I should preface this by saying that I am not a “professional” cosplayer. Cosplay alone does not cover all of my living expenses- I have a “real job” that helps to cover things like food and car insurance. While making costumes full time is a dream of mine, it isn’t feasible for me at the moment. I should also mention that it has taken years for me to build up multiple streams of income that together help fund the cost of my costumes.
Now that the little disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk about how I pay for my costumes. I am fortunate in that I have created a system in which my costumes essentially pay for themselves in a “circle of cosplay.” Let’s break down the individual income sources so that you can do the same!
1. YouTube AdSense- Since I create content for a cosplay YouTube channel, this is the most obvious revenue source. As a small niche channel, my videos do not make a large amount of money, but the threshold payout every couple of months does help to pay for supplies- especially for things like wigs and crafting tools which I tend to not re-sell.
2. Selling Costumes- This is the primary method for me to fund new projects- by selling the old ones. Pieces with strong sentimental value or competition pieces I keep, but most other garments I sell after I have the opportunity to do a photoshoot with them. Usually I only make back enough to cover the cost of supplies, not labor, but it is enough to buy materials for the next project.
4. Amazon Affiliate Links- Another source of passive income is Amazon Affiliate links. If someone purchases an item from Amazon after going through my link I get a tiny commission. The percentages are small, but they do add up over time.
There are many ways that cosplayers pay for their costumes, these are just the four that work best for me. I hope you found this breakdown helpful and applicable to your own cosplay adventures!