HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
It's possible you're being told as an actor that a certain way of marketing is still the cool thing to do. I'm here to tell you that it's not.
I want to tell you how all of this started, though, because it happened by accident.
I went to a coffee shop with a couple of actor girlfriends of mine, and we went all out, baby, gathering marketing materials to send in the mail.
We did everything that has been considered a best practice in the past.
We printed headshots, resumes, postcards...
...I still have a pile of postcards btw that I thought were so cool!
I had good photos on the front and the back with white space to write a note.
I even put an arrow on the front with my name in the arrow as like a mind trick to get my recipients to turn it around and actually look at the back of it and maybe read what it said.
And guess what happened? NOTHING.
We'll address three reasons why in a minute.
In this post, I'm going to explain why mailing marketing materials is a dated practice and breakdown what you need to do instead.
The power of post cards and mail outs for actors is dead. There are new rules for following up with casting directors, directors, and producers.
My husband saw an article on LinkedIn and said, "Hey, there are a lot of top business coaches supporting this article, and it discusses what you want to teach other actors how to do."
If applicants did what was in that LinkedIn article, they were way more likely to get hired based on the stats.
Now, we use a different language as actors. We say we're getting cast or we're booking a gig, but it's the same thing. You're getting hired.
If you continue to ignore the business and marketing side of acting, it's not gonna just go away. Nowadays, however, part of your marketing is about correctly nurturing relationships.
The good news is you do not need an MBA or a lot of money to implement what I'm going to teach you in this article.
THE BIG MARKETING MISTAKE ACTORS MAKE
Imagine that you have figured out how to communicate with your connections in a way that keeps you from getting lost in that pile of marketing materials.
What most actors still do is print out headshots, resumes, or postcards to send as marketing materials in the mail, and that is a huge mistake.
I think you'll agree with me when I say I need to get my face and my name out there so people remember I exist because they're seeing hundreds of other actors during the week.
So what are we supposed to do?
For starters, don't waste your money on outdated marketing techniques.
What if I told you that there is a really easy and stupid cheap way to market yourself that is also scientifically proven to boost your confidence?
We get rejected a lot more than we get accepted in this business, so we need some kind of built-in system to help us boost our confidence.
So if you're an actor that's still confused about how to best market yourself without looking desperate, without wasting money, and without getting caught up in gimmicks to get attention, then I'm about to give you the solution, but there's a formula I want you to follow.
There are a few important do's and don'ts, and I want you to come out of the gate doing this the right way.
I had a learning curve and so I want to give you the shortcut in this post.
The solution (the one mentioned in that LinkedIn article) is to start writing thank you cards to the people that have already said yes to you in this business, but let's make sure you're writing them correctly so they have the intended effect.
Disclosure: Hey Actor Boss, I have affiliate links for thank you cards in this post, which means at zero extra cost to you, I make a commission if you purchase through my link. I made the decision to add affiliate links so I can keep this blog up and running. Since you need to order cards specific to your branding, I'm not linking to cards I've personally purchased, but rather linking to Amazon's top hits with blank insides like I suggest buying.
If the only takeaway you get from this entire post is the one phrase I want you to avoid (I mean totally eliminate from your vocabulary as an actor) then this post is going to be worth your time.
I want to share something with you quickly that I shared on Instagram.
You are at a crossroads right now. You can either be an actor that says, "I should learn the business of marketing side of acting. I should do something, but I just want to be an actor."
However, this mindset will not help you build a solid foundation for success.
In this post, I'm gonna give you my tips and tricks for writing stellar thank you cards that have gotten me responses, including one from a director saying that they wanted to work with me again.
Have you had that happen to you yet? Imagine for a second how good that would feel. Validation, baby!
If you want to know how to contact casting directors nowadays, or anyone else you work with, keep reading.
WHY MAILING HEADSHOTS DOESN'T WORK NOW
Let's go back to the coffee shop scenario and why nothing came of our mailing efforts.
So in the past the idea was that you would send out your marketing materials, and even if they got thrown into the trash (and they still do), then at least they would see your face on the way to the trash.
And if you did that enough, it would just burn your image into their brains and they would have to think about you the next time they're casting, and it's worked--in the past.
I even heard a reputable casting director say she cast someone that started working as a full-time actor that she normally wouldn't have called in just because the actor's face was stuck in her mind because of the marketing materials they constantly mailed.
But nowadays one of three things is going to happen. Comment and let me know if you've experienced these.
Number One: You won't even find a mailing address. Zip. Nada.
Why? Because nowadays a lot of people work from home, and their home address and their work address are the same. They like their privacy, and we need to respect that.
Number Two: You're gonna find an address on their website, but you'll also see a big fat disclaimer that says, "Do not send us marketing materials. No unsolicited submissions. Do not send us snail mail. We do not accept snail mail."
You can't ignore that. If you do, it's either gonna look like you don't do your research, meaning you're not gonna research your auditions or gigs; or you saw the disclaimer and ignored it, so you're an actor that can't take notes.
It's super important to a casting director that you can take notes on set, so they're gonna think, "Oh, they're not gonna take notes from a director on set so never mind."
Listen, people in this business do not forget a face! So if they say don't send anything and you send something with your face plastered everywhere guess what? They know who you are. It's locked into their brains.
Number Three: Your mail will get returned with a big fat Return to Sender stamp because the addresses are either old or fake.
This was the most heartbreaking for me because I thought I had good addresses! We had addresses from a very reputable publication at the coffee shop that day. I'm just throwing that out there.
I let one of my actor friends use my P.O. Box as her return address. A handful of her mail got sent back to the box saying return to sender. Those envelopes were addressed to the people that I know you consider to be big hitters as an actor that you want to see your face.
Again, it's just another way to protect their privacy and to weed out all of the marketing materials because nowadays actor marketing materials just feel like spam.
WHY ACTOR THANK YOU CARDS FLIPPING ROCK
So what heck are we supposed to do? We gotta get our face and our name out there, right?!
Well, I'll tell you what I did. I went home. I was kind of down in the dumps about it.
I thought I was being pro. Like I was doing the thang and showing up in a way a lot of actors weren't.
I thought, "You know what? This makes me even more grateful for the people that are already supporting me and have already said yes to me, so I'm gonna write thank you cards."
People started responding to my thank you cards, and I had this epiphany.
The thank you cards are really high on the scale of awesomeness, and marketing materials are really low on the scale of awesomeness.
Thank you cards don't feel like spammy marketing--if you do them correctly like I'm gonna teach you here in just a minute.
Side note: if you know any other actors that need this training please feel free to share this post on social.
5 REASONS ACTORS MUST WRITE THANK YOU'S
I want to dig into five reasons that you must be writing thank you cards so you don't shove this idea to the side.
Reason 1: Your mail is way more likely to get opened and seen.
Again, I already had a working relationship with the director that got back to me that I mentioned earlier.
Let's say they have a big pile of marketing materials on their desk versus a card that makes them think, "Oh, this is from Spurgeon. We just worked together. What is this?"
Now think about your own habits when you're opening mail. How do you feel when you get spammy flyers that you just can't figure out how to get off the mailing list for?
Now how do you feel when you get a card from somebody whose name you recognize. You're probably gonna open that card, yeah?
Thank you cards don't feel like spam. They're more likely to get opened.
I had a legitimate address to send that thank you card to because I'd been to a location. I had a call sheet. I had good addresses, but I know what you're thinking!
"Doesn't that mean I can send my marketing materials?" No! I want you to nurture the relationship.
This is gonna be part of what sets you apart from other actors that are just always constantly self-promoting. I'm not saying you should never self-promote. I'm saying there's a time and a place.
I want you to nurture that relationship first and foremost.
I don't want you to be an actor that abuses the knowledge of having a really legitimate address.
Reason 2: You will never be too famous to write thank you cards.
This is a practice that you can learn and keep with you throughout the remainder of your career. You'll never even be too famous to write a thank you letter to your talent agent.
If for some reason you are famous and reading this, even if you're giving people gifts but not writing really personalized thank you cards the way that I'm about to teach you, you need this training. Just straight up. I said it, ok?! What?!
Reason 3: It's scientifically proven to boost your confidence.
This is something that actors struggle with a lot because we're in a constant cycle of rejection. I used to think this was really "woo woo," but the science has spoken.
It just seems like it's too easy to work. I think that's why I thought that, but go do the research on this.
The chemical reactions in our brains when we express gratitude prevent us from simultaneously being insecure or upset.
So why not at the same time boost somebody else's confidence? I'm gonna show you how here in just a minute.
Reason 4: It is easier to get booked again-and-again by the same people than to convince someone to say yes to you for the first time.
We see this a lot in acting. If I say Tim Burton, what actor do you think of? Johnny Depp. If I say Martin Scorsese, what actor do you think of? Leonardo DiCaprio.
It's not that they exclusively work together, they just already liked working together and continue to do so.
When you finally get those connections that you want to have, but you don't already have this as a habit, you're not gonna magically start writing thank you cards. Start doing it now.
Nurture the relationships of the people that you have already worked with.
Reason 5: People in this business are just straight-up gonna like you and appreciate you a lot more if you're an actor that shows appreciation.
I want you to imagine with me for a second that you are somebody, anybody, on the other side of the camera in this business that constantly has hundreds of actors coming at them saying, "Me me me me me! Cast me cast me cast me!"
You know that friend that you have that only talks about themselves, and they never ask you questions? No, you don't because you quit hanging out with them because that crap is annoying.
I don't want you to be that actor.
This is a great way to help you break that cycle.
I want you to be comfortable with the idea of being an actor that is interested and not always trying to be interesting.
I want you to be an actor that gives and doesn't always take.
Even if people you work with don't go out to drinks or coffee with you, you want them to feel like they could.
Cuz set days are long hours, and there is an aspect of actors working when they're easy to work with. So I want that to be you.
Bonus Reason: It's stupid cheap, y'all!
So I just heard a statistic that I think all-in a thank you card is like 70 cents on average.
I got a six-pack of cards and envelopes for $1.00 in the front bins at Target!
They're not always there, but sometimes they are. Plus, because they're small cards, you just need a regular postage stamp.
I know for fact they're 50 cents at the Dollar Tree, y'all! And the envelope's included.
ACTOR THANK YOU CARD TIPS AND TRICKS
Let's talk about tips and tricks.
Tip 1: I want you to type out a draft of your thank you card in your phone before you actually write in the card.
Again, we're not trying to waste money. I cannot tell you how many thank you cards I threw away before I was like, "Oh, duh I can just do a draft first elsewhere and then transfer it to the card," because you need to be writing these in pen.
My husband actually just got an erasable pen that is really cool, so I mean that could work, but you want it to look as clean as possible.
Since you have your phone with you all the time, pull up the Notes app or something similar, and just type out a draft based on my templates that we'll talk about in a minute.
Then once you get it all finalized and edited, you can transfer it over to the card now that you've made sure it's the best possible edit.
Tip 2: Read the card out loud before you transfer your final draft into the card.
This will help you catch grammatical errors that maybe you just glazed over after reading the draft so many times, and you're also going to hear if it sounds like your voice or not.
Ask yourself, "If I were standing in front of this person saying these words to them, does it sound like me?" That's hugely important for branding your card and building a connection because it needs to be in your voice.
Tip 3: Handwritten cards are always, always best.
I know for a fact that pro actors that are booking aren't doing this. How? Because one of them told me.
I've sent an email thank you before, and I regretted it.
If you email a thank you, it kinda feels like you're being lazy.
Also, think about your own habits. When you're going through your email and somebody just shoots you a quick thanks, you're not responding to that. You're gonna delete it. It's not ever gonna get hung on a cork board, either.
Sometimes you can't find an address like we discussed. I get that. I've had a situation where, even though I booked with someone and already emailed back and forth with them, I could not find an address to save my life.
I did all the smart little tricks trying to find it on the corporate site, etc. Could not find an address. So sometimes it is okay to shoot an email. I actually didn't, and I should have in that scenario.
But even if you're forced to send an email thank you, I still want you to use the same template you would use for a handwritten card.
Handwritten is best, even if you have chicken scratch writing. Do not let that stop you.
I still want you to buckle down for one card at a time, and make it as legible as possible. I'm telling you, it is gonna make it feel a lot more personal, and that's what you want.
Tip 4: Keep cards in your car to write on-the-go.
I need to work on this, so we're gonna do it together because if you're like me, even though I'm extroverted and get energy from being around people, I am pooped when I leave a shoot!
I just want to stop somewhere to get a little treat or some dinner and recalibrate before I get home to my hubby. Then when I get home, I want to just veg out on the couch, especially if I have a commute because driving is also exhausting if you have a long way to go.
I want you to sit in your car if you're in a safe place. Keep your head on a swivel, okay? I don't want anybody sneaking up on you, especially if you're a woman.
You can also stop somewhere and type out that draft in your phone at a minimum, then put a reminder in your phone to finish that card the next day--the very next day.
Because let me tell you something, if you leave set and like two days later your thank you card is there, you are gonna look so pro!
Again, I told you I need to work on this.
If you wait too long, it feels like an afterthought, but you can follow up with your thank you card once the project releases. That's another time when it's fresh on everyone's mind and it makes sense to send one.
Tip 5: Brand your card.
The outside of the card really needs to be reflective of you, your personality, and who you are, but the inside of the card is all about the recipient.
Since you're trying to build a connection and you don't want it to feel generic, then I want you to find designs on cards that "feel" like you.
For example, I'm probably not gonna buy any cards with pink on them. I also really like bright, bold colors and designs. I'm probably not gonna buy a card that's super minimalist.
If you are the person whose tie is always tight and uses professional language, get a card that feels like that feels like a suit and tie.
Now, it doesn't actually need to say thank you on the front as long as it doesn't say something random like happy birthday or happy anniversary that doesn't make sense.
I'm gonna show you how to correctly say thank you on the inside of the card, but it's more intriguing to see the front of a card and wonder, "Who is this from? What's in here?"
That makes someone open a card. It's called curiosity marketing.
FOLLOW UP MISTAKE ACTORS SHOULD AVOID
Now let's get to the last two tips on mistakes to avoid.
Tip 6: Absolutely NO photos of you allowed.
I just told you that the card needs to be reflective of who you are, but they should not look like you. Nooooo!
Don't do it! Why?
Because it's going to feel like marketing as soon as they see your face on the card, and it's going in the trash.
I read a Facebook post from a casting director recently that said that he straight-up trains his casting assistants to trash all marketing materials so that he can get to the mail he actually needs.
So if they're going through mail and they see a little card with your face, or they can even see your face through the card, they'll think, "Marketing, marketing, marketing."
Now part of what's happening in your brain right now is you're thinking, "What if they don't know what I look like?! I've gotta include a photo!"
For starters, you have a working relationship with them. I told you before, and I hear this all the time, people in this business do not forget a face.
They might forget your name, but they ain't gonna forget your face.
You've worked together, and you should be writing these in a timely manner so they're gonna remember you.
Now here's the beauty of what happens if they don't. Think about what you would do.
You get a card in the mail. The name looks familiar, and it's this really nice well-written thank you card and you think, "Who is Spurgeon Perkins?"
What are you gonna do?
You're gonna go type that name into a search bar and look up who it is.
Now hopefully you have amazing things that pop up when people search for your name. Have you checked? Do that.
But that means you have effectively gone from being someone lost in marketing materials to an actor that someone is searching for online. That is really gonna leave a stamp in their brains about you, but it's probably not gonna happen.
They're gonna recognize your name, so resist the temptation to put your face on the card, on the envelope, in the card, in the envelope, any of that. Stop. It will feel like marketing.
Now a while back I did a search "thank you cards for actors" and a lot of my images from my blog about thank you cards popped up in the top hits. Guess what the two hits were that beat me?
They were templates for thank you cards for actors with a little space for a headshot. No! I am telling you resist, resist, resist because I want your card to get read, so you must keep it from feeling like marketing.
Tip 7: Never use the phrase, "I really hope we work together again."
This is the phrase I desperately want you to avoid. It seems innocent. It's not.
You're passively asking for something.
It feels to the recipient like, "Oh, I got this wonderful c--oh they just want me to cast them again."
It's okay if other people in this business say that you as an actor, and if they do I want you to say, "Thanks so much. I really appreciate that. Me, too." Then change the subject or say bye. Move along. Don't dwell on it.
We don't really necessarily have anything to offer the people we're writing these to, but they have something to offer us, so this phrase will always feel very one-sided.
So especially if it is in terms of you writing a card for a booking, then please avoid this phrase.
If for some reason you're on set talking to an actor that's more known than you, I don't want you to say it to them either because what you're really saying is, "Hey I really hope you refer me so I get cast again. This is really about me. Hahahahaha!"
We want to avoid making requests in the card.
Even if you've said this phrase in the past, just move forward at this point. Don't say anything else about it. Don't bring it up. Don't apologize for it. Just from this point forward don't use it anymore.
PROVEN ACTOR THANK YOU CARD TEMPLATES
When I first started doing this I told you I had a learning curve. I would just write, "Hey. Thanks. Bye."
So that brings us to the question, "What the heck are we supposed to say?"
You don't want to fall into the trap of your cards feeling too generic as if any actor could've written them.
Let me tell you something about my personality that works against me when it comes to writing cards in case you can relate.
If you've ever taken a Myers-Briggs personality test, I'm an ENTJ which is called "The Field Marshall." So my results always say. "You're great at setting goals and crushing them. You love results." That's true.
My DISC, if you've ever taken that one, is like all D for Dominance. The D is pushing out of the top of the chart. There's a C kind of on the midline, but the D is trying to push it down below the midline.
The results alway say, "You love results, but don't forget people have feelings."
Oh, dang! This kind of sucks for me writing a card because that means I don't translate very well via text. If you can't see me or hear me sometimes my tone feels too direct or accidentally harsh.
I don't want you to feel overwhelmed about not knowing what to write or how you're gonna translate via text because if I've gotten good feedback even with my personality type, that means it will work for anybody.
My husband's love language is Words of Affirmation, and when we got married I was like, "What the crap is words of affirmation?"
I thought I could just say, "I love you," and that would be enough, but he would say, "It's just too generic. It's something anybody can say to me, but it doesn't really have meaning if you don't explain why. I need it to be more personal."
So I realized while I was learning words of affirmation how that could translate to personalizing my professional thank you cards.
You want your thank you cards to build trust, personal connection, and have a long-term positive impact on the recipient, so I want to invite you to download Actor Boss Thank You Cards below to access my templates and writing prompts.
The download has been officially copyrighted. It's legit!
I quickly want to break down for you what that download looks like so that you can know if it's a good fit for you.
It was originally written as a five day challenge which means you can do one section a day for five days, or if you just sit down and read through it, it's maybe gonna take you 15 minutes.
Day 1: How Can Actors Personally Brand a Thank You Card?
The first day goes over everything you need to know about buying cards that are branded to you, and there's maybe only one additional tip that I have not covered in this training because I wanted this training to be super actionable for you whether you get the download or not.
Day 2: To Whom Are Actors Writing Follow Up Thank You Cards?
The second day is going to talk about who you should write to so that you don't leave anyone hanging because there are key people that you should be writing thank you cards to throughout the year. You need more than just a sample thank you note to casting directors.
Day 3: When Should Actors Write Thank You Cards?
The third day is gonna break down when you should write thank you cards because it can turn into overkill even with thank you cards. There's a formula for not looking desperate, but also not making them look like an afterthought. If you're searching for a sample follow up email after an audition, you're on the wrong track.
Day 4: What Should Actors Write in Their Thank You Cards?
The fourth day is really the secret sauce, baby! This is when you get the templates and the prompts you need to write these cards word-for-word, except for the prompts which will instead prompt you to write in a way that only you can.
Day 5: When Is It Appropriate for Actors to Send a Gift?
The fifth day could be a download in and of itself. It has everything you need to know about giving gifts with your cards, all the do's and don'ts. There are times when that's appropriate, and there are times when it is not.
They also don't need to be expensive. In fact, I break down free options in the download as well. That needs to be done correctly, and it needs to be done at the right time and to the right people. I don't you know miss this section because it can really enhance your thank you card if you want it to, or it can detract from it.
ACTOR BOSS THANK YOU CARD TEMPLATE FAQ'S
Let's dig into some of commonly asked questions about the download.
Question 1: Do I need an E-reader?
Nope! It's a really visual PDF download, so you can view it on any device that can read a PDF, which is almost all of them. You can view it on mobile, but you'll also get an email so you can download it on your laptop or desktop.
Question 2: How will my card be personalized if you're giving me a template?
I'm gonna give you word-for-word what the body of the card should say, but then you're gonna see a set of parentheses with a prompt to cue you on what personalized information to write in that space. You'll have word-for-word what I tell you to write in the body, and then you're gonna add your two cents to the prompt. (Just to clarify, you're gonna lose the parentheses when you write the card.)
Remember when I told you to read your draft out loud? When you read it out loud you're gonna realize, "I usually say this word, or I have an urge to use this phrase because that's what I say when I'm talking, especially if I'm talking to this person." Adding those words or phrases will make the card sound like it's "in your voice."
Question 3: Why are there multiple templates? Can I use the same one for everyone?
I don't think you should because what's important to various people in this business is going to be different. Your working relationship with various people in this business is going to be different. So I breakdown the best words and prompts for those various people.
Question 4: Does the download only include the templates?
Nope! There are a lot of additional tips and tricks included that I haven't published anywhere else. The big fat huge bonus section covers really important do's and don'ts on giving gifts, and I really don't want you to miss that.
Question 5: Will I need to buy new templates after I use these?
The templates and prompts are written so that you can use the same ones over-and-over again because the same prompts should inspire you to write something different each time based on the situation. If I update it for any reason, you'll get the new download at no extra charge.
Question 6: How do I know if this download is a good fit for me?
Let's talk about who this download is not for. It is not for everyone who identifies as a performer. So if you're a musician, a dancer, voice-over artist, or a theater/stage actor, you need to know that I'm writing this for actors like me that primarily identify as on-camera talent for film, television, and commercials.
I also don't suggest writing these for extras roles unless something cool happens like you get bumped to a line because that's similar to you getting booked.
Question 7: What if I buy the download, but realize it's not a good fit?
I have a 7-day no questions asked return policy. Simply submit your return request via your payment platform for approval.
I know saving money is a priority for you as an up-and-coming actor.
You could easily spend $100 just printing headshots if you try to mail headshots and resumes--only to find out they're not going anywhere anyway--or you can get my Actor Boss Thank You Cards download today for a fraction of the cost (below).
I cannot wait for you to start using these templates!
I know from the reactions I've gotten that these cards will set you apart as an actor that's a team player.
Remember that LinkedIn article that I mentioned at the beginning? Writing thank you cards is a best business practice, and you are a business.
How much do you value not getting lost in the marketing piles this year?
If I didn't answer your question, please leave one in the comments.
Keep scrolling to learn more about Actor Boss Thank You Cards.
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PIN THIS POST:
The business and marketing side of acting doesn't need to be complicated. A lot of actors I work with tell me, "You're good at the business and marketing side of acting. I need to work on it." Are you going to be an actor that just talks about it, or will you take action this year?
I think you'll agree with me when I say actors hate the words business and marketing. The good news is that you don't need an MBA to market yourself as an actor. In this post, I'll give you a few super easy ways to better market yourself that you can take action on today.
Consider what leadership expert John C. Maxwell has to say about taking action: "Dreams don't work unless you do."
1. BRAND YOUR SOCIAL BANNERS
How many social media platforms are you using? Comment and let me know. I suggest having at least one but no more than three that you actively use. Otherwise, your entire life will be consumed with posting.
One of the easiest ways to make yourself look more professional online is to brand your social banners. In other words, make them all look the same or very, very similar. I'll teach you how to do that for free in this post.
Branding your banners will be a lot easier if you create separate personal profiles and business profiles. Facebook makes this the easiest. I suggest having a private personal profile and a public like page. If you want to know why, or need help knowing what to post on which page, read this post.
Human brains love consistency, so if your social banners look the same, it creates a sense of trust that they're in the right place. It will also give you a professional, polished online presence if someone searches your name.
2. USE A NEW HEADSHOT STRATEGY
I have a sad story to tell. I spent $300 on my last headshot session, only for my agent to reject them. In fairness, we had a few technical difficulties at the shoot, especially with the wind, and I tried a new foundation that did not work (Smashbox 15 Hour). I also had a freaking stye in my eye.
Your agent expects new headshots every so often of various looks, but you don't have money to waste if they're not going to use them. To learn more about rotating your photos, read this post.
Side note: I did not realize that agents and casting directors expect to see a full body shot in your casting profiles, so make sure you dress according to your body type so your clothes look flattering. Google what's my body type to find yours. I am a pear, so skinny jeans do not look cute on me in photos, which I learned the hard way. Now I know I need to wear wide leg dress pants or bootcut jeans for my full body photos.
The silver lining to my rejected headshots is that I created a new headshot strategy. Now I'm booking various photographers for just one outfit per session, which is a lot cheaper and will give me a more diverse portfolio throughout the year.
The focus of my next shoot will be a full body shot. While we're at it, I'll see if we can get one good commercial and one good theatrical photo. The next session will be a little more gritty. I'll probably listen to music that makes me cry, work through a good sense memory beforehand, and be ok with my eye makeup looking a little rough.
In summary, I suggest booking various photographers for just one outfit per session, focus on getting one type of shot (see list below), and then ask for a few closeups at each shoot to see if you can get a new commercial or theatrical headshot while you're at it.
Here are a few ideas on how to focus your one-look sessions:
Casting directors love special skills photos, by the way. You may need to hire a very specific photographer if one of your special skills involves action, such as sports, to make sure they know how to capture movement correctly.
Again, only hiring them for one outfit will make the session cheaper. You'll also get better photos because you won't be worried about pulling off various looks. You can just focus on looking awesome at playing sports or looking professional, not both.
3. WRITE THANK YOU CARDS
Please for the love of God stop wasting your money printing and mailing resumes or postcards. I know for a fact that the casting directors you want to get your headshot and resume in front of don't have legitimate addresses listed.
I let an actor friend of mine use my P.O. Box as her return address, and all of her mail to the most popular casting directors was returned because, well, they like their privacy.
Writing thank you cards is always a good idea because you'll be writing to people that you've actually worked with, and you'll have a call sheet or email containing a legitimate address.
Word travels fast in this business, and everyone likes an actor that expresses gratitude. Gratitude also increases your confidence according to a study cited by Forbes.
Please don't assume you know how to write thank you cards correctly. I had a steep learning curve, but now I can write cards that get a response, even from directors. Learn more about how to get started here.
I had a director email me after receiving my thank you card saying he planned to work with me again. That has never happened from me sending out snail mail, assuming it even gets to where I hope it's going (see the first part of this section!).
A lot of actors only ever communicate about themselves. Imagine how tiring that is for casting directors and directors. Now imagine how refreshing it must be for them to have an actor not only say thank you but personalize their card in a meaningful way. I'll teach you how to do it here.
Remember, dreams don't work unless you do.
Here's your marketing checklist for today:
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Writing thank you cards is actually in Stage 2 of your Actor Boss Workflow. Find out if you still need Stage 1 here.
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Should actors tell their age? There's been a lot of debate in the media over the years about whether or not sites like IMDb should allow actors' ages to be posted.
I personally fell victim to that dreaded question in an audition once. Randomly, in the middle of a slate, someone who worked for the production company asked me, "How old are you?" We'll talk more about my answer in this post.
Ultimately, it's up to you to make this decision, but I want you to consider a few things first.
There are reputable Facebook groups for actors managed by casting directors, so what I'm about to tell you comes from a post I saw in one of those groups.
The industry standard (apparently released by SAG-AFTRA) is to pick a 5-year age range.
After doing a quick online search, I didn't find a link directly from the union on this topic, but I did find a few other reputable sources saying the same thing. Do your own research, and comment to let me know if you have a good reference.
My acting coach, who has been on the other side of the camera for hundreds of productions, says we should put 0-99.
So which is it?
ASK YOUR AGENT
I like the idea of not using an age range in my casting profiles. Let casting figure it out!
Ask your agent their two cents because they're the ones submitting your profile and have a better sense of what age range to submit you for.
I would love to change my age range from 0-99, but if it complicates filtering roles for my agent, then it's doing more harm than good. It might not, though, so double check with them to see.
If you don't have an agent, then you can either change your age range to 0-99, or post and ask your friends and family on social media to crowd source your five year range.
WHEN YOU SHOULD TELL
There's an exception to the age range rule that's super important.
The only time an actor should reveal their age is if they're a minor, for legal purposes. A production company can get into big trouble if they violate certain laws. If you look 18, but you're 16, do not lie!
SAG-AFTRA has great resources for Young Performers and Parents including a PDF download discussing information for minors.
Age discrimination is a real thing in this business. Once someone knows your age, they can't see you as any other age, which sucks for your casting opportunities.
Here's how that casting conversation I mentioned earlier went:
Producer: How old are you?
Me: I typically get cast as young 20's.
Producer: I'm not from casting, so it doesn't matter if you tell me.
Me: (knowing this is false) What's the age range for the casting?
Me: Yea that's how I typically get cast.
Remember to keep the conversation light and humorous. Don't get defensive. Directors and producers make the final casting decisions, so their knowledge of you is just as important as casting's.
If someone keeps pushing, my suggested response is the following: "Unless my agent gives me explicit instructions to tell my exact age, then I'm going to stick to the standard age range we've discussed." This takes the pressure off of you because now the answer depends on your agent, who is not in the room.
If they keep pushing, just smile and say, "Nope."
***UPDATE: I TOLD MY AGE***
You're going to spend a lot of time with your hair and makeup artist. They're typically sociable, especially if you're not a diva. Hint: don't be a diva. You can be confident without being a diva.
Anywho, I broke my own rule, and now I regret it. I started chatting with my makeup artist on a shoot about weird issues with my hair. She naturally asked, "Hormones make a difference. How old are you?"
I told her, even though I could've said, "I thought that, too, but I've gotten them tested. No issues there."
Hair and makeup artists are friends with everybody. After I told her my age, I only started receiving auditions in that age range, even though I've had multiple people volunteer I must be within a younger age range based on how I look on camera.
I 100% do not blame that makeup artist. I volunteered that info, but didn't ask her not to tell anyone. Even so, once you've said it, you've said it. I have zero problem telling people outside of work how old I am, but there's (unfortunately) too much baggage with telling people in this industry.
Take my advice: even as a very direct person, I'm telling you to deflect when this topic presents itself.
Here's your checklist:
Picking your age range is only one small part of what you need to do as an actor to build a foundation for long-term career growth. If you're ready to learn about everything else you need besides talent, then learn more about your Actor Boss Workflow here.
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Have you considered starting a blog?
I avoided the blogging craze for years, but I've since learned how insanely important it is for my acting career.
We live in a digital world that we can no longer avoid, but most actors are making the mistake of posting their thoughts and content only on social media--platforms they do not own.
In this post, we'll discuss a few ways blogging can help your acting career and change your future.
People, including casting directors and producers, are researching you online. I've directly heard a handful of very reputable casting directors say so. Let's give them something good to find.
Disclosure: the Weebly links in this blog post are referral links, which means at no additional cost to you, I receive financial credit towards my account if you use my link and make a purchase. However, I still highly recommend Weebly whether you use my link or not. It's the company I use to easily build this blog and site.
1. CASTING OPPORTUNITIES
When you want to know more about someone nowadays, what do you do? Look them up online! Why should you assume that's any different for someone wanting to know about you?
Casting director Marci Liroff (who casts for Spielberg by the way) has such a great quote about this in her article on Backstage:
"I know firsthand that producers, studios, and networks can and do go through your social media. As an actor, when you get hired you are entering into a partnership with the filmmaking team. On a television show, the producers and network are beholden to their advertisers, and they need to make sure that the people involved with their show don’t have skeletons in their online closets."
But let's not assume that the research stops at social media. If anything, they're most likely getting to your social media accounts via a Google search, which means you need hits on Google from your website.
Do you even know what pops up online if you Google your name?
When you start a blog, a majority of search engine results for your name will come from your website and blog content, creating a professional and polished online presentation.
I used Weebly to build this site and blog because of their easy drag-and-drop system. However, you don't need to just blog about your acting. In fact, I recommend against that because it will bore your audience to tears.
While it's ok to mention your booked gigs, you should really focus your blog on a particular niche, even if it isn't related to acting. If you blog about one of your special skills, for example, that can turn into a really great marketing opportunity if casting directors are looking for an actor with that skill.
Let's say a casting director has narrowed down a role to five potential actors that they've pitched to the director and producers. If they need an actor with a particular special skill and they find that you are the only one with a ton of videos and blog posts online showing off that skill, who do you think they'll cast? The actor that looks like a pro, or one who just simply has it listed on their resume?
Your niche doesn't need to focus on a special skill, though. It could simply be a hobby, like beekeeping. Ultimately, having a niched blog with make you look like a well-rounded actor, and therefore more interesting and memorable.
2. INCOME POTENTIAL
Holy smokes, people are making a crap ton of money blogging!
I resisted blogs for a long time. I truly assumed it was only mom bloggers talking about stuff that didn't relate to me. However, blogging has become a legitimate source of income, especially if you create your own digital products.
Please know that it takes time to build up the minimum amount of page views required to really make money with ad income, sponsored posts, or affiliate posts. However, I'm also currently beta testing a course called Actor Boss Income where I teach you the seven streams of income every actor should have.
Those income streams include the best ways to make money that don't require huge traffic numbers each month. I'll come back and link it once we're finished with the initial beta test!
Ultimately, you need your blog posts to start ranking on Google now and years from now. If your blog is focused on a particular topic, it makes it much easier to rank. If you like the way my blog looks, check out Weebly. They make it super easy for me to utilize SEO to help me rank on the first page of Google, even though I'm not an SEO expert.
The key to getting started is publishing niche content that people are actually searching for, which you can find with a free tool like Ubersuggest. Simply type in a word or phrase that applies to a niche you may want to blog about this year.
Ranking will put you in front of your best fans, which opens up the door for income and casting opportunities. I've been easily building my blog on Weebly over the last year, and it started ranking on Google.
I didn't hire anyone for SEO or purchase any Google Ads, and I'm not an expert at either anyway. I simply started.
3. FANS & FOLLOWERS
Aren't you aggravated at the number of social media stars and athletes hopping over into film and television without legitimate acting coaching? I mean we've been working our butts off to get coaching, auditions, and bookings!
But you know why they're able to do it? One word: fans.
Studios and streaming platforms are interested in casting people that are easier to market or already have a fanbase that they know will tune in to watch. Fans mean less money in the marketing budget, and more money in everyone's pockets, which makes projects more successful. It also proves that you're a sure thing since people are already attracted to you.
There's a major caveat here: you cannot keep building your fanbase only on social media. It's not enough to add 500 followers to your Facebook page anymore because you do not own that platform. You can lose those fans at anytime for a number of reasons.
I can't express to you how important a loyal fanbase is these days. Even if you become an A-lister, you need to move your fans off of social media and onto an email list. You cannot do this with Gmail!
Think of your favorite famous actor. If they wanted to write a book, the first question a book agent will ask them is, "How big is your list?" What they're referring to is an email list. Guess what that actor with millions of fans is probably going to answer? "Zero."
If you want ultimate control over your career, you need to safely interact with your fans outside of social media, and the best way to do that is an email list. The best way to grow that email list is by starting a blog, or at the very least have your own site. You can still grow an email list without being famous!
Your niche blog will help you attract your best fans, and give you legal ownership of your reader relationship and content, whereas social media companies maintain the rights to your profile followers and the content you post!
Weebly makes integrating your social media really easy. They offer Facebook and Twitter share options at the end of each post so your readers can market the post for you.
Additionally, you can embed code, which allows you to keep your traffic on site by embedding a YouTube video or Facebook post directly into your blog.
Lastly, Weebly is constantly getting feedback from their customers and updating their platform with cool tools. I just found this new Survey button that allows me to easily engage and interact with my readers without sending them to a separate survey site.
HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'll teach you how to become a screen actor even if you have no experience or if you want to transition from another performance genre. First, what is Actor Boss? Learn more here.