January 19, 2018

Let’s hop in a time machine back to January 19th, 2018. I was working for the second largest record label in the world after hustling very hard to get there. Yet the breakneck speed with which we moved from album to album, artist to artist meant I never had time to sit with the music. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d stopped listening to music altogether. Descending the stairs after a label showcase exhausted and desperate to get home, I pushed my way through a throng of fans. I assumed they were waiting for some of the artists to come out so they could meet them, get some photos/an autograph, and be on their way. I looked back and realized a few influencers including David Dobrik were a few steps behind me. The screaming fans were, in fact, waiting for the influencers, not the artists who’d just performed. You know that moment in Woody Allen’s Match Point where Jonathan Rhys Meyers character tosses a ring into the Thames, and we watch the arc of the ring’s path in slow-motion? At the very last moment, the ring hits the metal railing and bounces back onto the sidewalk; thus potentially changing the trajectory of the character’s entire fate? It was basically like that except less dramatic/cinematic.

I was already devoting nights and weekends to chatting with content creators and learning about their challenges in hopes of one day developing solutions for them. Then this happened and it was like a sign from the Universe I didn’t know I needed. The sign that told me the definition of “entertainer” had shifted, and I needed to build something specifically for creators and influencers. Something I would be willing to pursue no matter what, driven by my unrelenting belief in everything it stood for.

So… WTF does Clout Collective stand for?

Touché. I founded Clout Collective with three priorities in mind: 1) increase transparency in the creator economy 2) give independent creators access to powerful, affordable tools 3) support creators & influencers ongoing success.

1.) Increasing Transparency in the Creator Economy

I saw it in the music industry, and now I’m seeing it plague the creative economy. Large companies hold information close in an attempt to maintain and assert their power. Worse yet, artists, or in this case creators, feel the pressure to mimic this behavior with their peers. Brands and agencies have made influencers believe they need to accept no compensation, low compensation, or unfavorable partnership terms or risk losing out on deals and revenue. Can you imagine finding a piece you like in an art gallery, telling the artist you love their work, and then asking if you can take it home for free? “Think of the exposure your piece will get in my home,” you tell them, their jaw hung open in shock at the BS coming out your mouth. Replace “art gallery” with any number of alternatives like clothing stores, bookshops, etc. and the effect remains the same, they’d look at you like you should be heavily medicated. Yet this mindset is widespread and pervasive in the creative economy. Creators, lacking reliable benchmarks of compensation, are powerless to combat this.

Unfortunately, compensation is just one of many topics not being openly discussed among creators and who can blame them? With more influencers entering the space every second of every day, creators are hesitant to share their experiences, knowledge, and compensation history with each other for fear of exposing their secret sauce. However, knowledge is power is a truism for a reason, and the more powerful independent influencers become, inevitably the less powerful brands and agencies become. It may be counterintuitive but in sharing sensitive information, creators can tip the scale in their favor.

Never one to abide by the status quo (my preschool report card described me as “wild, loud, and rude” on numerous occasions), I’m setting out to increase transparency and information sharing among creators and between brands/agencies and the influencers they work with. We saw Everlane renew the conversation around it in the fashion industry, Buffer’s commitment to it ushered in a whole new era of transparency in tech, and now it’s influencer marketing’s turn.

2.) Providing Independent Creators With Access to Powerful, Affordable Tools

How many influencer marketing platforms can you think of off the top of your head? Now how many of those platforms cater more heavily to brands/agencies vs. influencers/creators? We’d bet that the majority of platforms are focusing on brands & agencies. Somewhere along the way, content creators got left behind and have been forced to figure things out on their own. Combine that with an industry resistant to transparency and you’re not exactly setting creators up for sustainable success. They’re succeeding despite the culture, not because of it.

Clout Collective approaches this differently. We believe that every independent creator deserves affordable tools and reliable resources. Empowering creatives only elevates the industry and incentivizes a higher caliber of output. If brands have access to powerful tools that give them a competitive advantage then influencers should too.

3.) Supporting Creators & Influencers Ongoing Success

We’re here to support your growth and continued success as content creators. We believe in the importance of what creators are doing and without better tools & resources, the sustainability of many creator’s careers are at risk. The beauty of Clout Collective is that we’re free from conflicting interests, we’re here for one purpose and one purpose only: to help you succeed and take your business to the next level. The influencer marketplace gets more competitive with each passing day, but we’re fighting the good fight alongside you, creating products that maximize your earnings and elevate your potential.

Why Should I Care?

Hmmm, so my 3 points above weren’t convincing enough for you? Do you like magic? What about Aladin? Think of us as your time-delayed genie in a bottle except instead of 3 wishes, you get all the wishes. We want to solve the most challenging aspects of your business so you can spend more time focusing on what you do best, creating. We’re working incredibly hard to build the right systems and tools to ensure you’re making the best decisions possible for your brand.

What’s Next?

Hopefully, you’ll join us on this adventure as we build the first version of Clout Collective, collect your feedback, implement said feedback, rinse & repeat. In a lot of ways, we’re on a parallel journey as we find our voice, build our brand, and generate awareness and interest in Clout Collective while you’re doing the same for your brand.

In an effort to stay true to our core value of transparency, we’re launching with a private, review platform that will enable you to anonymously read and review brands partnerships. In addition, the platform will also provide generalized compensation ranges so you can compare what you’re currently asking with other, similar creators.

This is just the tip of the iceberg because I envision an all-encompassing community for creators where they can go for all their needs. Need your taxes done by an accountant who caters just to content creators? We got you! How about someone to answer whether you should set up your business as an LLC, Inc., JCC, etc (just kidding about that last one, just making sure you’re still following along with us)? It could even be something as simple as wanting a trusted, informed response about whether or not you should invest in a professional media kit. Right now, the information and tools you need are fragmented across the internet, and we plan to bring them all into one place for you.

All the while, everything we’re developing is a collaborative effort between Clout Collective and you, the creators. Without you and your creativity, the world would be a much less inspiring place.

Here’s to you, let’s make 2019 successful AF!

Arielle Frank

Founder, Clout Collective