Everyone and their dog has a blog these days. I actually have four blogs (here and here and here and, of course, Actors Compass). I know, I need an intervention. But we’re not here to talk about me, we’re here to talk about you! Or, more specifically, your actor blog.
A blog can be a handy way to showcase your personality, talent, and interests as well as to keep people up-to-date on your latest news. It can be a great tool to create community and build an online following but it’s only a great tool if used strategically and consistently. A haphazard or neglected blog becomes a liability, making you look out of touch or uninvested in your web presence. Having a blog simply to have more features on your website won’t cut it. It’s important to take a realistic, honest look within before you add a blog to your Actors Compass site. If blogging isn’t for you, it’s really no big whoop. There are other ways to promote yourself and be engaged with your audience and community. If you’re curious about these Other Ways, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll whip up an article in the future. For now, read on and, as you do, consider your specific online goals/needs and the reality of what goes into a successful blog to see if blogging is, in fact, for you.
Ask yourself this fundamental question: What kind of brand am I cultivating as an actor or performer? Would a blog be an important element in creating the kind of online presence that is right for me? It seems simple but these questions don’t get asked way too often.
It’s a good idea to picture your target audience in your mind. Go on, I’ll wait.
Who are you talking to? Are they visiting your site on a regular basis? If not, would you be able to direct them to the blog effectively? Identifying your audience helps you to develop your voice in a targeted way, shape your content and figure out what online platforms you should use to drive the right traffic — i.e. your audience — to your blog.
When I talk about developing your voice, I don’t mean that you create a persona separate from the authentic you. It’s important that your personality and unique perspective shine through, particularly for a blog of this nature. However, sometimes we need a little work to hit our stride in communicating our point-of-view effectively. Don’t be afraid to be funny, share things that are of interest to you, and write like you talk. You should consider proper grammar and spelling whenever appropriate because sloppy mistakes translate as careless and unprofessional. If the way you speak breaks some grammar rules and/or call for special spelling, though, go for it. Just try to avoid using four-letter words. Yes, you should be you. But for the purposes of a professional blog like this, you should be you after a shower and a great cup of coffee, not the drunk you at 2am shooting the sh–poop with your even drunker friends.
Content is king. And original content can provide insight not only into who you are but your creative process and talent. Subject matters such career news and upcoming performances as well as current affairs and trends are natural sources of original content. Even updating content on your site is blog-worthy. However, it’s also a good idea to have a list of other topics on hand — a new insight into your craft or an actor you admire for their career choices, for example — that can be strategically scheduled in along with time-sensitive posts.
Readers like to be stimulated visually. Punctuate the content of your post with thoughtful, beautiful, funny images. There are many resources out there for free images but I recently came across Splitshire, which has a library of stock photography that would be the envy of Instagrammers everywhere. Me, I’m personally a fan of GIFs.
Get ’em at GIPHY.com.
Also, remember that an interesting post be an interesting photo with a quick, few sentences. Not every post has to be a Huffington Post piece you agonized over. This leads me to the next point …
Great content doesn’t always mean purely original content. Feel free to share links to articles and videos that you find interesting, informative and inspiring. Just make sure to credit the source and provide context for why you are sharing the content from your unique point-of-view, in your unique voice.
Links have the added bonus of helping your blog’s search engine rankings. This means that it’s a good practice to add links to your posts in general whenever they’re relevant. For example, if you are waxing poetic about the acting class you’re taking, don’t just mention it by name. Link the name of the course the teacher to the official website. They will appreciate your good deed, and may even consider returning the favor. What your mama told you about being nice to people applies to the web, not just real life.
Consistency is key in keeping up a robust blog. Consistency in the tone and how content is organized and presented. Consistency in the frequency of new posts. You are not Buzzfeed so don’t stress about posting on a variety of topics on a daily basis. You are a god if you can post two to three times a week, golden if once a week and still in the game if you post once a month. However often you end up posting, keep your minimum goal consistent. And give yourself a break if you fall short from time to time. If you check out any of my blogs you’ll see what I mean! Set the tone and expectation of what the blog is going to be like and stick to it. Schedule writing and posting times in your calendar to make sure blogging actually happens.
Of course, plans and priorities change and your website, including your blog, should be able to accommodate that. But if you sound like you have multiple personality disorder in how you present yourself and your content, or if you haven’t posted in three months, you might want to rethink how you’re producing your blog content (Are you making the process too challenging? Are you really writing about things that are interesting to you?). You may even rethink having a blog, period.
Even though I could go on and on about blogging rules and how-to’s, at the end of the day, consistent posting of thoughtful content from your unique perspective is what will make your blog a success. If you decide after reading this that you weren’t made to be a blogger, high five to you. Now you have hours of extra time you didn’t previously know you had to conquer the world. If you decide blogging is worth a try, high five to you too! To recap: figure out your audience, your voice, what you want to talk about and start blogging! You’re gonna be awesome and I can’t wait to read all about it on your Actors Compass website. (Smugly pats herself on the back for her sly self-promotion as she hits “publish”.)