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The Actor's Website - 3 Big Mistakes

Mar 27, 2008
As you know, if you've stumbled upon my musings from time to time, I am a big advocate of actors having a professional website. That's because it is one of the most effective (and inexpensive) ways of advertising and marketing your services.

I believe that, in the not too distant future, the website will replace most of the marketing methods used by actors today.Of course I always try to point out that it's not one of those "if you build it they will come" deals. You really must 'hand it out' - on business cards, postcards, eadshots, etc.

But - your website must be designed to SELL. Most actors actually provide a unique character and if the website doesn't make it clear what that character is - well, it's back to the drawing board.

As a result of my website 'advocacy' I am often asked to look at actor's websites and give my opinion. And, while it's an honor to be nominated for that little chore, I frequently have to deliver bad news after reviewing said sites.

This first problem is almost always the picture on the landing page. This is a crucial element of an actor's website and many actors do not pay enough attention to it. They simply paste up their headshot and let it go at that.

The web is a great medium for several reasons - the main one being that there are no particular size restrictions. That means that you could use a full-length picture of yourself. This is a big advantage in communicating your physicality (something that all casting directors are interested in knowing, up front).

Not that you shouldn't use your headshot - you should - but you should also keep in mind that you have the space to include much more than one simple picture - or several headshot 'looks.'

The second issue is usually the 'reel.' Again, let me stress that your website is a sales tool - not a place to prove that you've actually appeared (however briefly) in some sort of film or video.

Most reels are too long, not focused on selling the unique character of the actor, and a lot of times contain amateurish footage. These are all mistakes ... from a marketing point of view.

If you don't have top-notch footage that shows you to your best advantage, it's better to show no footage at all. Use stills and short descriptive paragraphs. Or build a slide show of your past roles.

Always keep in mind that the main job of your website is to convey your unique character and your professionalism.

Speaking of professionalism, this next element is generally so badly accomplished that it has quickly become one of my 'pet peeves.'

About Me. This is the section of almost every website I see, where actors come across as needy, clueless, confused, or simply unprofessional.

Example one: "Jill was born in Phoenix, loving the theatre. Her first appearance on stage was in the title role in her third grade production of Mother Goose On The Loose. From that triumphant debut she went on to ..."

Example two: "Jack is the only son of a school teacher and a police captain. His love of movies goes back to when he first saw Mary Poppins, in his hometown of Keokuk, where Jack was a member of the high school glee club, chess club, vice-president of the Junior class, and a frequent visitor to Iowa City ..."

Example three: "Jane is a fully accredited life coach, attorney and family planner. A graduate of Seymour Technical Institute, Jane spent 15 years as an arbitrator for the state of Wisconsin. After realizing that she was in the wrong profession she moved to Hollywood to pursue her passion for acting."

The fourth example is the worst: The poor attempt at humor. "James is a spirit medium with opposable thumbs and a fondness for Twix. His acting career has been spent waiting tables and begging for coins at freeway off-ramps ... etc."

This 'humor' idea is a very bad tactic. In fact, unless what you write is truly humorous - you will come across as a loser. If you insist on using humor ... check out this college application letter I came across on the web. If your 'About Me' section is not at least as amusing as this ... try again.

"I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru. I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently and I woo women with my sensuous and god-like trombone solos. I also play bluegrass cello, and I'm the subject of numerous documentaries. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances for nuns, free of charge.I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to play Guitar Hero all evening. I have gone on covert operations in San Francisco for the CIA. I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, my bills are all paid, and I don't perspire overmuch. I have performed both Hamlet and open-heart surgery. I was also honored to be caller number nine - winning a pass to see Britney's custody case."

By the way, this guy got into the college of his choice - without the requisite grades. So humor works - if it's humorous.

Okay, back to the point: The purpose of your 'About Me' section is the same as the purpose of the rest of your website ... SELLING.

Take the time to read the 'About Me's' on stars' sites - they are generally written by professional public relations folks who understand the purpose of their written words.

Next ... emulate, copy, appropriate, steal, get help ... just do whatever you have to do to make sure that every element of your website is focused on that one important goal - selling your services.

About Me: Bob is a retired show biz veteran who actually thinks about this stuff - and then, for no apparent reason, writes it down.
About the Author
Bob Fraser is a retired actor, writer, director, producer and show-runner of such hits as Full House, Benson, The Love Boat and others. He is the author of You Must Act!, Headshot Secrets Revealed, and Nail It! - The Acting Career Courses on Your Computer. Free actors resources at - http://www.showbizhowto.com
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