WEB PRESENCE: HOW WORK FINDS YOU!
Once you have your demo ready, it is relatively easy and inexpensive to build yourself a website and post it. Here’s my take on how to go about it:
Build your website with the needs of a casting director or prospective employer in mind:
What are they looking for? Probably, an easily findable site with your demo, credits, short bio and contact info. Your focus should be delivering this for your prospective employers. Not for fans, family, friends or casually interested visitors, though you may have a separate page or even links to another site or blog for fans, perhaps.
The overriding goal for your website is to bring work your way.
Research websites of your competition or even stars:
How do some actor websites succeed at creating a compelling and memorable web presence? How do others fail? Check a few out and you’ll quickly see what works and what doesn’t. Some are convoluted. Some impossible to find in a web search. Some seem more fan oriented than anything. Many seem to have little or no web presence at all!
These are obviously not what your potential employer wants or needs to see or waste their time wading through. Look for the sites that lay it out right away, that have a pleasing design, that give a good sense of the artist that doesn’t unnecessarily pigeonhole. See something you like? Make it your own and use it!
Buy your domain and build your website:
You can build yourself a website (as well as purchase your own “yourname.com” domain) easily and cheaply on sites like Weebly, or GoDaddy or numerous others places on the web. Research the web hosting/site building companies first. Make sure they are reputable and a good value. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, research web designers from the resources listed on the “Dig Deeper” page of this site and find someone to help you get a site up and running.
It wouldn’t hurt to secure a professionally-angled Twitter and/or Instagram or Facebook account as well. Even if you don’t use them now, you’ll have them ready if you decide to take advantage of social media later to connect with employers, colleagues or fans.
Make the navigation of your site user (employer)-friendly:
Frame your site’s ergonomics on your target audience. Remember: You are making this with an employer (or agent) in mind! This person’s time is precious and their patience is probably thin. Show them the goods!
Your demo(s) should sit on your homepage, ready to play, not hidden further back on some deeper page. Please don’t have your homepage start out with some cute image that wastes my time telling me to “click to enter.”
The most important info/content should be immediately available with contact info on every page. Simple is better. It should be elegant but obvious. Keep your bio, credits and current projects info updated. This is one of the advantages of building your own site, you can update it easily yourself as often as you want.
Minimize scrolling & click-throughs:
Your web design should minimize click throughs and scrolling needed to get to the essentials! A casting director or producer doesn’t want to have to scroll down five screen length of sprawling mish mash and confusing info to get to your demo or bio. This isn’t a collage. It’s a digital business card. It represents you. If it’s a jumbled mess, that’s how they think of you. If it’s sharp and simple, that’s you. Keep it clean and simple.
Make your site iOS friendly:
Your site should function beautifully on all devices whether desktop or mobile, Android or Apple. And– this is a pet peeve of mine– I want it to work on an iPhone or iPad, so no Flash animation! Most in the entertainment industry have iPhones and they may be out of the office away from their desktop or laptop browser when they access your site. It had better play for them. Even if this is one in a hundred, that one could be a big gig.
Glitzy Flash animations on a site look tacky and merely distract, anyway. It’s dated 20th Century web-tech, so don’t use Flash.
Your hosting service should have a feature in the website settings that allows you to set your site to display an abbreviated, reformatted version for mobile devices, so visitors aren’t perpetually zooming in and out of the text and images.
Make it findable:
Make sure when you’ve posted your site that it comes up in a web search if someone were searching for your name in Google, for instance. This may take a while for the search engines to realize your presence. You may need to pay your web host to promote your website so that it pops right up on a web search.