Unless you’re a highly successful, established actor, the ability to network, build relationships and make yourself more visible will prove invaluable to your career.
Unfortunately, the practice of building and maintaining these relationships and promoting yourself can be hugely time consuming – for every hour an actor spends on stage, they’ll probably spend two writing to directors, casting agents and other actors, not to mention applying for castings.
These 4 tools streamline the whole process, and are guaranteed to build your network of valuable contacts, make you more visible to casting directors and save you hours of acting admin.
1. THE POWER OF MAIL MERGE
It goes without saying that every time you are performing in anything, you should be writing to important directors, producers, casting agents and other industry types to let them know.
After all, it’s very well and good putting on a great performance, but if the right people aren’t in attendance watching you, you’re going to be missing out on a massive opportunity to showcase your talents and abilities.
Every time you perform in any good play, it should be a top priority to write to everyone who you think might be interested, offering them complementary tickets (if you are allowed comp tickets by the producer!). Of course, these people are constantly bombarded by a deluge of emails, so it’s very important that your email stands out and is personalized.
A generic “Hi there!” email won’t do. Ordinarily, sending a large number of personalized emails would require hours’ worth of brain-numbing, RSI inducing emailing. However, by doing a mail merge, you can send loads of personalized emails instantaneously, saving you literally hours of work.
You can see how to do a mail merge in Gmail, and download a pre-made mail merge programme with this great tutorial.
Always do a number of test mail merges with your own emails. Set up dummy email accounts on yahoo and AOL and send tests to those too, to make sure that the merge works in all major email clients.
2. YOUR SECRET EMAIL WEAPON
Sometimes, being really tenacious and emailing people time and time again can be effective. In our eBook, we mentioned an actress we met who managed to get an audition for a massive West End production, despite having no agent and few credits, purely by emailing the casting director 20 times.
However, as a general rule, constantly bugging someone by email is a sure-fire way to alienate them and burn bridges. At the same time however, if someone hasn’t replied to your email, you should send a follow up message to make sure that they received and read your email in the first place. This is especially true with high stakes emails such as casting applications.
But with the huge volume of emails you will likely be sending as an actor, it can be hard to keep track of who you should be chasing up.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way to know who has already opened your email and read it?
Well, let me introduce you to Signals, an awesome free Google Chrome extension. Signals allows you to see who opened your email, when it was opened and if any links (ie to your Spotlight page) were clicked.
By using Signals, you take the guess work out of following up on everyone you are emailing. For example, if an important casting director hasn’t opened your email application and read it, you should absolutely be following them up.
The free version of Signals has a limited number of tracked emails you can send each month. Make sure that you make the most out of it by only sending tracked emails to people that matter. You can switch off tracking by unchecking the tab circled below.
3. HOW TO USE SOCIAL MEDIA EFFECTIVELY AS AN ACTOR
Before we dive into nerd tricks to help you make the most out of social media, it’s worth first discussing the significance Social Media has for actors.
Twitter and other social media platforms have given you a tool to instantly reach out and connect with anyone and everyone. 10 years ago, if you wanted to start building relationships with important people in the acting industry, you had to ingratiate yourself in the right social circles, attend the right parties and brown nose the right people.
Now, you can get noticed by acting industry influencers at the touch of a button. However, actually developing these relationships online is an art form in itself, and one which the majority of actors have got painfully wrong.
All too often, I see people using Twitter to dive into conversations, completely uninvited, just to promote themselves. Let’s say, in real life, you were at a theatre bar after a show and you spotted a director you want to work with discussing the play with a couple of people. You wouldn’t run up to them, throw a business card in their face and yell “HIRE ME” before running off into the night, would you? Yet everyday I see some chump essentially doing this by crashing in on people’s Twitter conversations with little more than a sales pitch and a link to their Spotlight page.
Instead, you should use social media to reach out and make connections. For example, you could open up a dialogue with your favorite director by messaging them after you see their show, letting them know what you thought of it. Be creative and be intelligent, add thoughts and opinions that perhaps they haven’t heard before.
You can even build a following and promote yourself by posting things that offer real value to others in the acting industry. Tweeting casting calls, interesting and useful blogs (including this one *hint hint*) and genuinely insightful thoughts on the industry will gain you followers. With social media, your top priority should be giving people a reason to follow you!
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t use social media to actively promote yourself and things you are performing in, but once again, it’s all about being sensible. In real life, no one likes people who talk about nothing but themselves, and it’s the same on social media: make sure that self-promotion is just one aspect of what you post.
So, now that you have an idea of how to use social media as an actor, there are a number of free tools you can use to make the most of it.
1. Buffer and Hootsuite
The first is Buffer and Hootsuite. Both of these tools essentially do the same thing by letting you “queue” posts. This is great because you can schedule a bunch of Tweets/statuses at once, to go out at pre-determined times throughout the day. This means that you can maintain your presence, even when you’re away from your phone or computer.
You can also queue awesome webpages and blogs you see, so instead of having to share your favourite content then and there, you can schedule it to post at a different time.
2. Mention and Google Alerts
By using Mention you can keep track of people mentioning specific phrases and keywords all over the internet, including on social media.
Let’s say for example, you were a Hispanic actress. By setting Mention to scour the web for things that mention “Hispanic actress casting”, you can make sure that you never miss out on a relevant online casting call ever again.
Google alerts do a similar thing for the internet as a whole. The applications of these tools are endless, and they can really help you get a handle on what highly relevant things are going on, online.
3.Find and follow the right people
How useful you find Twitter is largely down to the people you follow. If your feed is full of Tweets from interesting, important people who are relevant to your career, you’re going to get a lot more out of it than if you just follow some friends and Stephen Fry.
Use Twitter’s search function to search for relevant keywords which interest you. Usually, savvy Twitter users will include such keywords in their Twitter bio. You can use this to find and follow, for example, London based casting directors.
4. AN EFFECTIVE WEB PRESENCE
Being highly visible and standing out from the crowd are two huge parts of getting more auditions and castings. However, I’ve spoken to many casting directors who have been impressed with actors, but have been unable to get hold of them because they are untraceable online.
Obviously, your agent is going to be the source of most of your castings (if you haven’t managed to get an agent yet, do download our free eBook which has loads of great tips on how you can get one), but making sure that you’re easily accessible online will also be a great help.
If you haven’t already, you should sign up for a Spotlight profile, which will help increase your online visibility, but it’s also worth creating your own website.
A good website is so much more than just an online CV; it will help you stand out from the crowd and really express your personality. As well as this, you can optimize your website so that people searching for actors which suit your casting will come across you.
Setting up a website is now cheaper and easier than ever, even if you have no knowledge of how to code. WordPress is a great website platform which allows you to choose from thousands of pre-made visual themes and create a personalized website.
Wix and Weebly are also effective website building tools which anyone can use for free!
So there you have it – you no longer have any excuses for not having a total online presence!
By using all of these tools intelligently, you can dramatically increase your visibility as an actor, and get on the radar of many more casting directors, talent agents and other important acting industry figures. You can also streamline your acting admin, freeing up more time for doing the stuff you actually enjoy!
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