Commercial acting on its own is now an established and stable profession with countless opportunities for reasonably talented actors. Becoming a commercial actor can not only help you generate a pretty good amount of income, it can also be a stepping stone for a career in the film or television industry.
The Acting Industry: Some Numbers
Commercial acting is one of the most lucrative and sustainable long-term freelance fields especially after the rise of online advertising. It can not only help you generate a pretty good amount of income, but it can also be a stepping stone for a career in the film or television industry. Commercial acting on its own is now an established and stable profession with countless opportunities for reasonably talented actors. According to estimates more than $250 billion were spent on advertising during 2020 in the US alone. The global advertising market is estimated to be more than $617 billion. And the good news is that these numbers are expected to increase drastically during the next few years. One of the key elements of online and offline video advertisements is the actors who perform in them. With thousands of video ads being made across the US and elsewhere in the world on a daily basis, the need for commercial actors is increasing with every passing day.
Show Me The Money
You may be wondering as to how much can a commercial actor actually earn. Just like in any other profession the salary or income of a commercial actor depends on several things including talent, experience, contacts, popularity, and overall personality. The duration of the time for which a commercial will be run, how many cities it will run in, and how many eyeballs it will get also effects the actor’s income. Beginners can expect to earn anywhere between $25 and $50 dollars per hour during a project. The rates may be less outside the US. These are just the starting rates, and after establishing industry contacts, and having a strong portfolio, freelance commercial actors can expect to make more than $100 per hour. According to Salary.com the average salary for commercial actors is between $57,000 and $85,000. Most of the highly dedicated and experienced freelance commercial actors have 6 figure yearly incomes. Some of the most talented top tier commercial actors earn more than half a million dollars each year.
Unlike the television and film actors, commercial actors (especially the freelance ones) don’t really get a lot of recognition amongst the masses. However, the advent of social media and the changing nature of advertising from television to online is changing all this. Also, one or two phenomenally successful campaigns can do wonders for actors in terms of recognition and their demand in the industry.
Popular Commercial Actors
Here are a few of the most popular commercial actors along with their estimated yearly income to motivate you in case you are contemplating the idea of becoming a commercial actor.
Stephanie Courtney is a extraordinarily successful commercial actress who has gained recognition by playing the character of Flo in Progressive Insurance ads. She makes around $800,000 per year.
Carly Foulkes is another successful commercial actress. She gained recognition as the T-Mobile girl. She did regular ads for T-Mobile from 2010-2013 and according to estimates she was making more than $1 million a year during that period.
Dean Winters, Justin Guarini, Dennis Haysbert, Beck Bennett, and Dick Wilson are some other highly successful commercial actors who have appeared in multiple successful campaigns for various companies and have earned huge sums of money on a yearly basis. However, these are some of the biggest names in the industry and one must have a certain level of experience and industry related contacts to achieve such high success.
TV X Online Advertising
Let’s talk a little about TV and online advertising landscape. TV commercials usually pay higher. However, you need to have industry contacts to land a good TV commercial gig. Also, the work related to TV commercials is limited and is decreasing with every passing day.
Over the past few years, the demand for online commercials has increased a lot. With that the demand for freelance commercial actors has also increased. Everyone seems to be jumping on the digital bandwagon.
While big brands may still use the services of digital and creative agencies for commercials, many local businesses rely on their In-house digital media teams to create and run ads.
Such businesses often require freelance commercial actors for their ads. So, you can find plenty of work related to online commercials on your own even without any experience.
Take Action: Learn From The Best!
If you are looking for motivation and guidance about getting into the field of commercial acting, David Banks is a pretty good role model to follow. He is an American actor with more than 20 years of experience in the industry. He has appeared in more than 100 television commercials in roles of leading man, boyfriend, son, husband, father, the dorky guy, complaining idiot, and more. He has appeared in commercials for Coors Light, Motorola, Booking.com, Spectrum, Citibank, Toshiba, Toyota, Hyundai, and Spectrum, as well as many others.
David has made a Fiverr profile as well and he is currently a level 2 seller. With more than 900+ 5 star reviews he has found a lot of success on Fiverr as well. Most of his work on Fiverr is related to delivering a few lines for brands in a particular character such as a redneck, a heavy metal guy, a cowboy, an “American Mike”, and an officer.
We bought two gigs from David. One to be performed by the police officer and another for american guy. The great thing about Fiverr is that it allows the sellers flexibility to define their own scope of work and then negotiate further with the clients depending upon their needs.
Read the scripts below and watch the videos:
Scenario 1: Police Officer
Hey you! Millennial!
How old are you? What?!
I noticed you were asking your parents for… lunch money?
As an officer of the law, I find it disturbing on a personal level.
Get up on your feet and start making money through freelancing.
How do you come with excuses every day to ask for money by the way?
I need some tips to ask my parents.
Scenario 2: American Mike
Hey yo kids, you think I’m cool?
Long hair, cool shirt.
Expensive stuff laying around… let me tell you a little secret how I roll.
Ever heard of freelancing?
You go online, look for job make money? Huh?
Now you do.. who’s stoppin’ ya?
Get up on your ass and star makin some bills.
David Banks has also written a book titled, “How to Make a Living As a Commercial Actor: 10 Absolute Acting Musts”. It is available on Amazon. In this book, David has done an incredible job in providing first-hand knowledge about finding work, making use of your unique personality, and growing your career as a full-time commercial actor. Learning from David’s experience can help you save a few years of struggle and avoid the mistakes that many beginners make at the start of the career.
If you an interested in a more personalized approach, David has a gig to be “your personal acting coach” (he teaches at one of LA’s largest acting studios… so this price is a real bargain).
Online: The Best Path For Beginners
For beginners, starting online through platforms like Fiverr and Upwork can provide a steady flow of work. These platforms are often browsed by all sorts of clients looking for actors for their commercials. Even some well-established digital agencies hire freelance commercial actors from these platforms. If you are starting as a freelance commercial actor, having your profile on these platforms can do wonders to your career. Also, these platforms allow you to gradually build your freelance career, improve your rates over time, and showcase your work to various clients.
Now, to make things further easier for you, we are going to give you a three-step guide that you can use to remove uncertainty and get started with your freelance commercial acting career.
Step 1 – Create Profile on Fiver and Upwork
Considering that you have reasonably good acting skills, the first step that you need to take is to make a profile on Fiverr and Upwork. These are two of the largest online platforms where people provide various freelance services. Once you have made the profiles, the next thing is to carefully go through the gigs or profiles of other people who are providing services in your niche; that is commercial acting in this case. This will give you a pretty good idea of what type of work is high in-demand on these platforms. After you have done your research, make your own gigs on Fiverr. In case, of Upwork, you will need to browse the jobs and apply on relevant jobs.
Step 2 – Create Your Professional Social Media Profiles
The next step is to create your professional social media profiles or pages and upload your relevant work on those profiles. Being a professional maintaining a LinkedIn profile is a must for you. Other than that, you can also make profiles or pages to show off your talent on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter. Try to grow your social media presence as much as you can. You can also promote your Fiverr and Upwork gigs on your social media profiles.
Step 3 – Reach Out To Digital and Creative Agencies in Your City
While you may find a decent amount of work from online sources, it is important to not rest your laurels and build your contacts in the local industry. So reach out to local digital and creative agencies in your city. Email them your portfolio and rates. Also, you can personally visit various agencies to establish a working relationship. Many agencies establish partnerships with freelance professionals for the various projects that they must deliver for clients. Being in contact with digital and creative agencies can also give you a steady flow of work.
At the end of the day, like in any other field, you have to work hard to make a name for yourself in the beginning. Also, as a freelance actor you must realize the fact that you can pretty much display your talent on digital platforms, and you can easily impress potential clients by improvising and finding ways to be on their devices. Many freelance commercial actors use comedy skits and other social media video content to build a loyal audience for themselves. They later, leverage their audience to find work.
While Fiverr, Upwork, and social media marketing will help you find plenty of work, you will need to establish solid references in the industry to be able to land some of the highest paying gigs. Most of the commercial actors are hired based on references. So, while you are building your online career, make sure to develop people skills and hang out with those who matter in the industry to really make it big as a commercial actor.
We hope you enjoyed this guide on starting as a commercial actor.
Thanks for reading and until next time!