DIY-ing your Actor Website

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11 Jan 2022
5 min read
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What needs to be on your website and does anyone even look at them?

A quick note: I’m an actor who (especially during this pandemic) makes my living primarily from building websites. I started by building websites for actors, directors, musicians, and small theater companies, and have for almost a decade.

“Do I need one?”

Being an actor is expensive. (That’s one of the reasons it’s so inequitable.) Headshots, subscriptions, actor website  — these costs add up. And while there are certainly actors who do not have a website, these days it’s “expected.” As self-tapes continue to reign, it finally feels like casting directors, managers, and agents are actually looking at them. But as more and more producers, CDs, and agencies are looking to and at social media, it can feel like a website is just another cost and task.

  • A bit of a tangent
  • Personally? I’ve given up on social media because my brain is much happier without it, career be damned! Maybe that’s a terrible choice? Who knows! If you’re someone who enjoys it or has committed to it for your career, good on you! If you want to say nope to a website, that’s between you and your management, in my opinion. But you might also choose to center your social on your website to make the most of it that way.
  • If you’re a super established actor and you don’t want a website, I highly doubt you’re reading this, but you’re probably fine without one!!

A website can, however, give you a chance to present yourself the way you (or your agent/manager) want(s). You can choose your favorite photos, your best footage, etc. instead of letting someone stumble about the various things that come up when they google you.

Building your website

While it’s unlikely an actor can shoot their own headshots, with the increasing popularity of web platforms like Squarespace and Wix, many actors choose to DIY their actor website.

Unless you’re going to code it yourself or you have someone who loves you and wants to update that for you continually, it makes the most sense to use a platform. I favor Squarespace, personally and for my clients for ease of use. In terms of price, a Squarespace annual plan (for an actor website, the Personal Plan is sufficient for most) is $192 charged annually, and a domain name is typically $20 / year. Wix’s Combo Plan (for personal use) is also $16/month, or $192 annually, not including the annual domain charge. Wordpress is less expensive, but I find updating various plugins frustrating. Then again, I’m not a Wordpress designer, and many prefer the Wordpress interface. At the end of the day, I think choosing based on your own ease of use and budget is the most important.

A note (August 2022): Squarespace and Wix both increased their prices this year so I’ve been investigating more options to suggest. Cargo is a site builder that’s a little tricky to get used to, but it’s SUPER flexible and looks very slick. Their plan (without commerce) is $168/annually.

Once you’ve chosen your platform and it’s time to get started, what actually needs to be on an actor website?

Your actor website should include:

  1. Your headshot
  2. Your resume
  3. A way to download your headshot & resume
  4. A way to get in touch with you and/or your representation
  5. Any footage you have (reel, commercials, demos, etc.)

If all you build is a one-page site, so long as it’s easy to download your hs + resume, contact, and watch any footage, that’s truly enough! Especially if the idea of updating your site makes you groan, keep it simple and then you can update only when you update one of these key elements.

Screen recording scrolling through Eleanor Philips actor media and contact pages.

You might also want to include:

  1. A bio, artist statement, or “about me”
  2. Additional portraits, photos, production photos, or stills
  3. Links to your social accounts, imdb page, etc.
  4. A calendar for upcoming events — this is great if you’re someone who does a lot of gigs, like a comedian, singer, musician, etc. If you’re an actor, this may be more annoying than beneficial.
  5. An archive of your past projects. I think of this as a more in-depth look at your resume. It can be a great way to keep track of production photos, press, and can allow you to offer more information on workshops, readings, concerts, anything! I like keeping this, to consolidate everything in one place. Especially as press links can eventually break as pieces come down, it’s nice to know you have a record of everything for yourself. But don’t think that many CDs or agents are sitting and going through every project you’ve worked on. This one is for you.

At the end of the day, you’re best off thinking about how often you’ll actually consistently update — it’s okay if that answer is “once a year!”

And once the set-up is done, the updates won’t be nearly as much work! (On Squarespace, you can duplicate sections, pages, and blog / event posts to save time — plus they’re rolling out a “saved sections” feature that will let you save a section on one page and insert it to use as a section template on any page.)

If part of your stress is about not having the right content or “enough” content, I feel you!

Focus on highlighting what you do have and hang in there.

Feeling overwhelmed and wishing you had a little more guidance while you DIY?

ECP Designs offers Squarespace templates for actors, designed by me (an actor & web designer!) to make DIY-ing your actor website easier.

If that makes you breathe a sigh of relief, take a look at the templates.