How to Build an Actor Website
Updated: May 18, 2020
As you are building your actor website, picture yourself in 3 roles: 1) Artist, 2) Museum Curator, and 3) CEO of your own startup company. Your acting site needs to be bold and be true to yourself, easily navigable and informative, and clear as to what you want your customer to do next on your acting website. Here are some tools and tips to get you started!
1) Think Like an Artist
Let's not assume you're a website guru, or else you wouldn't be here. You're an actor/artist/performer/insert-title-here with a strong creative streak but you lack focus when there isn't a strong structure in which you can create. Right? So let's find that structure.
As an artist, one of your best strengths is inherently understanding your brand (hint: your brand is you and whatever you like). So lean into that! By delving into a service of templates, you can browse dozens or hundreds of templates created by masterful designers and choose one that sticks out to you. As we know, if you like it then it's probably going to go far in representing your brand to others.
Once you have a template, you can add and delete and tweak the template to your heart's content and end up with a much more inspired product than if you had started from a blank canvas.
(And, if you're considering cost: the most cost-effective way to do this is to secure your domain name and have that forward to your Actors Access.)
PS - I'm not sure about the other services but Wix doesn't charge you until you "publish" your site. So you can play with as many templates as you want, design everything completely for free, and then only pay once you're ready to show it to the world.
- Your brand matters. Use all of the same colors and fonts in your website and resumes
- Only use high-quality videos and images of your work
- A picture is worth 1,000 words. When in doubt, less text; more high-scale images
2) Think Like A Museum Curator
One of the reasons you have a website is to be able to curate your brand; to show your guests exactly what you want them to see and when you want them to see it. Otherwise, they may as well just Google your name and take their chances.
Depending on the content you have ready to showcase, here's what Casting Directors, Directors, Agents, and Producers want to see:
2) Reel (or a high-quality self tape)
3) Resume/Actors Access Link (try not to send them away from your site too soon)
4) Runner-Up: Contact Info / Social Media / Bio
Headshot: Unless you're like me and you want to show your reel first, the very first thing people should see is your headshot. It is your brand. It is your product. If your guest is not immediately greeted by a professional, clear, engaging photo of you, you've already missed your first opportunity.
Reel: Your reel (or a strong clip of you acting the snot out of a scene) should be right there ready to go. If your footage is low quality, the lighting is off, the sound is bad, your footage is from far away, you're not speaking, or any number of other distractions are going on, the footage is not serving you and should not be featured. Remember, you're curating this. Oftentimes, less is more so only show your guests the content that shines you in the best light.
Like I said before, I've actually chosen to have my reel be the first (and only) thing people see on my landing page. In fact, I break several rules on my website but I do it out of strategy. All of my previous versions of my site have had a headshot front and center but I personally feel my reel is strong enough at this point that it is the only option I give them. Then, of course, they can click through into the site to see more, if they wish.
Resume: First of all, make sure your resume and website are clearly within the same brand. If your website is vibrant but your resume is black and white, you are sending mixed signals. Secondly, make sure your resume is easy to find. Your guests don't want to go clicking to find it. Thirdly, make sure it is downloadable as a PDF. To do this, upload the PDF to your site and provide a link or button to download your resume. This way, they are only seeing exactly what you want them to see, the way you want them to see it.
Contact Info / Social Media: Some producers may want to see your social media following. Some directors or agents may want to reach out to you. Why deny them? Make sure you have an easy-to-locate contact form on your site. (Do not just have your email address in text or a link on your page. Spam bots will find that and sign you up for every spammy newsletter on the planet.)
Personally, I feel a Bio is less important on an acting website for two reasons: 1) most industry folks are not going to take the time to read it and 2) if your items listed 1-3 above are strong enough, they are going to paint a much more vibrant picture of your product than a bio will. Do you still need an engaging blurb on your site? Absolutely. Should it be the first thing you want people to look at? In my opinion, no.
Other things you could consider:
- Calendar of Events (great for artists with live gigs open to the public)
- Behind-the-scenes photos (though most of these probably exist on your social media)
- A blog (be prepared to keep it up to date)
- You are guiding the tour. What do you want people to see first?
- Make sure your resume and contact info are easy to find
- Less is more. Show them what you want them to see; don't put the rest on exhibit.
- Your menu is important. Make sure your guests can navigate where you want them to go.
3) Think Like a CEO
You are, and forever will be, a startup business. You will never be able to hand over full reigns to your company because you are the only person who knows you. Your website is a digital, curated version of your product and what you have to sell. So what do you want your customer to do once they have seen your product?
A successful website will have a clear call-to-action. My CTA on my acting website is to watch my reel. It is literally the only option. After you do that, you can do some other stuff if you want. Amazon's CTA is to click a product that is related to other things you have bought. Book From Tape's CTA is to book an audition taping.
On your website, your CTA, the thing you want your customer to do most, is possibly to send you an email so that you can start up a conversation. So make sure your contact form is featured and there are lots of ways to access it. Or maybe your CTA is to look at your various headshots and see all of the different roles you can be cast as. Then work that into the design of the page so that your customer is not just greeted with one headshot but with several headshots curated in such a way that they are informative and tell the story and diversity of your product (you). CTA options (pick one):
- Reach out via contact form
- Look at your headshots
- Download your resume
- Watch your footage
- Read your bio
- Visit your Actors Access (if this is the case, simply buy your domain name and have it point to your Actors Access account)
- Watch your YouTube series
- Read your blog
- See your latest news
- Subscribe to your newsletter
- ______________ (Write your own)
Once you have defined your call-to-action and know what you want your customer to know, keep defining and working your page to make sure everything funnels to that call-to-action. (For example, if your CTA is to have your customer send you an email, have the contact form at the bottom of every page and also have a separate Contact page.)
- You are a product. Who is your customer? Cater to them and make it as easy as possible.
- Keep the tone/voice of your site in line with your product
- Don't include a blog in case you're prepared to keep it current.
4) Trust Your Gut
My biggest belief, as an artist, is we all need to think less about what we're "supposed" to do and, instead, trust our guts. Be inspired by your own naiveté and follow it down any rabbit hole. Take some of my suggestions and throw the rest away. Do what is right for you because, at the end of the day, none of this is about your website. It's about you. And I'd much rather see a version of you on my screen than some carbon copy that follows all the rules.
BONUS: Tools and Resources
Website Services We Trust (with templates)
Branding Tools, Graphics, and Photos
Domain and Hosting Services (if not using one of the sites mentioned above)
Jordan Woods-Robinson is an Actor and Head Honcho at Book From Tape Acting Studios in Orlando, FL. He challenges his actors to harness impulse as a tool, to trust their guts, to work on their feet, to break rules, and, overall, to make bold choices that make a lasting impression through tape. Email Jordan