by Onicia Muller (@OniciaMuller)
As a screenwriter, having a personal website isn’t obligatory. For most screenwriters, a well-managed social media account or two is sufficient for advertising your accomplishments and letting people find you. But if you already have a website or want one, here are five smart ways writers can maximize their digital real estate.
1. Be Found
Implementing basic SEO increases your chances of being discovered via your website. For example, “Caribbean comedian” and “Chicago” are key terms on my website. Last year, I booked a show because a booker had a Google Alert for Caribbean comedians living in Chicago. Just be careful about posting your personal email address on your website. Having my email on my website and public social media accounts caused me to receive lots of spam. Be sure to use a contact form to hide your email while still letting new contacts reach you.
No website alternative: If you must make your email public, post it as an image or write it out like this: “your handle [at] email host [dot] com.” Choose a handle that’s close to your name or describes what you do.
2. Showcase Your Work
Trying to share your work via social media is tricky and limiting. For sharing portfolios, design a simple website using drag-and-drop builders like Weebly, Squarespace, or Wix. Nayna Agrawal keeps a beautifully simple website that puts her accomplishments and writing samples up front.
No website alternative: Create a page on a free blogging platform like Blogger, Medium, or Tumblr. Occasionally send a brief email about recent achievements to your industry contacts, including your school’s alumni department. I do this at least twice a year.
3. Join the Conversation
If you have something to say, publishing long-form commentary helps develop connections with like-minded collaborators. Your articles can be as simple as “A Totally Random Number of Great Films You Might Have Missed in 2016.”
No website alternative: Be a guest blogger or join a Twitter chat. Remember: you’re a screenwriter, not a blogger. Don’t get lost in trying to go viral or running a content mill. Your end goal should be to build your credibility as a screenwriter. Just write something relevant and share it. You might be retweeted by someone cool.
4. Be a Fan
Since the days of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae has been a champion of promoting fellow artists. Through her YouTube channel, Short Film Sundays, and website, she helps audiences discover new talent while staying relevant and accessible to the next generation of content creators. Some of my most shared posts feature shout outs to writers and performers I admire. Your website doesn’t have to be all about you. In fact, sharing your platform is perfect for meaningful networking and relationship building.
No website alternative: If you have a public social media profile or website, repost content by creators you respect.
5. Promote Your Side Hustle
For most aspiring screenwriters, it will take years before we get our big break. Last year, I spent about $500 on website hosting fees and screenwriting contests. Working writers like John August and Amanda Pendolino use their websites to offer writing-related services or products. John promotes his screenwriting software, card game, and writer emergency pack. Amanda offers script editing and coverage services.
Don’t be bogged down by all that “how to market your online business” noise. Your goal is to be a working screenwriter, not a “get rich quick” scammer. Last year, I spent zero dollars on advertising but generated enough income through my website to cover career expenses and help with the rent. I would be homeless without my husband, but at least I got paid to write. Effective promotion can be as simple as dropping a link in your email signature and mentioning it in your social media bio.
No website alternative: Announce your marketable skills with a free profile on LinkedIn, Upwork, or Fiverr.
How are you using your digital real estate?
Created on St Maarten. Based in Chicago. Onicia writes, says funny things, and enjoys hanging with creative minds. You can read her weekly column, Just Be Funny in The Daily Herald’s Weekender or on her blog. She pays her bills as a creative project manager. Find her online at OniciaMuller.com or @OniciaMuller