In the past, I've written about how I became a regular social media user and how it can be used to help promote oneself. It has been nearly two years since I talked about the fine line between being a social media whore and a savvy self-promoter. And since that time has passed, my approach to marketing myself online has changed greatly. Absent from that post was the logic behind the presentation of my product and art from platform to platform. Now that my readers have a better understanding of why I use social media, I'd like to give a bit more information about my approach from within each tool that I use to make my work visible, known, appreciated, and employed.
Personal Website: (http://barrykerollis.com/)
One of the most important social media tools that any independent artist can and should have is their own personal website. I spent about six months reading up on how to start a free website using Wordpress. But instead of sitting down to execute this necessity with the vigor of an overeager scholar, I kept putting it aside like a teenager writing a major term paper. I was overwhelmed by the task and could never bring myself to experience the tedium, as well as the trial-and-error involved in creating your own website from scratch. So, when I received a fan page suggestion from Lyquid Talent and their website design firm, I reluctantly jumped at the chance to pay somebody to create a website for me. This was, perhaps, one of the smartest things I ever did for both my art and product. This was due to the fact that, in this day and age, anybody who is trying to sell any product or service is basically understood as untrustworthy without a website. Whether it is true or not, without some type of online presence that displays and validates your product or service, people will move on to work with somebody else who has their information posted online. My assumption in the reasoning for this is that people generally don't have the time to put in too much effort to determine if they want to reach out to somebody via phone or email to get the information that they need to make a business decision. They want an internet-based visualization of what you have to offer. From there, they will likely decide whether to pursue you further for your services.
To maximize my possibilities of being hired, I have to put enough information on my website to let whomever is seeking to hire me see what I have to offer. I am not only a dancer, but I am also a choreographer and a teacher. For this reason, my website includes biography, resume, photo gallery, video gallery, review, calendar, and contact me pages.
When you first pull up my site, I have photographs that change every few seconds on my home page. I selected a variety of pictures that represent me completely as a dancer. There are classical, contemporary, and pas de deux images, as well as a headshot. From their initial viewing, this shows the viewer that I am well-versed.
On my biography page, I include a thorough, but briefer synopsis of my background and achievements as a dancer, choreographer, and instructor. On the next page, I have a complete (and possibly overwhelming) resume page. I choose to keep this resume so full because the initial resume I send out in my contact email is usually catered to the job that I am applying for. Since I send out resumes for work in three different areas of dance, it is important that I provide sections of my resume for each of these areas online.
Beyond that, my photo and video galleries offer a hearty variety of images and reels that best show my work. The review section is used to validate my work through the eyes of critics. My calendar is used to keep those interested up-to-date on what I am up to and those who want to hire me to see if I am available. And lastly, the contact me section is to offer a pathway to get in touch with me without giving away my personal email address.
Personal Facebook Page: (https://www.facebook.com/bkerollis)
I mostly prefer to keep my personal Facebook page between my friends, acquaintances, and myself. I rarely accept invitations from somebody I don't know and I never accept invitations from students I have worked with under the age of 18. I like to keep this as my own private space that isn't completely open to the public for viewing.
When I self-promote on Facebook, it is more often to let my friends know what I am up to or to reach out to my vast network of professional artists. If I can keep my friends and professional connections updated on what I am doing and keep my work in the back of their minds, they may be more likely to suggest me for opportunities if they hear of an employer in need of an artist. For example, if Jimmy hears that Johnny Dance Company needs a talented dance artist for their upcoming show, they are less likely to think about mentioning their freelancing friend Freddy, who doesn't have Facebook and hasn't been in touch for over a year. But if Freddy posted some pictures and status updates about how much he loved freelancing with another company and Jimmy saw that in his Facebook feed, he is more likely to remember that Freddy has been freelancing and suggest him for the job.
It is important to be cautious on Facebook about how much you self-promote. I find that it can be difficult to skate the thin line of helpful versus obnoxious self-promotion. Yes, you should post about that exciting award that you won. Yes, you should post that you will be dancing for a choreographer that you've dreamed of dancing with for years. But, if you find yourself posting new pictures of yourself dancing each and every day, your friends are going to get annoyed. I have seen instructors who work at drop-in studios that pay based on the number of students in the classroom who have posted videos of combinations and reminders that they are teaching 2-3 times per day, every single day for weeks on end. If you share the same type of information way too often, you are more likely to get people clicking the block button than you are to get them in class. Keep Facebook just as personal as you do professional. It was originated as a way to connect with friends.
Facebook Fan Page: (https://www.facebook.com/LifeOfAFreelanceDancer)
Let's talk about that one time I posted a status update that probably upset a few of my friends. In a matter of about 3 days, I had received five requests from friends to LIKE their new Facebook fan pages. The only problem was that their fan pages were strictly seeking fans of themselves. Now, don't get me wrong. Many of my friends deserve to have huge followings of fans. But, unfortunately, we aren't players on a sports team and a majority of our fans are our family, friends, and a small portion of the regular audiences that come to see repertory performances. So, to be completely honest, there is absolutely no reason (today) for me to make a Facebook fan page for Barry Kerollis.
I do have some friends that do have Facebook fan pages for themselves and rightfully so. These people are legitimate stars and have balletomanes from around the world seeking their personal Facebook friendship, often when the dancer has no connection to the person. This is a good reason to create a place for fans to keep up to date on the professional happenings of an artist. But when it comes to most of us dancers, we should stray away from asking for likes to boost our ego. Your friends and family can keep up to date with you on your personal Facebook page. Plus, it will save you a lot of work.
Instead of having a personal Barry Kerollis Facebook fan page, I have created a page for Life of a Freelance Dancer. And to save myself the time and energy of constantly updating this page on top of all of the other social media that I do, I only post links to individual blog posts. This leaves a place for people who just want to scroll through the over 100 articles I've written since I started blogging nearly 3 years ago.
A picture can be worth a thousand words. But a video may only be worth two, yes or no. It is invaluable to any dancer/choreographer that works as an independent contractor to have quality videos on a video sharing site like Youtube or Vimeo. Beyond the fact that an employer gets a true representation of what you look like in a performance or the style of works that you create, video sharing sites also save artists thousands of dollars. Where it used to be fashionable to send wasteful big yellow envelopes stuffed with your CV, photographs, and DVD reel, it is now much more acceptable to send an email with your website, CV attachment, and link to a reel. This saves you the cost of purchasing DVDs, printer ink, and other materials, as well as shipping costs. It also may save you money by covering auditions without the need to pay for a flight. Find good video-editing software or ask a friend with editing experience, and post your best work online. Be sure to keep it updated (which I am in the process of doing over these next few weeks).
Twitter, oh Twitter, How I Hate Thee! I'm not the biggest fan of Twitter and my activity on this social media site shows that. Twitter is the place to do everything that I told you not to do on Facebook. Since posts are short and people's feeds fly by at an alarming rate of missed content, it is generally acceptable to be the biggest self-promotion whore your heart desires. Kind of.
On Twitter, it is acceptable to post multiple times a day, to shamelessly self-promote, and to retweet every good thing that has ever been written about you. The reasoning, I am not sure. But it probably has something to do with the brevity of time that posts can remain at the top of anybody's feed who follows more than 20 people.
The reason that I hate Twitter? While Facebook has a great tendency to create addicts that need to check in with their cyber friends every few minutes, Twitter requires you to interact at the same rate. If you don't have a great deal of followers to whom you post original content for and don't stroke their Twegos with a never-ending stream of retweets, you will not get much use out of Twitter. This social media platform is heavily based on constant interaction and reciprocation. And I just don't have time for that, unless I quit all other forms of social media and stop eating meals. I'm also not a fan of people retweeting more than one or two reviews of themselves that call them out as being geniuses or more. Take note.
It took me a few years to hop on the Instagram bandwagon. Why? Because I was afraid I would stop doing anything other than breathing and posting pictures on Instagram. I love this platform because I feel that it is the closest way of seeing the world through somebody elses eyes. Not only can I see what my friends do, but I can share a unique perspective of how I view life for others to see.
I have some friends that use Instagram purely to show how fun and unique the life of a dancer can be, while others rarely ever post anything relating to their work or art. My approach to Instagram is to post things that I love and are oddly unique. For this reason, I post on instagram for both pleasure and self-promotion. Due to the necessity to take images and alter them for optimal viewing pleasure, it can be difficult to over-promote on Instagram. This is one reason that I love using this platform.
Well, if you are here reading this content, I hope you realize that you are on a self-promoting social media platform. I love to write, perhaps, because I like to talk. It is the best way to say everything that I want to say without the interruption of conversation that can get one off track (though I love socializing, as well). Blogging is not for everybody and it is definitely a fine-tuned art. But more than any other platform for self-promotion, blogging defines itself as the most useful tool to reach out to an audience. The reason for this is because, if you can build an audience, you have the ability to share your view, sell your product, and help others. And if you can help others, they will help to validate your product and promote you.
The big challenge in blogging is that you have to be good at it. Blogging isn't just good writing. It is a combination of many things I have already talked about in this post. Writing online requires a unique, authoritative voice. Not only that, you have to develop some type of respect and appreciation from your field. In other words, people need to trust what you say and the validity behind your voice. Beyond that, you need to find ways, usually using social media, to self-promote your self-promoting blog before it becomes popular enough that it shows up for web searches or is mentioned by online publications. For these reasons, I believe that blogging is the most powerful, but difficult to use, form of self-promotion that is currently available online for professional artists like me.