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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Spending Your Money Wisely

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I was recently visiting a printer where I was getting reprints of my current headshot. I stood in line behind two women who were talking about the high price of being an actor in the city. They were quoting all of the areas where they were being forced to spend money - headshots, acting classes, dance lessons, dialect training, voice teachers, casting director workshops, mailings ... on and on and on. One of the actors commented that she couldn’t print as many headshot looks as she needed, because she just didn’t have the money to spare. 

When they got to the front, the person behind the counter asked them if they would like to order postcards along with their headshots, saying, ‘You’re already giving us your photo for your headshot, you might as well order postcards while you’re at it.“ The actor (who couldn’t print her full headshot set) said, ”I hadn’t really thought about it, but I guess you’re right. That would probably be easier to do it now.“ She then plucked down around $120 more to buy postcards... with no hesitation. 

Question: Why is it that actors, who are extremely frugal and have very little money to spare, still find themselves making major purchases without doing their research? 

Do these answers ring a bell?:

”If I don’t buy these right now, aren’t I just making excuses? And I need to stop making excuses...“

”I need to take my business seriously, so if they tell me I need this, I can’t afford NOT to.“

”I have so much to do- I am actually making the smart choice doing this now, rather than having to waste the time coming back.“

C’mon, I’m an actor too. You know we have all said these things ourselves at one time or another. 

Let me ask you something else. Imagine this same scenario with a CEO of a large company. They have a purchase to make, and during the process a sales representative promotes a product that will double the price they were expecting to pay that day. However important the product is, the purchase may put the company into a negative financial balance for the month because it had not been figured into their budget. Do you think the CEO makes that purchase?

Answer: No. Bottom line: As a business owner on a tight budget, it is critical that you research where your dollars are going, to determine what best option for the business might be. 

Using the example above, how can an actor use research to make sure they are making the best buying decisions? 

PRICE: How much does it cost to print postcards, how many are you getting for that price, and how much are reprints/reorders? 

FEATURES: What kind of paper are they printed on, and what are your design options? Are there any perks when buying through this company? 

SATISFACTION: Who are some of the other people who’ve purchased these products, and have they been satisfied with their experience?

But that’s not all - once you have all of that information, now it’s time to make comparisons between this company and other suppliers. Are there other companies that provide the same services? What are their rates? What kinds of options do they offer? What do their clients have to say? Once you start making comparisons, you can easily see where you should invest your money. 

As we head into 2011, start thinking about the purchases you need to make, and make sure that they are being executed in the most cost effective way possible. Try to use all of the above 3 areas of research as a guide - that way, if one area is unacceptable (high price, for example) you can use the other two to try to figure out if the purchase is worth the risk. 

Side note: As a coach, one of the things I am most passionate about giving actors the tools to make critical decisions (based on careful research) about how they want to run their business. There is no one perfect path - if there was, we would all be doing it. I encourage actors to believe that only they know what is best for their business, and challenge them to carry this belief wherever they go. Having this point of view is the only way to combat the scam artists and manipulators who take advantage of actors on a daily basis. It also allows them to avoid feeling a victim to their finances, because their budget has been built specifically and logically. For this reason, when I created my design services I made sure that the actors maintain as much control over their designs, changes & reprints as possible. To learn more about how The Actors’ Enterprise is changing the face of design, and making a difference for actors, visit our design page and select "click: our perks & how we are different."

Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out

3 COMMENTS - Click to READ:

Court Records said...

that one heck of an article explaining to business owners to make things right especially when money is involved.

Many business today are making a hard time to bring to higher level because of difficulty in allocating budgets.

Nice article.. keep it up... c",)

The Reel Room said...

This is a great article. I completely agree about looking around before you commit to a purchase - don't go for something just because it is the cheapest, you need to really look into what is the BEST option for the long run.

Spending a bit more to get business cards on glossy, study card is much better than handing out flimsy cheap ones.

The same with showreels and headshots - this might the first thing a potential agent or casting director sees, so surely it's worth putting the effort into finding a service that's right for you?

Erin Cronican said...

Absolutely - going for something based on just one parameter without taking the time to research the options is not the behavior of someone who takes their business seriously. Knowing exactly where your money goes, and why, is the surest way to managing your money wisely.

Thanks for your feedback, both of you!

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