It’s an unfortunate fact of life that we all need money to survive, and to get money we need to work. Millions of people end up in jobs they hate just to be able to pay the bills, but some are lucky and can earn a living from doing something they enjoy. A hobby such as jewelry making, DIY, or gardening can easily create an income through selling products or services, but how can a love of cosplay pay the bills?
How cosplayers make money
Even if you’re just starting out on your cosplay journey, there are a number of ways to earn money from your pastime. They do, however, require a level of dedication and hard work – but it’s got to be more fun than working for a living, right?!
Japanese cosplayer Enako is proof that it is possible to make an awesome income from dressing up. In 2020, the 27-year-old announced that, through selling her merchandise and cosplaying, she made $500,000.
Although off-the-shelf costumes are readily available and a cost-effective choice, many players want personalized outfits, with custom-made embellishments and accessories. Not everyone possesses the creative skills to design and make their own clothes, so if you have those talents, you’ll be in demand!
Cosplayers love talking costumes, and if you’ve made yourself a knock-’em-dead outfit, you’ll soon gain a reputation. Build on that by offering to make another player look fantastic, maybe for free if you can manage to. You can even specialize in weapons, wigs, or whatever.
Whilst each outfit can be labor-intensive and time-consuming, with a reputation for delivering what your customers want and more, you’ll have them queuing up to place their order.
Whether you go down the route of selling online, at conventions, or both, selling merch is a good side hustle that can easily be scaled up.
The simplest way is to make your own products – weapons, accessories, or tees, for example, and market them on selling sites such as eBay. Although eBay charges seller fees, you don’t have to pay out to attend conventions, and any selling can be worked around a 9-5 until you make it big.
Many players want something different from instant selfie snaps. They long for good lighting, a background that works with their character, and special effects. If you have some knowledge of photography and access to a decent digital camera, this is a great way to earn an income.
With a little bit of know-how, you can turn your photos into calendars, posters, notebooks, and more, creating a wider income stream.
Popular with gamers, musicians, and cosplayers, Twitch offers live streaming which can be viewed via on-demand video or live, giving creativity an easily accessible platform. Viewers pay to watch either through subscriptions, donations, or even micro-donations, but there are also sponsorship, advertising, and affiliate marketing opportunities up for grabs, too.
In order to encourage viewers, it helps if you have a unique selling point (USP) – maybe a fabulous costume, a personality that appeals, or a talent that gives you the edge. Commitment and dedication are definitely needed to make Twitch work for you, but thousands of cosplayers are making money this way – why not you?
Allowing cosplayers to connect to their audience, Patreon is a subscription-based service where followers pay you a monthly fee for access to your content. The subscriptions can be arranged in tiers, with fans who pay more receiving more in-depth content, or better rewards, such as posters or signed photos. Cosplay content often features tutorials, Q & A sessions, and competitions, but be as imaginative as possible to keep your fans coming back for more.
There is a thriving cosplay community on Patreon, so if you can support other players and in return, they’ll support you.
Making money out of your hobby, even if you don’t get anywhere near Enako’s half-a-million dollars, is awesome, and who knows? You may just get spotted at the next convention!
Find out even more ways cosplayers make money and learn how to use them to your benefit with this great video: