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.
What do you think of websites like Voice123.com that provide a database of voice talent for companies to peruse? I live in a small mountain town in Montana, and it seems like these databases could open up opportunities to work outside of my tiny market. Have you used these types of sites? Any thoughts?
Sorry, I’m not the guy to ask about all the web-based casting options these days.
This website is amazing! I’ve learned a LOT, and I feel encouraged. Thank you!
I am designing my voice acting website, and I tend to refer to myself in first-person (I’m Alex. I’m a voice actor. Me me me…) But I’ve noticed a lot of people refer to themselves in third-person (Alex is a voice actor. To reach Alex, call this number…) To me, first-person says “This is me. I’m approachable.” While third-person says “You want to get a hold of Alex? Well, get in line. You may not get through…” What do you suggest?
Might depend on who you want to hire you and what kind of career you are targeting. Where I’m at in L.A., voice actors don’t get hired because their promo material seems personal/friendly in a way that makes me think I have to contact the talent directly to set up an audition or work. An employer wants a pro who can deliver, who isn’t just a one-person operation, who has enough going that they have an agent who will negotiate auditions/terms, etc. If one-man operation is what you want to be (and where you want to end up), this might be the way to go. I myself wouldn’t. I’m not getting “difficult to reach” or “you might not get through” from a third person voice on a website, at all. Either way, you dial a number and talk to someone about setting up an audition. The tone can be professional, but not off-putting, stuffy or cold.
How long does it usually take [to get paid] after a job?
A union gig can take roughly a couple weeks to get your session fee, but it can take weeks longer for various reasons. If it’s non-union, then good luck.
I’m an established on-camera actor and have a website for that, with all the bells and whistles. Headshots, demo reels, resumes.
In your opinion, would it be better to simply add a “Voice-Over” page to my “Acting” website, or is it better to have a separate website for that?
Will the two skills complement each other in the eyes of industry professionals, or will they distract from each other?
And if you used one website for all, what would you call the page for voice work? “Voice Acting”, “Voice-Over”, or simply “Voice”.
Hm. I’m not an agent or manager or publicist, but here’s my take:
You could have both. You could have a dedicated webpage on your site for your voice acting with a link from your “catch all” acting site’s homepage. This dedicated VO page could also be linked to a separate dedicated domain (e.g. “JohnDoeVO.com”) without having to build a separate website that VO producers could be referred to. They type in “JohnDoeVO.com” and are directed to “JohnDoeActor.com/VO.” The on camera homepage could still emphasize on camera, but include a link to Voice Over as well.
My main angle is that the prospective buyer arrive immediately at what they are looking for– a clean homepage to start with a minimum of click through to get to what they want. Most are seeking you for a specific kind of acting work, not to poke around being curious about what kinds of acting you do.
I also prefer a cleaner and simpler layout to avoid clutter and distraction. An actor’s webpage should be more like a jewelry ad in a high end magazine rather than a Target flyer, if that makes sense.
I’d refer to it as “Voice Over” as a clickable button-link.
I have a demo made, but I don’t have much in terms of credits to list. Will this hurt me if I try to make a website ASAP? Is there a way I can compensate for this?
Credits/resume’ are of minimal value. It’s all about your acting/improv/range and VO skills, as demonstrated on your demo and in the booth. If your demo is awesome, post it. If it’s mediocre, hold off on the marketing campaign and go back to work strengthening and sharpening your skills.