25 top top mom bloggers, Sway hopes to break a million in revenue in their first year. (Read more about the specifics and the starting blogger lineup here).
It’s a smart move, and it only takes a few seconds to wonder why on earth someone hasn’t thought of this sooner.
(This is Danielle Wiley, brainchild extraordinaire. We’ll call her “real smart” from now on.)
Why Blogger Agents Will Change the Future of Blogging
Let’s take a moment to think about what this might mean for the industry.
If power bloggers could have used their literary agents of yesteryear to help them broker things deals beyond their books, wouldn’t the whole blogging world have expanded that much faster and gained legitimacy that much sooner? And wouldn’t Maytag have sold millions of more washers in the process?
Bloggers aren’t always sales phenoms, but that doesn’t mean that brands shouldn’t value the incredible power — yes, sway — they have in the consumer industry. And, although it is great for bloggers to learn the skills to market themselves, isn’t it just a little bit absurd that even high profile bloggers with no background in sales or public relations spend a vast percentage of their time writing pitches, crafting media kits, and selling their own ads? Especially given that there is a whole profession full of highly trained and skilled professionals who excel at these very core competencies?
It seems that if the industry had connected the dots between bloggers with voices and consumers with pockets that much sooner, the landscape of blogging would be completely different today. In that upside down world that Danielle Wiley of Sway might have led, perhaps no one would be surprised why a foodie mom blogger with a following can sell more dishwashers than Jessica Simpson in a sudsy bikini.
If anyone’s making predictions, I’d put a bet for blogging agents broken down by vertical by 2015 — mom blog agents, business blog agents, food blog agents, sports blog agents, beauty blog agents, wedding blog agents, ad nauseum.
Smart move, Sway. I’ll be watching you.