SAG-AFTRA franchised
Writers Guild of America East
The Jana VanDyke Agency
The top ten – how to promote yourself
The top ten – how to promote yourself
By Jana VanDyke

1 – Promotional images (everyone)
2 – Resume (everyone)
3 – Headshots (almost everyone – except bands)
4 – Portfolio (models, photographers & artists)
5 – Website (everyone)
6 – Facebook/Twitter/Myspace/networking (everyone)
7 – Press kit (everyone)
8 – Newsletter/blogs (writers & authors)
9 – Reel & demos (aspiring actors & musicians)
10 – Charity association (everyone)

1 – Promotional images

You must have some promotional images of yourself and your own talent... If you're an artist, hire a professional photographer to take pictures of you sitting or standing by some of your works of art. If you or your work has been featured in a newspaper or magazine, use those images that were published in your own promotional material. Those are called tear sheets.

If you're a photographer, ask a colleague to take some shots of you holding your camera or ask someone to take some "behind the scenes" shots of you while you're working. If you're an actor, try to get pictures of you on the set of a particular project.

Promotional images do not necessarily have to be taken by a professional photographer, but it sure does help! Image is everything in this business.

2 – Resume

You really need a resume of your accomplishments and/or work, even if it is not much. The resume can be submitted in conjunction with examples of your work. This gives the potential client something on paper to reference. If you're new to the industry, that's OK... You have to start somewhere. Just list what you've achieved. If it's a special school and/or education, make sure that is on the resume.

3 – Headshots

Having headshots in print and with you at all times is a good tool. Headshots have numerous uses. If you're an actor, you should have professional headshots to submit for future work. If you're a writer, you must have professional headshots for your books, book signings, etc.

Headshots are used for individual promotion only. If you're in a band, you do not need headshots of each artist. A group shot would be fine. Everyone needs headshots in their own self promotion.

4 – Portfolio

If you're a model, you must have a portfolio. If you're given a "go see," the potential client is going to ask to see your portfolio. A portfolio is usually an oversized book containing prints of you or your work.

Models should carry a 9x12 portfolio. Photographers should carry at least a 9x12. I personally think that photographers get more mileage out of having a very large portfolio.

Also, it is a good idea for photographers to have different books for different subjects. For example, a portfolio of landscapes only, a portfolio of models only, a portfolio of babies only, etc. The same is true for artists. They should have a large portfolio showing their work.

5 – Website

This is a must for all. In today's environment, most everyone refers to the web when looking for talent. Your website should be all about you and should contain all of these topics. You don't need a custom built website...although that is best. You can get by with a Myspace page or one on a modeling website...but you're limiting yourself there. Having your own site looks more professional to potential clients.

6 – Facebook/Twitter/Myspace/networking

Having a Facebook/Twitter/Myspace page is absolutely necessary. Your Facebook/Twitter/Myspace page is your biggest networking tool. With Myspace, you can do so much with it. You can customize it to show off your talent or to show off your personality.

And they're free, use them! Don't just create a page and let it sit... You have to work it. A page that's just sitting there is just that...sitting there! Don't let that happen. It takes work, but the benefits are enormous.

Networking is also a must for any and all talent. You'll not be discovered sitting on your couch or singing in the shower. You have to socialize and search out others who are in your field of entertainment and try to network with them.

7 – Press kits

There are two different types of press kits – print and electronic. A press kit can be very useful when trying to land a client. A press kit in print is always a good thing to have. The only downside is that if you ordered 1,000 press kits, they may quickly become outdated.

I suggest you order pocket folders with your name displayed boldly on the cover. Why? Because your name or promotional name is most likely not going to change unless you're a female and you get married. That leads us into another topic – "stage" names. That will have to be a subject for another day. But you get the idea.

Now, if you're working with this client over the internet, you'll want an electronic press kit. This is usually in PDF format and you can email it to people.

The content of both electronic and print press kits needs to be the same. It should consist of a resume, headshots, bio, itinerary, past media appearances, testimonials, current projects, and contact sheet. If you're a singer/musician, you'll want to have a demo CD of your work. If you're an actor, you'll want to include a DVD reel of your past work.

8 – Newsletters/blogs

For writers and authors, it's a good idea to create a monthly newsletter or start a blog. (I say either/or...I don't think you need both).

This is an excellent way to share your ability and talent with your network and clients. If you're a successful writer/author, it keeps you in touch with your fans. If you're a new writer/author, it shows your ability and also gives you an additional forum for you to self promote.

I receive monthly newsletters and I enjoy reading them. I also read and subscribe to people's blogs so I can keep up with what they're doing. In a nutshell, a newsletter or blog is an additional tool for self promotion.

9 – Reel and demos

If you're an actor or musician, this is an absolute must. If you're a new actor, try to collect copies of your work when you can and work on building that reel. A reel is a collection of past work in a collage type format. It is bits and pieces of you on film.

If you're a musician, you need to have a demo you can send to people. You may have already gone to the studio and cut your first CD...that's cool – just use that instead of the demo.

A demo is musical works you've put into a format for people to hear. Most people already know what I'm talking about. In any event, this is very important to have.

10 – Charity associations

Believe it or not...this is very important for an aspiring talent and successful talent alike. Sometimes it is better to give than to receive. It's amazing what being associated with a good charity can bring in return.

Charity organizations are usually manned by many professionals who've come together for a single cause. If you're one who believes in that cause, you should try to establish an association with them.

Here's an example... Let's say you're a big animal lover and you have volunteered your time and efforts to the local humane society. Now let's say that the Humane Society is having its annual fundraising event and you've been asked to help with it. In return, you can ask if they would mention you on their website or promotional material. It is a small thing to ask. Chances are they wouldn't have a problem with it.

OK, now going back to the annual event. Let's say they've agreed to list you on the web or in marketing material and they're sending it out to 10,000 people. Well, there you have it. You've just gotten your name out to 10,000 people, plus you have contributed to a necessary or important cause.

If you feel it's best not to ask anything in return, that's cool...just think of all the people you're going to meet at the fundraiser. You just never know who you might meet... Oh, I could go on and on about this me, just get involved and know that it's an excellent way to self promote and give to a charity.