I've signed up for a membership to a certain website for actors... I was contemplating for a while whether I should name the website, and figured, heck... why not? So let me start this article over.
I signed up for a $29 monthly subscription to working.actor and I was really excited to see what it is about. The landing page was a little vague, but if there's anything new I can learn about the business of acting, then I surely want in.
The portal itself lists a lot of topics such as "fundamentals", "branding", "marketing materials", "product / craft", "booking work", "social media", "reps & team" and "resources". Fantastic. Each topic is broken down further into subtopics and then you have an article about that sub-topic. So it is sort of like my blog, but much more on topic and you have to pay for it. ;)
Still, I wanted to learn more, and so I clicked "marketing materials" -> "website" (for obvious reasons) and... I was a little disappointed. The first question was "should I even have a website?" and the answer was "Yes, but..." (woah, what's happening?) "... a website has become less important [...] Instagram is replacing the job websites used to serve" What? Really? I mean, I understand that the point of this article was to plug TSMA services, but if the goal of your website is to provide instructions, your opinions SHOULD NOT be biased.
I figured, well at least they said it's just an opinion, but then they said "Don't use actor-specific website builder services... generally they are over-priced and under-deliver" Umm... have we met?! Not only did you just charge me $29 a month to gain access to your blog articles where you offer biased information and try to upsell products that charge as much as $2,550 a month, but actor-specific website builder services charge too much? Our cheapest plan is $29 per year! But hey, let's break it down:
Premium Monthly: $15
Premium Yearly: $99
Business Monthly: $26
Business Yearly: $216
Professional Monthly: $16
Professional Yearly: $144
Pro Monthly: $22
Pro Yearly: $244
Okay, now that we got the pricing issue out of the way, let's tackle the "under-deliver" statement:
Now, let's go back to the first statement about "Instagram is replacing the job websites used to serve" - this should be rather easy to debunk with facts (not opinions):
Actor Websites provide S.E.O. value to your name and allow for customization and personalization.
You can't build S.E.O. with your Instagram account. While you have no control over Instagram life-cycle (you never know if it's still going to be around in a year), you do have control over your own domain name. The S.E.O. work we've put into our website focuses on your name, your location, your craft and skills. There's not a chance that someone will research "actress in Los angeles who can swim and juggle" and find you on your Instagram, unless this is exactly what you've put into your short bio, but even then you are limited to 150 characters of bio... how does that replace the job of a website?
Actor Websites show what's important to you... NOW.
One thing that Instagram does well are photos, so yes, it can offer the insight into your #actorslife, and an option to share your headshots, BUT, if someone wants your most up-to-date headshot, they're not going to go to Instagram mainly because you can't easily download the photos off of Instagram. The bigger picture here is (no pun intended), your photos on Instagram may not necessarily reflect your current look. So if someone scrolls on your profile and sees you as a blonde, and you're now a redhead, there's a chance you've just shot yourself in the foot. An actor website shows up-to-date and relevant information only. So if your headshot changes, the website should reflect it.
Actor Websites are your go-to place for all information about you.
Instagram cannot be used to showcase your demo reel, or to upload your acting resume. You can't link other social media accounts from it (well, you can with the use of https://link.actor, but not by default). You can't collect visitor information or analyze the traffic. You can't sign up for newsletters or obtain a press-kit. You can't get agent's or manager's information. You can't showcase your skills, press, awards and testimonials, and most importantly, you can't list all of the film and TV projects you worked on.
Instagram is not for everyone.
And let's face it. Instagram is not for everyone. Some of us are extroverts, we go out, we connect, we chat, we interact, we comment, we question, we post, we like. Being on Instagram requires work. It's not a once a month kind of a thing, but hey, if you can grow following by popping in just once a month, then I want to know your secret. Actor websites don't require this level of constant care. If you're writing a blog, perhaps you want to post a new article every week or two, but other than that, most times you won't have to change anything unless there's a major change in your life: new headshots, new agent, new reel, new film credit, new award... etc. For most it's a once-a-month kind of a deal.
So, is Instagram a total waste of time?
No, that'sabsolutely not what I'm saying at all. My point here is that comparing Instagram and Actor Websites is like comparing apples and Volkswagens! Anyone who gives you a definitive answer either way doesn't know what they're talking about. You will see a lot of naysayers online, let's take a look at reddit for instance. In this post, a user says Instagram is not necessary, but as a source he provides links to other reddit conversations that just list other opinions. Just because it's on the internet, it doesn't make it true.
Can you have fun with Instagram as an actor? YES. Can you grow audience of fans who have seen you in films and interact with them? YES. Can you get them to go and see your next movie at a film premiere? YES. Can producers try to take advantage of your following for that very reason? YES. So unless you know every single producer and casting director and they all told you unanimously and truthfully that they will never ever look at someone's Instagram following as "pros" towards casting someone for their projects, then you'll never know.
Is there any guarantee it will help? NO. There are no guarantees in life, so if you want my opinion (yes, just an opinion) - if you enjoy being on Instagram, keep on keeping on. But, if you are miserable there, don't like posting on regular schedule and hate reading comments from trolls, hey, you don't have to do it. It's just another tool in your shed, you can spend that time and effort on something else acting related.