I was recently asked to perform in a very nice project, and the best part was that I skipped the audition process entirely. The friend who recommended me to the director of the piece sent her to my website. One click later, she was watching my reel. She immediately emailed me an offer to play an excellent role in a high-profile reading.
But you don't have to go deal with the trouble or expense of creating a website if all you want is for people to see your acting reel online. Many websites have made it easy to show off your reel or audio clip for free.
If you decide to go this route, I'd recommend first buying your domain name—i.e., your acting name, usually but not always ending in ".com" or ".net." A domain name is not a website; it's just an easy-to-remember name that can serve as a jumping-off point to another Web address. You simply direct your domain name to point to where your reel "lives," such as YouTube or any other free video site. Many online services geared toward actors offer to "host" reels for fees up to $100 a year or more, and it's just not necessary.
Buying your domain name is a nominal expense for something so potentially useful. You can find domain names for sale from dozens of places on the Web, from as little as $1.99 for your first year from GoDaddy.com or through Yahoo! Domains (www.domains.yahoo.com) for $9.95 a year. Go for the cheapest one if you won't be using any of its other website-building tools; if you like the seller's other Web services, the extra cost is justified. You probably need only your domain name.
Video upload sites won't take the place of a website that could display your pictures, résumé, or anything else you'd like to show off, but if all you want is to post your reel online, this is the most economical route. My favorite sites to upload video for free are Dailymotion (www.dailymotion.com), which I think features the best quality; Yahoo! Video (video.yahoo.com), which displays video in widescreen, if that's how it was shot; and Google Video (video.google.com), because it doesn't limit the size or length of your uploaded video. Nearly all the other sites out there will have a size limit of 100 megabytes maximum, and video length has to be kept to 10 minutes or less. Actors can also upload their reels to sites such as BackStage.com, DemoReels.com, and NowCasting.com.
If you want to offer more than your reel but feel you're not ready to jump into the expense of building and maintaining a website, join a social networking site, such as MySpace or FaceBook, and point your domain name to your page. There you can display pictures and other professional information, in addition to your reel and audio clips. Registration for these sites is also free.
Once you own your domain name and have it pointed in the right direction, print it on your résumé, actor business card, or post card. It's a wonderful, inexpensive tool for self-promotion.