Promotion on the Cheap

The art of self-promotion for an actor can require a hefty investment. Since so much money already goes to acting classes, headshots, demo reel reproduction, postage for submissions and/or gas money for drop-offs (not to mention theatre company membership fees, gas money for auditions, trade publications, online subscriptions, and all of the other “goods and services” out there for actors to consume in pursuit of a professional acting career).

So, how do you get the word out about yourself, your work, your talent and ability, without breaking the bank? I’m going to share a few of the more innovative (and frugal) tactics actors have used to get my attention.

Electronic Promotion: Having a website is one of the most cost-effective uses of your self-promotion budget. Once you get the initial design done and buy the domain name that matches your SAG-registered name, most of your expenses are finished. Yes, you’ll want to do occasional updates (to your credits), but the coolest thing I’ve seen that covers that issue without you having to shell out bucks to a web designer is this: the link on your website to your resumé page can open your IMDb.com page, your profile page at ActorsAccess.com, LACasting.com, or NowCasting.com, or anywhere else that you pay nothing (or less than you’d pay a web designer) to have updates made to your credits. Click the resumé link at FatActor.com for a great example of this practice.

Another great tip from Jonathan Walker Spencer (AKA Fat Actor) is this: You can link directly from IMDb to your reel by submitting it under “Other Works.” It’s totally free, unlike the $35 for posting your headshot. “Other Works” is also a good place to stash your fat theatre credits or recognizable commercials. IMDb says that they’re not a resumé service, but hey, we all use it as one. Well done, Jonathan! Any CD who wants to find the most current info and credits on Jonathan can do so quite easily, don’t you think?

A cool freebie on the Internet is using a service like Evite.com to promote your appearance on TV, a screening, a play, or a showcase. Last month, I received an Evite from an actor who had an appearance coming up on a sitcom. Click here to see Assaf Cohen’s great free promo. By hiding the addresses of the recipients of the Evite, Assaf protected identities from Spammers while promoting his show appearance with all of the information in one handy place, including providing a link back to his website. Let me make a note here about the importance of masking email addresses in promotion such as this. I frequently receive emails from actors who are promoting a show or appearance. Often, actors put all of the recipients of the email in the “TO” line of the outgoing email. Let me explain, to the Internet mass-mailing newbies out there, what this does. This shares these email addresses with every recipient of the email… and, should a recipient choose to forward the email you sent, well, all those folks get your email address too. Spammers love this! Lovely, confirmed email addresses for the taking! PLEASE, everyone, use the “BCC” line when addressing more than one party in an email. Enough said?

And before we leave the topic of electronic promotion, let me stress the importance of the LINK. Please, when emailing anyone your headshot and resumé, do NOT attach files! Send a link and let us follow the link to see your photo and credits. Sending an attachment (like the, oh, 15mb image file I recently received from an actor) is the quickest way to get your email address forever blocked from my inbox! “Wait. Are you going to bring me in for that role? I emailed you my headshot.” The answer to that question, attachment-happy-actor, is NO.

Postcards: Everyone who knows me already knows how much I love postcards. They’re small enough to store in shoeboxes and they give me plenty of information: contact numbers, union status, representation, website address, highlights of credits, and of course your wonderful photo!

Recently, I became aware of a very cool little option from the U.S. Postal Service that lets you upload images to their website, creating custom-made postcards that you never even see (outside of the screen). How cool! Stephen Butchko and Deirdre Lyons of Thespian Productions sent me postcards generated through this service and told me it costs about the same as the expense of printing headshot postcards and paying for postage the “traditional” way. Excellent! A note from Stephen: The site also features an address book for keeping your contacts in order. You can purchase one or hundreds of postcards at a time. I wouldn’t recommend the site for massive bulk mailings, as it can get pretty expensive, but for say 20 or so at a time, it’s terrific. As you’ve seen, the postcards are great quality and you don’t even have to touch them. If you create your own images, I recommend sending one [postcard] out to yourself to check the brightness and contrast. The images tend to darken and the colors tend to saturate about 20%. So, with those notes, you’re all set to get full-color instant mail to promote whatever you’ve got going on, at the click of a mouse. Love that!

What’s the best money-saver I’ve come up with, when it comes to postcards? Well, you know that old stack of headshots you have? C’mon, you know the ones. Those lithos from years ago that you could never legitimately use again. Yeah. Here’s how I figured this gem out. Three years or so ago, I, a former actor, had a few hundred old headshots I knew I’d never use for anything. So, I started cutting them into fourths, making handy cardstock message paper for by the telephone. This was when I realized that I could be cutting these cards into extreme-close-up postcards of my face! Properly-cropped, you have instant, unusual postcards out of all those old headshots! Hey! That’s cool! Since sharing this tip with a few actor friends, I’ve seen some really great adaptations of the headshot-turned-postcard. Want to tell a CD you’ve been keeping an eye on her latest show? Send your eyes! Want to promote your voiceover demo? Send out those lips! You get the picture (ha! Picture! Get it?). Now, get to trimming!

Have a fun money-saving promotional tip to share? You know where to find me. Remember, sharing your toys is always a good thing!


Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!


Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/000096.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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