I have been reselling clothes on Poshmark for a very short time, and yet I have felt a huge confidence boost in marketing and promoting for my acting and filmmaking career. I thought the only results of selling on Poshmark would be some pocket change and the ability to declutter, but this simple endeavor has truly enhanced the way I view self-promotion.
Think of yourself as a product. How many times are we told this in our acting business classes? It’s not meant to sound gross. It’s meant to be helpful. Because you’re not just the product, you’re also the vendor. Let’s think about the farmer’s market. If you go to the farmer’s market to buy some homemade soap to wash yourself, you are not going to see apples and decide to get that instead. You might need apples for another project, a pie perhaps, but not to wash yourself with! Makes total sense.
Now why do we have such a hard time applying this to our creative careers?
- because it’s personal
- because maybe we don’t know our product as well as we think we do.
There are certain key factors about successfully making sales. Being unattached to these items (other than that I feel they represent my sense of style, to a degree) allows me to see them for what they are. I can objectively look at the items and see what might be more successful based on uniqueness, type, brand, etc. I have been designing stylized flat lay images, and I choose props and such based on what makes sense. If I am posting a sweater, I’m not going to style it with dumbbells. If I’ve got a punk rock t-shirt, I’m probably not going to get my girly makeup out. You get the point. Similarly, I need to paint a picture to the customer. I’m not just going to say “this shirt would like great with a skirt OR pants”, I’m going to show pictures of the shirt, one with a skirt, and one with pants. So why do we struggle with this, especially in auditions and headshots? Think about it.
Which of the two scenarios is less work for you?
- I show you a picture of a circle and I say, “now imagine this circle is colored like Planet Earth!”
- I color in the circle myself and show you a picture of planet Earth.
#2 is obviously less work for you! Yes, it’s more work for me. But that’s what this is, this acting thing. It’s work! Anyone telling you different is lying. I know so many actors who promote themselves on this idea of being a blank slate, and that can be super beneficial. But guess what? If you just send neutral pictures of yourself based on this blank slate thing, that’s all anyone is going to see. They’re not going to sit and imagine you as the preppy girl. Because it’s more work. They’re going to cast the girl who performed her monologue equally as well, but was wearing the pink polo shirt.
My other note was about knowing the product. If I just post “green button-down shirt” it won’t be as successful as if I post “Forrest Green Ralph Lauren button-down shirt”. One is specific, one is not. One looks lazy, one looks well-thought out. What it comes down to is knowing the product. So, this is my permission to you to do some naval gazing.
In school, we passed around a list of 200 qualities/types and had to put a check mark next to each item we thought applied to the actor.
Some of the qualities naturally sounded nicer whereas others sounded a little insulting. But I learned two important lessons from this. The first was how to see someone from a casting point of view. I often apply for roles that are called the “hot girl” (don’t even get me started on how frustrating this tiny view of women is). In this typing exercise, I looked at my gorgeous friend and couldn’t check off the “hot one” category. She is one of the most beautiful people I know, but probably wouldn’t be cast as “the hot one” because she doesn’t fit what I think of when I see that. Now, always submit for anything you can audition for. If you can audition for the hot girl, do it! But don’t doubt your product if you don’t get the part. Recognize that ultimately, they went with what they initially had in mind.
The other thing I learned was how people viewed me. This is vital. While some people were nicer than they should have been (a couple of people marked nearly every category), you should find someone who will be honest with you. Don’t say, “Could I play a Disney princess?” Ask a friend to suggest 5 roles they think you could’ve played. And try to ask a couple of people so you can notice patterns.
Having this information, you can start to really sell yourself. I know that I’m most likely to be cast as the quirky rom-com character. I can’t tell you the number of things I’ve been called back for/asked to submit for that compare the character to Zooey Deschanel. So what do I do? I keep an eye out for clothes that suit these parts. I’ve got knee-high socks, sweaters, polka-dot blazers and tops with peter pan collars. I also know that people will compare me to certain actresses like Emma Stone and Reese Witherspoon. So you better believe I’ve got a handful of pink shirts!
For some in-depth help on branding yourself as an actor, check out Spurgeon Perkins’s website.
Lastly, believe in the product. It’s easier to promote something when you really believe in it. There are “top selling items” on Poshmark that I don’t go near because it doesn’t feel authentic for me to sell something I wouldn’t wear or don’t believe to be good quality.
Believe in yourself, believe in your abilities.
Next week, I’ll be going over some staples that I think every actress should have in her wardrobe, and how to build your wardrobe for less!
Do you have trouble promoting yourself or marketing your creative skills or products? What has helped you?