Have you always enjoyed making your own outfits for dress-up parties, but never thought of making money out of it? Well, if you get into the weird and wonderful world of cosplay, you can earn cash while having fun.
Here’s a little round-up of everything you need to know:
- What is cosplay?
- Cosplay 101: creating your own costumes
- Getting spotted
- Cosplay photography
- Case study: Amie Lynn
More than just any old dress-up, cosplay (costume play) is an integral part of the geek subculture. It involves wearing an outfit and accessories to resemble a specific character as closely as possible. That could be somebody from a video game, cartoon, fantasy novel, film or series. Many cosplay enthusiasts also attend comic conventions.
Fans of cosplay normally get into it out of pure passion for their favourite video game, super hero movie or sci-fi series. Many take a DIY approach. They can spend weeks on sourcing material, designing and creating their own costumes.
So, if you’re tickled by the idea of making money from cosplay, start here.
Pick a character you identify with – or just adore. Then start thinking of ways in which you could recreate their look. Of course, being able to design and/or sew will help you a lot. But even if that doesn’t fall into your skill-set, you may be surprised at what you can come up with.
If you aren’t brave enough to wear your creations to big conventions such as MCM London or Birmingham Comic Con just yet, you could always debut your work at friends’ dress-up parties and smaller local events.
As you become more familiar with the process, as well as the kinds of outfits other people put together, you’ll be able to up your game and make truly noteworthy outfits.
Once you reach this stage, you can make a few extra bucks by making costumes for other people. In fact, this could probably be your first real income stream related to cosplay. Especially once you start selling on Etsy and the like.
How much can you earn by creating costumes?
If you base your prices on CosplaySky, you could probably charge around £25.00 for a very basic costume design. For those requiring a little more detailed work, you could easily charge up to £250.00.
The real big money, however, lies in getting spotted by an agent, similar to those who scout for models. That’s when you move into the realm of professional cosplay.
Of course, easier said than done. With hundreds of thousands of eager cosplayers attending several comic conventions every year, you’d really need to make a big impression to rise above the crowd.
Besides being exceptionally attractive, which is really well beyond your control, there’re a couple of ways you can go about catching the eye.
Make your own outfit… and make it well
The first rule of standing out from the crowd is to be truly unique. If you’re renting a costume, it’s more than likely that you’ll bump into scores of people dressed exactly like you. When you make your own outfit you can really pay close attention to detail. And make sure the clothes fit you perfectly.
Choose a character you really love
Either you love them or want to be them. The philosophy behind this is that you’re going to feel comfortable taking on their traits and perhaps revel in the opportunity to do so. So you’ll be radiating a positive message.
Pick a character that suits your body type
Okay, this might contradict what we just said above. But, if you’re a buxom babe with loads of attitude you’d rock Lagertha from Vikings or Daenerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones. While someone a little lankier could slip into Lara Croft’s cropped shorts or Harley Quinn’s skimpy baseball outfit.
The same goes for guys. If you’re slightly shorter than most of your friends, it’s probably unwise to take on the imposing form of Gandalf or Superman. But you’d make a great Harry Potter or a lovable Frodo.
Put a unique spin on a well-loved character
Whether you gender bend, transport them to a different era or blend two characters into one, have some fun!
While it may seem counter-intuitive, being part of a group could make you stand out more. So, gather a few of your equally fanatic friends and go as a recognised collective of comic characters (e.g. The Avengers) or the cast of a popular sci-fi show. The secret here is to make sure that everyone goes all-out.
So what happens once you catch the eye?
You may start off by promoting a specific stall at the comic convention you’re attending or an upcoming one in your vicinity. Your job will be attract people to a specific stall by looking the part and making conversation.
If you impress the organisers, you may even be invited to a convention further afield, until eventually you enjoy being jetted off across the globe.
How much can you earn by being a professional cosplayer?
While you probably won’t make much (if anything at all) starting out, it’s worth hanging in there and working your way up.
According to FOX411, popular professional cosplayers can make at least $5,000 to $10,000 (£3,976.82 to £7,953.65) a show. Some of these professionals even charge between $20 and $30 (+/-£15 – £25) for a selfie with fans.
Not that keen on being the centre of attention? If you know how to frame a good shot, you could always get involved as a photographer.
There’re several ways to go about this:
Partner with a cosplayer
Many professional cosplayers – and those up and coming – have websites and social media profiles promoting their brand. Since it’s all very visual, they need a good photographer to help create content for these platforms. If you enjoy the geek scene, you can make a name for yourself as a cosplay photographer.
Create a photo booth at a convention
Running it like any other stall, you can charge people a couple of pounds to pose for a photo with a backdrop and props of their choice.
Partner with companies/conventions
Once you’ve established yourself in the scene, you could even become the official photographer for a set of conventions or one of the bigger companies represented at these events.
How much can you make as a cosplay photographer?
As we suggest in our article about making money as a nightclub photographer, you should probably charge at least £20 per hour, possibly even £30.
Amie Lynn is a part-time cosplayer who is perhaps better known as MissHabit on Instagram.
Based in Arizona, US, she regularly jets off to destinations all across the globe for comic convention appearances. She first got into cosplay through her love for gaming and regularly dressing up as characters from Final Fantasy and Metal Gear. Teaching herself to sew and build props, she spent years turning her hobby into a source of income.
It took a while, but her hard work eventually paid off. An agent spotted her at a convention and asked whether she’d like to promote a booth, The Hustle reports. At first pay wasn’t that great, but these days she has a dedicated following of her own and has proven herself an asset to any event.
As well as all her travel and expenses being covered, she receives a handsome income from each of her appearances.
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