Regardless of what type of filmmaker you are (documentarian, narrative filmmaker, wedding videographer), you need a website. Websites are essential to any marketing plan. No matter what you’re promoting, a website can help you do it. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll be talking about a movie website as opposed to a personal website. We can always get into personal websites later.
Personal website vs Movie website
The distinction here is between a website you have as a filmmaker to promote yourself and your work and a website for an individual movie that focuses solely on that movie (though it might have some credits/bios). Personally, I think you need both.
If you want to promote yourself as a filmmaker, then you should have your own website where you can post your credentials, work, and blog posts. You can really build an audience who is interested in anything you make and who is invested in you as a person. Ideally, you’re building this before you even have a finished movie.
But a movie website is also essential if you’re promoting a movie. We’ll go into more specifics of why you need one next, but basically, a movie website can be the hub of your marketing plan. It’s the go-to spot for your audience because it gives them all the info they need.
Why do filmmakers need a movie website?
If you have a website for your movie, it gives you a place to direct your audience, but it also has several other uses.
Post your promotional materials
This feels like a no-brainer. A movie website gives you a set place to have all of your promotional materials like trailers, graphics, and teasers. You can give your potential audience everything they need to get a sense of your film. You can also post where your film is showing or where they can watch it online. You can throw up all the information your audience needs.
Build an email list
This is something you should consider doing for your personal website as well. An email list gives you the best audience. They’ve already bought into you and your movie. They’re engaged, and therefore, easy to sell to. If you have a website, you can use it to collect emails using an email service provider like ConvertKit or MailChimp. Then, you can keep your email list updated on your movie.
Have press materials ready
This is great if you’re trying to get on podcasts or pitch to film websites. You’ll want to have a page that compiles all the necessary info for any press (think of it as a digital press kit). It shows that you have your stuff together and makes your life way easier in the long run. If you basically have a landing page for all of your press materials, you can easily send it to podcasts or websites. This way you don’t need to attach anything to your pitch emails, which is good because many places won’t open attachments.
Write blog posts
I know, more work, right? But blog posts are a great way to promote your movie, build an audience, and improve your website’s SEO. Basically, blog posts make it easier for people to find you and give you something to promote on social media that isn’t just behind-the-scenes photos and promotional graphics. You can update your audience about how things are going, interview crew members, or talk about why the specific movie is relevant or important. Each blog post needs to be at least 300 words. If you’re just posting videos or images and not adding in text, it’s not helping you.
Creating your website
It’s not enough to just have a website. You need a good one. You need a website that actually works and creates a good experience for your audience. There’s just a couple of things I want to mention.
Buy your domain and get hosting
You want your website to look professional. This means you should buy your domain and get hosting. I recommend keeping your domain and your hosting separate. This makes it way easier if you ever decide to switch hosting companies. The reason why you want to do this is that you will own your website and can do whatever you want with it. It also gives you way more freedom when it comes to how you want your website to look. It’s also cheaper (though it might require more of a time investment). Make sure you buy a .com domain name. This is what people know best.
Personally, I use Namecheap for buying domains and Dreamhost for hosting. Those are my affiliate links. You don’t have to use them, but I would appreciate it. Dreamhost is a little more expensive than other hosting companies (like BlueHost for instance), but it’s easier to use in my opinion, and the service is better. I think it’s worth the price, but if you’re on a tight budget, there are other hosting companies.
Get a good and mobile-friendly theme
This doesn’t need to be a premium theme (despite what a lot of other people will tell you). You can use a great free theme and have what you need. But it needs to be mobile-friendly. This is absolutely essential nowadays. A lot of people are going to view your site from their phone, so it needs to both work and look good on mobile.
You also want a theme that’s going to allow you to make separate pages and doesn’t look too cluttered. You don’t need all the bells and whistles. You just need clean pages and the ability to add a social media menu. A lot of themes will satisfy this requirement, but there are also tons of themes out there that are specifically for filmmakers or movies.
Any marketing plan worth its salt is going to include a good website, and this is across the board. Ultimately, your website is your space on the internet that you own. Your piece of internet real estate if you will. It gives you the freedom and ability to really promote your movie.
If you’ve got any questions, I’m happy to answer them! Just comment below!