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Actors: Do you have a Mothership?

October 11, 2010

The MothershipWelcome to the MOTHERSHIP!

 

This is part one of a series of posts relating to your website. Each week we’ll cover every element of your online home, from setting it up, to updates, design and SEO. (That’s Search Engine Optimization, not to be confused with Sneaky Enigmatic Ostrich.) Today we’ll look at what constitutes a ‘Mother Ship’, and some of the options available to you.  Let’s begin!

 

All Aboard!

Personal websites are more accessible and affordable than ever.  Most of you will already have a personal site, maybe you have even designed and built sites yourself, or know people that do. The question often asked is – with my resume, images and reel hosted on so many other sites, do I need my own, personal website too?  Let me make it easier for you – the answer is yes. As an actor, it’s imperative that you provide an online, one-stop shop featuring all the information that an agent, casting director, writer, or director could need. Not everyone will decide they need a traditional, giant, 20 page, personal website, but what everyone must absolutely have is what I refer to as ‘The Mothership’.

 

The Mothership is the central hub of your online presence.  It can be a traditional website, a customized blog site or even a super-duper-customized page within a social networking site.  The vehicle you choose is a personal decision that may be affected by your available resources and funds.  Do you have a friend who designs and builds websites for a living, or can you do it yourself?  Do you already have a very well-received and frequented blog page with all the bells and whistles, or a couple of thousand friends on your Facebook Page, that you had professionally designed and coded recently?  If so, you may want to stick with the winning formula, rather than risk losing some of your audience in the cross to a different platform. Whatever you decide, the subsequent posts in this blog series will cover your options in detail.

 

Social Network Profile as a Mothership?

This is rather a hot topic not only for actors, but other business’ too.  Can you use a page/profile within a social networking site as your Mothership? The jury is out officially, but in my humble option – I think you can, but let’s take a quick look at some of the restrictions or complications you may face should you take this route.

 

Your Mothership must enable you to host a specific list of content, attractively and effectively, and must look true to your brand.  For this reason alone, although I believe Facebook has a lot to offer artists in terms of networking and online marketing (I will be writing more about utilizing Facebook to it’s fullest extent, so subscribe now and you won’t miss it!), it’s customization restrictions make it a less favorable candidate for a Mothership. It’s still possible – but be prepared to pimp that page, either with your own coding skills, or by paying a pro to help you out.

 

Myspace allows better but sometimes clunky customization (thanks to it’s open-code), and easily enables you to host audio and visual content, but I would advise you to buy your own domain name and redirect it to your Myspace page. Also keep in mind for both platforms that you are restricted in your access to statistical data to monitor your results. Myspace is also losing users by the day, and although (at the time of writing) it is undergoing a complete facelift to challenge Facebook, I personally believe MySpace should only be considered as a Mothership for comedians (and musicians) as strong communities for both industries still exist.

 

Other Cons:

  1. You don’t own it!  Should Mr. Zuckerman throw a tantrum tomorrow and shut Facebook down, you can kiss your page, it’s contents and all your connections goodbye!
  2. Privacy. If a person would like to subscribe to your e-newsletter or blog feed, they can do so anonymously from your site.  To ‘add’ you or ‘like’ you on a social networking site they have to reveal their identity, off-putting for some.
  3. Cred.  A well designed personal site can offer you credentials – it adds to your status as a professional.
  4. Flexibility: Doing a complete Branding overhaul?  Just got married and are changing your stage name to your new legal name? These scenarios can prove difficult to remedy on social networking pages.  (PS: read my blogs on branding here!)

 

Pros:

  1. Instant Audience: Everyone, their cat and their Mom have a FB profile nowadays, it’s a familiar platform and makes it easy and painless for people to stay up to date with your career.
  2. Price. It’s cheap, and if you can handle basic coding and utilize some of the many apps available on Facebook (to add things like your blog feed, video, etc), then it’s free!
  3. Maintenance: You don’t have to have your website developer update your news, photos or reel – you can do this all yourself promptly and for next to nix!
  4. Search-ability: Search engines love most social-networking sites, your page will rank high in results for those searching for you by name.

 

On board the Mothership:

A good way to decide if your chosen Mothership platform is appropriate is it’s ability to effectively host your must-have list of content. Don’t panic, you don’t have to include every item below straight away, but your chosen Mothership platform should be able to incorporate every item listed.

 

– Your Logo

– Your One-liner

– Your Bio (short on view, long to download as a PDF)

– Your Photo Gallery

– Your Resume

– Your Audio Files (if you host a podcast or are a voiceover artist)

– Your Video Content

– Your Blog (RSS enabled)

– Your Store (should you sell your product independently)

– Your direct links to other online profiles.

– Press/Media Coverage

– A Direct Contact to you, or your Manager/Agent

 

 

 

Hopefully by now you’ve decided if your current Mothership has what it takes, or if you need to make some adjustments or create a new one from scratch.  Next week we’ll look at the basic set-up, from naming your Mothership, to docking it (hosting) and more.

 

 

Until then – keep sharing!

 

“Happiness is not so much in having as sharing. We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

(Norman MacEwan)

 

 

 

Image by Temari 09 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

 

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