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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 McHale, Elizabeth 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.
- 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.
- Cons: Must build your following. Easy to post means easy mistakes for the impulsive poster.
- 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!
- Pros: Easy to start. Views can come from family and friends who will help build your audience. Technology makes it easy to create content.
- Cons: YOU MUST HAVE CONTENT! A YouTube page with no videos isn’t going to help you much.