Ah, your personal website. I can’t even count the number of my actor friends who have lost hours of their life, thousands of dollars, and several patches of hair in an attempt to get it right. It seems like it’s always a work in progress, heck, I was just emailing my coder yesterday asking for an update on old problems. Yes, it’s true, the whole processis simply frustrating. (Maybe even more so than those pesky auditions!) But it doesn’t have to be.
Hopefully the following advice will help you avoid some of the more common website-related pitfalls.
Top 5 Mistakes Actors Make on Their Websites
1. Amateur Design - There’s a LOT of non-sense out there. Always look at a portfolio of someone’s work before hiring them, and remember that you usually get what you pay for. If someone’s former work looks like something from 1997, steer clear. An outdated website is worse than any website at all.
2. Third person updates - Unless you’re a huge star, it’s just plain weird to write your news and/or blog updates in the third person. It’s YOUR website, so people expect for it to be personal. The exception with this is your bio, which can be written in first or third person, but avoid mistake #3…
3. Overly pompous language - It is incredibly annoying to read bios peppered with cheesy self-importance, i.e. “With her incredible work ethic and talent, Taryn is on the rise to becoming Hollywood’s next big starlet!” Barf. Think like a journalist and stick to facts. What are your credits? Hobbies? Feel free to be funny, just not egotistical.
4. Flash website - Ten years ago, flash was in. Unfortunately, it’s quickly becoming a useless format because it’s not compatible with smart phones and iPads. (Not to mention the loading times can often be quite annoying.) Make sure your website is being built in HTML5, the most common and adaptable mark up language for the web.
5. Un-updateable website - If you can’t update your website with new photos, videos, bios, and/or news on your own, you’re going to have a heart attack . Make sure that however your site is built - through Joomla, Wordpress, or otherwise - that you have access to the back-end and you understand how to update the website elements. Have your designer walk you through the process when the site is complete so you can avoid having to email him/her with annoying updates.
Okay, so enough about mistakes, here’s what you absolutely NEED!
The 5 Essentials For An Actor’s Website
1. A business email - In addition to your agents/managers info, you need a way to be reached at all times Make the address separate from your personal email. Use Gmail, but feel free to customize if you see fit (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org.)
2. Embedded reels - Make sure your reels are easy to find, and use the YouTube player. The HD quality is as good as ever, and it loads FAR faster than Vimeo. If you’re worried about privacy, you can keep the video unlisted on YouTube, so that only people who stop by your website can actually view it.
3. Promotional and/or behind the scenes photos - Just posting headshots is so boring, and only gives people a one-dimensional view of who you are. Include promotional photos, press photos (if you have them), and/or behind the scenes shots of you on set. Yay! Now you’re a real person, not just an “actor.”
4. Social media links - Make sure you include links to your Twitter and Facebook Fan Pages (if you have them) and encourage people to sign up for your email newsletter (if you have one).
5. Bio - A good bio goes a long way. If you can make it funny like, even better. You can include your credits on this page as well.
So now you know what to avoid AND what you need, but you don’t know a good designer/programmer?
Weebly, Squarespace and Wordpress are a good place to start. Just drop and load. All of these sites have great tips, great support and easy to understand HTML.
Happy web developing!