For the last several years I have published my own websites using WordPress.org and the domain names I purchased from my provider. In my case it’s Go Daddy and they also do my hosting. I’m not tech savvy enough to know why it has to be this way, but I do know enough to have been able to fix some minor hacks to my sites, and periodically to update the themes to something more modern. I don’t know more than the most basic HTML but I am able to keep up with it, and I have plugins that add functionality. I also have a couple of blogs still run in that venerable system, Blogger.
In recent years lots of providers have emerged that help you make beautiful websites in a drag-and-drop fashion with various customizable features. They come in all kinds of price points. Personally, in the absence of seriously selling products, I don’t mind free.
My point is that if someone as technically basic as I can manage a website – so can you. If you wish to make a go of filmmaking, you should have a website, as a place to store your full resume with all the commercials, music videos, industrials, and promo work that does not appear on IMDb, along with other art pursuits and works-in-progress. It is a place to embed and control your reels and video clips, your images and portfolio.
Why not use a social media site as your web portal?
The main reason for not is that you don’t own them, and have no control over the algorithms. You don’t want to be at the mercy of their changing priorities or policies. YouTube might suddenly decide that there is something in your reel that goes against “community guidelines” and hide it.
The second is that most of them, because their rubric is to maintain novelty, are not easily searchable for older information. They will always prioritize the most recent event or post, without a real sense of your history. Instagram is organized chronologically. This makes it a great place to show work-in-progress and immediate behind-the-scenes material, but doesn’t allow you to customize your portfolio to match your resume, or collate the images effectively.
Plus the other danger is innumerable shiny objects of distraction, including competitors. Marketing expert, Marie Forleo, will tell you that you should limit links to external sites including your social media. She likens sending people elsewhere to leading customers out of your store and taking them next door. She recommends only having one call-to-action – join the email list.
As you can see, I’m not fully following her advice. I want people to go to my Facebook page because I do share new and current information there. So if you do have external links – make them open in a new tab. You probably should send people to your IMDb profile – just not first thing. By this I mean put the link below the fold (they have to scroll), where they will already have seen your reel and resume, not as part of your top menu.
By the way, the costs associated with your professional job-related website should be tax deductible expenses.
What you need on your website – not counting a blog
Not everyone needs a blog. You might need one if you are selling products and services and want to give customers a reason to return often. For me, my blog is a client acquisition tool, as well as a service to potential clients. In fact, if you read ALL my content, you might not even need my service. However, if the function of your site is to be an accessible resume and portfolio, then all you need to update is that specific content.
Bear in mind that I am not talking here about a website that is in support of marketing or funding or promoting a specific movie project, or a site promoting a particular service (such as a video production business). I am talking about your website as an employment gaining tool.
Here’s what you do need:
- Clear, easy to see contact information. “Contact Me” is your call-to-action.
- An easy-to-read resume format with a consistent font and font size, divided by type of project preferably, or by job title if that makes more sense. A downloadable PDF of your resume is OK too, although chances are the visitors are coming from the resume you already sent them.
- A clear and simple Bio/About me section with most of the focus on your professional journey and artistic philosophy, as relevant. Keep just enough quirky personal information to make you memorable. This is the equivalent of a general cover letter.
- Easily accessible portfolio, reel or clips from your work. Please don’t require passwords or too many additional steps – people are too busy. The one reel should be enough to indicate your work experience. Make that the first thing people can click on.
- Pro head shot, a few behind-the-scenes images of you at work, limit pics of you on vacation, maybe a nice pic of you with your pet to engage other animal lovers.
- Testimonials or recommendations – if you have these from past employers, it might be nice to include them. The goal is that you save producers the time of having to call your references.
- Do try to keep up with current visual trends in layouts. That is relatively easy to do with your theme selection. I do agree with Forleo’s advice to keep your site simple and elegant.
- People often find it more difficult to read white writing on dark backgrounds. Save that for headings and stick to light backgrounds for your resume document part.
- Make your “Contact Me” repeated and easy to find. There are easy to use email forms, but also have your phone number large and clearly visible. Make it easy for hirers to call you.
- Ensure that your job title is large and clear – don’t make them have to guess which job you are after when you send them here.