Most cosplayers wonder: How can I earn money as a professional cosplayer? It’s not surprising that cosplay can be an expensive hobby. People want to make money from it. Some people earn extra money to make ends meet, while others want to grow their cosplay as a career. If you know me, I’m always looking for ways to make your creative passions a full-time job.
You can earn money as a Cosplayer in a variety of ways. The majority of cosplayers will point you to the obvious ways, such as setting up Patreons or cosplays commissions. I wanted to explore other avenues for cosplayers who want to make a few bucks.
Here are 10 ways I make money as a cosplayer.
10. Ko-Fi or Patreon
Both Ko-Fi and Patreon offer creatives the opportunity to raise one-time donations or recurring payments to fund their passions. These platforms are very different and it is important to understand their differences.
Ko-Fi is a platform for donations that doesn’t usually result in any reward. Ko-Fi is a platform that allows cosplayers to ask their fans on social media to donate to a one-time goal. Ko-Fi is a good option if, for example, you need $50 extra to purchase a cosplay costume.
Ko-Fi does not charge a fee but because the money is sent through Paypal’s system, they still charge their usual fees. Paypal charges 2.9% of the total amount, plus $0.30 per transaction.
Patreon requires that creators offer “prizes’ to their patrons. Patreon is a platform that allows you to offer a product or service to your patrons. You can offer tutorials, print products, eBooks or behind-the-scenes material.
9. Cosplay Commissions
Prop makers and seamstresses are relying on commissions as a way to earn money from cosplay. You can do this through websites like Etsy or by setting up commission guidelines for your website. Termina Cosplay offers a great example of how to do it.
This is a breakdown of Etsy’s fees.
8. YouTube or Twitch
Both YouTube and Twitch can be very profitable. Both are extremely hard to get into. YouTube requires 1,000 subscribers to monetize your videos. Even then, it’s not much of a payoff without many subscribers. Videos longer than 10 minutes produce the highest return on investment because they can contain multiple ads.
I don’t personally know much about Twitch. I will be reviewing it soon to give a better analysis. You can find out more about Twitch here.
7. Download eBooks and Patterns
Cosplay ebooks are typically text-based instructions with images and patterns. This is (arguably) easier than creating a YouTube video tutorial, but it does require knowledge of eBook formatting. You can either sell your eBooks through Amazon or create an eCommerce section for your website. Amazon sellers pay $40 per month, and Amazon takes $0.30 from every sale. (Here’s some info about Amazon selling). You can use eBooks to reward Patreon members. This way, you only lose the 2.9% fee taken by Patreon.
You can sell patterns without the eBook. Both eBooks and these patterns are always available in PDF format. If they don’t have their own website, cosplayers will list their patterns on platforms such as Etsy.
6. Sell your own Merch
The merchandise (merchandise, for those who are not up to date with the lingo of today) comes in many forms. Cosplayers usually sell mugs or stickers. They may also create their own art. I think custom T-shirts can be profitable if they have a unique design. I’ve been trying to decide on a design for a new Cosplay and Coffee logo (TM), so I can start selling my own merch.
Before you decide to sell your cosplay items, think carefully about your design and talk to a professional online retailer about the costs of distribution and shipping.
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5. Convention Appearances
Conventions still have a difficult time convincing cosplayers that they are worth paying. Conventions may offer to pay for travel and accommodation expenses in order to “pay” cosplayer guests. However, I believe that cosplayers deserve payment. Celebrities receive hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend conventions. I bet that they also get a share of the autograph and photo sessions.
The only way cosplayers are compensated is by the merchandise they bring. Even then, it’s a rare cosplayer who makes a profit. If this trend is to continue, I believe more cosplayers need to insist on being paid for attending conventions. It shouldn’t be necessary to be Jessica Nigri, Yaya Han, or any other cosplayer to receive payment as a guest.
4. Prints can be sold to make money for cosplay.
Prints are the easiest way to earn money as a Cosplayer. These are usually offered as rewards on Patreon (usually $10 and up) or sold on Etsy. Make sure your debt-to-income ratio is reasonable if you are offering prints as rewards on Patreon. You may want to limit the number of physical rewards you send. Ginny Di provides a detailed breakdown that can help you determine whether you’re losing money on Patreon Rewards.
3. Sell old Cosplays to Make Money
Poshmark or Etsy can be used to quickly and efficiently sell old cosplays, props, wigs, and wigs. Facebook groups are used by many cosplayers to sell their old cosplays. However, this method is not as secure. You should receive at least half the money upfront if you decide to sell old cosplays on Facebook. You could even ask for the full payment upfront. You may find that your buyer decides to not pay the remainder because they don’t like the cosplay. There’s really nothing you can do.
2. Affiliate links and website ads
It takes a lot of time to set up a website with affiliate links. It’s not an enormous source of income. The first year that I ran Google Ads, I earned maybe $10. If you are dedicated to providing weekly website content, it could be lucrative. You can sell advertising space on your website if you have enough traffic.
Cosplayers can make money by setting up affiliate links. Amazon has a new influencer program that allows you to earn money without having to create a website. Find out more about Amazon’s influencer program.
1. Influencer Platforms
Influencer platforms such as Famebit and Activate help connect influencers to brands who recognize the value of this kind of advertising. It’s not a common way for cosplayers to make money, but the opportunity exists. As more cosplay influencers take up sponsorships, I believe that more companies will start to use our unique audience.
Some influencer platforms will only accept you if you have a following of 5,000 or more on your platform. Fambit, for example, only accepts YouTube influencers and Tumblr bloggers with an audience greater than 5,000. Activate is a great way to sign up.