How to Market Yourself as an Actor | Selling your Brand as a Performer

How to Market Yourself as an Actor

Written by on | Acting Industry

One of my acting tutors used to say: “If you hate it, you need it.” It’s true for a lot of skills that can be difficult to develop as an actor, and especially true about marketing yourself. The business side  of an acting career can be just as monotonous and difficult as any other muggle job, but it is also crucial to your success. So for your sake and mine, let’s delve into how to market yourself as an actor so you can put yourself out there effectively.

Learning how to market yourself as an actor is a vital part of a successful career. It requires an online presence, fostering authentic ways to engage with your community so that you can extend your network. Marketing yourself also requires consideration as to your branding, or ‘type’ so that you pursue correct and achievable goals.

Building a Brand

When I was in drama school, we had a class called Professional Practice which was all about the business side of acting. It took me a fair bit of mental gymnastics to get my head around the idea that, as an actor, you are your brand. You are the name and face of your own brand and you should treat your branding in the same way that any good business does. 

In my article about stage names, I briefly touched on the Twelve Brand Archetypes. This is one of the easiest and most effective templates that an actor can use when it comes to building their brand. The twelve archetypes are aesthetics that brands use to market themselves. What makes them so effective is that they represent different personalities. People are more likely to connect with personalities rather than features or benefits. Here they are:

  • The Outlaw: “Rules are made to be broken.” This archetype makes you feel like you’re out of the ordinary, you’re not going to play by anyone’s rules but your own, you’re a bad boy etc. James Dean is a good example of an actor who was an Outlaw.
  • The Magician: “It can happen.” You’ll see this archetype in a lot of tourism campaigns that want to make a place feel enchanting and magical. This archetype makes you feel like there’s more to life than meets the eye, that your dreams can come true. Michael Gambon in the Harry Potter franchise suits The Magician well.
  • The Hero: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Sports brands like Adidas and Nike love The Hero. They want you to feel unstoppable; like anything is possible. Actors like Matt Damon, Tom Holland and Gal Gadot fit The Hero.
  • The Lover: “I only have eyes for you. Feminine fragrances will often market themselves as The Lover. They want to make you feel sensual, beautiful, delicate and graceful. Think Rachel McAdams in The Notebook.
  • The Jester: “If I can’t dance, I’m not a part of it.” This archetype has become more popular in modern advertising, it fits well with The Everyman (see below). It appeals to the goof in you, it’s off-kilter and sometimes a bit bizarre. Jack Black is textbook Jester.
  • The Everyman: “You’re just like me and I’m just like you.” This is another archetype that is getting more and more popular in film and television. Think about all of the Netflix series these days that have main characters who are everyday people with everyday problems. The Everyman is all about relatability: Tom Hanks, Jason Segel, Jennifer Lawrence.
  • The Caregiver: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” Most charity organisations market themselves as Caregivers to appeal to peoples’ inner parent. They want to make you feel like you can do good, that you can lend a hand to those who need it. Julia Roberts usually plays The Caregiver.
  • The Ruler: “Power isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” A lot of luxury brands such as Mercedes, Rolex and Louis Viton use this archetype, because money equals power in this day and age? The aim is to make you feel mighty and respected. Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.
  • The Creator: “If it can be imagined, it can be created.” Tech companies love this one. They want you to feel like the world is at your fingertips, if you can dream it then you can create it. Anthony Hopkins in Westworld is a great example, as is Richard Attenborough in Jurassic Park.
  • The Innocent: “Life is simple and simplicity is elegant.” A lot of cosmetic brands such as Dove and Aveeno want to provoke a feeling of simplicity and elegance in their commercials. Timothee Chalamet suits The Innocent well.
  • The Sage: “The truth will set you free.” Apple, Google and BBC are all about knowledge and understanding, and so is The Sage. They want you to feel like there are answers to your questions, that with learning and knowledge comes power. John Hurt made a good Sage in my eyes.
  • The Explorer: “Don’t fence me in.” Any outdoorsy brand markets themselves as The Explorer. They want you to feel a sense of boundlessness, like the world is out there and waiting to be explored even though we have satellite navigation. Emile Hirsch is a good example of Explorer.

Tl;dr? Personalities are marketable. A great way to start building your brand is to figure out which archetype you suit best and, yes, it can be a combination of two or even three. Think about the way you like to dress, the things you’re interested in, ask your close friends what archetype they think you are.

“But wait, this is typecasting!”

Yes, it is. I think we need to dismiss the belief that typecasting is always bad. Playing diverse roles is fun and varied, but when it comes down to it, you have to play by the industry’s rules and generally, the industry wants you to represent something specific whether that’s a rebel without a cause or a paragon of virtue. You’re more likely to land more roles if you can fit a specific type of character rather than being a blank canvas upon which anything can be painted – even that is falling into Creator or Magician territory.

Now that you’ve got your brand to think over, let’s look at some ways to develop it.

How to Market Yourself as an Actor Online

Marketing online can feel a little overwhelming—given how many different platforms and websites you might feel require your attention. Below, I’ll give you some advice on the major ones to hit up, but don’t feel as though you need to be everywhere all at once. Wherever you are posting your fine features, here’s a few rules to follow:

  • Consistency. Try to post to a schedule, with content planned in advance. Sporadic posting means that people don’t retain awareness of you, and fewer posts will mean you’re pushed down the scroll of endless content. It’s like treading water: keep your head up!
  • Professionalism. The internet is written in ink. Anything you post will be there forever … and discovered at the worst possible time for your career. There’s no rule against having fun, but post/speak/comment like you’re at a job interview. Be proud of the things a person can trace to your name online.
  • Boundaries. In a post-influencer culture, there’s a real blur to the line between posting as a professional and posting as the human you are. Increased access and contact with people may raise your follows and likes, but know that drawing the line with these interactions is your fundamental right. Stay safe, feel respected.

Instagram

Everyone and their dogs, quite literally, are on Instagram these days. It’s very well suited for actors because of how aesthetically focused the platform is.

Create a professional page that is dedicated to all things actor-y. The name of the page should be something like “@firstname.lastname” or, if that’s taken, “@firstname.lastname_actor”. Your name is also the name of your brand so keep it simple and professional. The bio of your Actor Insta, as it shall be referred to from henceforth, should have links to your website, your representation and any projects that you’re currently working on.

Any photos or videos you post should showcase you, first and foremost. Snaps of your lunch and sunsets are reserved for your personal Insta; your Actor Insta is all about you, your talent, and your gorgeous mug. While you should throw in the odd headshot or self-tape you’re particularly fond of, don’t fill your page up with just that. It’ll end up looking bland and repetitive, and like you’re constantly going for the job but never booking it.

This is when your chosen archetype(s) come into play. Try posting content that showcases your archetype. For example, if you’re The Explorer, get some shots of you hiking through the great outdoors. If you stick to your archetype, your Actor Insta will have a very clear theme and colour palette, and signify to potential employers that you have an understanding of branding. You can also post good quality production photos and any photos you take with other artists to start building up your links and demonstrate that you’re active in the industry.

X (Twitter)

I think I speak for many fellow Gen Z’s when I say that Twitter is a mysterious place to me–I don’t know anyone my age who actually has an active Twitter account. But my research has told me that Twitter is a great platform to engage in conversation with other artists and influential people such as directors and casting directors. You can and should be doing this on your Actor Insta too, but if Instagram is mostly for looks then Twitter is mostly for chat.

When you engage in online conversation on any platform make sure it’s genuine. Being unnecessarily controversial or contrived will damage your reputation and make people less inclined to follow or engage with you. Make sure if you’re replying or reposting something, that you have a personal and vested interest in the topic itself and not just that it was posted by a high-profile casting director.

Showcast, Casting Networks, StarNow, Altai and many, many more

The list of profile-based casting websites seems to get longer every single day. But they’re important to be represented on, as they are how many casting directors, producers and directors first engage with your brand. Casting networks depend on your locality, but the heavy-hitters are Backstage, Showcast, Casting Networks (inventive title, right?) and StarNow.

Bear in mind that most of these websites are subscription-based services; before you throw down your money make sure you have good material for your profile: headshots, showreel and an updated CV. Without these, curious parties won’t have anything to look at when they stumble across you.

Facebook

You won’t find yourself using Facebook in the way you may think: I’m not going to recommend you build yourself a fan page (unless you’re looking for a hobby, in which case you do you.) Facebook is a great marketing tool if you’re willing to join and participate in Groups and related pages for actors, theatre and film in your local area. These communities are a great way to get a few lines of credit on your CV, or gain some much-needed on-set experience. You’re unlikely to book any high-paying jobs this way, but you also never know what kind of exciting project you might stumble upon.

Personal Website

There are two huge benefits to having your own website: one, it makes you look like a proper professional and two, you have complete control of the content. DIY website tools are hot property at the moment, with WordPress, SquareSpace and Wix being the most popular. They do have a slight learning curve and are “freemium” services that lock certain features behind a paywall.

If you’re tight on cash and time like the rest of check out about.me to get yourself a free, one page website. It’s certainly the quickest way to centralise your online presence, but you won’t be able to make it look as schmick as a properly designed website.  

Design, colour, layout and font are all important to consider. Remember that you’re building a brand for yourself, so you want to make design choices that align with your archetype. Think of your personal website like a slick, online CV. Much like your Showcast and/or Casting Networks profile, your website should have your big, beautiful headshot on the front page, showreels and voice-reels and list your credits and skills.

Electronic Press Kit

The last thing you’ll need is an Electronic Press Kit. This is basically what you would include in an email to casting directors: your headshot and CV. You can include a compressed showreel file, but its a lot easier these days to include a link on your CV (and one in the body of the email you send them, if you want them skipping straight to the good stuff.)

You have every right as an actor to send a friendly hello and your EPK through to casting directors you admire. You aren’t guaranteed a reply so don’t bank on getting one, but a lot of industry folks appreciate it when actors reach out. It demonstrates professionalism and ambition, so don’t be afraid of sending an email once a year as your material updates. 

The Real World

So much of our lives are spent online these days that it’s easy to forget that there’s a REAL WORLD outside our homes and muggle jobs. The real world is very important for actors when marketing, as a lot of their early career support will come from the connections they make with other artists in foyers, classes and on the sets of some student- and low-budget films.

Independent Projects

We’ve written a couple of articles in recent weeks about the importance of working in independent theatre and student films. From a marketing perspective, these projects are relatively easy to access and they are the single best ways you can build your network as an actor in the early stages of your career. I feel that it is worth mentioning not every independent project you work on will guarantee you a great cast and crew. Sometimes you’ll work with people who you don’t vibe with or don’t have the same level of interest in the craft as you do. That’s okay. If you extend your network by even one person, that’s a win. Get chatting to the good eggs, show them your Actor Insta and keep an eye on the things they work on next to see if any of their new projects need actors.

Screenings and Showings

As well as working in theatre and film, you should be watching it, too. Not only is it essential to expose yourself to art to better your own practice, going to theatre shows and film screenings are great ways to meet like-minded industry people.

Here’s some personal advice that’s really worked for me. I get socially anxious and the idea of waltzing up and introducing myself to a total stranger, so an opening night is an express ticket to said anxiety. If this is something you can relate to, think about it like this: instead of going up to someone in the hope that they’ll remember you and put your name forward for a role, go up to someone to tell them that you really enjoyed the show and they should be very proud. That’s it. Don’t attach any kind of networking goals to the interaction, just congratulate them. If the conversation goes nowhere from there, great: you’ve just made someone feel good about themselves.

It goes without saying that if you’re going to congratulate someone and you didn’t enjoy the show, don’t pretend that you did. They’ll know. I’ve made that mistake for us so you don’t have to. 

Workshops and Classes

Here at StageMilk, we push every performer we can to take an acting class—regardless of their level or previous study. As well as honing your skills in classes, you’ll meet a lot of people with similar goals and a mindset to you. Make friends with the good ones and try to make a regular meeting time with them to read plays, run monologues, shoot self-tapes and all that good stuff. 

Within any of these scenarios, the key is to be selfless and focused on the other person/people. Much like acting, where your greatest successes on stage or screen will come from supporting your cast member to their best performance, rather than your own. People love that person. People remember them.

Conclusion

Woo, that was a big article! Because acting is such a people-focused profession, marketing it is especially important and unique. Seeing as how you’re marketing yourself, a big part of doing that effectively is a simple as being authentic. It can seem contrived when we talk about building a brand for ourselves and putting ourselves out there, but it should feel natural, and even a bit exciting, if you’re passionate about what we do and staying true to the brand: you.

Hope this helped. See you around the traps!

 

About the Author

Frazer Shepherdson

Frazer (he/him) is a writer, actor and director. He has worked professionally in film, television and theatre since 2016 and graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts with a Bachelor in Acting in 2021.

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