Screenwriters need to build and promote their brand more than ever these days and the good news is the Internet and social media allows you to present yourself as you wish the world to see you. You are your brand and it’s all about the career you are building as a working screenwriter. It’s very important to use social media to your advantage to get the word out about you and what you do.
If you haven’t already done it already, sign up for a Twitter account. I know many people who dismiss it as a waste of time or a vortex of useless information, but this has not been my experience. Twitter is a fantastic way to follow other writers and build a community among like-minded artists. I’ve been on Twitter for four years now and have met some of the nicest, supportive fellow writers from around the world. I recently became followed (and a follower) of another screenwriter MarkDarkStory who lives in Asia and he generously interviewed me for his website about working as a screenwriter in Hollywood. I was grateful for the chance to discuss the craft and the interview was a great experience. As my thanks, he became my first guest blogger with his analysis of the movie The Town. As I continue to use social media to promote my brand, I’m being asked to give interviews — recently a Skype web interview for the great Thitia on her new web network Stylamerican, an interview by the very talented screenwriter Britta Reque-Dragicevic on her fantastic website Creative Inside Out, and an interview by the talented Michelle Goode on her UK based website Writes So Fluid. The key with Twitter is being active, following and promoting others, and Tweeting regularly.
On the topic of blogs, they are another great way to use the Internet to your advantage. As you need to write every day anyway, why not share your unique point of view with the world? You can write articles on screenwriting advice, keep a daily journal or whatever formats you want. I’ve found WordPress is easy and offers hundreds of different templates to get you started blogging in minutes. Once you start getting regular readers, a blog is great motivator, as your readers will dry up unless you keep giving them new material to read. I’ve just hit a milestone on my blog with eighteen thousand readers over the past year.
Next, create an Internet presence for yourself as a screenwriter with a website. You don’t need a web designer to have a basic and clean website and it is the best way to go. Don’t get frustrated by the amount of time it may take to get everything up to speed. Take it slow, collect all the elements you want to present, figure out the other sites you want to link, and maybe even post your acting or writing reel. I edited together a “Written by” reel of scenes from every produced film I wrote. It’s a nice extra for potential collaborators or employers to watch, as no one will sit through every film you’ve written. When your site is ready, promote it to the world and keep it updated.
Before I put up my website, I spent days researching other screenwriter’s websites to see how they looked. I noticed many sites cluttered with too much content and hard to read. Keep your site clean and simple. It’s the one place on the web that will represent all the work you do. Make it easy to navigate and keep it up to date with your credits, news on projects, photos and links to your other accounts. Do not use a free website account from your Internet provider. Spend the money and use Go-Daddy, Vista Print or others to make it more professional. They are easy and relatively inexpensive to put up a website in minutes. Also make sure to get an E-mail account that includes your website address. No free e-mail accounts like Yahoo, AOL, or G-Mail accounts. Now when a producer or director asks what you have done or what projects you are working on, you will be able to send them to your website.
It may seem archaic, but get professional quality business cards designed and printed. Yes, they are becoming a thing of the past, but they are still used and a very simple and professional way to leave your contact information behind. Do not print your business cards on your computer’s printer. It will scream AMATEUR HOUR! Spend the money for good paper stock and a simple, quality design that only lists your important contact information. Do not include a long list of your professional abilities, as it will look like you are spreading yourself too thin. I remember being given a business card from a guy who listed eight jobs he could do ending with Production Assistant. I could not take him seriously. Did you ever take a business card from a real professional? You immediately notice the difference in first impressions, right? The same goes for cheap and cluttered business cards. I don’t even have “screenwriter” on my business card, only the name of my production company with my letterhead font, my name, phone number and E-mail address—and that’s it. The card is simple, clean, and to the point. More importantly, it’s professional.
Consider joining LinkedIn. At first, build your network with people you know and then piggyback off them to get introductions to others in your industry. Join professional groups like the “Film/TV Professionals” group and start topics and respond to other topics.
If you don’t have one, create a professional Facebook page to use only for news about your screenwriting and re-posting of articles about the film industry. Promote your Facebook page on Twitter, your blog, your website and on LinkedIn. Also be sure to cross promote every account you maintain with all the others.
Next, join free networking websites. There are several new filmmaking websites that are free to join and give you access to thousands of other followers to promote your brand. I recently joined a new creative networking site called StudioVox and they’re just starting to accept members. Another good networking site is Stage32.com. It’s like a Facebook for filmmakers and it has a real community feel and allows you can network, offer jobs and find jobs.
In addition to your daily writing, schedule in time to use social media to promote our brand as a screenwriter. You are responsible for always projecting your image of a professional, and if you’re able to back it up with quality work and discipline, you’re on the way to a professional career. It’s similar to the cover page of your screenplay, if it’s incorrectly formatted and has a copyright symbol and WGA registration number, you will immediately be seen as an amateur. The same goes for your website and the way you use social media to promote you. Keep it clean, simple and a one-stop shop for the world to check in and learn about your brand—you!
“But the Artist cannot look to others to validate his efforts or his calling. If you don’t believe me, ask Van Gogh, who produced masterpiece after masterpiece and never found a buyer his whole life. In the hierarchy, the Artist faces outward. Meeting someone new he asks himself, “What can this person do for me?” “How can this person advance my standing?” In hierarchy, the Artist looks up and looks down. The one place he can’t look is that place he must: within.”—Steven Pressfield, “The War of Art”
Speaking of networking—check out my website and my screenplay consultation services. Click on the icon below for the link to my consultation page.