How to Market Yourself as an Actor Without Feeling Sleazy
Posted Sept. 18, 2017, 3 p.m.
This article originally appeared on Backstage Magazine
Does promoting yourself as an actor feel like your least favorite thing to do?
It’s common to feel like acting and marketing yourself are diametrically opposed and completely incompatible. You might even think it’s gross to market yourself, like you’re “selling out” or somehow poisoning the craft itself.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
To be clear, this article isn’t about the “how to” of marketing and promoting yourself as an actor (my friend and fellow Backstage Expert Heidi Dean can give you some great tips on that). What I want to share with you today is how to adjust the way you think and feel about marketing and promoting yourself because if your head isn’t in the right place, taking the steps will feel anywhere from icky to impossible.
This is doubly tough because, in this day and age, actors are expected to not only be actors but entrepreneurs as well. You’re expected to market yourself, to have a thriving social media presence, and to get people to view your work.
That means you need to talk to all those followers and viewers so you can network your way to connecting with the “right people” who will help you take your career to the next level.
I’ve heard it so many times: “I’m a really good actor, but I just can’t promote myself. It feels egotistical and sleazy. I suck at the business side of our craft.”
I’m sure you’ve received those annoying direct messages on Twitter the moment you start following someone: “Hey new follower! Go to my FB page! Watch my Youtube videos, and share them with everyone you know!!!”
And you’ve probably rolled our eyes when you’ve seen people post their acting website on friends’ timelines or plastered it all over Facebook groups: “Check me out!!”
That kind of marketing does feel gross. It’s inauthentic. It comes from a selfish place of what’s best for the person sharing it, not the person on the receiving end. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, the same qualities that make you a good actor can also make you good at marketing yourself. When you draw on those qualities (that you already have!), your self-promotion will come across as genuine to your audience and feel great to you.
Here are some steps you can take to market yourself in a feel-good way, sans ick-factor:
- Clarify your positive qualities. Write down 2-3 qualities that make you a good actor, such as your ability to be incredibly present, authentic, curious, or real.
- Now ask yourself: How can I use these same qualities that make me a good actor when I’m promoting myself? For example, if being curious about motivation is one of your skills, you can get curious about what your audience is really needing and speak to it before writing a post about your upcoming play, film, or web series. Are they overwhelmed with depressing news? Let them know how your work can offer a release, shift, or respite.
- Define your purpose. Think about your ideal audience and how you want to affect them. Do you want to make them laugh? Help them to see themselves and the world in new ways? Move them deeply? It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out and it feels like years down the road when you’ll be able to pick and choose your dream roles; knowing your endgame up front always gets you there faster and causes you to fall into roles that fit your purpose—no matter what stage of your career you’re in.
- Adopt a new attitude about marketing yourself. Every time you promote yourself, remember that you’re promoting your work and, ultimately, your purpose. You can draw on the same qualities that make you a good actor when doing so. You’re promoting the positive effect you intend to have on people, which is good for them. You’re not “wanting all the attention,” you’re doing a service. That’s a huge difference and people can always feel it. They appreciate it when you care about them.
- Double check all promotional content. Whether it’s copy for your website, posts on FB, tweets or emails, before you click “update”, “send”, or “post,” ask yourself if what you’ve just written is coming from a place that will be helpful, meaningful, or inspiring for your audience, and that it feels good to you.
The more you practice writing and speaking about your work in a way that makes it about the person you’re sharing it with, the more fulfilling and impactful marketing your work will be.
You may even notice yourself looking forward to it.