Just The Tip: Networking
Be sure to network! The cosplay community is a huge and diverse group, but always willing to #support you! Whether it’s costume advice, information on upcoming cons, finding a #photographer, or discussing a fandom, there are many groups out there! Join up and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there!
One of the best ways to start is to join cosplay Facebook or Meetup groups. Groups allow you to connect with others that share your passion, find out when upcoming events are, and even have your burning questions answered. Need to figure out how to build armor? Trying to find a way to recreate the embroidery on a dress? Looking for a photographer? Just looking for tips on how to survive a con weekend? Groups can help you out, without judging you. Well, most of them. If someone is being a jerk, ignore them, and look for the other 98%.
It may not seem like it from the costumes and stylized photos of cosplayers all over the internet, but no one is amazing at everything. Cosplay can be hard work, especially if you're doing all the building and branding yourself. Hollywood sets have costumers, tailors, prop makers, electronics units, research teams, acting coaches, assistants, and full marketing staffs. For most people in the community, one person has to do all that work themselves. Asking for assistance is essential to finishing projects on time. If you aren't a master at something, it's guaranteed you'll find someone who is.
If/When you're feeling a bit braver, why not try out a meetup or photoshoot? Some of these involve dressing up, while others might just be a bunch of cool people grabbing brunch. They're a great chance to mingle with the group, without the pressure of a cold approach. Most meetups have cosplayers, photographers, and even handlers who just like the scene! Personally, I make the best connections during these events. There's always a few people to connect with, and you have a good starting point for conversations! Plus, I've found you're more likely to hear about future events when others know you and your favorite fandoms.
So get out there at your own pace, and have some fun! There a small world of amazing people with incredible skills all over, you just need to find them.