Cosplay Convos: Guesting Tips - Valuing Your Services
Ah yes, the age old question of "how much should I charge?" It is probably the most difficult to answer question when it comes to any job: "what am I worth?" And the frustrating part is... nobody can answer that for you, the answer lies solely with you. But that doesn't make things any easier, especially when people often suffer from rampant imposter syndrome (feeling like you don't deserve your blessings), or being afraid to lose out on opportunities so they low ball themselves. Oh and can't forget the unfair act of comparing themselves to others. But no matter what anyone tells you: YOU. HAVE. VALUE.
You should never feel pressured to guest at a con if it's going to cost you. Flights, hotel, travel, food- it all adds up quickly! Not to mention, all that time creating content for the event, advertising it, making panels for it, and actually working it. Oh, don't forget other costs like lost wages from missed work, or having to hire a pet sitter for your furbabies, or YEARS of building your brand and skill set! Your time gave you knowledge, your knowledge taught you skills, your skills gained you presence, and your presence has value. That value fluctuates highly from person to person, though, so don't expect to be earning three figures a day for an appearance fee if you're just starting out as a cosplayer. Still, there's plenty of basic ways that you can boast your assets, and get some compensation for your hard work! At the very least, it's always okay to just ask what you believe your time and skill to be worth. The worst they can say is "no" or "let's negotiate this some more", and the best is "yes!"
Below are some basic considerations to account for when assessing your assets and bargaining with an event. Remember: only YOU can truly decide what is in YOUR budget, so there's no magical rate or formula used to calculate your guesting requirements. Individual situations are simply too different to account for all possibilities. But this is at least a starting point to help set you in the right direction!
1 - Assessing Your Value
How do you value yourself? This will vary from person to person, and it goes back to the “what is it costing YOU to be there?” Although many famous cosplayers do cosplay full time and can make bank off of sales at their convention tables, a lot of smaller name cosplay guests still have regular jobs outside of the hobby, and don’t sell even $300 worth of merchandise all weekend. Asking for an appearance fee will help cover time off from work and be a guaranteed "safeguard" in case your table sales aren't strong, because bills still need to get paid! You can ask for one flat fee for the whole weekend/event or an appearance fee for each day you are there. Again, realize that if you are new to the cosplay scene, and have a humbler social media following, you may have to start small, so don't compare your rates to folks who have been at this for a while!
2 - Mileage Will Vary - Literally!
Your value will vary not only from person to person, but also from con to con. It will differ based on the size of the event, the distance you’re traveling, the length of the event, the amount of work they require of you, etc. This relates back to the above, because more days off means more lost hours at work/vacation days, further distances means higher travel costs, and so on and so forth. A local hometown con of 3000 people will be more affordable for you to guest at than a massive 30,000+ one that is a 6 hour flight away! So obviously you would need different accommodation requests for either event.