What Are You Selling?
After much thought, I’ve decided to put my house on the market. When I was 24 and living and teaching in the suburbs, I bought a beautiful fixer-upper. Just a few years (and several thousand dollars of updating) later, I had a quarter-life crisis, quit my job, rented out my house, and moved to the Windy City to pursue acting and modeling. For the past two years, my house has been in the hands of a wonderful family, but unfortunately, all things must come to an end. After being vacant for two months with no prospects of new renters, I decided to bite the bullet and call up a well-recommended realtor. Keep in mind, along with the mortgage of my 4 bedroom house, I have been paying for my rent and living expenses in the city, all on a substitute teacher’s salary. Not fun.
Ryan Kurtz from John Greene Realtor and I met on a Sunday afternoon, and I immediately knew I was in good hands. Ryan had all his ducks in a row. He had researched my house and other houses on the market in the area. He had honest feedback about my property. There’s one thing Ryan did that comforted me while also making himself look damn good: he marketed himself. As a matter of fact, one reason I picked him out of a plethora of realtors was because of his website. I liked the confidence he brought to the table without looking too cocky (this is a hard balance! How do we talk about ourselves without OVER-talking about ourselves?). I liked what he said about himself, and furthermore, I was glad to read great testimonials from past clients on his site.
After the walk-thru, Ryan gave me a packet of information about John Greene Realtor, along with who he is and how he does business. He showed me packets he put together for past houses. Each packet included beautiful pictures of the houses and in-depth information about the neighborhood. Everything was neat, clean and organized. I’m not an expert on realty by any means, but from my point of view, I could tell Ryan goes above and beyond to market himself and please his clients.
Maybe all of this work is standard for realtors; I’m not sure. But here’s my question: why isn’t it standard for actors? How many actors out there market themselves to the max? If we want to stand out, we must think outside the box! A headshot is not enough anymore. Waiting for our agent to hand us auditions just won’t cut it. A piece of paper alone that says we studied theatre in college simply won’t book us the job.
I mentioned to another actor once that I’d be sending a quick note to a casting director, thanking her for calling me in. It was the first time I’d been in this particular office, and while I wouldn’t send a note after each audition, I thought something short after my first visit would be a nice touch. His response? “I don’t recommend it. It’s not what actors do.” It’s not what actors do? Ok, first of all, he was wrong. Yes, actors do this. But second, WHO THE HELL CARES IF ACTORS DO THIS?! I find this response problematic. Since when has following all the common rules helped artists?
I don’t want to be a color-by-number actor; I want to be a WORKING actor.
This is why I have postcards with my picture on them. I send them to casting directors at least once every six months. I have a website with photos, videos, my resume, and a link to my blog. I check Actors Access for auditions daily, and I communicate with my agents at least once a week. Most importantly, I am constantly looking for other ways to market myself. (Got suggestions on how to do this? PLEASE share!)
Ryan Kurtz may be an awesome realtor, but if he didn’t market himself appropriately, I never would have picked him. His job is to first sell himself, and then sell clients’ houses. Our job is to first sell ourselves, and then tell our clients’ stories. I am the CEO of my own business, and my product is my talent. The talent won’t sell itself. It’s my job to sell it.