So, you’ve always enjoyed making your own outfits for dress-up parties, but never considered trying to make money from it? Well, if you get into the weird and wonderful world of cosplay, there are several ways to earn cash from your hobby.
Here’s a little round-up of everything you need to know:
- What is cosplay?
- Start from the bottom: 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 geek subculture. It normally involves wearing an outfit and accessories to resemble a specific video game-, cartoon-, fantasy novel/film/series character as closely as possible, while attending a ‘comic convention’.
Fans of cosplay normally get into it out of pure passion for their favourite video game/super hero movie/sci-fi series. Many take a DIY approach, spending weeks on sourcing material, designing and creating their own costumes.
So, if you’re tickled by the idea of making money from cosplay, this is probably a good place to start. Pick a character you identify with or simply just adore and start thinking of ways in which you could recreate their look on your own. Of course, being able to design and/or sew is a huge bonus for this. 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, chances are pretty good that you will be able to make a few extra bucks by making costumes for other people too. 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 that require a little more design and detail 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) and moving into the realm of professional cosplay.
Of course, this is a lot easier said than done. With hundreds of thousands of eager cosplayers attending several comic conventions every year, you would really need to make a big impression to rise above the crowd.
Besides being exceptionally attractive (which is really well beyond your control), there are 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, chances are far too good that you will 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 it fits you perfectly.
Choose a character you really love:
Either you really love them or you want to be them. The philosophy behind this is that you’re either going to feel comfortable taking on their traits or you’re going to revel in the opportunity to do so. Either way, you’ll be radiating a positive message.
Pick a character that suits your body type:
Okay, this might contradict what I 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, however, 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? Well, you may start off by promoting a specific stall at the comic convention you’re attending or an upcoming one in your vicinity. Basically, what this entails is just attracting 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 (£3,745.50 to £7,491.00) a show. Some of these professionals even charge between $20 and $30 (+/-£15 – £25) for a selfie with fans.
If you’re not that keen on being the centre of attention yourself, but know how to frame a good shot, you could always get involved as a photographer.
There are several ways to go about this:
Partner with a cosplayer:
Many professional cosplayers (and those who are still 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 of the other stalls, 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 one of 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 be charging at least £20 per hour, possibly even £30.
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 when 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 also receives a handsome income from each of her appearances.
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