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My Current Stream Hardware

When you start to stream, you should use whatever equipment you already have. But if you’re at the point where you want to upgrade or if you want to know what I use, here you go! This is the hardware aka the physical stuff that I use to stream! I hope you find this helpful.

Expect a blog post soon about the software that I use for streaming and content creation.

Some links I share are affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission if you make a buy through the links here.

Please Note: With the current pandemic, many of these items aren’t available or the prices are really high. I don’t want to support that. Once the price is reasonable again, I will update with a direct link.

My Computer? Bad.

Not even sharing the link to my computer because this is what needs upgraded most. Ha. I use my day-to-day laptop to stream. This means there is some stuff I just can’t do for my stream because it won’t run smoothly on my laptop. This also means sometimes things just happen when I stream. We take it all in stride!

Canon EOS Rebel T5 with Sparkocam software

I’ve had this starter DSLR since 2015, and it is still going strong. I’m almost at a point where I need to upgrade, but I’m not there yet. I the Canon EOS Rebel T5 that I already have as my webcam. I purchased Sparkocam software which uses your DSLR’s live preview as a webcam. There are lots of other ways to do this, but most don’t work for my camera because of how old it is.

Some people think that using this setup will fry the sensor on your camera. It won’t. Since this set-up just uses your “preview” the sensor does not get pushed as hard.

Logitech c920 Webcam

This webcam is pretty popular among streamers, so it can be hard to find. That said: It is the standard for streaming. It has a good consistent look that gets the job done at an affordable price point!

No link: Currently prices unreasonably high. Typically $75.

Webaround Green Screen

If you don’t have room for a huge green backdrop or if you don’t want to paint the wall behind you green, a webaround is a perfect green screen solution if you don’t have a lot of room. The webaround attaches to the back of your chair, and it also packs up easily. Take a green screen with you anywhere.

Ethernet

The longer your ethernet cable is, the less secure the connection. But it is always better to use ethernet vs. wifi. I have 2 ethernet cables I use depending on the situation. If I am using my typical streaming setup I have a short ethernet cable, but if I have to go to another area where I have more room for cosplay/crafting streams I use this 10ft ethernet cable for extra distance.
Here’s a link to my 10 ft. ethernet cable if you need that extra distance.

Elgato Stream Deck

My stream deck is a key part of my stream and the streams that I run for other people. If I had to recommend only one piece of equipment that is just for fun to take everything to the next level, it’s this! (Multi-actions saved my stream on many occasions.)

No link: Currently prices unreasonably high. I recommend buying directly from Elgato.

Neweer Ring Light

A much needed upgrade from my handmade ring light lol. You can choose between warm or cool filters and it cranks up really bright. I also use this for filming Tiktoks.

2nd Monitor

Another piece of equipment I have that really needs an upgrade, but point being I use another monitor. It helps me have my room to work with while juggling a bunch of different windows for streaming.

Blue Yeti

This is my microphone of choice, but any Blue mic is a great option. The Blue Snowball is another popular pick, and it’s a bit cheaper.

No link: Currently prices unreasonably high. I recommend buying direct from Blue Microphones.

Shock Mount

I’m pretty clumsy when I stream, so it’s not uncommon for me to bump into my microphone when it’s dangling next to me. Good thing I have the shock mount to protect from damage and just general sound waves from the floor and when I hit the mic.

Pop Filter

A simple and great pop filter mic for the pop of my voice!

Rode PSA-1 Mic Arm

This microphone arm is really my favorite. It is super sturdy which again is perfect for me since I am so haphazard.

USB Hub and Ravpower 4 Port USB Wall Charger

I don’t have nearly enough USB ports on my computer, so I use these 2 pieces of hardware so I can have more room. My USB Hub helps me plug things into my computer that need that connection, but my fan and my phone are plugged into the Ravpower 4 Port USB Wall Charger since they don’t need to be connected to my computer for any reason during the stream.

Laptop Cooling Pad

The one I own isn’t available anymore, but this seems like another fine option. It’s just a simple external fan that plugs into a USB and keeps my computer from overheating.

Hyper X Headphones

My gaming headphones that are surround sound and super slick.

Ficmax Gaming Chair

It’s pretty comfortable and supports my back! Finally a chair that I can sit on for 12 hours straight without immense back pain.

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Cosplay on a Budget: Goodwill Outlet Stores

Cosplay is an expensive hobby, but we are creative people. Us cosplayers know that there are hacks out to achieve cosplays on a budget.

My number one cosplay on a budget hack? Thrift stores. But, I’m talking the mother of all thrift stores: Goodwill Outlet Stores. This is where I have bought wedding gowns for less than $10 and pounds of clothes for less than $2/pound.

Goodwill Retail Stores are the first place that donations go. But what about the donations that no one claims? These items are then sent over to a Goodwill Outlet Store where they are sold by the pound. (Items that don’t at these outlet stores are then sent

Goodwill Outlet Stores vary by location, but the most common way that items are sold at these special locations is by the pound. (Yes, clothes sold by the pound.) They also offer shoes and houseware items at a highly reduced price.

Shopping at a Goodwill Outlet Store

Shopping in a Goodwill Outlet Store is very different from shopping at a Goodwill Retail Store. Merchandise is stored in giant blue bins that are brought out one by one. Items are typically sorted into their category. Clothing will all be in one bin, shoes all in another bin. But men’s pants are mixed in with women’s shirts which are mixed in with baby clothes. You will have to sort and dig through these bins to find the gems!

Meanwhile, you are sorting and digging with other people who are also looking for cool stuff.

In my experience, the blue bins are lined up in rows throughout the store. After a bin has been on the floor for awhile and picked through, someone will announce last call and the bins will be removed, filled up again, and brought back out onto the floor.

See a bin with an orange cone on top? Not so fast! These bins are new to the floor. When new bins are released onto the floor, everyone will line up, but no one can start shopping until a worker gives the word.

But once they say “Okay you can start.” It’s utter chaos.

As far as shopping carts, Goodwill Outlet Stores use trash bags and carts that resemble a garbage can. Be sure to keep an eye on your cart. It is not uncommon for people to swipe nice stuff from your cart if they see something they like and you walk away from it for too long.

How I Survive the Goodwill Outlet Store

My Mindset

You have to be in the right mindset to go to the Goodwill Outlet Store. It’s part exploration/adventure, part ambitious/adrenaline, part no pressure. Usually when I arrive at the Goodwill Outlet Store, I do a quick walk around. Sometimes by the time I get there and browse, I realize I’m not really seeing what I’m looking for, or I don’t want to dig through bins that day. I let myself off the hook and I leave.

My Method

I carry stuff in my hands. The garbage can carts kinda freak me out. (I know they aren’t garbage cans but they remind me of them so much that the concept puts me in a bad mood.) I only buy what I can carry. Or if I’m really having a great day, I will cave in and grab the cart and keep it attached to myself at the hip for the whole shopping trip.

After my brief walk-through and I decide to stay, I get digging. Some people bring gloves with them to dig through, but I always forget. I try very hard to be respectful of other people around me. For the most part, people aren’t looking for the same things we are looking for as cosplayers. I have (thankfully) never had to fight anyone in a Goodwill Outlet! And I really go out of my way to making sure that will never happen. Try not to put the things you just digged through onto the piles of other people’s dig through.

I also always avoid the newest bins. Again, people are usually fighting over different stuff than I am looking. Once the initial chaos and everyone has looked through it, I casually walk over to the same bin, find things I like but without all the craziness.

I also try to learn the quirks of each individual Goodwill Outlet Store location. When I used to travel on a regular basis, I hit every Goodwill Outlet Store I could find. Some specialized in medical equipment, while others were better for housewares or clothing. And some Goodwill Outlet Stores were downright dangerous. In a few Goodwill Outlet Stores for example, they had signs throughout saying “Be careful of broken glass at the bottom of bins. Don’t cut yourself.” (Needless to say, that’s one of the times I did not stay to look around.) Other Goodwill Outlet Stores are in interesting areas of a city, so I also was careful then.

Overall, Goodwill Outlet Stores present a great opportunity for cosplayers that are looking to find some general cosplay items on a highly reduced price.


Curious to know where the nearest Goodwill Outlet Store is? Here’s where I look: https://www.gwoutletstorelocator.com/

They have the best complete list out there!

 

Now, get out there and happy thrifting! ❤

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Mikki, How Do You Get Paid to Model?

One question I have been asked a lot recently by models and photographers is how I get paid to model.

First, some background information:

I’ve been modeling for about 8 years, and traveling as a model for 6 years. After I modeled locally for two years, I had all online classes one semester in college and wanted to use my free time traveling as an art model. I already saw that other people did this, and I wanted to too. I reached out to a traveling model I knew based in Asheville. We talked on the phone for a couple hours discussing target markets and how to go about booking work, but there is one thing in particular that always stuck with me.

“Ask for your rates.”

So I followed that advice and started asking for my rates. It sounds so simple, but asking for my rates as a model is the number one technique I have used to successfully get paid as a model.

Keep in mind: I wasn’t “ready” when I started. I mean, I had a bomb portfolio even back then and I knew how to pose and was competent and professional. But as I’ve discussed with other models, there’s no such thing as being 100% “ready” to demand rates or start traveling or start making money from your art.

But I asked for it anyways, because I knew I was worth it. As I traveled and shot more, more people became familiar with me and my work.

Nowadays, I am fortunate enough to have contacts all over the place. I can simply let them know I am coming to the area, and I’m all set. And even if a photographer turns me down or isn’t aware, if they stick on my profile long enough they know I’m not being mean but just being honest: I ask for my rates because people pay my rates.

Photographers know that when they reach out to me, they should expect to pay to work with me.

It can be hard at first to ask for your rates. Don’t think of it as a shady pitch or as a sale. Instead, think about it like you are just informing someone that didn’t know. Whenever someone messages me I tell them,

“Thank you so much. Unfortunately I am only taking paid work at this time. If you’re cool with that cool! If not, no biggie. Thanks for the interest!”

The more we normalize models and artists of all types being paid, the more it helps everyone.

Getting paid to model takes time. You have to know your light. You have to know how to pose. You have to be highly skilled at what you do, but it is possible to get paid to model. And you will never be able to if you don’t just ask for your rates. So once you feel like you are ready to take the chance, go ahead and ask. You will quickly find out from the market if there is a high enough demand for your services to get you paid. So do it. Ask for your rates.