Stop Running Your Career Like A Broke Artist And START Running It Like A Business Person
Posted By Jordan
The single biggest mistake that most actors make is that they run their careers like actors.
Most actors have no business skills. Yet, this is the Entertainment Industry, and as the song goes, “There’s no business like Show Business…”
Nowhere in those statements do you see the words art. Why? Because first and foremost, it’s a business. It’s very much an industry which includes hundreds of moving parts and positions, and you must approach it like a business! When you’re rehearsing or performing in front of the camera or onstage, yes, you are an artist bringing your talent to life. At all other times, you must be a business person!
How The Business Works (in general)
You have the Studios (also applies to networks, production companies & streaming services) who look at their annual production budgets and make financial decisions to increase the bottom line of their companies. These decisions include how many projects they produce in any given year, how much each will cost, how much time will each take, how much to spend on marketing, etc. The whole purpose is to make money for their company (and shareholders if it’s publicly traded).
For television specifically, the Studios pre-sell advertising by presenting their slate of shows to advertisers during a screening event called the “Up-fronts.” If advertisers clamor for a show, the Studio is likely to promote it more to keep those ad dollars coming in. If there isn’t a lot of action for any given show, and if the Studio decides it’s still going to do heavy marketing for it, it’s going to be money out of pocket.
This is all driven by money!
This is generally what it typically looks like to make a film or TV show:
The Studio puts a slate of projects together based on when and what stars and directors are available. Then the budget is created along with a shooting schedule. Locations are booked, additional crew is booked, then the casting director is hired and the casting process begins. Actors— unless they are the stars or major supporting roles that are “names”— are the last people they are concerned with.
Sure, nothing can be made without actors, but the Studio has already spent heaps of money on securing everything else to make a project go, and actors are the last part of the equation. Ironically, most actors think they are the most important part of a production, when in reality, unless you’re at the level where you receive a steady stream of direct offers, actors are the last people anyone cares about, and the last to get hired on any project. And like any business, a Studio wants to get the best products for as little money as possible.
This is how all businesses operate, in some form or another, and the reason most actors never make it is because they refuse to go into business for themselves, or even learn how!
Most actors take acting class after acting class, workshop after workshop, in the hopes that their talent will land them the job should they finally get an audition. And, yes, talent is essential, being the best you can be is essential, but…
THAT’S NOT ALL IT TAKES!
Nowadays, the actors building names and careers for themselves operate like CEOs of their own companies. They invest in themselves differently than most others in the ways that truly make a difference. They invest in business coaches, marketing, P.R., creating their own projects, relationships, and business courses for entertainers.
Rather than taking yet another acting class after doing so over and over again, year after year, maybe invest in a strategic marketing class that teaches you how to market yourself. Take a finance or wealth-building class to learn how to invest some of the money you earn from a gig or your day job in order to make your money work for you and grow (no matter how much or little you make), giving you some financial stability. Maybe invest in a marketing expert to help you identify your Main Archetype and help you rebrand yourself. Maybe invest in a business coach that can help you navigate your career in ways that managers and agents can’t or don’t know how to do.
Gone are the days of the industry where actors could just audition. Why? Because there is so much more competition, even if there is exponentially more opportunity. Plus, Casting Directors receive 5,000 or more submissions for every single co-star or guest star role if those roles go out on breakdowns.
So how do you run your career like a business?
Act like a business owner and invest in the following:
A Marketing Expert. Find that person who can help you truly identify your Main Archetype so casting and other industry people “get you.” All businesses— ALL OF THEM— live and die by Marketing. You have to know your “brand” and how to market yourself because no one is just going to magically find you. Even if you have a team of great reps, they are not going to spend time and money on your marketing and P.R. You must take it upon yourself, so either find someone or take a class in Branding & Marketing
R&D (Research and Development). Research the shows you want to be on, the directors you want to work with. Stay on top of current news by reading Deadline, Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, Backstage, actor blogs, etc. Know the industry.
Relationships. Tony Robbins put it best: “The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the quality of your relationships.” Invest in genuinely getting to know industry people in an authentic way, not coming from a place of need, but genuine curiosity. Rather than ask, “What can I get?” ask “What can I give?” You know, be a real person, not an opportunist.
A Business & Mindset Coach who can help guide you and be your accountability partner. Someone who will push you to think out of the box and do things you’re uncomfortable doing. Someone who will help you with a plan of action, a strategy. All successful businesses make plans, they strategize their growth, their actions, their goals. You must, as well!
And finally, there’s a saying in business. “No one cares how you feel.” Why? Because all business decisions are just that— business decisions. There is no emotion in business. It’s always about achieving a goal, the bottom line, and growth.
If you don’t book a role, 99% of the time it has absolutely ZERO to do with your talent. It’s usually a business decision that you have no control over. If you can separate your emotions from your business, you will be able to make decisions with clarity and purpose, and you’ll be so much happier because when things don’t go your way, you know it’s just business as usual. And when thing do go your way, it’s just business as usual.
Congratulations! you just started YOU, INC., and you’re the CEO! So put your business hat on and get to work!
I’d love to know your thoughts. Leave a comment below 👇🏻
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I’m a multi-award-winning filmmaker & producer, serial entrepreneur, author, and artist.
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