In a digital world, an actor never stops auditioning. Nobody knows this better than Kathryn Taylor Rose, a Dallas actor who has appeared onstage at Lyric Stage, Theatre Three, WaterTower Theatre, Ameristage Players and Dallas Children’s Theater.
While studying at Sam Houston State University, she took a class about business for artists and after graduation, she started working at her mother’s marketing company, Rose Marketing Solutions. After realizing her actor friends did not have a professional online presence, she developed two-hour workshops for artists to help them build their own web sites.
“I don’t think a lot of people get the opportunity to learn about how to market themselves as a performer. The deal is you are like a one-man business when you’re a performer. You’re contract labor, so you always have to put yourself out there for yourself,” Rose said. “We got the opportunity to train through Squarespace to be trainers and the very first people I wanted to train were people in my community.”
Squarespace is a service that develops and hosts web sites for individuals and small businesses. Templates can be customized to be as distinctive as the artist, the service offers 24-hour support and many features are included in a monthly subscription.
“I love Squarespace because it is really clean and modern looking. The other good thing is you don’t have to worry about updating new software or changing anything when there are any changes to the internet as a whole per se or to technology of web site creation. Squarespace handles that for you,” Rose said.
Rose’s workshops have appealed to a variety of artists with varying degrees of web knowledge. “I thought it was the easiest web site building service I’ve ever used. Everything is laid out for you and the workspace is very interactive and understandable,” Nicole Neely, an actor, playwright and puppeteer who had previously used Wordpress for her site, said. “I really like the sleek design that Squarespace has and the variety of templates you can choose from. It is also easy to navigate and offers a variety of editing options,” Courtney Mentzel, an actor and puppeteer who is creating her first professional web site, said.
Actors, singers, directors and a children’s book writer have attended the workshop, but Rose thinks every artist from costume designers to visual artists needs a professional web site. “It’s your virtual business card. We can hand out our resumes and email them out, but the only way for someone to get to know me as a person and a performer in a short amount of time is to find me on the internet,” Rose said.
Her students appreciate the ability to shape their professional image beyond an audition or single meeting. “I believe it’s best for the artist to have control of the content because they can give others a true picture of who they are and will be more in control of contracts, etc. It also appears more professional than just a Facebook page or agency representation page,” Jenny Tucker, an actor, singer and vocal coach, said.
Rose suggests an artist include several photos on a web site, both taken during performances and backstage shots, a biography, a resume and a contact page. Because she is a singer, Rose includes several videos of her singing on her site. Those video clips helped Rose book her cabaret show, Love Me, Tinder, in New York. “It’s typically four or five pages on an actor’s web site. You keep it very simple, very clean and very easy to maneuver the web site,” Rose said.
Rose’s key piece of advice to artists is to showcase their individual spark. “Show your personality. When someone gets a chance to visualize your personality, they’ll want to work with you in a heartbeat,” Rose said. “Don’t be afraid to show off your fun side, especially in your bio and the written portions. Give it a lot of voice and personality. After all, that’s why they hire artists is because we bring the fire and creativity.”
That’s advice her students have taken to heart. “Incorporate some lifestyle photos of yourself to show who you are,” Neely said. “Make an outline of the things you want to include in your web site before you start building one, like you would when you write a paper, that way you are more prepared and able to put everything together in an efficient manner,” Mentzel said.
Most of all, they appreciate Rose herself. “Kate was professional and knowledgeable on each aspect she covered. I appreciate her showing us how to navigate it and her patience with me. It was a great session. Would do it again!” Tucker said.
Rose will host another workshop for artists on January 27.
Kimberly Richard is a North Texan with a passion for the arts. She’s worked with Theatre Three, Inc. and interned for the English National Opera and Royal Shakespeare Company. She graduated from Austin College and currently lives in Garland with her very pampered cocker spaniel, Tessa.