Category Archives: marketing

LIVE Discussions & Patreon – We’re doing things!

We have been hard at work on all of our new stuff and while we’re are still working on things like sketches:

And things like Rene’s music parodies:

The thing that seems to be taking off is our series of LIVE Discussions. These are weekly (Sundays at 11am Pacific Time) and recorded live on our YouTube Channel. We have a topic of discussion (usually arts or creativity related) and I assemble a panel of friends, co-workers, and contemporaries to talk about it for at least 20 mins (although lately we’ve been going longer). Once a month we do a Feature Discussion with a bigger panel. Feature Discussions last for at least an hour and I do a follow-up video of just the highlights after the fact. Below is a playlist of all the discussions so far:

Please check these out, feel free to click on any of the advertising (wink).

Rene and I have some big plans for the future, especially as we continue building our own content. We can do a lot on our own, but we could use some additional financial support to help raise the bar on our activities. Everything we’ve done thus far has been done on a shoestring where we beg, borrow and steal what we need to get a project done. This has worked pretty well, like with The Chili and Bloody Mary:

But with a little bit more money we can do a lot more!

Please consider joining our Patreon page. We’ve set-up some good starter rewards and I’m very pleased to announce that I got some of our art proofs back this morning for the merch that we will be releasing (actual release date TBD, but it’s coming!!!).

If Patreon isn’t an option, please don’t be afraid to click on the advertising links you see here and on the channel. I try to make sure that all of the ads presented are appropriate for the page and they should be set-up so that the items shown are things you, as the reader/watcher, would be interested in.

Thank you all for your support! We have seen the page jump in activity since we started – and we’re doing very well for only being about 4 weeks into this new effort! We’re really looking forward to what’s next!

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Actor 101 – Marketing: 5 Best Practices

 

Actor 101 Logo

Back when I first started Actor 101 I posted an article about basic marketing for the actor. In fact it was called…

The Actor and Marketing

It is really basic, truly a 101 as far as marketing goes. If you are just getting started with how to market yourself in the entertainment industry I highly suggest giving that post a look before you continue with this post.

I was a guest speaker at a friends acting class the other night and we did a short Q&A about the changes in the industry and ways that an actor, especially a new actor, can market themselves. The conversation started with social media, websites, and online presence in general. Everybody had the accounts they need, but when it came to content it was all blank stares and mouths agape. That was a pretty big clue that it might be a good idea to cover some best practices specific to the new actor. The things I talk about in this article are best practices, which is to say that, all things being equal, these are things everyone should be doing. That being said all things are not equal so use what works for you.

  • Don’t Post Just To Post: Let’s start with a biggie – NO POST SPAM! Some people, especially when they are starting out, will post non-stop to their social media. This is how we get things like pictures of food and the “I’m bored, talk to me” posts. These posts are the kinds of things that get made fun of and do not help your social media presence at all. As an actor or other creative storyteller your goal is to connect with an audience through the telling of a story and a good story has a point which is why it’s worth telling. That’s how you should think of your marketing posts, they need to have a point. It could be as on the nose as “I have a new video up!” or as open as “Does anyone ever feel like Meisner technique makes them feel too vulnerable?” but it should be relevant and poignant to your intended audience. So if you go a day or two or a week without posting anything don’t panic. Likewise if you have a bunch to say that’s OK too, but you may want to consider scheduling some of those posts to spread the wealth.
  • Let Technology Help You: While I’m thinking about scheduling, there is some great technology out there to help you schedule where and what you posts to different social media sites. While most social networks have good cross posting abilities, you may not want to same message going out across all of your platforms. What you post to your private Facebook page may be very different than what you post on your LinkedIn page. Here are two solutions that I like. I have no affiliation with either of these companies, they just happen to be solutions I have used and like and they work well for entertainment professionals. Remember that regular posting helps build an audience.
    • Hootsuite: This is a personal favorite and the solution that I use daily. While they really push the idea of signing up for their paid services, most folks doing DIY social marketing will only need their free service. It allows you to set-up for five social networks and those can be changed at any time. My favorite part about Hootsuite is that you can either schedule your posts manually or allow it to auto schedule. I use the auto schedule option the most and it has increased my audience engagement dramatically. They also have a web extension call Hootlet that allows you to broadcast web content across your networks as you find it with the click of a button. They’ve recently added a YouTube feature that, admittedly, I haven’t played with yet but that addition is another reason why my gut instinct is to recommend this platform. There is also an easy to use smart phone/tablet app.
    • Buffer: I was first introduced to Buffer three years ago when a director at a touring show company we were working with showed it to me. The service has changed a bit since then and for the better. Buffer operates primarily as a web browser extension and app. With it you write a bunch of posts in advance and let the system space them out at appropriate times or time you select. Like Hootsuite they are looking for users to sign up for their paid service (their’s has the fun name “The Awesome Plan”) but their individual plan is still available. It covers Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, App.net, and Google+. It is a bit more structured about what social networks you can add and how many of each, but since most people only have one of each network I doubt you’ll miss any functionality.
  • Share Your Personality: The mechanics of regular posting are fundamental, but just like we want our posts to have a point they should also share your personality with your audience. Social media is an electronic medium, but people don’t want to read posts from robots, they still prefer to talk to people (even if that means that sometimes there’s a computer screen between them). Identity is important, I mean you’re an actor after all, and if you’re using your social media to market yourself then you need people to get to know you. Define and refine your online voice. Unlike the financial advisors I speak to during the day, actors are allowed to have opinions no matter how unpopular. To be clear: this does not give you carte blanche to be an asshole but don’t be afraid to state your opinion. Did you recently discovered a film that you think people should see? Talk about it and why you liked it. Are you excited about The Razzie Awards? Name your picks! That being said, remember performer rule #1 – KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE! You want them to enjoy your posts and follow you, not turn on you. Ideally you’ll engage with a community that will interact with you which will increase your reach online and the farther you reach the better you’re doing.
  • Interact: Just like you want to have people engaged with your posts, other people want you to engage with their posts too. Social media is “social” by definition and the only way a community works is if people participate. If you are a performer marketing yourself on social media then participation in the community is a requirement. Think of it as joining in the conversation at a party – it’s just that this party is, literally, hundreds of millions of active people large all the time and everyone has something to say. Remember the first rule, though, NO POST SPAM! Don’t interact with a post unless you have something to contribute. Always go for quality over quantity when it comes to engagement. Going back to our party metaphor, no one wants to be the guy that clears the area around the punch bowl with his bad Christopher Walken impression. If you’re going to say something make sure it’s worth saying.
  • Make Sure Your Posts Benefit You: As an actor in this town, with all the changes that are happening to the business and with all of the competition, your primary goal is to use all of the tools at your disposal to benefit yourself. The goal of all the bullet points above are to get people to pay attention to what you have to say and, ideally, help you build a brand that might get your signal recognized above the noise. That means that you need to always remember the basics we discussed – know your audience, be relevant to your audience,  and be conscience of how you are perceived in your chosen community.

Do you have thoughts on this list? Feel like I missed something? Let me know in the comments – engage in my community ;).

See you next time!

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Filed under actor 101, education, Facebook, marketing, teaching, Uncategorized

Video Update 1 – Seminars, Classes, & Websites

Startup Post Art

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February 3, 2015 · 10:46 pm

Bloody Mary – Fun Size Horror Revisited

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They are finally able to be released publicly! The shorts we made for Fun Size Horror are now available for public view.

“Bloody Mary” was a fun bit of filmmaking made under surprise conditions. Originally we had a different crew, location and equipment – but then there was some bad luck behind the scenes. Thanks to some help from Fun Size founder Zeke Pinheiro we were able to shoot and get this in on time.

Give it a look and then watch it a bunch more and tell a friend. More next week!

See you next time!

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January 7, 2015 · 9:00 am

First of the Year Dash!

Insanity-Wolf-Happy-New-Year

JANUARY FIRST!

NEW DIET!

NEW WORKOUT!

NEW LIFE PLAN!

THIS IS GOING TO BE THE YEAR THAT I DO IT BECAUSE IT’S JANUARY FIRST AND NOTHING CAN STOP ME!!!!!!!

I would be lying if I didn’t cop to having these feelings. Every January is the beginning of a new year, it feels like the slate gets wiped clean, and since most people have time off it is really easy to start new things or try to make new habits. This leads to gym memberships, hobbies, playing musical instruments, writing, the list goes on and on. Just last week I posted a half assed resolution post about getting re-focused (which I’m totally sticking to, by the way).

But here’s the problem, by March a lot of resolutions and plans all fall apart, or at least show signs of cracking. After I wrote that post about focus I started thinking about what that was going to mean for the rest of the year. 2015 is kinda’ spoken for as of now. Fun Size Horror 2015 is going into early prep, there are shows to do, and I’m mapping out my teaching/speaking schedule. That doesn’t even include any acting opportunities that may pop up. If I’m 100% honest with myself, that means that I have very little that I can safely commit to and the new year is just starting. First World problems for sure, but I’m the kind of guy who is going to be upset about having to say “no” even when it’s the responsible thing to do. So I had to take a pretty hard look at myself and what I know I want to accomplish this year and examine why my best intentions in previous years always seemed to drift into trouble.

I am not going to speak on how this affects people in a general sense, I don’t have the qualifications for that, so everything that I talk about in this post refers to me personally. Looking at my past, you don’t even have to go that far back to see good ideas and habits get dropped – perfect example: 52 in 52. Not managing to stick with this actually upset me quite a bit. It’s an idea that I was/am really excited about. I was pleased with how things were going, but a story a week ended up just being too much. To be fair, the things I gave it up for; Fun Size Horror and all the shooting we were doing; were absolutely worth it, but it still stings.

I won’t lie, my gym membership has been pretty useless for a while now too. I just don’t make the time for it. I should (who shouldn’t?) especially since I spend so many hours in a chair, but my discipline is bad when it comes to the gym. And eating better. I still eat like I’m in college. Rene has made some noble in-roads and had some effect, but I still love me some cheeseburgers.

So how does it come to this? What gets in my way to keep me from achieving the desired goals? Goals that pretty easy to achieve in a practical aspect when it comes down to it:

  • Rene is willing and able to prepare better food for me.
  • I have the gym membership – it’s even close by.
  • The work that I do to earn money is both varied and flexible so I can make the time to do the things I want to do.
  • I have an amazing network of friends and collaborators who are willing to help me achieve what I want.

These are not small resources. But then I take an honest look at what gets in the way:

  • Feeling like there is a lack of time.
  • Getting distracted by the “shiny things.”
  • Trepidation at trying something I have no experience with.
  • Lack of funds.

Most of these I can get past. Lack of time usually translates into lack of rest. Instead of doing the things I’d like to do when I’ve completed what I have to do I fall down an internet rabbit hole of YouTube videos and random Wikipedia research because my brain is tired. A quick nap is usually the best fix for this or turning in early if I can manage it. Distractions are tougher, but that’s what this year is about fixing. For example, I should have completed this post hours ago, but I got distracted by an episode of “This Week Tonight” and ended up marathoning about ten episodes. Avoiding distractions is going to take a little practice. Trepidation of trying something I have no experience with, more commonly known as “fear of the unknown” or “resistance” by Steven Pressfield in his book The War of Art (which I highly recommend for everyone and have a link for at the bottom of this post) is something that I prefer to face head-on. I find that once you realize that everyone has to do something a first time it’s actually just a matter of girding yourself up and charging forward. The War of Art suggests a lot of great ways to achieve this. I can’t recommend it enough.

Lack of funds – this is the big one. Money is such a sensitive thing. There’s a certain amount of investment that you need to make into anything you do, that’s just an economic reality, but I hate parting with any funds unless I can “see” the return or a way to recoup. This only makes me pinch pennies more when  those envisioned returns don’t show up. If I had unlimited funds (c’mon lottery!) or a benefactor (c’mon mysterious uncle who won the lottery!) I would probably feel differently about this but, put on news announcer voice in these trying economic times, it’s a tough thing for me to get past.

Putting all of these things down on “paper” makes them feel manageable. Putting them out in public makes me want to take ownership of them. Knowing that this makes me vulnerable to scrutiny makes me want to be responsible. Sometimes it takes the possibility of looking like an idiot to motivate you.

…Of course you can always end up looking like an idiot anyway, but if I let that stop me I wouldn’t have had a career.

How are you doing this far into the new year? Let’s talk in the comments.

See you next time.

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Actor 101: The Actor, The Art & Advertising

Being a working actor can be tough. You willingly jump into a world where only a very small percentage  of people in your field know where their next paycheck is coming from. It is a world where you constantly put your talent on display and are regularly told “no.” Those without thick skins are harried by doubt and even those who have the mental fortitude have moments where they wonder if it’s all worth it.

So it’s easy to see why, when the actor is working, they take a great deal of joy in being a part of whatever production they are a part of. But what I want to remind you of today, especially given the current shift in how media works, is that the actor, no matter what media they perform in, is a sales person and as much as we want to use our art to effect people we are being hired to sell things to them. 
You may be saying to yourself, “Whoa, dude, I’m an artist! I’m not some shill!”
I have bad news for you, you are totally a shill. 
Here’s the good news, these things DO NOT need to be mutually exclusive. 
Note One: television exists because of and for commercials, not the other way around. 
If it wasn’t for the products that need to be sold there would be nothing on television. It would be a dead platform. Ever heard of soap operas? They got their name because they were paid for by the soap companies that wanted to be seen by mothers who were home during the day. Ever wonder why network television doesn’t push boundaries very often? They need to sell ad space and, as anyone whose ever heard the word “boycott” before knows, the networks are very nervous about alienating their audiences. Ever wonder how HBO manages to create shows like “Game of Thrones?” One word: subscribers. All television is paid for by the audience, whether indirectly by buying products or directly by paying subscriptions. 
Note Two: Performing in commercials is an art all on its own. 
As I just mentioned, the reason “Breaking Bad” is on TV is to create a space of sixty minutes where 13-18 minutes can be filled with ad space to sell to the companies that want you, the “Breaking Bad” audience member, to see their products. Advertisers know that the double edged sword of this relationship is that most of the audience doesn’t care how essential these commercials are and they would rather not see any commercials so they work VERY hard to create little 30-second stories that sell a product and try to be as entertaining as possible. We, as the commercial actors, are then required to bring life to these stories so that sales are made which then translates into revenue that can be budgeted to be spent on more ad buys. There’s a reason that whole classes are dedicated to commercial acting and it’s because it has a very different feel and goal than what you would learn in your standard on-camera Stanaslovsky based classes. The basic techniques are the same, but execution is very different. 
(Author note: I will probably do a whole different entry about the differences in acting styles. They are very different and understanding them can be the difference between booking and not booking. – CA)
Note Three: Selling something is not the same as “selling out.”
For the actor as an artist, “selling out” can be one of the worst things you can be accused of. Music artists are accused of this all the time and it usually comes when the artist in question starts making a whole buncha’ money and becomes more well known. When the original fan base feels marginalized they lash out, but actual selling out is different. Selling out, by definition, is accepting money or other compensation for compromising your principals and/or integrity. Integrity – that’s the name of the game. So, by that definition, a militant vegan actor doing a commercial for zucchini? No problem, sell away. Same militant vegan selling sausage? Well, that isn’t looking great for your integrity. And things like this are considered even by the talent agencies. Each time I have signed with a commercial agent they have always provided me with a data sheet that asks if there are any products or companies that I am not willing to endorse or work for. And they pay attention to that. You should too. Even in this economy, where it can feel like heresy to decline any kind of work, if you can’t maintain your personal integrity you may not be in the right field. Paychecks are great, for sure, but are they worth the regret and resentment that it may come later? Only you can answer that. 
Note Four: Media is changing so fast that we are doing sales more than ever. 
Let’s just ignore the traditional sales aspects of the job for a second. As any actor has noticed the whole internet thing seems to have caught on and it has changed our career completely. Instead of hard copy head shots being delivered by messengers we now just sign up for a few different casting sites and get our info emailed. Instead of just the networks and cable there’s now internet commercials, web series, webisodes to supplement network shows, personal YouTube channels and a host of things that can hire you that didn’t even exist three years ago. There’s also about 1000 times the competition for those jobs. There has always been a “personal branding” aspect to the business and to some extent a need to sell yourself, but now you need to get yourself above a growing amount of noise from up and comers who may have a better knowledge of After Effects than you do (I’m not saying that your acting reel should have light sabers in every scene, but it can’t hurt, right? But seriously, don’t do that.). Now marketing yourself is as important as technique because you could be the most amazing actor in the world, but it doesn’t mean a thing if people don’t know who you are. I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that this blog is part of a bigger strategy to help sell myself! Social media, the right pictures, websites and, when appropriate, public relations professionals are all important components to a personal marketing strategy. 
Sales and selling can feel like bad words sometimes. It carries a connotation of lying or being disingenuous, but in the end what it really does is let tell people about a product or service. In the case of the actor it advertises you and your talents. It’s important that you not ignore this aspect of the career. Remember if you maintain your personal integrity and remain authentic to what you are then you have no reason to feel bad about what you put out. 
Do you have opinions about selling, whether it be of yourself or products? Tell me in the comments. 
See you soon. 

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Filed under acting, actor 101, actor stuff, commercials, marketing

The Actor and Marketing

So you’ve got your agent and you’ve got the perfect headshots and whenever you’re in class your coaches and classmates are consistently amazed at your abilities and choices…

…but you’re still not working.

So what’s wrong? What can you do to help fix it?

Well, unless you make friends with George Clooney or Joss Whedon you’re going to have to market yourself. Having talent is great, but talent on its own is useless if no one knows about it.

So what can you do to market yourself?

There is no single “right” answer to this and solutions will vary based on type and current level of visibility, so today I’m going to focus on 3 things that can help you no matter what level you’re at that are simple and easy to maintain.

  1. Facebook Fan Page – I know. It’s so simple, right? You’re on Facebook and so are your friends and you’re probably getting a few requests a day from other people wanting you to “like” this or go to some event? But then there are all those articles talking about how Facebook is becoming irrelevant and how to deactivate your profile and blah, blah, blah. Here’s the fact of the matter: Whatever the media journalists say, Facebook still has over 500 million users and your friends, even though they may complain about it, still use it. And so do their friends and their friends and their friends – except for that one hipster dude who gave up social media in favor of posting flyers. A fan page is an easy way to update large numbers of people about all things related to your career. Fan pages serve the purpose that a web page used to serve, and it’s free to set up and easier to maintain. You can post videos, links and send event invitations to premieres or to your one-person version of Cyrano de Bergerac. If actively maintained this can help create rapport and a “personal” relationship with your fan base. Remember: the internet is forever! Post only what you want the world to see!
    1. Pros: Easy updates that can be automated by sites like Hoot Suite to your fan base. Large user base. Ability to advertise at a low cost point.
    2. Cons: You have to build your base, which means sending request to friends, family & anyone with an active account. It’s no good to send updates to your dog and your mom, they already know what you’re doing. Facebook’s new ad policy – you can still set-up and post for free, but they try and get you to pay for access to your full base. Personally I haven’t seen the need to pay for ad space, I advocate only spending when you have to, but this will be a personal decision based on how much reach you want to achieve.
  2. Twitter – I can already hear some of you, “I don’t get Twitter.” “How do you use it?” “I have Instagram, can’t I just use that?” I want you to know that I hear you and I understand you, but you also need to look at the business that you’re working yourself into. We sell ourselves as a personal brand. Our look and our personalities are the things that get us noticed, and getting noticed is what can lead to work. Who is Tom Hanks? He’s the nicest guy in Hollywood. How do we know that? Well, really we don’t, but we assume it’s true from interviews that we’ve seen and how he interacts with his fan base. For the unknown actor Twitter can be a wonderful way to demonstrate your personality and that makes it a wonderful resource. It has broad spectrum appeal, it requires very little to start up and maintain and it forces you to speak in small phrases that can capture your personality “essence” (and I apologize profusely for using that word). Go look at a few Twitter profiles. The ones with followers have a clear point of view and are, unmistakably, the voices of the author.  Check these out: Rainn Wilson, Joel McHaleElizabeth Banks. And these aren’t even the most popular on Twitter! Like a fan page, you still have to build a following, but Tweeps (is that what we can call them?) are, in my experience, far more willing to take a chance on someone.
    1. Pros: Easy start up. Can be linked to Facebook and to other social media platforms. Supports photos and now videos with Vine. Community that is open to new members. Easy to do, can be posted from a smart phone or even a “dumb” phone.
    2. Cons: Must build your following. Easy to post means easy mistakes for the impulsive poster. 
  3. YouTube Channel – This is different than just posting things to YouTube (although that can be a good start). Supporting a YouTube channel requires a little more effort than the other two, but as an actor trying to start out nothing can be more beneficial. The catch 22 of professional acting is that no one will hire you unless they know what you can do, but no one can know what you can do unless you’re working. YouTube offers you a great way to get around this problem. On your channel you can post your work, whether it’s your improv performance or a sketch you and your friends make. Shoot it, edit it if you can, and post it. In the modern electronic world there are so many ways to shoot and edit video (you can do all of the above on most smart phones now a days pretty easily) that there’s no excuse for your work to be hidden from the world. Also, for those of you with credits and some video of your stuff, YouTube is the place to put your reel. Vocabulary Check – Actor’s Reel: A short video (under 5 mins, probably shorter) featuring bits of your work from television shows, films or commercials. The nice thing about YouTube is that you can usually convince your friends to watch your videos and get the views started. It’s even better if you put up something that’s good that they’ll want to share. Also, these videos can be passed around on your Twitter and Facebook page and help broaden your reach! It’s all interconnected!
    1. Pros: Easy to start. Views can come from family and friends who will help build your audience. Technology makes it easy to create content.
    2. Cons: YOU MUST HAVE CONTENT! A YouTube page with no videos isn’t going to help you much.
That’s a good start. Once you’ve started working with these resources you can branch out. Branding yourself is important, but remember it takes time and dedication. Most “overnight sensations” spent years building up to what they’ve become. Be patient and be consistent, these are the keys to building a brand.
What ways do you market yourself or interact with your friends? Let me know in the comments. 
Also, if you have any questions you can write those too.
See you next time!

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Filed under actor 101, actor stuff, blatant plug, Facebook, marketing, social networking, twitter, YouTube