by Michael Phelps, 20-time Olympic Gold Medal Champion
We do it every day, multiple times a day. We search kale, Minnesota abortion laws and even our OKCupid dates.
Some of you improvisers may even type your own name in the search box, and some of you may think that is idiotic. It is not. Now more than ever, it is imperative that every performer periodically Googles him- or herself.
Offers from agents and managers. Opportunities for TV and film roles. Solid day jobs. The internet creates the best resource for us as talent to be accessible and to present our work, and that means it is your responsibility to be aware of your online presence.
Here are 5 online rules for every improviser:
1. Delete Your Entire College Experience
Whether a really bad student film you did for your suitemate showing at least one boob exists– or you posed for candid photos while building a bong out of a pineapple on Spring Break– it’s all traceable, even for people who don’t watch CSI or SVU or F&B (Franklin & Bash). Keep your image the way you want it to be perceived. Googling yourself can keep you abreast of any and all residual damage.
2. Register Your Own Domain Name
Register your professional name. That way, once you get famous, you don’t have to buy it back from some jerk in Ohio who has the same name as you and runs a wholesale wooden shoe site. Domain names are super-cheap and don’t have to be used right away. You can buy the rights now for as little as $6.99 and set up your site later. Invest in yourself.
3. Create a Personal Website
Creating a personal website is easier (and cheaper) than ever. Sites like WordPress are free, easy to learn, easy to manage and totally customizable. Your website is your home base. Use it as a hub to link to all your other online forums (i.e. Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, The Second City Network, etc.) Ideally, your website will surface to the top of a Google search for your name (instead of your Facebook page where there are pictures of that birthday party you threw for your dog and your failed Pinterest attempts.)
4. Manage Your Online Portfolio
So what’s on that website you’ve got going? Whether you’re a totally green improviser or have been in the game a while, peddling your goods online is vital. Always be ready to present your newest and most improved work at a moment’s notice.
You should have the following materials available 24/7:
- A solid headshot: Your headshot doesn’t have to be the most expensive, but it does need to look like you on any given day.
- Your resume: Updated and honest.
- Your Video Shorts/Web Series: A YouTube channel or Vimeo account allows you to keep all of your videos in the same place, makes viewing options easier.
Google can also help remind you of what’s floating around out there in cyberspace and help you track down and exterminate outdated headshots featuring your 2003 love affair with chunky highlights, resumes from before you were an extra in Chicago Fire, and any independent improv team pages. You know, that one you’re really embarrassed by.
5. Tweet Yo-Self
If you don’t feel you have enough work to fill up a website at this time– but still want an online space to represent your comedic voice– Twitter is your friend. Hey, that “Modern Seinfeld” guy just got himself a sitcom writing job based on his tweets alone! Tip: Avoid funny usernames. People can search and find you more easily if you use a version of your real name instead of @ChiComedyQueen1986.
Take advantage of the internet as your largest and best resource. Don’t let it take advantage of you. The internet is just like going to a new school: No one knows you, so you can present the version of yourself you want people to see.
So go ahead, Google yourself. No judgment.
Rachel LaForce is an ensemble member for The Second City Touring Company and an understudy for both Resident Stage revues, Let Them Eat Chaos and A Clown Car Named Desire. Beyond Second City, Rachel performs all around town and is currently focused on writing her solo show. Follow her on Twitter @raelaforce or visit her website www.rachellaforce.com.