So since last week, we’ve covered what CosFame actually is, what it’s not (a viable career path for large numbers of people), some harsh realities about what’s required for starting your business of being a Pro Cosplayer, and why that’s probably not going to work out for you in the long run.
I know kitten, real life is depressing sometimes.
After all that depressing information and ‘no, sorry’ dream crushing, there is a light at the end of all this. There is a way to make money doing what you love. If what you love is cosplay, and you REALLY, ABSOLUTELY, LOVE IT, you can make a living. It’s not going to be a great living, but hey, maybe you’ll marry rich, right?*
*don’t actually marry for money. IT’S BAD NEWS BEARS.
How to Make Profit from your Passion
Please note, this is not about your passion for people, though you can also make money off of that, it’s still illegal in most states. (Which is dumb. but that’s another post for another time).
Caveat: this post is speculation gleaned from watching and analysing successful Pro Cosplayers and my own experience starting a business and marketing my blog. I am not Cosfamous. This may not work for you. Hell, it probably won’t due to those depressing factors I talked about in Part 2.
I took the ‘watch and learn’ lesson in Kindergarten to heart.
If you’re serious about wanting to go Pro, though, reading this can’t hurt. Unless looking at a screen causes you physical pain. At which point, STOP READING THIS YOU STUPID. I SAID STOP.
Plan Your …Plan…s of Attack (shut up I’m still tired from GAnime)
I know, I know, I talked about this in part two. If you’re going to go ahead and reach for your Cosplay Star, you’ll need one. A good one. The first draft of a business plan is the same as a first draft for anything: it’s shit. It’s letting all the ideas pour out so you can sit there and stare at the mess you made and sort out the nuggets of good ideas from the ‘I AM GOING TO PAY PEOPLE TO LIKE MY PAGE BECAUSE THAT IS A SOLID GRASP OF HOW MONEY AND FAME WORK’.
‘ALSO, I AM GOOD AT PHONES’
For a hopeful Pro-Cosplayer, the most important parts of a business plan are going to be the following:
- Sole proprietorship? (just you)
- Partnership? (sharing the business equally)
- SWOT Analysis
- Strengths: what you’re good at that will lend themselves to business (high visibility, niche market, etc)
- Weaknesses: What you need to improve on business wise (awareness, sales, etc)
- Opportunities: self explanatory.
- Threats: Obstacles, things that can derail your business (competitors, shrinking market, market saturation)
- Market Analysis
- Who is your target market?
- What describes them?
- What current competition is there for this market and the services/goods you want to provide?
- Financial Plan
- how you are going to make teh monies
- what monies you’ll need to pay
- How to keep from losing too much of teh monies
- KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS. FILE YOUR TAXES.
- 12 month forecast
- how many events you plan to do in your first year
- costs over the first year
- expected growth
- 3 year Plan
- Expected growth over the next three years.
- finances, numbers and related pro-cosplay goals
If you’re stuck, I found this helpful walk-through for first timers.
Things you’ll need to think about
- What is the best way to reach your target audience?
- twitter, instagram, facebook, youtube
- How do you plan to engage your audience?
- Question/answer posts/vlogs
- contests/give aways
- How do you plan to encourage your audience to buy your things?
- don’t forget your end goal is to make a living. You need to get paid, or you’re not going to eat.
- print shop? online accessory store?
- How much are you willing to budget for Marketing per year?
- 0$ ? 10$? 500$?
WAT, STOP. NO. BAD COSPLAYER. (Aka: Don’t do these.)
Ask for “Like for Like”
NO. THIS IS DUMB. THE ONLY PEOPLE THAT WILL DO THIS ARE PEOPLE THAT WILL NOT ACTUALLY PROMOTE AND/OR BUY YOUR STUFF.
ALSO, ANNOYING AS HELL.
Use the Shotgun Method
What is the shotgun method? Blast your marketing everywhere and hope that one of those messages hits the right person/group/whatever. Also known as SPRAY N PRAY.
Spam Self Promotion on social media
Without content, self promotion is just a weird masturbatory exercise in public. A good rule of thumb seems to be only post something directly promoting yourself once for every 5 posts you make. If all you post about is asking for likes, or asking people to pay you… why would anyone want their already crowded feeds filled with that?
Pay for ‘likes’
*STARES* NO. REPEAT WITH ME. “NUH-OH”. In order to make money, there will be times you have to pay money. You pay it for things like: web domains, ad space, legal counsel, etc.
YOU. DO. NOT. PAY. FOR. LIKES. Why? What the hell do you get out of it? Nothing. Just an inflated number that doesn’t actually work because…
Depend on Facebook
Facebook’s current algorithms are broken. Most of your ‘followers’ won’t see your stuff unless they explicitly sign up for updates because facebook wants to make money off giving you access. This is partially why the early successful cosplayers wound up with so many likes. Their content wasn’t limited the way that of current pages is. Also, fewer other options for people to follow.
What the hell is the Make/Sell cycle? Something that I made up to explain how small businesses work.
Without creating stuff to sell, you can’t make any money. You can’t promote anything. And let’s be honest, people aren’t going to pay you to just sit around at a guest table if you aren’t providing them anything worthwhile.
- cosplay accessories
- how to books
- something else innovative
Let people know what you’re selling, where you’re selling it and for how much. Let them know why they NEED it. Let them know what’s new.
Get monies. Offset costs. pay taxes, rent, food, invest in company to make it grow.
Not like, “OH MY GOD A SPIDER KILLITKILLITKILLIT” react. But React to change. Fix what’s not working, respond to the customer’s/audience’s preferences and provide more of that, less of what they don’t want. If your prints aren’t selling well, but your accessory line of Titan Face Handbags are making you bank, focus on those.
Repeat all of the above until you retire.
Make your Parachute
“But Calamity,” you say. “I’m awesome and totally going to make it big and I’ll be rich and live in a cosplay mansion and marry Tom Hiddleson and/or Chris Hemsworth!”
and I say…. nothing because I’m too busy laughing cynically like the awful, old cosplayer that I am.
Oh darlings, no. Sometimes it is good to leap into things. But it is better if you do so, knowing what you are going to do if things don’t work out the way you want.
Keep a day job
Until your company (Your cosplay) is making you enough to live on, it’s a good idea to work somewhere that has a reliable payday. That will let you focus on actually being creative and not worrying if you’re going to starve to death within the month.
Contrary to what all the motivational movies/stories/posters/teachers have told us, if we work hard enough we will not always be able to do whatever we want to. But, with a day job, we’ve got a lot more leeway to get to a point where we can do most of what we want to.
Shit happens. Setbacks happen. Health issues, family emergencies, Act-of-God snowstorms are all things that will get in your way. None of these are fun, or things you can avoid (well, health issues are kind of preventable for the most part).
Adjusting, reacting, and changing your schedule can suck, but the alternative of sticking in place and trying to carry on as normal can lead to burn out. Or worse… sewing-machine-thru-the-wall syndrome.
So there’s this thing. Called time. Revolutionary, I know. But bear with me. Time happens, and gravity happens and so on. If your business relies solely on prints of being hawt as hell, eventually the young impressionables that buy these prints will move on to slightly younger cosplayers.
It’s worth building up another section of your business to transition into when sales start to wane. It’s the same thing with accessories: if you only ever sell one thing, people are going to get bored, or will have it already.
Change it up, test out new things, and diversify!
Always have an escape plan.
*Throws down smoke bomb*
*RUNS OFF INTO THE WINTER WILDS.*
*slinks back for boots and coat* …It’s cold out. -_-
I hope this has helped, or at least proved interesting. Comments and questions are welcome. So are suggestions on possible future issues that you think I should take a look at.
Follow the rest of this series:
Part 1 – Going Pro Isn’t What You Think…
Part 2 – Realities of Starting A Business