Michael Curtis shares, “I’ve always been the biggest fan of the influencer industry and have been working in it since the very beginning, back when influencers were basically just called YouTubers. I’ve worked on the MCN side, brand side, agency side, and the talent side — and the common denominator of all those careers has been that I love working with incredible creators.”
These experiences and his love of working with incredible creators led him to found Proud Management, a boutique influencer marketing agency representing “the good humans of influencer marketing.”
Headquartered in Los Angeles, Proud Management represents a huge variety of creative talent looking to create positive changes within their communities.
Prioritizing Good Humans In Influencer Marketing With Michael Curtis, CEO & Founder Of Proud Management
What Makes Proud Management Unique?
Michael Curtis shares, “We’re hyper-conscious of only signing talent if they are highly conscious of their social following and are a good role model to their community. We only sign creators that are professional, timely, caring, collaborative, produce high quality content, are willing to learn & grow, and so on. Our goal is to make each partnership a 10 out of 10 experience, and to place a higher value on relationships than transactions.”
What Types of Creators Does Proud Management Work With?
As their slogan, “the good humans of influencer marketing,” suggests, Proud Management prioritizes working with good humans, aka professional creators that are incredible to work with.
Proud’s creators come from all verticals, including beauty, fitness, lifestyle, fashion, and more.
Michael shares that some key qualities they look for in content creators are professionalism, kindness, timeliness, and collaborativeness. His company prioritizes a high-quality roster of creators looking to make a difference. For example, their creators may be in the body positivity space or promote positive discussions around mental health.
He adds, “Even if their numbers are incredible, we won’t sign a creator if they’re not a good fit for us and for our clientele.”
A memorable experience for Michael Curtis that showcases this concept beautifully is “Working with the United Nations has been pretty surreal, especially since the relationship was formed in the early days of our company’s existence. Our creator Superholly is partnered with them, being tapped to speak on a number of topics, most commonly, refugee displacement.”
What Services Does Proud Management Provide?
Michael explains, “Full representation for content creators. Brand partnerships tend to be the bread & butter, but we also work with creators on merchandising, content strategy & social media best practices, syndication deals, usage opportunities, in-person events, and more.”
The Biggest Obstacles Creators are Facing in the Digital World
Michael shares, “We’re now living in a world where it’s common for creators to be born overnight thanks to the algorithms of some platforms, so I think one of the biggest issues that creators are facing is that their growth isn’t being supported by properly equipped management teams.”
Many creators also don’t do much research about who they are working with or signing with, which can leave them with a poor fit that doesn’t fully support them and their goals.
Creator Economy Trends
Every day, the creator economy changes with new creators sharing content and new business models, platforms, and products being launched.
Here is Michael’s advice for staying on top of these rapid-fire changes and trends:
“The rise of influencer-led products and influencer investments will definitely continue to grow, as most creators know that creating different streams of revenue is important, especially as you get into the later years of being a creator. Then, of course, there’s the will it-won’t it of TikTok, which could turn the industry upside down overnight if it did actually get banned.”
To stay on top of these rapid changes in the creator economy, Michael shares that he subscribes to many educational newsletters and accounts on social media.
He also personally tests out new platform updates so that he is up-to-date on the change and has hands-on experience working with the changes.
What Does the Future Hold for the Creator Economy Post-Pandemic?
The post-pandemic world and looming economic recessions are scary for any business owner or creator.
Fortunately, Michael Curtis shares that the creator economy will always be one of the first industries to bounce back.
He explains, “During the pandemic, more people turned to their phones and social media than ever before, which only bolstered the creator economy. It made sense for brands to invest more budget into the influencer industry due to that uptick. The gaming industry and streamers barely even took a break. We’ve aligned ourselves with top quality content, so while we’ll always have our eye on a potential recession, same as mass layoffs which has been happening a lot lately, I am thankful that the influencer industry will always land on its feet much more quickly than other industries.”
In the future, Michael sees Proud Management continuing to keep on top of changes in the creator economy and continuing to adapt while signing top talent and helping them to grow their careers.
He adds, “The industry may change over time, but ultimately, representing top talent won’t be going anywhere. We’ll continue to stay one step ahead as we always have, being proactive instead of reactive.”
Michael’s Biggest Advice for Creators
Burnout is a serious problem for many creators, especially those taking advantage of the many ways to monetize their audience. Many also create content for many platforms at once, an exhausting feat.
To build a sustainable career, Michael recommends, “Maintain your happiness above all else. Creator burnout is a very real thing, and it can happen quickly, and out of nowhere. If you stay focused on doing what you do because you love it, then you’ll be set up for success, and the money will come, so long as you’re consistent, and engaged with your audience.”
Michael’s top tips for creators starting out, building their businesses, and managing their personal brands include:
- Create content like you are talking to a friend with specific needs and interests. Don’t film a video to a “faceless audience.”
- Be incredibly consistent. He states, “If you commit to working harder than everyone else, then you will win.”
- Only pursue other businesses if you are truly interested in them, especially in creating products. Creating products and launching your own business is a huge time commitment, and your personal brand will be tightly linked to the quality of your products and business.
- Diversify your income streams by adding revenue streams that are a natural extension of your brand.
What’s Next for Proud Management
Michael Curtis shares, “We highly value mental health and work/life balance, so I am not ashamed to say that we are firm believers in the saying “slow and steady wins the race”! We will continue to expand our roster of amazing creators and staffers, and continue making a name for ourselves as one of the top management companies out there. Things have already grown so quickly and I am so proud of our team and excited for our future.”