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Unread 07-05-2012, 08:10 AM   #1
Rangiku12
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How did you get your start as a commissioner?

I just want to know. Seems like a job/hobby that is easy to do if you have the skills. Me being Jobless(forever) and low incomed would like to know how your love of cosplay and cosplaying could be made into a self employed job.
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Unread 07-05-2012, 08:37 AM   #2
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While I'm not actually a commissioner at the moment, people have asked to commission me in the past for things. (More of a time issue on my part what with schooling, but I might actually do it in the future.)

The first thing is to figure out what skill set you have. Will you be able to commission full outfits? Can you sew really complicated items of clothing, like ball gowns, or use more difficult materials (ex pleather)? Or are you maybe more of a prop person? Maybe you have one particular detailed skill, like making huge feathery wings, chainmailing, or working with Wonderflex?

Once you have your skill set down, you'll definitely need some samples of your work! This is often best done through high-quality photos of your own cosplays where you used the technique. People are hesitant to buy from those who can't show examples.

Thirdly, advertise! Post up on whatever social networks you have, here on Cos.com in the commissioner's forum, and other relevant places that you're open for business.

I hope this is helpful to you, and best of luck!
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Unread 07-05-2012, 10:56 AM   #3
Lucilia
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One thing that is very important: When you switch from making your own cosplay to making cosplay for money, you are no longer doing a hobby. You are running a business. That means managing your hours and price properly.

If you rely on it for a living you need to make more per hour than you would if you did another job (or you'd be better off doing that). If you can make 8 euro's an hour after taxes working at McDonalds, you need to ensure you earn at least 8 euro's an hour making cosplay, including time spent to buy materials, to communicate with the customer, to do administration, to fix mistakes, etc. etc. etc. Depending on the work you're doing, and the law in your area, 30 minutes out of every hour of work-time will be spent on those kinds of things and that does NOT include breaks, resting your eyes a moment, etc.

Your fee should additionally cover expenses like rent of a space, write-off on tools (including your computer!), materials you can't charge but which are still used (drawing paper, pattern paper, sticky tape, paperclips, whatever), mistakes and customers who refuse to pay, not to mention potential legal fees, insurance, etc.

All in all, as a professional, you need to ask at least 25-30 euro's an hour to, after all expenses, be left with the same amount as you'd get working for McDonalds. And that is excluding materials and taxes (pay those, or they take your house o_O).

This leaves the problem of competition, as may commissions are done for WAAAAAY less than the minimum that is required to live off of. The fact is, most commissioners not do not live off of their commissions (and many as a result are unable to finish commissions on time or in full or they are bankrupting themselves).

Given you would need to compete with teenagers trying to earn a few quick bucks, sorry to say but you are NEVER going to be able to compete on price if you do this for a living.

Instead, you need to compete on quality, which is something your amateur competitors could never match. People can and do pay thousands of euro's for high quality props and costumes and that is where your niche market is located. Examples are plenty easy to find on this site. If you can't make that kind of quality, you won't be able to make a living out of the business, it's that easy.

Additionally, doing this professionally requires commitment. The first three years of running a business you will not make a profit as you establish a customer base, build reputation, lay connections to the right sources, etc etc etc. There will be problems and you must be able to stand through this not just emotionally and physically (self-employed people don't get paid if they are sick) but financially as well.

Regardless the current environment it'll be hard to find financiers to support you for a very simple reason: your business has a severely limited expansion scope. You cannot easily hire another commissioner to assist you if business flows in, as people count on your skills and quality. That means you'll likely be paying for those three years without profit on your own through a second job on the side. That means working another job besides the 40 hours a week you put into your business. Auch.

However, if you get through all this, you can and will become a great name and you will find you are able to raise your prices to 40 or even 50 euro's an hour, of which you will have more than enough left to make a very decent living and with the advantage of being self employed.

Please don't think my description of problems and hardship are there to discourage. They are meant to make you ask yourself: do I have what it takes to keep at it for the three hard years to make it to the good ones? If you can answer that question, you'll know if this is for you.

Btw, if you are serious about your plans and need someone to look at your business plan, I'd be happy to have a look - just pm me
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Unread 07-05-2012, 03:34 PM   #4
AshofRebirth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arrancar12 View Post
Seems like a job/hobby that is easy to do if you have the skills.
Also. Keep in mind, it's not easy lol. Not at all. Even if the skills, it takes some hard work
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Unread 07-05-2012, 04:05 PM   #5
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I'll also state that making cosplays for yourself is completely different than making them for someone else. You know your body. You don't know your customers'. If you are taking commissions that are not local to you, fitting issues are probably going to happen. You can easily adjust your own cosplays, but not so easily a customer who isn't right there to try it on.

In all, cosplay is in no way easy to do as a job or a hobby. Your attitude of it being easy will eat you alive if you aren't careful! If you are looking for an easy way to make money or a quick buck, cosplay is not the way to go.

You have to have business skills and be professional. I cannot stress being a professional enough. It sounds easy, but I've encountered so many people who are not professional at all...who have actually told me they have more important things to worry about than my commission...which never showed or missed my deadline. Treating customers with respect seems to be lacking a lot from commisioners on Cosplay.com (not all, but some). I will also say communication is key. Very key to having a successful business in any form.

As Lucilla mentioned, there are lots of expenses and starting out, you may have to offer your services for very minimal or for merely the cost of materials and shipping to help build your portfolio. Personally, I wouldn't purchase from someone who only had work of their own, but no other work for customers, friends, family, etc. to show. This is because as I stated above, it's fairly simple to create things for yourself if you're crafty, but not so much for others. You will probably not make a lot starting out, if any at all. You may even spend more. Sometimes, this does happen; material costs are more than you guessed, shipping is more expensive, you messed up and need to purchase more of a particular fabric, craft item, etc.

The cosplay business isn't as easy as just making cosplays. A lot of talent, skill, and hard work goes into commissioning and having a business. Lucilla is right, not many people can do commissioning full time...I'm not sure any do to pull income in. All that I have encountered do it as a side job in their free time in addition to their regular job.

There's so much that goes along with commissioning! A lot is a learning process that you will even find as you go along. Do make sure to write out policies and/or contracts. I feel this is a great way for both parties to stick to deadlines, rules, and to protect one's self.
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Unread 07-05-2012, 04:50 PM   #6
Rangiku12
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I see that alot goes into being one. I sadly have no skills so it's outta my reach but thanks for share your stories and advice. Might just have too sell cosplays I make and hope...
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Unread 07-05-2012, 05:22 PM   #7
angelbabycakes
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arrancar12 View Post
I see that alot goes into being one. I sadly have no skills so it's outta my reach but thanks for share your stories and advice. Might just have too sell cosplays I make and hope...
Don't get discouraged! If you can make your own, you're already a step ahead of a lot of people and do have a skill. Might just need to be practiced more. You could sell your old ones and even offer alterations if the cosplay doesn't fit the measurements correctly for a price. Practice makes perfect! Also, maybe you aren't talented with props, but you are with wigs. Maybe you are with jewelry or something else. There are many different outlets for commissioning. I'd just be prepared for business to be rough and not count on it as a sole income to pay all of your bills.

Last edited by angelbabycakes : 07-05-2012 at 05:47 PM.
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Unread 07-05-2012, 05:43 PM   #8
Rangiku12
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Thanks angel
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Unread 07-05-2012, 06:36 PM   #9
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As someone who is currently attempting to turn what was once part-time income into a full-time business, believe me, it's very difficult. Even if I've tripled my business in the last 18 months, I'm still barely getting by.

My story is also very different from most commissioners. I started sewing in 1999, but after I posted pictures of my finished Jedi costume on the RPF boards back in those days, I got deluged with prop guys asking me if I could make them Jedi outfits - and they'd pay me. I figured why not, and that was the start of what is now a 12 year business. But between taxes, licensing forcing me to no longer do certain franchise costumes, changes of taste, the economy, etc, SLC has gone through a lot of revolutions. I had always intended it to be only part-time, though, while I held down another job for stability's sake. Alas. Life throws you curve balls.

It's definitely the sort of thing a lot of people jump into without fully realizing what's all involved when it comes to making costumes for people who you might never see in person, and that's why the Reviews subforum is filled with complaints against scammers. You have to have an understanding of basic garment construction and how the shapes of pattern pieces affect the shape of a finished garment, not to mention an understanding of the full range of textiles, and a grounding in both hand and machine techniques of all kinds. These things are not impossible. However, they're not the sort of thing you learn overnight. It does take time to learn, and for some people, the learning curve is steeper than others. Some people plateau in their learning or get frustrated too quickly. And, really, the thing to keep in mind even after all the learning is that it really isn't fun. Not like making your own costume and then going to cons is fun. You have to work under the pressure of deadlines, you have to be good at it, and then you send the costume away never to see it again. Fortunately for me, I worked in a professional sewing capacity for 8 years and became extremely used to the daily grind of churning out sewn product, shipping it off, and not caring what happened to it after that. The fine line between caring enough to do your best job on a project and not caring so much that it becomes your baby that you can't part with...well, that's the sort of thing you have to experience on your own, no one can teach you that.
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Unread 07-05-2012, 08:03 PM   #10
Rangiku12
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Thanks capsulecorp! Maybe if I think I'm any good I could start off being a commissioner for only my state and just start off with doing single dress cosplays. That will be a good start
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Unread 07-06-2012, 05:15 AM   #11
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I want to do commissions soon and I agree with everything that has been said above. I plan to start of with basic cosplays that I know I can make in a decent time and the use of certain fabrics. You as a potential commissioner have the right to refuse to do some commissions if you feel you don't have the skill to do so.
I've had friends be interested, so I'll start with those and post progress and final product pictures within my Deviantart or something. Building up to it is a key.
Commissions can't really support you financially, so it's better to get a part time or full time job along side it and take on very few commissions to begin with and just view it as "extra cash", that's of course if you gain a profit.

Try doing something small for people, then see how you like it - and never bite off more than you can chew. Vary your products, don't just do costume commissions, offer plushies and accessories - whatever you think you're good at!
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Unread 07-07-2012, 04:37 AM   #12
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Something small would be? I really have no sewing skill at all so I may need to start with props. I am learning to work with Craft foam and some modeling clay. I hope that would be enough..
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Unread 07-07-2012, 05:09 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arrancar12 View Post
Something small would be? I really have no sewing skill at all so I may need to start with props. I am learning to work with Craft foam and some modeling clay. I hope that would be enough..
As in making tiny plushies such as pin cushions which don't require amazing sewing skills. Or yes, start with props that aren't too complicated.

I've used craft foams for some of my props, and when done neatly and attached carefully to the prop, it can look spectacular!
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Unread 07-07-2012, 05:19 AM   #14
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Thanks x-Steffi-x those are good ideas.
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