It seems like at least once a year the subject of cosplayers making money pops up in the media or in the community. Starry-eyed newbies want to know how they can become a “professional cosplayer” just like their idols. Stella Chuu already made a fantastic video on the subject, but since this topic is resurfacing again I wanted to expand upon it further. Here are twenty ways that cosplayers make money from their craft.
-selling images of themselves: cosplay prints, calendars, or photobooks
-selling personal merchandise of their cosplay persona/brand: T-shirts, keychains, or other merch.
-selling copies of things they’ve made before: patterns, blue prints, prop replicas, kits
-selling general cosplay supplies: Yaya Han’s cat ears and wings
-selling their designs: some cosplayers who are also artists can be commissioned to draw a design for a cosplayer
-selling books: both print and e-book formats are common, many of these are manuals to teach other cosplayers how to make things
-selling previously used cosplays and props
-teaching classes on how to do a specific technique or make a particular project
Making Things for Others
-making props and costumes on commission for other cosplayers
-making custom nerd-related fashion: for example, hats and hoodies
-making props and costumes on commission for companies to be used in promotional materials
-Patreon: cosplayers are funded by monthly subscription in return for providing a product
-Twitch: cosplayers can get money through subscriptions or donations
-Youtube: cosplayers can get money through ad revenue
-company sends cosplayer a product to feature/review (not necessarily paid)
-cosplayer acts as spokesperson for a company at an event while in costume (which they may or may not have to provide themselves)
-teamwork between a cosplayer and company to create a product: for example, cosplayers teaming up with commercial pattern companies to create cosplay patterns
-cosplayer is a guest at an event where an agreement is reached over which things a cosplayer is to be compensated for vs. what the cosplayer must provide for the event
-Cosplayer has enough notoriety they are offered work in other related fields (modeling, television, voice-acting)
-Regular day-to-day job: a majority of cosplayers derive no income from cosplay and are self-funded
A majority of cosplayers do not derive any income from cosplay. For those that do make money off cosplay, it is often only a fraction of their income and they still rely on other work to make ends meet. Cosplayers that make their living solely off cosplay-related ventures derive their income from multiple sources (usually AT LEAST five of the methods mentioned above, often more). These combined revenue streams together add up to their livable wage. This requires a lot of hard work and a balancing act to keep all these activities going strong. Not all methods work for every cosplayer, either. If you are dead-set on trying to make money through your costumes, try out a few ideas and see what works best for you.
Want to see this article in video form? Check it out here:
Want to learn more about cosplay sewing? Check out my e-book: (currently available in Kindle format, though can be read on other devices through the free Kindle app).