For some people, cosplay is a fun hobby. All they want out of their experience is a fun, geeky time with friends. But for those wanting to pursue cosplay more seriously, or even pursue cosplay as a career, marketing is an essential part of the equation.
I was lucky enough to go from a career in marketing into a career in cosplay, but for those without the formal training, marketing can seem like an insurmountable challenge! Don't worry... I'm here to help. Here are some cosplay marketing basics to get you started.
Establish a social presence
Let's be honest — most cosplay marketing is going to take place online. If there are cosplayers taking out print ads in their local papers, I'm certainly curious to hear about their strategy, but it's not a common one. So the first step in marketing your cosplay is establishing a social media presence. Here are a few key tips for social media:
- You don't have to be everywhere. Trying to manage a dozen different platforms is just going to make you worse at each individual platform. Instead, pick the platforms that are most popular and that you like using. For cosplay, the only one that is absolutely necessary right now is Instagram. But whether you're on Twitter, Facebook, DeviantArt, Twitch, etc. is all up to you and your goals.
- Be as consistent as possible. If you can have the same username on every platform, that's ideal, but if that's not possible, at least make sure your display name is the same so people can find you. It's also not a bad idea to have the same profile picture from platform to platform to help people recognize you.
Consistent posting is important, too! Not everyone has enough content to post three times a day, but it's important to not go months without posting, or people will literally forget who you are.
- Avoid auto-posts. Look, I know it's convenient that Hootsuite can send the same post to six different platforms at the same time, or that you can link your Instagram so every single post also goes to Twitter and Facebook, but if you want people to follow you on multiple platforms, you need to do something a little different with each one. Nobody needs to see the same photo five times in one day! The occasional cross-platform post is fine, but if that's your entire strategy, your engagement is going to suffer.
This is barely scratching the surface of social media marketing (I'll be doing some more specific posts soon!) but these tips should at least get you off to a solid start.
Build a brand
You're not Coca Cola — you don't need a professionally designed logo, a custom website, and a catchy slogan. But putting some thought into your cosplay "brand" can help you make your work recognizable and connect with your audience. Here are a few tips you can take from the concept of branding:
- Pick an easy name — and stick to it. Plenty of people choose their cosplay names without much thought to their brand. This can lead to cosplay names that are difficult to remember or complex, gimmicky, or too directly tied to a single character. Instead, try to choose a name that is memorable, easy to spell, unique (google it first to make sure no one else is using it!), and doesn't limit you.
- Identify your adjective(s). We're human, so we're complicated. Most of us can't be distilled down into a single adjective. But when it comes to an online persona, if you can identify what your "adjective" is, it can help you stay consistent and become known for something. Some cosplayers are kawaii, or glamorous, or inspirational. Once you've figured out your adjective, you can apply that to everything from how you write your Instagram captions to what cosplays you choose.
- If not a logo, at least have a watermark. I personally think it's a good idea to have a logo, particularly if you can have one designed by an actual graphic designer who knows what makes one eye-catching, readable, and iconic. But if you aren't interested in having a whole logo, you should at minimum have a watermark — just your cosplay page name in a readable font. You should watermark every photo* (yes, even selfies) because you never know what will go viral and get reposted without credit.
*Please don't watermark another photographer's image without permission!
Having a developed brand is something that most hobby cosplayers will never really need, but if you want to be a professional cosplayer, you need to treat it like a business — and a business needs a brand.
Join a Community
Most of us already have cosplay friends, people we visit Joann Fabrics with, or do group costumes with. But when you start working on improving your cosplay marketing, you need peers who have similar goals and interests. That way when you have questions, there are people who can answer them, and when you have tips, you have people to share them with.
If you don't already have friends like that, a great place to make them might be the Facebook group I run, Cosplay Marketing. Over the two years I've been managing this group, it's grown into a sizable but tight-knit community of passionate, hard-working cosplayers who are always ready to learn and help each other.
Interested in learning more about cosplay marketing? Sign up for my cosplay marketing email list and get notified whenever I have new blogs, videos, ebooks, or online courses.