Be honest with me.
You’re not getting half the amount of auditions you’d like to be getting, right?
You know you’re good, you’re talented, you deserve to be working constantly. I believe you, I do.
But you can’t seem to get any casting directors to see it your way. You just need someone to give you a chance, give you a shot so you can show them all what you’re made of and why you deserve to be successful.
Well I’ve got bad news for you kid…
You’re too low profile.
They don’t know who you are yet and even if they did have a vague idea, you don’t have a track record of work to show proof you’re worth a punt.
But what can you actually do to work towards building that profile instead of just waiting around for your lucky break?
You need to raise your profile as a performer to get seen by more people and so when they do see you they believe that you’ve got what it takes.
In this guide you will discover why visibility and credibility are so important to your career success and the 26 ways you can improve your visibility and credibility to build your profile as a performer.
What Is Visibility?
Visibility is “the degree to which something has attracted general attention; prominence.”
This can be both a byproduct of success but also a catalyst for it too. Making yourself more visible as an actor builds your profile which in turn makes you more visible.
The two different groups of people you need to build visibility with to build your overall profile are firstly the creatives; casting directors, directors, writers, agents, as ultimately these are the people who will be offering you work. The second is a more general visibility with audiences as a whole, the general public. The more people want to come see you in something the more popular you will be as a casting choice. If you can attract the general attention of audiences then that is attractive to producers. See any z-list reality TV celebrities on stage lately?
Again, building up your visibility with one group helps with the other too. For example; being in a daytime soap will attract the attention of casting creatives but also getting cast by them in a number of productions allows you to be seen by those audiences and the cycle continues.
What about Credibility?
Credibility is the other side of the same coin: “The quality of being trusted, convincing or believable”
Credibility is that quality that convinces a casting director that you are up to the task, that you are of a high enough calibre for the job. You might not be a household name yet but the more credibility you have the higher profile the jobs you will get and the more prestigious the roles and, just like visibility, this will in turn lend itself towards further credibility.
Having a credible profile means you will be in higher demand as creatives cast those who have been cast by others before. It is a mark of your talent and ability as an actor and a sign that you are great to work with, particularly if you have worked with the same people, or at the same place, a number of times.
How does this work online?
Long gone are the days when it was enough to just think of your career as a real world phenomenon. Yes, most if not all of your acting jobs will be either live, or recorded to be watched by an offline audience like on TV but, in the Internet age, equal emphasis must be placed on building your profile both online and offline if you are to succeed.
Not only is it fast becoming a requirement to have as much of an online presence as it is to be present in the real world but actually it can be much simpler to build your online presence as an actor on your own which in turn will help build your profile offline too.
Don’t buy into the myth that your online profile doesn’t matter or only comes as a byproduct of your success in the real world. I have seen first hand how a casting decision has been directly influenced by a quick look on Instagram to see how many followers the actor had.
If you’re down to the final two for a role, you are both equally talented, from equal training backgrounds, and equally suited to play the part but your counterpart has 10 times as many followers as you; who do you think is going to get the role?
Of course, number of followers is only one specific measurement of credibility online. There are plenty of other ways to build up your profile both online and off.
Social media is a wonderfully powerful tool that very often gets a bad rap because so many get it wrong and abuse it. Twitter and Facebook democratise free speech and allow anyone with anything to say a platform on which to say it.
As an actor you have an amazing, free stage to set for yourself and a limitless audience to connect with at your fingertips.
Of course, aimlessly tweeting is the online equivalent of standing on Oxford Street and shouting random Shakespearean quotes at people, which gets you nowhere, fast. This is why it is important to shift your way of thinking about social media as not a way to “broadcast” your message (like shouting in the street) but instead to seek out potential opportunities for conversation and engagement with people.
Visibility on social media comes from connecting with like minded people and engaging over a mutually interesting topic. To get you started, search for some creatives that you admire, respect or want to work with in the future and start following them. Read what they write and what they share. If something interests you, comment on it, engage in conversation if you can. Begin making yourself more visible to them.
Document Your Process
Whether that be personal musings on the state of the union or micro-updates about how your work is coming along, documenting the day-to-day process of your career online is a hugely powerful way to increase your visibility particularly as an actor.
Five or 10 years ago you would have started a blog, if writing is your thing there’s nothing wrong with that, but today micro-content is your friend.
Social networks like Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, Snapchat all provide ways for you to shoot and share tiny snippets of what you’re working on throughout your day. If you’re spending just 30 minutes a day on your career – make the last 5 minutes about shooting a reel, story, or short about what you’ve done that day.
It’s so simple to get started, it’s free to get going and apart from the potential to make you more visible online it gives you an outlet for your creative energy during your down time, it’s really the perfect hobby.
Apart from helping you gain a following and raise your visibility online, keeping active and vibrant social media profiles and feeds is one of the best ways to improve your SERP.
Have you ever seen your SERP before? Do you know what it’s supposed to look like? What the hell is a SERP and do you need to get yourself checked out?
A SERP is a Search Engine Results Page and basically is geek speak for what shows up when someone googles your name. If you’re lucky, what shows up at the minute is potentially nothing. If you’re unlucky, like I was when I started out, you might find yourself with an infamous counterpart in the adult entertainment industry, I kid you not.
The first thing any casting or creative is going to do when they want to find out about you is to google your name. You want to be in control of what they see when they do that and as such you need to be the host of the most authoritative results for your name. Having a personal website is the best way to do this followed by having active and engaging profiles on as many of the top ranked websites as you can manage.
Having consistent profiles across all the top social media sites that all link to each other should be your first port of call, these will immediately rank higher in your search engine results page because you have linked them all together explicitly. A free Mandy profile is a good next option, then YouTube & Vimeo if you have a showreel. Then move on to LinkedIn, Wikipedia and IMDB if you can but they key here is to come back to these at least once a month to keep them updated.
Youtube Channel / Web Series
Launching your own YouTube channel or getting involved in a web series is a great way to boost your visibility online. Not only is YouTube owned by google so YouTube results rank very highly in search engines but also this is a creative outlet little explored by actors in Britain.
Again its completely free to get involved with YouTube. Every smartphone now has a camera that provides adequate recording quality for streaming online. Why not take it one step further and get a group of friends together to collaborate on a little mini series. Find a friend with a penchant for writing, another who has a nicer camera and some editing skills and get together with some actor friends to shoot a 15 minute episode once a week.
Mandy & Other Profile Sites
Mandy is a publicly visible actors profile website that allows you to host your professional profile online where casting and creatives can search for and call you in to audition. The reason I say “public” and don’t mention Spotlight here is that Spotlight is not publicly available so does not show up on google or to general people who are looking for your professional profile. You must be a registered creative on Spotlight or have someones view pin to view their profile.
The advantages of having a Mandy profile is that besides the publicly available professional profile a lot of low to mid scale productions are cast using it so it provides a wealth of audition and work opportunities for beginning to mid career actors.
There are plenty of other online casting sites out there but to be honest as Mandy is the primary one, spreading yourself too thinly will only result in you spending more time submitting yourself for roles than actually auditioning or doing them. I encourage you to give all the other sites a look in to see what works for you but I would recommend concentrating your efforts on one at a time for a few months at least.
Each of these ‘channels’ provide you with an opportunity for more people to see you as an actor online. With more pairs of eyes landing on your online presence you have more chances to be considered for roles, your Profile increases in visibility.
But what about the real world, how does it work for the actor, unplugged.
Auditions & Recalls
The most obvious one is of course getting auditions and recalls. The more auditions you get the more creatives see you in a professional light, doing your thing with no distractions.
Every audition you do is a chance for you to actually get up there and do some acting. Relish each and every one of these chances. As Bryan Cranston says; going into auditions trying to get a job is not what you’re supposed to be doing.
Getting called back for a second, third, fourth time and not getting the part is not something to be ashamed of. This shows that you are proving yourself as consistently professional in the rooms with the casting team. They will remember that and get you back in for something else in the future.
Workshops & Classes
Workshops and Classes are an incredible, two fold move for your career. Firstly there is the obvious one that you actually learn and practice your skills in these classes. We’re particularly bad for this over here in the UK. It’s not good enough to just do your 3 years training and then… stop.
The second one is what ties into the visibility; who do you think leads those workshops & classes? The creative teams of some of the jobs that you want to be seen for. Participating in a workshop led by a casting director or taking acting class with a director means that if you are not getting seen for auditions with them that you can still get in front of their eyes and have an opportunity to show your talent, commitment and consistency.
If you’re not taking any classes regularly change this as a matter of urgency. If you’re not doing something for your career every week then what are you working 35 hours a week in a call centre for?
Press Nights & Parties
There is only so much you can do sitting behind your keyboard every day. At some point you have to go out and start socialising with people, making new friends. Spending time on your relationships is a very important part of life and your career depends on how good your relationships are with those around you.
Press nights & premiers are the best places to do this as there is the highest concentration of people there who would make great additions to your social circle but these can seem a bit impregnable for a beginner.
You must not forget though that I am not just talking about walking up to the door of The Ivy and gatecrashing but find out what projects your friends have going on, big or small. Show your support for them by going to see their show, if you can, on press night and they might be able to invite you along to the after party or maybe even just to the pub with the director after the show.
I have had 3 friends in the last year alone land a role in the west end, touring or a regional production because they hung out with the creatives in the pub after a show and got on like a house on fire.
One was called in to audition the next week and offered swing for a west end play, one was called in to fill in last minute in an emergency when the lead got covid and stayed in the production for several months and the other was offered ensemble in a 1st class touring musical the next day when a cast member suffered an injury.
If you can’t manage to get yourself along to any press nights and premiers then there is nothing stopping you from going for a coffee with anyone you want to meet.
Meeting someone in person, over a pint or a brew, takes your relationship up a little notch. It solidifies the friendship a little bit when each of you gives a little bit of personal time over to the other.
Once you have been engaging with someone online for a while, having the odd conversation, maybe even sharing each others stuff; invite them out for a coffee some day even for 10 minutes on their lunch break.
And I’m not just talking about casting directors and agents here, these folks will be the hardest to get face time with. You should be meeting other actors, writers, directors, podcasters, headshot photographers anyone and everyone, making new connections and growing that web of friends.
Having An Agent
Of course the biggest jump in visibility for your profile as an actor starting out will come once you get represented by an Agent. Having an agent gives you access to auditions and casting directors that you would ordinarily never even hear about. This one is a pretty obvious milestone that most actors set for themselves early in their careers.
What you might not know is that agents have their own version of Spotlight with hundreds more casting opportunities than you will ever see from your Spotlight Link.
However, having an agent is not a silver bullet to success. Yes it opens doors that would be otherwise shut but as you can see it is only one piece of the profile puzzle and there are plenty of other ways to raise your visibility without one or even in order to get represented.
Featuring On TV
Appearing on TV whether in a series, soap or singing competition is a surefire way to raise your visibility. You immediately put yourself in front of tens of thousands of eyes; it doesn’t get much more visible than that.
Different appearances of course do different things for your profile. For example, appearing as a main character in a new BBC drama also lends you the credibility of having worked for a prestigious production, where as getting to the finals of The Voice give you huge amounts of visibility which in itself gets many reality stars very high paying gigs regularly.
Being a series regular in a daytime soap is somewhere in the middle. You still get a pretty high level of visibility, and potential tabloid and press features if your story line is central but there is more credibility attached to a soap appearance than a reality show, obviously because in a reality show you are not playing a character per se.
But when you’re just starting out, cutting your teeth as a guest supporting character on a long-running daytime soap is the first rung on the ladder. Just take a loot at my good friend Ross Grant who started out with a few lines here or there on Emmerdale and Hollyoaks but through maintaining incredible relationships with everyone he meets has been slowly making his way through Doctors, Coronation Street, Casualty to star in episodes of Years & Years and The Stranger (and I happen to know that he gets asked to do rehearsed readings for high profile shows on a regular basis as a result!)
Each of these examples will do very different things for your profile so I would think long and hard about where you see your career headed before you throw yourself into trying to get yourself on TV, you might find yourself somewhere you never intended to get to.
The Silver Screen
It goes without saying that feature films are really the ultimate visibility booster for your profile as an actor. They are seen by millions of people on an international scale. Audiences from almost every country in the world see you and so do creatives.
Shooting a feature also does wonders for the credibility of your profile as, often, you are shooting with co-stars or creatives with much bigger profiles than yourself and thus you get a boost in credibility by association. These also usually result in massive amounts of ancillary exposure; press features, interviews and promotional advertising.
Whether you get mentioned in the national newspaper as the newcomer to the British and international film scene or you get a four page spread in heat magazine as the new hunk on Hollyoaks, being mentioned by press gives you even more visibility for your profile.
There are other ways you can get featured in press too. You can offer your opinion on a popular topic at the moment or even write about something yourself. You can arrange local and national interviews for yourself or if you are working for a large production company or institution like the BBC or National Theatre they will often have a press team who you can reach out to to ask to be included in any feature pitches they will be handling.
As your profile grows you can actually hire a PR team yourself who will, for a hefty fee, arrange for you to appear in plenty of places where press will snap you or maybe even take a small quote, sometimes even at events completely unrelated to the arts, like a new iPhone launch or something. Once your profile reaches a certain point then press will start approaching you to appear for them instead.
Rehearsed Readings & Workshops
Getting involved in the workshopping and rehearsed reading scene is an incredibly powerful way to gain visibility as a fledgling actor. Rehearsed readings and workshops happen in the early stages of the creation of a new play or musical, often to secure commercial backing for a more full scale production and so that the creators can get feedback on their work.
Usually the creatives can’t afford to be too liberal with their casting so they will look to their friends and colleagues they have worked with before to join the cast who are happy to participate on a shoestring budget, if any.
Not only does this give you a great opportunity to be part of the original workings of a new work, giving you a greater chance of being considered for a role in any future versions but also, and here’s the biggie, these are usually seen by a huge concentration of producers, directors and other creatives in a very short space of time. An unparalleled opportunity for you to be seen by those in the casting seat of future productions.
So that’s your visibility covered, but what happens once creatives see you and become aware of you? They check you out to see how credible your profile is.
Followers & Fans
This one is highly debated topic by creatives. The arguments generally fall into two camps. The first is that having lots twitter followers will get you more work because all producers care about is bums on seats. The second is that having loads of Insta followers is just a vanity metric that only serves to boost your ego and nobody ever lost out on a role because they didn’t have enough followers.
Whilst the truth is much more subtle than either of those arguments, unfortunately the first is broadly more true. Number of followers is a clear measure of how credible your profile is among the general population. It is a tangible, visible measure of how many people expressed an interest in you at some point in the past and whilst yes, it is only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle of your profile, I have news for you all…
Actors do actually get cast because of their followers all the time.
Sometimes not consciously, most times the creative team would deny it, but in the beginning to middle tier of your career, the one most of us are at right now, followers matter.
For all you non believers out there who say twitter is just vain hokum answer me this;
What have you got to loose?
Having 10 thousand followers is certainly not going to harm your career in any way so why not give yourself a little bit of edge against others of a similar castability to yourself and start engaging a little bit.
This has to be the most underused resource across all of the performing world. Massive venues that sell tickets directly have been amassing email lists for years of course, but smaller independent producers are only just starting to catch on to the notion of building a subscriber list of their own, but what about individual performers?
If you’re singing a few songs in a concert at the weekend – what do you think would happen if you had 10,000 email addresses that you could send out a promotion to for it?
Do you think you’d sell more tickets? If it was being produced by someone else… do you think they would be impressed? Do you think they would want to hire you again to do another concert?
Performers rely far too much on social media alone these days. Maybe because collecting the email addresses of your fans isn’t as sexy as going live on Instagram.
But what happens the day your Instagram account get’s hacked… bye bye all your hard work.
Your showreel is one of your biggest credibility indicators of your profile in your toolkit. This will be the first thing that any casting or creatives see when they are looking to cast you so it really needs to be something that works really well for your career.
Credibility from your showreel comes from both the productions you have been a part of and the people you have worked with as well as the actual quality of the content and of your acting ability.
Feature film appearances with other high profile actors of course are the most credible, followed by TV appearances of the same caliber. Then appearance on Film or in TV from a high profile company or production like a BBC drama. After that you have soap appearances and potentially features or shorts from credible up and coming directors or that were featured at a screen festival or won any awards.
After that you have mid-low budget films or series but you have to be sure that you come across well as an actor in the scenes that you choose and finally you have student films or scenes shot specifically for your showreel. The primary function of these should be to showcase your acting ability as the creatives or so-stars will not lend any credibility so you must be giving a good performance or it will only hurt you.
Search Engine Optimisation
A scary term for most actors. You’ve probably heard it thrown around by techies but never thought it could apply to you as an actor. For the most part you’d be right but let me shed some light and then show you how you can potentially use it to your advantage.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) basically means what shows up in google when people search for popular words and phrases. Similar to earlier when we spoke about your own SERP (Search Engine Results Page) but instead of what shows up when people type your name in, this is making you show up when people type other things in. For example – if someone does a google search for “Irish Actor” I should try and show up.
How this helps with your credibility is that when creatives google search for broad terms, if you show up on the first page it must mean you are somehow highly relevant and important to what they were looking for.
Now, SEO is a hugely dense topic, you could spend years getting lost down the rabbit hole and never even move the needle for your career here are some things you can do to give yourself a little boost.
Write a list of some phrases that you think might be useful search terms for someone like yourself, Irish actor, Irish Singer, Irish film… Then type these into google and see what comes up. If you are seeing results from some of the biggest websites in the world like Wikipedia then try getting a bit more specific; “young Irish actor” etc.
You want to try and be as broad as you can without putting yourself up against massive websites but once you have found two or three phrases that work then go around and add these phrases to all of your web profiles like we did for your SERP. Make sure you add it to your twitter bio, IMDb bio, YouTube channel and any other publicly searchable profiles you have. You could even create your own Wikipedia page for yourself making sure these key phrases feature a number of times in what you write.
Similar to offline press, online press mentions are a great way to lend credibility to your profile. The difference here is that being mentioned somewhere online lasts a hell of a lot longer than being quoted in a newspaper. People can come across it for years to come. It can be found through search or people browsing the archives of a publication and will even show up when people google your name adding to your SERP.
This is why it always helps to include online reviewers in your invitations to see you. Bloggers and Reviewers from online publications like WhatsOnStage as well as reviewers whose offline publications have an online sister like The Stage are important even though, again, there is no guarantee that having them present will mean they will mention you in their review.
Another way you can use the online press to build your profile however is to actually write for them yourself. Pick a topic that fires you up, especially if its trending right now or in the news at the moment. Whip together a good 500-800 word piece on the subject and just email it to a couple of the editors of some of these publications to see if they’d like to feature it. If they take you up they will offer a byline which credits you to your work.
Without putting Spotlight on a pedestal I think it’s quite a good idea to strive to be ‘accepted’ to Spotlight as a first milestone as an actor in the UK. The criteria are such that having a Spotlight profile is the first marker of seriousness for any creative searching for actors to call in for auditions. Very often, auditions don’t even make it outside the realms of spotlight because, even once you have a profile there, you are still only one of 60,000+ performers registered.
Spotlight profiles are NOT searchable by the general public and as such don’t do much for your public visibility but they are one of the first things a casting director looks for when receiving a submission. They might even be using spotlight itself for submissions and so that itself would exclude anyone without a profile there.
Most agents use Spotlight to submit you for roles and so very often an agent will refuse to represent you unless you qualify for spotlight as this essentially stops them from doing most of their job. If you’re not on Spotlight you won’t be taken seriously.
Caliber Of Training
The reality is, the caliber of your training or institution still lends an awful lot of credibility to your profile as an actor. Whilst the actual quality of the training you receive is important, it is arguably not as relevant to your profile as the ‘name’ of the institution you graduated from.
Graduating from a Drama School with a big name carries with it a level of prestige that will have been well earned by the institution over many years. The result of which is inarguable; If you don’t graduate from one of the top drama schools, unless you’ve built your profile some other way already, you won’t get much of a look from the “top-tier” agents and casting directors.
It’s hard to admit it, but it’s true.
Now that’s not to say that you can’t be successful unless you go to a top drama school but if you want to give yourself that bridge over troubled waters instead of going from stepping stone to stepping stone for 10 years, then getting into a prestigious drama school is still the thing that will give you the best chance.
Caliber Of Work
If you have credits on your CV from high profile institutions that makes you seem more credible, simple. These roles are much harder to get and much more prestigious when you do so naturally you have to be a certain caliber of actor to be given that opportunity.
Working for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 are some of the biggest names in TV but you also have the production companies who actually make them. In theatre you have the big institutions like the National Theatre, Old Vic etc. as well as the various West End venues and then of course you have the most prestigious of the regional venues; Sheffield Crucible, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Royal Exchange Manchester etc.
Granted a lot of these are a little out of reach for most actors just starting out but you should be able to come up with a list of credible venues or companies at your level that are more within your reach.
This is what makes your CV stand out to casting directors and agents. This is what they will look at first and if this catches them they might spend an extra minute perusing your profile or watching your showreel.
Relationships With Creatives
The other side to that is who the creatives were on the production that you worked on. Maybe the venue wasn’t spectacular but the director was hot property. Or maybe there was a high profile actor in the cast.
Being associated with the same production as someone of higher profile brings your perceived level up to theirs as it is assumed that they wouldn’t have taken the job if it wasn’t prestigious and that you must be credible enough to have supported them in their work.
Press Mentions & Quotes
Being mentioned or quoted in the press is another way to add some credibility to your profile. This shows that a publication valued your opinion enough to use it to back up their argument or enhance their story somehow.
You can orchestrate this a little by finding out who the journalists are in your space and connecting with them as valuable sources of information and rumblings about what’s going on in the arts.
Twitter quotes are now a regular appearance in many publications, so make sure you follow all of the journos in your space and feel free to open up a dialogue with them about something they have written. Then when the time comes for them to write something they might reach out to you on twitter.
The other way this works is when you follow trending news stories on twitter you can add your opinion to the fray and if you have built up enough steam with your profile journos will catch on.
Caliber Of Your Agent
If you think that simply getting an agent is the answer to all your prayers, think again.
Whilst it is certainly a hurdle that you will want to get over at some point once you have signed and been with your agent for a while you will begin to realise that the caliber of your agent also has an awful lot to do with the career path that you have placed before yourself.
Agents are humans after all and considering that, strange as it seems, so are casting directors, its logical that certain agents would have better relationships with certain CD’s. Whilst it is true that the most volume of work is cast through Spotlight and thus most agents have equal access to castings, very often CD’s will have a particular group of agents that they have a good relationship with and will go to them directly when they need to cast something.
This is why, even if you have an agent, you can often see cast announcements released and think you were perfect for the role but the casting never even crossed your agents path.
Some agents also specialise in certain areas of the profession so if you have a “musical theatre” agent good luck getting seen for any features or plays; the CD’s won’t give you a second look. There are other factors at play too for example your past credits and training but generally one type of agent gets one type of castings sent their way.
As much as most actors would like to deny it there are certain agencies in the UK (and internationally) who are on a different level to most others. Generally these are the agencies with the big names on their books. There are positives and negatives to being represented by one of these agencies, whilst they lend their credibility to your name as an actor and can open all the right doors you can run the risk of getting lost in their huge books if you don’t stand out as one of their most successful clients from the get go.
Relationships With Casting Directors
Regardless of whether you have an agent or not, taking responsibility for building up your own relationships with the casting directors that you want to work for or with is a savvy career move.
This means that not only is it easier for your agent to to their job because the CD’s will know like and trust you already but also it means that if ever down the line you and your agent decide to go separate ways you have your own independent web of connections that you can take with you on your search for new representation.
This also applies if you are not represented of course. Firstly because you don’t actually need an agent to get yourself seen for castings if you have strong relationships with CD’s already but also because this lends massive amounts of credibility when you do go out looking for representation. If you have the strong recommendation of a CD then an agent will be much more likely to take you on.
That’s actually how I got my first agent back in the day, he hadn’t even seen me act but one of the top casting directors in the West End came to see my showcase at drama school and afterwards he rung around his Agent buddies and recommended they all saw me for a meeting; I had 5 meetings the next week and signed with one of that CD’s closest friends. All because of a recommendation that gave me real world credibility.
So there you have it; the 26 ways you can build your profile as a performer to get seen by more people for more auditions and book yourself more work.
Each of these is a subject in itself so try taking one of these topics and spend a few weeks working on moving yourself forward with it.