Breaking Off a Relationship with a Talent Manager

While talent agencies and their managers sometimes get accused of being shady, a talent manager can bring many benefits. They can help connect you with companies that want to work with you, guide you through maintaining your own marketing and branding, and they can help you to manage the business side of things so you can focus on day-to-day postings and promotions.

But not all talent managers are alike, and some may struggle to provide you with the level of quality or results that you want. If you need to end a relationship with your manager, it’s not that different from a regular relationship breakup. It requires healthy expectations, clear boundaries, and careful tact.

1. Double-Check Your Assumptions

“It’s not you, it’s me.” That’s the stereotypical phrase used when breaking up with a romantic partner, and it holds special weight when breaking off a relationship with your social media talent manager.

Some social media mavens put too much emphasis on their manager. “My promoted post sales are down,” you might think, or you might complain to a friend: “My manager hasn’t gotten me any new leads.” Your talent manager has your business interests as their top priority, because they get paid more when you get paid more.

Check your assumptions and ensure that there aren’t other factors (e.g., seasonal changes, unclear focus, and branding on your social media feed, etc.) affecting your success. This is a great opportunity to ensure all of your assets—from your website to your media kit—are polished and working well together.

2. Know Your Legal Position

Before letting your talent agency or talent manager go, make sure you know the legal ramifications. Have you signed an exclusive contract with your talent manager? Are you required to give the agency a certain amount of forewarning? Is there a legal clause about who you can or cannot hire if you fire your manager?

Know your legal position so you know where you stand when in negotiations.

3. Don’t Burn Bridges

Whether you choose to break off the relationship over the phone, in person or via email, remember: While the world of social media seems expansive, it’s a small industry when it comes to the movers and shakers and their managers.

Stay professional and courteous. Even if you’re breaking the relationship over something that feels personal, such as management style or communication tone, don’t make it personal. Thank them for their work, call out one or two times where they really made a difference in your career, then explain that you’ve chosen to move in a new direction, and wish to end your working relationship.

4. Wrap Things Up

Even if you formalize your breakup today, there are likely still sponsored posts and other projects in the pipeline that were started while you were still represented by a talent manager. Now that the two of you have parted ways, there’s likely more onus on you to ensure things get done on time and according to plans.

5. Self-Assess and Don’t Make the Same Mistake Twice

Once you’ve freed yourself from an unproductive working relationship, take a second to do a self assessment:

  • Where do you want to take your social media career?
  • What do you need to achieve that?
  • How can a talent manager help you succeed?
  • What was it about this previous talent manager that made it unworkable?
  • What do you want to avoid in your next talent manager?
  • What do you want more of in your next talent manager?

By thinking carefully about your needs, you can focus on finding another talent manager who can help you build followers, cultivate a lucrative career, and expand your social media reach.

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By day, Josh Duvauchelle is the co-founder of Frey Union, a marketing firm in Vancouver, BC. By night, he’s a health and wellness coach featured in Teen Vogue, Men’s Journal, Shape, Men’s Fitness, and more. Find him on Instagram under @joshduv. Josh is a member of #ThePaidCrew editorial team.