Get paid for what you love, right? But what if the thing you love is creating costumes based off of characters. Can you make a living from cosplay?
While it is possible to make money from cosplay, it is very lucrative and very few cosplayers can afford to leave their day job. It’s more realistic to look at cosplay as a side gig to make a little spending cash.
The amount of money a cosplayer can make varies quite a bit. Quite a few cosplayers are making over $300,000 a year. It really depends on what avenues they are taking to earn money, what they are charging, and how often they work.
To understand how they can make so much, we’ll have to take a look at the different areas they can make money.
Conventions are a great place for cosplayers to make money, and there are different ways of doing that.
To start, many cosplayers will request that all of their flights, travel expenses, and accommodations are covered. They will then often ask for a per diem, or money to spend each day on food, drinks, and whatever else they plan to buy.
They will also ask for payment for their time for the weekend. Some cosplayers will even ask for guaranteed sales.
What are guaranteed sales? If a cosplayer attends a convention and they bring prints or merchandise, and guaranteed sales have been negotiated into their contract in the form of a dollar amount, the convention will pay out the difference if the cosplayer doesn’t sell enough of their product.
For example, if a cosplayer wants to sell $5000 in a weekend, but they only sell $3000, the convention will have to pay the cosplayer $2000 if they agreed to guaranteed sales.
While a convention on its own might not add up to much, doing many of them throughout the year can bring in quite a bit of money, and you’ve travelled, eaten, and picked up some cool items along the way at no cost to you.
The next most popular way to make money through cosplay is to sell merchandise. This can range from stickers, mugs, and t-shirts, to ebooks, to prints of their photos, or even your own artwork!
Prints are the most popular because they are the cheapest to make, and by adding your signature, you have added value to the print. They are also easy to ship internationally and easy to pack and bring with you anywhere they go.
If you have a sizable fan base you might find that it is worth it to have a merch line, but if you’re not well known yet, the costs to make, store, and ship the merch may not be worth the few sales you might get.
Ko-Fi is a donation platform where fans can donate $2, or “buy a coffee” for you. This can be a one-time thing or fans can choose to donate monthly.
Patreon is a little different. Cosplayers will have a monthly subscription fee, and in return, they will give their donators a prize of some sort. This can be a print sent to them, or a tutorial, ebook, or even behind-the-scenes material.
Just to give you an idea, if a cosplayer has 1,000 patrons on Patreon, and they are charging $10 per person per month, that is $10,000 a month, or $120,000 a year just from one website.
Social media has boomed since the pandemic started in 2020. You’ve probably spent way too long on at least one of these platforms:
But in all the time you’ve spent scrolling and watching, did you know that accounts are being paid to post?
Once an account has reached a minimum following, they start to be paid for however many times their post has been watched or liked.
This means that the more often a content creator posts, the more money they can make because you are probably going to scroll, watch, and like each one of their new postings.
When cosplayers have a big following, they may also be approached by companies to make an influencer deal.
In the world of cosplay, this could mean they promote fabric shops, stores where you can buy cosplay, anime merch, restaurants, energy drinks, hotels… and then the company will sometimes pay the influencer, or offer them free products.
If you have been designing, sewing, or constructing for a while, you might even choose to make commission pieces for other cosplayers.
These can be items they design and then post to sell or items that have been requested from a buyer.
Etsy is a great place to list your cosplay for sale. Costumes, props, wigs, and accessories can be posted and sold. If you want to choose this route, keep in mind that Etsy has several fees for sellers.
There is a fee for each post, and then they take a fee and a percentage from each sale.
An easy way for cosplayers to make money is to sell their old cosplay. It’s usually taking up too much space in their house anyway, so selling old cosplay is a win-win-win!
Making some money back and clearing out some space, while giving your cosplay to someone who might need it instead of throwing it out. It works in everyone’s favour.
Poshmark and Cosplay Facebook groups are recommended for selling used cosplay pieces. Make sure your buyer is aware of the conditions that the cosplay pieces are in so they know what they are buying!
It’s not likely that you can quit your day job and do cosplay full time, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With a lot of hard work, dedication, the right marketing, and the right contacts, you could make a living from cosplay.