You have a website. Great! Now what? Having a website is becoming the standard for anyone who wants to build a strong online presence. Websites have replaced the business card. If you don’t have something beyond a Facebook or Twitter account then you’re losing out opportunities to extend your reach.
So what makes a great actor website? There’s the standard site which houses your resume, headshot, bio and some video clips showing your work. That’s OK but it’s not good enough. In order to stand out you need it to be great. You need it to truly represent the awesome actor that you are. You need it to shine so that people can see you’re more than just a pretty face. You have to create a memorable experience.
A website is more than just the design. It’s the strategy and execution which makes a website memorable. Let’s start with some basic digital strategy to get you moving towards building that great website.
1. What’s in a name?
At the very least you should have your personal name. However, sometimes getting your own namesake URL is not possible. That newcomer actress “Jane Doe” is NOT going to get her namesake URL. So what does she do?
This is where I say to get a name that reflects your “essence.”
I advocate that everyone figure out what their essence word is. This is “that word” which becomes synonymous with who you are. It’s the essence of your core. As a creative professional there’s something else that calls to you. Something deeper. Acting is the manifestation of your core desire. It’s your outlet but not your essence.
Why do you do what you do? Break that down as far as you can go.
- Is it to escape?
- Is it to entertain?
- Is it to inspire?
- Is it to tell a story?
Use this essence word with your personal name to come up with a unique namesake URL that reflects who you are. My old website was VickyAyala.com but I shifted my namesake URL to VickybyDesign.com because my essence is to live a life by design.
2. Define the experience.
When you watch a Transformers movie in the theater, is it the same experience as when you watch it on DVD at home? Let’s have a conversation: Why do people still go to the movie theaters? Tickets are upwards of $15-$20 in some cities. Throw in some snacks and some passive-aggressive concession employees and you’ve got yourself a Friday night date. If the movie is not a blockbuster then it’s all good. However, if it’s a highly anticipated flick then you’ve got the makings of a potential disaster. Hordes of people, many rude, are waiting to cram into a theater. Someone is going to have their phone on. If you’re lucky there’ll be a crying baby around too. Why even bother??
Because we form emotional attachments to an “experience.” Going to the movie theater every Friday night for the “experience” is no different. We’re willing to risk rude as hell movie goers for that dopamine fix.
- What experience are you providing those who visit your website?
- Do you have copy that speaks to them?
- Videos that shows off your personality?
- Content that positions you as someone who knows their ‘ish?
3. Create the experience.
Once you’ve committed to providing a memorable experience, go out and make it happen.
- Shoot those impromptu videos on your iPhone.
- Write some clever and witty blog posts.
- Take cool and funny photos.
Be the brand that you want to be with your career. Don’t wait for an opportunity to showcase what you can do. That opportunity may never come. Instead create it.
4. Design for engagement.
Shifting any writing on your site from 3rd person to 1st person. Trust me, this makes a huge difference. People want to connect with you, not your representative. When you personalize your website by speaking in 1st person, you allow others a glimpse into the real you. Give us a reason to want more. Give us a reason to come back to your site.
- Are you funny? Then create some quirky videos or snarky memes.
- Are you a social butterfly? Give us an insider’s look into what your life looks like, VIP style.
Design your website so that people want to and are able to engage with you.
5. Captivate attention.
Once you’ve sorted through the abstract strategy for your website, look over to make sure you have the tangible goods.
- Home page: This is your welcome page. Some people actually say welcome. As an actor you should aim for video. Invite people into your world so that they start to care about who you are.
- About: I tend to like the term “my story” because at the end of the day, we all have a story. Who are you? What is your perspective? Don’t worry if you think you’re “not interesting.” It’s not that you’re not interesting. It’s that you haven’t figured out how to tell your story in an interesting way.
- Blog: Search engines love websites that produce original content on a consistent basis. People also love to see that you have something to say. Leverage your blog to create opportunities for audience cultivation and conversations.
- Videos: Showcasing your work is one thing. Showing that you’re working on your talent is something else. Use this tab to house your demo reel but also start getting more consistent with short form videos. Create some monologues, review products, commentate on films, or share your opinions on pop culture.
- Partnerships: This is a new concept and is often seen with regular bloggers. Even if you’re not a regular blogger, look at this as a great way to position yourself as a brand who is open to working with others.
- Are you willing to serve as a spokesperson for emerging startups?
- Do you want to be a brand ambassador for products that target your website’s audience?
Include the opportunities you’re open to, on this page, so that you can be proactive in manifesting them.
- Contact: Keep it simple with a contact form. Unless you have a burning desire to invite spam into your life, do NOT post your email address on your website.
Your website is a chance for you to stay relevant. The biggest mistake most actor websites make is that they don’t have a meaningful reason for audience cultivation. You’re either not asking people to join your list or you are asking them to join but you don’t have any compelling reason for when they do. Staying relevant is work and it takes time. If you’re not in it for the long haul then you risk falling into obscurity.