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Cosplayers Are Dressing Up and Cashing Out

See how professional cosplayers are using Linktree and other social media platforms to grow their audience and monetize their craft.

Amanda Haas, AKA Jedimanda in Halloween cosplay.

Amanda Haas in Halloween cosplay by photographer Alexandra Lee Studios.

Dubbed “Japan’s number one cosplayer” in 2021, 27-year-old Enako knows how to market herself online. After announcing in December 2020 that she made half a million dollars per year cosplaying and selling merchandise, she is proof that dressing up can be a lucrative business. In fact, many cosplayers regularly make between $100,000-200,000 per year.

Cosplay, or the practice of dressing as a character from a movie, book, video game, or other form of media, is a growing industry. For some, it’s a hobby. For others, dressing up is a year-round profession. According to Allied Market Research, the global cosplay industry in 2020 was valued at $4.62 billion, and it’s on the rise, too, expected to hit $23 billion by 2030. And the movement is spreading online.

When the pandemic hit and in-person events (such as the San Diego Comic-Con) were canceled, cosplayers had to move primarily online. While this initially caused a decline in demand for cosplay costumes, the industry is bouncing back. Now, you can find quite a large cosplayer community on TikTok, Instagram, Twitch, and YouTube. To market themselves on social media, cosplayers had to learn more about “remote sponsored cosplay,” or cosplaying online-only.

On Linktree, the cosplay community is extremely active, with many cosplayers using the platform to grow their followings and stay organized. We spoke to five popular cosplayers to learn more about how they’ve built their careers and utilized Linktree in the process.

Amanda Haas, AKA Jedimanda

Amanda Haas dressed in cosplay as Wonder Woman

Amanda Haas in Wonder Woman cosplay. Photographer Alexandra Lee Studios.

Known online as Jedimanda, 33-year-old Amanda Haas from Kentucky first became interested in cosplay in 2012 while studying costuming in college. During that time, she attended her first comic book convention, where she says she was “severely underdressed.”

“I honestly never knew [cosplay] was a thing until I visited my first convention,” says Haas, who is also a professional wig-maker for Custom Wig Company, and has a book out titled “Creative Cosplay: Selecting and Sewing Costumes Way Beyond Basic.” “It was from that day that I had a full year to create my cosplay for next year’s con. Ever since then, I was hooked.”

When Haas began cosplaying, Facebook and Instagram were starting to take off as sites for cosplayers to post their content. Now she says she uses social media every day, with her top platforms being Instagram (with almost 30,000 followers), Facebook (31,000 followers), and Twitter (11,800 followers). She also has over 15,000 subscribers on YouTube, where she posts cosplay costume tutorials, cinematic shorts, con vlogs, and more, and says her TikTok is starting to creep up there.

Haas’s Linktree is posted on all of her socials, directing followers to everything she’s promoting, including a button to buy her book, and a place to donate to her costume fund.

“Linktree has been a huge part of my growth,” said Haas. “I have my special link everywhere I can. I love having the ability to define the tabs where folks can go to see my work.”

For other content creators, Haas recommends being as organized as possible and using Linktree to share your most important sites. She also suggests creating a folder with photos, videos, and links to share with companies or collaborators as needed, saying that you should always be open to new collaborations and projects. Haas monetizes her cosplay through partnerships with craft stores like Joann Stores, sewing machine brands like Bernina USA, as well as making guest appearances at conventions, pattern sales, and book sales.

“Cosplay is vast, and you never know where your next follower may be from,” says Haas. “Get out and explore the opportunities.”

Katie, AKA Katiecosplays

Katie, AKA Katiecosplays in Catwoman cosplay.

Katie, AKA Katiecosplays in Catwoman cosplay. Photo Kyle Williams @worldofgwendana.

Software consultant by day and cosplayer by night, 33-year-old Katie, who goes by Katiecosplays online, has been in the world of cosplay since 2004. The Alabama transplant (who now resides in Georgia), first stumbled upon cosplay at age 12, in her “quest to find every Sailor Moon image on the internet, right around Y2K.” She eventually found a pictorial for styling her hair like Sailor Moon, and four years later, when Katie was 16, she attended her first comic convention.

Today Katie has over 42,000 followers on Instagram, 48,000 followers on TikTok, and 53,000 followers on Twitter. She says the main factors that helped her grow a following include longevity, consistency, and authenticity. She’s been putting in work as a social media creator for nine years now, and appreciates that her following has grown gradually. This has allowed her to explore all different kinds of costumes, rather than sticking to just one cosplay category, like anime or Disney, for instance, as her niche.

Katie created a Linktree account a few years ago, and appreciates how it’s made her followers on one platform aware of all the other channels where they can find her.

“It’s also wonderful when you have a charity to promote, links to share, or things to sell,” says Katie. “Back when I was doing competitive fundraisers, I never could have won three years in a row without Linktree in my profile.”

For Katie, cosplay is more of a hobby than a source of income, so while she doesn’t collaborate on any brand partnerships, she has made passive income by releasing her costume patterns on Etsy. For other cosplayers, Katie recommends doing the same, as those sales have helped fund her own costumes.

Avera, AKA Avera_Cosplay

Avera, AKA Avera_Cosplay dressed in a cosplay costume

Avera, AKA Avera_Cosplay dressed in a cosplay costume complete with armor.

Avera is a 41-year-old cosplayer based in Florida who specializes in wigs, armor, foam, and worbla (a thermoplastic modeling material used for costumes). While she’s been going to conventions since 2012, it wasn’t until five years ago, when her son wanted to cosplay, that she decided to try it herself.

“I love to perform, and I love to create, so it was a perfect hobby for me,” said Avera, whose favorite character to cosplay is Plaguebringer from “World of Warcraft.” She’s also partial to the character of Mercy and says she’s cosplayed six different versions of her.

While cosplay is not her full-time gig (Avera works as a media buyer in the tech industry), she sells some of her intricately crafted costumes and creations on Etsy to earn extra money. The secret to growing her following on social media, Avera says, is building “consistent content and branding.” She uses Instagram (over 13,000 followers), TikTok (over 26,000), and Twitch to achieve these goals.

On TikTok Avera posts tutorials for other cosplayers, works in progress, and finished shots of her designs. Linktree, Avera says, helps drive people to that content, allowing visitors to “go across platforms” and eventually purchase items from her Etsy shop. As a Linktree PRO user, Avera utilizes additional product features to improve her branding efforts. “I find it important to have custom color schemes and images that are consistent with my logo and themes,” Avera says.

For other cosplayers who are trying to monetize their costumes and products, Avera advises people to not stress over likes and reach metrics. “You only need to worry about attracting the people that are going to buy your products.”

Her best advice? “Curate your community, find your niche, and be consistent.”

Amara, AKA Beautifulmar92

Amara Redden, aka Beautifulmar92 dressed in cosplay on Instagram

Amara Redden dressed in Napoleon Dynamite cosplay.

29-year-old Amara from Colorado says she is “obsessed with Halloween.” Amara’s intricately detailed Halloween costumes led her friends to suggest she try out cosplay, so in the past year she’s been creating new and elaborate looks to post online. It was TikTok, though, that really got her invested.

Currently, Amara has over 20,000 TikTok followers and over 7,000 Instagram followers. She uses Linktree as part of her social strategy, saying she saw her following start to “skyrocket” once she added a Linktree link to her social media profiles.

“I just wanted a simple way to direct people to my socials, and Linktree has been my savior,” says Amara. “Linktree has given me almost all of the followers I have today.”

For that reason, Amara converted to a Linktree PRO account, utilizing advanced features like link scheduling and extended analytics to maximize her usage and track her audience’ interests. Amara uses Linktree’s Support Me Links, a form of Commerce Links, to monetize her “31 Days of Cosplay” by accepting tips from visitors.

Besides Linktree’s “tip jar” feature, Amara doesn’t monetize content and works for Amazon part-time while she grows her following for now.

To other cosplayers, Amara recommends, above all: “Be yourself, and find your aesthetic or niche.”

Jon, AKA Cosplay_Funhouse

Jon, AKA Cosplay_Funhouse dressed in cosplay

Jon, AKA Cosplay_Funhouse in cosplay as a knight.

Known as “cosplay_funhouse” online, 28-year-old Jon from Georgia became interested in cosplay because it allows him to “be anybody I want to be” and “express myself without being judged.” Jon, who got into cosplay a decade ago,specializes in anime cosplay. His favorite character to play currently is Branwen from “RWBY.”

Jon is most active on Instagram, where he has about 7,000 followers, and also Facebook. “I grew my following by just staying as active as I possibly can,” he says. As a new Linktree PRO user, Jon is still in the early phases of customizing his ‘tree, so right now his Linktree mainly showcases his social media accounts.

For other cosplayers out there looking to grow their following, Jon recommends being as active on social media as possible and avoiding bots and ghosts that may compromise your reach. Currently, Jon is self-employed but plans to monetize his cosplay once he builds up his fanbase a little more.

With the world opening up again and comic conventions occuring in-person, the cosplay community will no doubt continue to grow. For cosplayers online, consistent posting and self-promoting will always be important to garner a following and monetize their interests.

For creators posting on multiple social media channels or who have their own personal websites and shops, Linktree fosters cross-promotion across platforms to help maximize earnings—and these cosplayers are proof.

Whether it’s growing a following, improving engagement, or monetizing goods and services, Linktree has been proven to help cosplayers achieve their goals. By giving them a platform to express themselves freely and share their entire digital presence, Linktree helps cosplayers be part of a greater community, and letting their fans in on the action.

 

About the author: Deena ElGenaidi is a writer and editor based in Brooklyn, New York. Her writing has been featured in Nylon, MTV News, Insider, and Bustle. 

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