Photos of Conan in Movies

Should An Actor Have His Own Website

Monday, 28 September 2009

Recently on an Actors forum I replied to a post asking if an actor should have a personal website. Another qualified poster said it was more than important it is essential these days and talked about the old days when you would get out the Telephone book and look someone's number up.

He then went on to say when was the last time you looked up a business in the Telephone book? Years and years if I can remember rightly, probably over 10 years for me. These days I type in the business namke into a search engine and get the details from the web, or if that fails I use the Yellow Pages online.

You as an actor are a business, selling yourself, so yes you need to get online and findable.... 

He then went onto say that an Actor should register his own name (or get a stage name and register that) as your URL (web address) for example. This leaves little room for mistakes when someone is trying to find you. 

Choosing a unique stage name will also help with this, it'd be worthwhile registering common misspellings as well - for example - as you do not want cyber squatters feeding your fans a BS site filled with whatever junk they can make money off.


Advantages To An Actor Of Having A Website 

Being findable lets Producers and Directors track you down if they need you, maybe your agent is being difficult and they want to talk to your directly. Maybe you are in a different country and they want to find you, maybe they saw you in another movie and all they have is your name but want to offer you a job. You need to be findable and contactable.

You can also grow your fan club, who also provide leads and inside info on upcoming roles and auditions, plus they will be your commercial base from who you can earn additional money with sales.

Plus you can make friends. 

My website has 2 purposes, and it was designed from scratch as such;

  1. To return me when anyone searches for tall actor, big wrestler, 7 foot bodybuilder, muscleman, or any combination thereof and many others. Basically if someone is looking for a big actor then I come up in the first 2 or 3 results in search engines. Meaning not only will I be found, in online searches I dominate my Niche market, meaning I will be found first with little effort.
  2. To provide income.
  1. Regular monthly income whether I work or not comes in from Google Adsense ads and selling eBooks that I have written as well as commission from selling others products. Soon I will be selling my own DVD's. Currently the website pays my modest (spartan) living expenses (when it is running right), I call it my unemployment benefit.
  2. When I do a big US movie my website will be flooded with fans. And the passive income will go up easily 10 times and probably to 100 times the traffic and most importantly income that I now recieve without any further time or effort. How would you feel getting 100 times the money that is enough to survive upon in a passive income stream, each month, every month for the foreseeable future?

This is all realistic, I know all this as I worked in Internet Advertising for a few years before I decided to chase my dream.

Imagine Dolph Lundgren, for example, had a workout video (they were popular back then) and book available and for sale when Rocky IV first came out! How many people would have bought it? Maybe not too many as he was depicted as a cheat in the movie, but maybe enough fans would have been interested - it would have made an interesting and posibly very lucrative experiment. He would have been a better physical role model than the top selling fitness guru at the time Richard Simmons.

For example on Google even just last month there are still 40,000 searches for "Rambo Knife" - a percentage of them would be looking to buy. Imagine Sylvester Stallone licensed one particular knife and it had his name etched on it, and say Sylvester Stallone made $1 per sale. You'd be looking at a steady monthly income (there are other similar searches with different wording) with no work besides the official Sylvester Stallone website, with the official Rambo Knife with the sale linking off to the licensed manufacturer, ie no work, the income is purely passive after the setup.

Now say that makes $2000 a month. That is not a lot for a major star like Sylvester Stallone but do you know how much that would help a charity in Cambodia, it would help fund rural hospitals and schools all over the country helping millions of poor people who suffer and die from such small things that could be cured with $1 worth of penicillin as a real example. I read an article on a forum where a small rural school almost had to close down due to a $20/month shortfall - the expats kicked in the needed money but you see how things are very different in developing countries.

To give you real life examples of my website generating work for me, this is what I have so far been offered because of my website:

  1. Drona, got it - the Hindi movie - being in this helped me get in Chandni Chowk To China
  2. Big Bang with Antonio Banderas, auditioned for lead but did not get it
  3. HBO TV series Pilot, brought to my attention by a fan, got casting still waiting on reply.(UPDATE: Game of Thrones - got it)
  4. Car Insurance TVC, used some video off my site as supporting data for the audition and got the job instantly
  5. US Horror Movie, approached but not auditioned
  6. Expressions of interest in a Sci-Fi and in a Horror flick still seeking investment
  7. American Gladiators Casting Director contacted me directly from my website but not being American I could not audition
  8. Several other projects that did not get funding
  9. I have met influential people in the industry and have also made friends which leads to future possible work offers (there is one low budget on the table pending investment)
  10. An agent was researching me and upon seeing how much effort I had put into promoting myself online agreed to take me on

Without my website I would still be a "juniour talent" and would have to give up being an actor and settle for at best being a local hero in S.E. Asia, without the website I would have to get a day job, because I had to with no option.

Plus I have used the site as a reference to many and it backs up that I am a serious actor and not some glorified extra with a big mouth.


You cannot pay someone $2000 and expect them to make the site bring you work, you need to work it, learn Search Engine Optimisation, you need to learn to use a Content Management System otherwise you'll have to learn to code it all yourself.

At very least you need to know how to write the copy that supports your niche, talents and genres.

The Internet is going to be bigger than TV, Cinema, Radio and Theatre combined get into it now, the US Producers and Directors are using Google and IMDB more than AT2, Showcast and every other Australian casting website combined.


Building Your Website 

You do not even need to learn to make a website, you just need to learn how to use some relatively simple software like a Content Management System.

This is a complex database driven website (none of this matters to you) that lets you build a website just by typing and hitting save. If you can write an email you can 'build' a website.

I use CMS for my site. Just look at the different templates, find one you like, edit the graphics to suit your own site, and upload it and then chose it from the menu - don't worry all instructions are very easy to follow and there is an extremely helpful community forum.

You can "plug in" all sorts of extensions that cover nearly all aspects of websites, shopping carts, forums, picture galleries, restricted members areas, pretty much anything is doable with a few clicks.

Awesome. Doing this has allowed me to concentrate on writing content and adding to my site rather than stuffing around with the programming.

Best yet the Joomla programming code is open source, meaning you have full access should you find that you need to modify something for your own liking.

Also you will find that many of the developers are based in Poland so you can get good quality professional service by the guys who wrote it for a song compared to what you'd have to pay a Westerner.

My website is now over 1000 pages with a great deal of functionality added on and a few customisations. Have a look and see how complex it looks, though it is like a car, you just need to know how to drive it you don't need to know how the engine works. 


Being Found As An Actor On The Web

TEXT, lots of relevant text is key to top search engine placings, that and links with your keywords in the anchor text.

Keywords are words people type into the search engine to find information, how relevant the search engines think your site is to the query determines how high you place in the rankings.

For example I have a article debunking the "300 Workout" from the movie called 300.

Here is a link to my article: the-300-workout

By reading it you may find the english a little bulky or awkward but you need to use your keywords repeatedly and saying thing like "this movie" won't rate in Google, saying "the 300 movie" will rate for 300 movie in Google.

The linked article above is on the verge of over optimisation, this is something you have to be careful of. Overoptimisation is when the Search Engines decide you are spamming (over use) of keywords in an attempt to rate higher.

So doing a page of "Australian actor, Australian actor..... etc" will not rate at all and likely the site will be completely removed form the index.

The above article has been removed from Yahoo search results, possibly due to overoptimisation but I got the article in the top 10 Goole results and the additional traffic was worth losing the Yahoo visitors.

Google has about 85% market share of searches, forget about the other engines, Google is the only one that really counts unless you know exactly what you are doing then Yahoo can be very profitable, I don't understand Yahoo at all so I forget about it and concentrate on the majority of the market.


Is this hard work? Yes. Is it easier than competing on a level playing field with 100,000 other actors? YES. Doing this or any other method that the herd does not follow will help you get ahead. Social sites are the new rage with everyone doing it - trying to generate followers often with sexy photos and the like - does that really help your acting career? No. Better spend the time bein a good actor.

If you are sitting around waiting for an agent to bring you work then you need to ask yourself what are you doing to generate work, if you are doing nothing then why do you expect your agent to do anymore.... clearly you are not serious about your career. 

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