View Full Version : Blog like you mean it.
01-13-2007, 07:39 PM
It seems that www.hauntedreport.com is down and www.portablegamingworld.com was up. For a while. I thought our long time friend and our "only independent source" for horror and haunted attraction news and conspiracy, calling himself iamlegend had moved on in the blogosphere to potentially more traffic topics. It looks like he might be experiencing cyber death. Apparently there is a planetary crisis in chosing wether a game platform can be used in the back seat of the car while mommy takes you somewhere or wether you are stuck in the living room hooked by a wire to a machine where mommy has time to watch directly what you are up to.
I have been doing alot of reading recently and found him out in the more proffesional blogs in many places doing what he used to do here on these forums, mentioning a great article he saw. It just happened to be on his own site, trying to get traffic. Kind of forum comment spam. He claimed to be a contributor to many a distinguished industry blogs. In our case he was taking any little spat or topic of conversation from these boards and making an uninformed immature comment about everything for the whole world to potentially bite into. The theory is that you would go there and be so inspired by his illiterate writtings that you would want to be just like him and click on a google add and add to his web empire fortune a hundreth of a cent at a time. Luckily no one gives a crap.
Well, from what I can see no one bit, he never got his mega webmaster traffic, evident that the only comments were spam or no comments and I hope he has died technologically speaking. Maybe with all his hard work he got a check for 10 cents a month and moved on or couldn't pay his fees. I thank all of you for your lack of support.
Yet another content and picture stealing little grub claiming all the information was HIS or from his friends at such and such a place. This pretending to be somebody really gets to me somehow. I think it is lieing or something.
This type of behavior gets to me also because I do have experience as a journalist and we are wide open to cyber punks becoming the next industry leader simply by interviewing everyone and putting out articles. It doesn't matter if their frontal lobe has not yet been formed or is deformed nor if they really have any command of the language. They typically do not even let us know where they reside and have only a handle that they hide behind.
Another trend is to take news feeds and post them and give some half wit comment as to wether the information is believable or not. In the big picture, there are hundreds of topics and skills involved in haunted houses that all kinds of origional content can be created about that would genuinely promote this as an industry unfortunately it seems the only people that have time to do this are sitting on mommies couch internalizing child entrepenuer stories.
Further, the whole focus of what is written about and hailed as important around the subject of haunted attractions has been fractured into Myspace pages and 2 other haunted type similar sites, we have the resource of Rotting Flesh Radio and a few good forums. But now there are 5 conventions or gatherings with seminars, Hundreds of books and videos, and a great number of individual websites.
The thing about using the web, wether it is these forums to express opinion is that it is out there forever to some degree until it is replaced with fresh material. The best way as an industry for us to be recognized right now is for anyone who actually knows anything to write in the blogs they have available such as on MYspace and the many free journals available out there. I still don't think social sites really have the impact that other venues would have in the real world but the blog entries do show up on searches. Looking at the blogosphere, the topic of haunted houses is not there under culture or entertainment and this is the big possibility to get on all of these blog type services from every location and knowledge base we have and become as common a topic as what is a good floral arrangement.
I just hope that if such good developments occur, it is not by cyber punks it is by those that have a true passion for what we are doing and standing for. There is a lot of cyber space to fill up and just having everything centered here in a secret society is not really doing everyone worlds of good.
Blogs and news articles do get noticed and for what our topics are I'm sure are majorly refered to mainly during the season. So things written now might not be noticed until September but, if you do it now while you have time, it might be there for September. My over all point is to employ anyone who can write to get content out there. Making the act of going to haunted houses a city by city topic is worth a gazzillion dollars whereas the one PR campaigne by IAHA although successful was worth 2 minutes of everyone that is a customer's life tops. Will this PR be duplicated and committed to every year? Probably not. So grass roots with information that does not go a way is the way to spread the cause with existing emerging technology. This results in real customers at every event.
The over all trend should be done by anyone proffessional and everyone, not someone wondering wether horror movies or game boy conspiracies are the hotter topic. We should not as well rely on Larry and Leonard to carry this trend when in fact it is something anyone can do.
This blogging would truely be the content of many and in reality to make an impact needs the work of many otherwise I would by myself fill in the gap of being your "only independent source". Blogging has an overall bigger possibility and potential than one punk could provide. No one is going to get rich directly from writting content. The money comes in the form of people paying for tickets at your haunted house because they discovered and informed of this world of entertainment on their computer.
01-13-2007, 10:55 PM
I always used to think it was defined as a big, wet , bloody booger caught half-way out of your nose.
01-13-2007, 11:14 PM
Balooga cheese. Gazunt tight.
Here's a tissue dear for your baloogas.
Duke of Darkness
01-14-2007, 12:37 AM
Yes. It seems like there might be a proposal in there somewhere. Care to elaborate on what you have in mind?
01-14-2007, 03:09 AM
Not so much a proposal but a solution for everyone to consider and act upon.
If everyone wrote, rather than allow the more uninspired, would be writers to become our spokes people, we would over all better the industry awareness by doing it a little bit from everyone out in the blogs and getting a web presence.
Every My space has a blog on it. Every Yahoo has Yahoo 360. AOL has journals. There are sites where small compensation is made to the author such as:
and many more. Most of the regional pages that are Haunted House by State have forums and groups and pretty much with the push of a few buttons can be writting positive content about haunted houses in general from how to articles to why we all do it.
One can pay to have a pro blog site at Typepad.com or Blogger.com and many others far cheaper than having a website and a domain name.
Generally what happens is very much like Larry's Blog on the front page only a more intimate account not so much as what is happening in the industry but relating articles all the way from Halloween celebration to haunted house enjoyment as a customer and as a participant. At a grass roots level it makes the activity part of the culture where it is not necessarily now.
Instead of mulling over millions of dollars in possible press that somehow one organization that was given $50 from 500 people is supposed to accomplish, we begin to use all of this web technology ( that is presently free or very cheap) to write us out of a hole. Not to declare that there are so many millions of dollars put into haunted houses and lots of money made from this investment but, that it is a fun and meaningful extention of us. Sure, haunted houses are not what they used to be but who are they trying to get the attention of? Wall Street? When you get a group together and it is a committee responce to what the outcome is going to be you get a sketchy blurp in the end. There is a level of passion here that would better transfer relating the facts about haunted houses. It is more like personally inviting people one by one instead of making a declaration of corporate take over on page 3 of the USA Today paper.
Let's say I'm just sparking interest in an activity that so many other kinds of businesses have done for years to better their public participation in products or services.
I have spent a solid month looking at most of these sites and would not expect any immediate bandwagon jumping because I doubt anyone knows or few have considered the wider implications of this possible resource.
Sociologically what is happening is that people are being asked to write content about what they know about. Those articles are being used as source information to spawn larger interest from real journalists. If the interest is not in this content it must not be very popular so why write about it for the New York Times or USA Today unless someone has lobbied with lots of money. Hence it is not an every day common activity that people enjoy, it is paid advertising or it doesn't fly.
In looking at all of these content sites, there were a few lame articles about how to decorate for halloween but nothing what so ever to do with haunted attractions, pro costumes, pro sound systems, pro decorating tips and so on. Nothing about how much fun it is to tour haunted attractions and why they find it a fun past time. Things that would make any Haunted event look like something that normally occurs and is readily accepted.
Yet, with this wide open opportunity, our only spokesman was iamlegend who quite frankly was just like Jolly Roger and played this system for the promise of money not because they loved haunted houses. This was our representation? It should not be that way.
We all have gotten to write quite a bit on these forums and certainly not because they were going to somehow be compensated. We are talking specifically things we each know well first hand and putting it out there to steer intrest so a potential haunted house customer who would search abit further and find the listings that everyone has worked so hard to maintain and ultimately patronize a haunted house.
Even if you are not the owner of a haunt, it behoves you to engage your intrest out onto the community at large so that there continues to be haunted attractions to work at and have fun scaring and entertianing people or even to go to as enjoyment. Without wide community support it is an uphill battle and few have made it to proper levels of detail.
I will certainly do my part but there are many trails to blaze and lots of ground to cover. It might be possible to direct our actions using these forums as a home ground to help each other in developing essays and then taking that resource out there. Not one savoir but everyone is an active participant that finds just one more comulative angle or sees a new application to technology the once just direguarded as a waste of time.
Just like that Haunt Map thing, this puts our industry out there at grass roots level in every major blog and content machine accross the country and where possible referencing back to say Hauntworld's find a haunted house register.
The demographic that is so highly involved in writing and reading variuos content for sites IS the group of people we want to be our customers. If I went through another 3 key boards it wouldn't necessarily bring them to MY haunted house but, if the over all culture is "just a matter of fact" it would bring awareness all over the country to look forward to seeking out haunted houses in their region and seeing many attractions while they are at it.
Of course this is a very heady idea and you should send a $5 donations or cans of food and coffee to me just because you can. For now it is just an intellegent possible conversation or just another issue of who gives a crap magazine.
I have gotten tired of the internet promising basically kids that if they hustle people they will be gazzilionare ferrari driving mega web masters and everyone will respect them to the max. Nope, it is a lot of work to write a good essay and get it out there. It is so much more impossible to hit every site out there with great articles that are origional and positive and so it will take us all promoting ourselves instead of being possibly hussled over and over to come to some dorks Horror site to give him thousands of hits and earn him an extra game boy cartridge.
Slowly people are going faithfully to these content sites to look up any number of topics like home remedies for the flu or home repair or how to celebrate a holiday. Haunted houses at this point do not exist in this media of the future and this is just a heads up.
Yes at the same time a bunch of blogs are dieing off because a month or so into it it came to be work instead of magic but these content sites are kind of a bigger thing, the survey of what people are into, reference material. This is like putting our words into the dictionary as every day stuff not just a wacko business idea or fad the young people are doing now that will fade away.
Duke of Darkness
01-14-2007, 06:18 PM
Greg, maybe I just don't get it. Don't get me wrong, I think that putting our plans, ideas, and experiences into blog format has value. But will it really do anything for the industry? In my (admittedly very limited) experience, people only tend to read blogs on subjects that they already have an interest in. I, for example, read several blogs dealing with subjects like magic and wine. If my experiences are typical, would we not just be reaching the same group of people that we are in forums like this one?
This is an honest question, not a criticism of your ideas. If I am off base on this, I would certainly like to hear more.
01-14-2007, 09:08 PM
Dave this might be right what you are thinking. If the catagory was there it might only attract the same people. I'm thinking there are a whole bunch of people that would review the information seasonally if it was there that it would never occur to them to look for forums.
It is difficult to think like a potential customer would. I only know that the successful haunts, and this could even be ones that simply achieved making a living from their event, do things like get brochures in the hotel carosel of things to do, they are on the what to do lists, and participate in so many topics that gather a larger audience?
This is perhaps what I'm trying to feel out is how popular would such a topic be if it was everywhere and curiousity was raised? Would it be worth all the effort. Does anyone see it like I do? Is there a tremendous potential or would it run the fate of the haunted report?
My over all goal would not be fracturing our community any further but, finding places to get out our community support where potential customers are.
01-14-2007, 09:25 PM
Interesting question, but I think it could be very beneficial to all of us. Yes, the same die-hard folks will tune in, but others will also. If there is only a single source of information for a particular subject, what you can glean by said source is quite limited, indeed. The scope of one website or blog is potentially limited by the number of individuals participating in providing the information, their limited viewpoints and the opinion of the webmaster himself. If there are many haunt-related blogs and/or sources of information, more people will have the opportunity to find them and participate in them because each website will have its own nuances and thus have slightly different positioning in the search engines. As an example, every member of Hauntworld forums won’t necessarily find and actively participate in EVERY forum / blog about Halloween and Haunted Houses.
I have always been an advocate of the idea “more is better”. I really hate to bring up this comparison, but look at the people who participate in Hauntworld forums vs those who participate in HauntedAttraction forums. Sure there are those people who are active in both (reading them and/or posting), but there is also a large sub-set of people who only actively view one or the other. There are also people who read HauntedIllinois.com forums who don’t participate in either Hauntworld or HauntedAttraction message boards. The fact is, MORE IS BETTER. Because each site will have its own unique focus/direction/draw, the more sites there are, the more people will participate. More viewpoints are always more valuable than fewer. It gives the reader a more rounded picture of the actual subject matter. More people writing about Halloween / Haunted Houses on the internet could very well be the best grass-roots movement the Haunted House Industry has to offer. There really is no greater cost-effective way to spread the word about Halloween and Haunted Houses than posting on the internet. Think of your internet site / blog as a billboard that is up 24/7/365. It isn’t like a newspaper ad/magazine article or radio ad that is a one-shot deal. Another benefit is that your target market comes to you, instead of the other way around, as with traditional advertising. If people have an interest in Halloween or Haunted Houses, they type that into a search engine and BINGO, your site comes up. If you buy an ad in a big-time national magazine, that will reach a lot of people, but how many of those people will even see the ad? And how many of those who do are really interested in the subject matter? I have been preaching this since the mid 90’s. If you want to reach people interested in what you have to offer, use the internet, period!!!
When searching for a specific matter related to the Haunted House Industry on Google, getting 10,000 matches, as opposed to 10 matches can only be a good thing for all of us. As has been said before, the abundance of information can only increase the level of awareness of the general public, which is a good thing.
01-14-2007, 09:33 PM
Adam has the concept, and it is not recreating one more blog with everyone contributing trying to gain attention. It is being in hundreds of places with even a paragraph of content that is first hand, honest and intended to bring intrest in the subject matter. A lot of these articles are only a third of what some of my posts are, it becomes a teaser to finding more information and starting to do searches for more.
Duke of Darkness
01-15-2007, 12:39 AM
I would agree that the greater the exposure, in both quality and quantity, the better it is for the industry. I would also agree that the internet is a gold mine that has only begun to be tapped. I think that an attractions website is one of its greatest marketing tools. I think that other tools like Myspace can generate good results, both in terms of generating interest in Halloween in general and in directing people to your specific attraction. Using the blog section of Myspace is a great way to keep customers and volunteers/employees alike up-to-date with what is going on.
I have, as I said in a previous post, followed some blogs in topics that are of interest to me. A high quality blog that will attract return readers will require a great deal of time and effort. I am not saying that it is a waste of time, but I think we need to analyze several things: 1) Will a blog produce a good return on our investment of time (either for our individual attractions or for the industry in general)? 2) Who is to be the audience for our blogs? Other haunters? Our volunteers/employees? Or potential consumers/customers? If the later, then how do we get them to read it? This last is the question that I would like to have an answer to before I commit myself to such a project. I have seen many start up and just kind of fade away, and I wouldn't like to see that happen. 3) What kind of information would people want to see in our blogs? I know that this is a question that would have to be answered by each individual, but would people WANT to see? A week by week story of the creation of an attraction? Industry news? Important topics of interest?
Again, I am certainly not trying to be a naysayer here. In fact, I find the idea intriguing. I am simply trying to brainstorm on ways to determine how/if such a project would be useful.
Thanks guys. I'll stop rambling on now.
01-15-2007, 02:45 AM
Certainly doing anything is a completely personal decision. So many such comittments do in fact end in a month or 3 later the blog dies as an author runs out of things to say or it has become some burden that shows no immediate return. But, now I will beg to differ on wether it is an expensive investment.
I will lay out a hypothestical but close money trail for you to compare. And may ad a few things. There are enough forums, groups and places to gather for anyone interested in haunted anything. Let's forget entertaining them any further. That is a job for Rich Hanf on bus #2.
I'm talking web presence for awareness at grass roots level for all forms and sizes of haunted event. The sites I listed pay anyone offering content some minor fee like in number of hits, I wouldn't expect more than a dollar over the course of a year for perhaps 3 hours of class work. Some pay a flat fee of $3 only if the work is accepted. This is some kind of slave labor condition that at face value is completely in tolerable. As a result maybe if you were in Mexico and $1 a day is the going wage and you had 20 computer stations in your living room you would be King of the village. We aren't talking that. We are talking unigue postings from a great number of people who have personal experience and know what they are writing about as a form of support for all.
Economically, how much has it cost or earned you to post on this forum? You neither spent nor gained nothing monetarily but perhaps with interaction you got back as much as you recieved or at least were engaged to some degree. Meanwhile because of the amount of site traffic and amount of things we have stored here for the past 2 years, Larry has bought servers that at a minimum cost $35,000 (I don't know the facts) for the school version servers and he is paying out of his regular business thousands of dollars a year to cover the band width. Obviously he is helping the whole industry and intern is hoping to send traffic ultimately to his several haunt venues. Dollar for Dollar he is spending and putting up with more crap than Knotts or Universal would as they have the bucks to pay an advertising agency diresctly and have it all handled for them.
So to think the hauntedreport would EVER be as widely used and accepted as hauntworld while feeding off of it is ridiculous. Any blog that does whore itself out like that reacting off of the industry as it already is, is sort of doomed as it is not unique content or discussion, can never build up the patronage and investment in real hardware as we have right here.
Yet, Jim Warfield has 6,000 posts on here and if he had not done these posts in reaction to others or offered a piece of his soul now and then perhaps the entire ball of wax would have gone to a test pattern. Yet if he had done these as articles to the general public on a pay per post site that might solicit excitement to come to the Raven's Grin Inn, he would have made at $3 a post $18,000 while sitting in his lobby awaiting customers.
One of the contractors we work for made $400 for replying to 37 different email discussions about what color we would make the materials we were to install. I figured that was $10 an email. Good work if you can get it. If this was really the case, Hauntworld owes Jim nearly $60,000. In reality everyone does so much for free or with minor compensation already. They give seminars for nothing, traveling at their own expense. We all offer what we can anyhow. The biggest picture of all is the bottom line: haunted houses only make money or attempt to reclaim their investments on people coming and buying a ticket. That is the bottom line. Jim has spent his $60,000 and some very small portion has become haunters coming to his all year attraction and hopefully sharing the experience with others.
On the other extreme the local haunt I have run for charity has done so for 23 years and to this day do not know about hauntworld or have intimate knowledge of the Raven's Grin Inn. Not that I haven't mentioned it over and over.
One time I went to the local barbeque house and the owner comes out and asks about the hearse I'm driving. Well, it is because of my involvement in haunts. Several breaths later I mentioned going to Transworld and he fell over laughing and said "well, I guess there must be a convention for everything!" Well, that was news to him? He was perhaps all wrapped up in barbeque utensil conventions? who knows. It sounded stupid? The whole thing sounds stupid? Well, he isn't a customer. There are 30 million opportunities out there to find who is our customer and it will take lots of people to make a dent in all of these places.
If our public impression is only from youngsters out on the web dreaming of getting web traffic and don't really have any intrest in haunted house, they just though it might be a hot topic, we are in big trouble and open for ridicule. In fact if we don't make a positive impression out there, a negative one willbe made for us. Being non existent on all of these content sites is about as good as having a busy signal when a good cutomer ready to spend $4,000 tries to call.
If you write only 3 articles, it wouldn't be entirely for the return of $9 and going through the hassle of gaining content, it would be articles that would be out there forever wether the author is active or not. One does not need to pay for a blog site to participate in this big community experiment, nor is it a critical we must do it now endevor, it is just another possible resource everyone can adopt to their activities like put two paragraphs out there every week or once a month.
Plus there is the fact that we have so many adult and capable people that this out there network doesn't have to be just teens excited about taking a fan and glueing a wig head to it.
So why would any one as a customer care? Very good question. You are reading articles in a big site of content, cruising the archives to see if there is anything interesting to read. What do you want to read about? There's some tips on eating cheap in Las Vegas, how to test to see if the sheets were changed in your motel room or visiting a haunted house an overview.
Hmmm. Never done that. I keep driving by the firehall and never particularly wanted to let a buch of drunk firemen jump up in front of me. So I just drove by their little deal. But, this says it is much more interesting than I thought it might be. This little couple paragraphs describes actors and patrons having fun, it describes qite a bit of work that certainly would be worth checking out? Maybe I'll take the kids.
Certainly making the commitment to pay $5 to $20 per month for a blog format that is specifically for this intention is one's own commitment but, I think it is some of our culture that equally does not yet exist. I'm suggesting little blurps from anyone capable in the free local pages or paid content servers just to make our presence known and considered in a positive light.
Any level of blog would be appreciated by other haunts, actors and even customers and could be the platform from which this content gets put out there to both benefit the blog traffic but as well as seeding the market. Remember this is not a regional or local presence and benefits everyone. You might find you have written an article worthy of Larry's Blog or get into his magazine. That would be some notariety but, I'm focusing on the out there public. If getting your picture on the cover of Hauntworld and buying 5 copies for your mother is your goal, please disreguard everything I'm pointing out just go for that.
One could offer excitment as a customer upon visiting a certain haunt as a customer if it was a positive experience. It could report on the quality or lack there of of Walmarts seasonal display. It could report on other weirdos that inspired you to keep abreast of this lunacy. No more different than responding to the Why do you haunt thread on the other pro forum here.
So as a discipline you ask youself questions and write down the answers and share them. Written in one way they can be shared in no longer a post than that one. It would inspire others to seek their own level of intrest which starts with buying a ticket to see a haunt in their area or even road tripping to see one that is more renouned.
In this day and age it is becomeing quite the intimate pull to get the would be customers off the couch, off of the internet, out of their homes, away from the PS3 and wide screen surround sound, away from their refrigerator and to part with money they shoudn't even spend to buy lots of gas and gather friends to go do something different. Such as go to a haunted house event.
Quite franlky the entire back bone of people coming to haunted houses is to some extent customers wondering how does one make money doing what they love to do. Many stop at being a customer, inspired to do what they know better, many others continue as an actor or volunteer and out grow the commitment there. Others are wired in such a way that this IS who they are and put up with what is not a big profit right now endevor to have an event. Some other percentage just came to be entertained.
So, if skilled people here just got out of the secret society every once in a while on little missions and invited people to support their local haunted house, we may have something. Just another resource that isn't being utilized.
I only mentioned existing sources like Myspace because if you do a search, those blogs do show up in the top 10 for no matter what location around the country you put in there. If they are not being used to discuss haunted houses, they won't show up in a haunted house search.
So there is the total public service announcement, take it from there. There is do it for free in hopes to learn something, do it for substandard promise of residual income but knowing full well the larger picture of nuturing the next generations of haunt customers, Or the final big step of pro blogging with an over head which actually after a year can be turned into making some money if the traffic is really there (which it won't)
For the most part you never know who your reader is going to be until you meet them. Until you get comments on what you have written and can go with shaping this as a personal resource or a failed or unenjoyable past time. It is quite the personal deal.
For the most part however, I'm seeing importance on having blogs on the cover of the forums but, they in the past have been news feeds or press releases. This has their purpose for us, but this isn't intended for bringing in the public to haunted houses as paying customers necessarily.
I would consider this developing the market if you don't yet own a haunted house. Doing everything in one's power to communicate that this is a good activity. That real effort for the most part is put into these events and patrons have as much fun as participants.
On these forums we do this anyhow over and over for the next new prospective haunter, we search our past experiences and respond to the same questions over and over but, with each time it gets a bit more enlightening to even one's own astonishment. These forums are like some kind of dysfunctional self help group and I'm not suggesting we all can't always use some help. Some of us are beyond help and this IS our motivation to having a haunted house. I'm suggesting that populating all of these content sites and reaching out to find out what the customers think might be equally rewarding and beyond that develop continued intrest.
Every little bit helps. Will help.
01-15-2007, 11:07 AM
I have met quite a number of people doing my haunted house, because it is located in a remote, under-populated location I usually get to talk with these customers before and usually after the tour .
From this market research, or first hand knowledge I think the average adult and young person out there could care less about attending a "Haunted House".
It may be seen as being something they once tried a time or two many years ago, or as something passe and old fashioned or crude and not in their newly found adult agenda.
If we are stuck perpetually feeding off the 14 to 18 year old market and then we lose them around adulthood forever or because they didn't think the time and money spent was worth the experience? What then?
Lasting (read "Profitable") long-term entertainment engages the mind and body and offers something within it to all ages .
I have always tried to do this , it makes my tours time much longer and very energy consuming but if I wasn't making a living doing this , I very well might be standing in a cold, wet ditch with a shovel in my hand(been there did that for 15 years) The choice and motivation for me is really no choice at all, I choose what I am doing now, of course.
When the Ford Motor Co. began for it's third and final time in 1903 advertising money was almost non-existant. They spent money having silly cartoon postcards drawn and printed making fun of their product, the Model "T". For many years nobody knew the company was behind this champaign.
If blog articles are to be written for the general public's consumption, I suggest writing about the fun, unusual experiences available there and if it needs a title do not have the word "Haunted" in it, allow them to discover this after a paragraph or two.
Duke of Darkness
01-15-2007, 04:15 PM
Greg -- I don't think we differ at all on the expense of blogging. If you look closely, the investment that I was speaking of was in terms of time, not money. Sometimes it is even harder to prioritize our time than it is our finances.
I also agree with you that getting the word out there has value. What I am hoping to hear more about (since as I understand it, you have been doing some research in the area) is the practical side of things. What is the most effective way to approach this? Going to those blogs that pay for content? Myspace? A "pro" blog? Something else? Where are we going to develop that "grassroots" exposure that you are talking about?
I have done blogs on Myspace and Hauntspace for a while, but these have been mainly for friends/other haunters. When the formal announcement is made, I am planning on putting together and additional Myspace page and keep a blog there for the general public. Are other online venues more effective?
Just to keep the brainstorming mode alive, what about creating a blog that was not simply haunt related, but entertainment related in general. Perhaps it could be related to horror, perhaps not. Review movies, music, amusement parks, whatever. Then during the season, turn it toward haunts and Halloween. Would this lend credibility or detract from it? Where would material like this best be located?
Another idea, what about regional blogs, where various haunters from the same area all posted articles. Is something like this practical, or is there to much discord?
Just throwing out ideas. I would really like to hear more of what everyone else thinks about this issue.
BTW -- good thread Greg.
01-15-2007, 04:17 PM
And typically you want articles to be short and sweet, not what I have done here. What I have done here would have been routinely about 8 weeks worth of work out in the blogosphere.
01-15-2007, 05:33 PM
I would see creating a blog that discusses and compares all things entertainment and travel perhaps a better read and thus subliminally give the haunt thing some credablitity. After all any regular blog once populated with content at some point seeks exposure. So, this happens by putting little versions of articles out there in as many other places as possible, little essays not necessarily duplicated 100 times but mindful little essays to capture readers and bring them back to the blog. Just as most post on forums and bring people to their website and bring awareness to their products.
Some very successful reads (blogs) are articles about how they got up and didn't feel good or had some depressive state and made it a funny read. But the words in the articles and headlines got it places, linked it to other blogs, made it on the rankings and thus became a part of culture. Just in this research I found myself pulled away to read someone's years worth of experiences. The knowlegde was intimate to them and they simply put it out there to find it's owm audience. Of course at some point, it was cleverly linked to here and there to get noticed.
In this cased it is content instead of content. I only put 4 of the better pay sites up there and there is a list of about 20 with varied degrees of freedom and even less compensation. I have no idea if they will last but at present serious quantities of venture capital have been put out there to capture origional content and make it their own as a resource for the world and for them to later monitize big time this resource. Although some have been up for two years, it is now growing to the point of really being something and arrangements to major search engines are aligning.
I certainly can't predict which is best, so it is the gurilla approach of getting something on everything with everyones involvement. Then of course most of these ranking systems require comment from others to be better and so we have the family here to say hey, go to here and read this and please leave a comment. We are talking orchestrated support of our own efforts, even spring boarding into better content else where by some one inspired with what has been viewed.
The big words I have been hearing that are problems facing any blog is "transparency" and "proper sourcing" having to do with stories enmass being picked up by major news feeds. And so articles are not to be hidden behind some unapproachable secret identity (for example I am really Greg Chrise, Jim Warfield is sometimes really Jim Warfield) and we are writting intimate knowledge or thinking out loud in a form of possing discussion.
If you will notice, even my own thread the very two replies were me and jim babbling not related to the topic and the fouth post was a legitimate comment. Just like these forums something out on a paid site needs feed back or additions to remain current. The babling really only meant not that Jim was being disrespectful, but, that he aknowledged reading my diatribe. If the topic was lunacy or off topic it would not have gone further.
I can not as yet determine where the best places are. I have gone to all the message boards where the writers are and found concern for payment and the truely successful are not origionally concerned about the pay schedule and seem to be rewarded a year down the line or 8 months down the line after submitting 100 or more articles.
I would not expect any one persone to excell entering all 30 venues and adapting to all 30 "games" of success and therin lies the larger affiliation of everyone. The more notable content sites as well will not accept just any dribble and so it is the skill of the participants to find their own comfortable access.
A funny thing happened in all of this searching. I found an article about 5 haunted attractions in Las Vegas. I expected quite the nice little article and there was only one sentence. It landed me on Robin Leaches Vegas Blog I believe it is called robinsvegas.com. So apparently his latest version of Lifestyles of the rich and famous is going to parties non stop, mentioning hotels, restaurants, and in this case celebrities going to haunted houses and halloween parties. So I pulled back and did a wider search and in the top 10 was about second Haunted Illinois about 5th Robin Leach and 10th Hauntworld find haunted houses.
Of course Robin is a long time journalist and mooch probably being paid ny the city of Las Vegas tourist commision as well as going after free party invites, free high dollar meals, lodging and what ever a person needs like clothing, and so on travel arangements. So I thought it wildly funny that Adam was more a mover and shaker than Robin Leach and all of his photos of sexy starlettes visiting Vegas. He has actually a camera crew to take photos and had interviews with people like the blue man group and many others. Even the term blog if done properly has a picture or two but can iclude sound files and of course video these days. It isn't all diatribe.
Adam has done so well in the ranking because he has an intimate following of haunted houses and some number of people are hip to the ranking mechanisms and have added him to their favorite places (more favorite than Robin Leach) and put him up there.
And yes, regional IS what Adam is all about, just one state, what he knows about inimately, first hand and has been at for years. He also is not an over night success. If you go to www.hauntedillinois.com he offers links to the many groups and spaces he frequents and I believe it is a great illustration of success that can be obtained.
On the other end of the spectrum, one must not get to the point where you are getting 300,000 hits a week or you will buying your own servers. So the strategy is to be present in a small way every where and moreso get the point across for years.
It bothers me that lots of these catagorized sites have not yet even put a place for entertainment and there is one for sports. Spors of course must not be entertianment it must be something in the fiber of the culture as important as who the current congress is. And so this is the trail that must be blazed. If it is a concious effort by all of us, we can put it on the map.
The illustration of Vegas is a great one. It is all evil, trashy and ungodly a big temptation that only leads to the pit of hell. It seems to be popular. Reguardless of what the Christian or fundamentalists wish to say it is there and growing out in the desert and has for 50 years. It is out of control and just a matter of fact, not something the spinsters will be sitting in front of a city council to make sure things like this just aren't allowed in such and such community. This country wide opposition is a lack of education that has not been communicated. Haunted Attractions are not about acting out blaspemy and gathering the souls of the young for lucifer himself.
50 percent of the population thinks Pamela Anderson is working for the devil himself. The other 50 percent just pretends she is. Well she had her own Vegas Hotel New Years Eve event, probably made some money and was covered by Robin Leach and Adam and his Illinois network is hipper than both of them! At least concerning Halloween and Haunted events.
And in my own research at one point I put my own name in a search engine and I am somebody already to some extent. Even these forums, and being a haunted attraction forum member (wether I post or not) is already whored out there for all to see. In comparison it took 5 years to get them to spell my name right on my phone bill.
Overall it is sort of like the yellow pages only discussing the topic of seasonal haunted attractions or year long events. There is THE local yellow pages and then there are 300 bogus internet listings of your company information that for $300 per year you can be listed up on top of all of these places no one will ever use as a regular resource. Only in the case of all of thse paid content sites they actually are going to pay you some measely pitens rather than charge money. They want it enough to borrow to have the bandwidth in hopes that it will someday be THE resource or bewiddled down to some big conglomeration of referenc material a decade from now.
By being active we are making our own stake. In a way, having a wider feild of entertainment might be great. You mooch off local restaurants and travel for meals, see movies sometimes for free and get all kinds of media to review and putting haunted house patronage in there just make it a more credible every day thing to do. I went to the grocery store, then the haunted house, I forgot I had cottage cheese in the car. Normal stuff, nothing super spectacular bias.
I must say I'm tired of little sites that are only horror movies and illiterate rants and then the connection to haunted houses. It might be better to connect with more normal activities like the cleaners, the floral arrangement seminar and decorating the home. I know in my area there is not one age of person that attends haunted houses.
As customers we had an SUV of people come to us directly from Verdun Manor about 45ish adults and after going through our little habitrail couldn't explain it but liked it very much. I know why it is better. I planned it that way and these people telling the guy I am working for this gave me great hosnest ranking at this location. My point is, these media are not just kids looking at articles and are slowly evolving to include all ages, tastes and intrests.
If possible we just need to be "representin" anywhere we can.
01-16-2007, 01:46 AM
I admit right now that I have not read every sentence of the above posts, as doing so would carry me well into February, so if this has been mentioned, great - I'll reinforce it. If it hasn't, great - I'll introduce it.
A side-benefit of blogging is the RSS/syndication factor.
To wit: When Adam at HauntedIllinois.com posts to his MySpace blog, his post is picked up at http://www.chicagohorror.com - the front page of which is wired into the blogs and feeds for around 20 different Chicago-area and Chicago-related horror, haunted house, Halloween, gothic, etc. websites and companies.
This increases exposure for blog posts, and lets ChicagoHorror.com have up-to-the-minute content without the need for me to hunt it down and post it myself (something I simply don't have time to do).
The benefits of something like this should be painfully self-evident. I first tried this with EverythingSinister.com (http://www.everythingsinister.com) starting about this time last year, and that site does amazing traffic now - it's my home page and the first thing I read every day, because there's NO delay between the time the various posters post and the site picks up the feeds.
Something to think about.
01-16-2007, 02:01 AM
RSS has not been mentioned yet. I found many sites I was somewhat intrested in that their feedy thing was not operating properly, ones like Ghostdroppings.com do work. These are supposedly simple plug ins that allow subscribers to hook up to you and get an update on what has just been published. Some lag about 6 hours behind but it is a good automated reminder that a blog is still out there and active.
Duke of Darkness
01-16-2007, 02:12 PM
I will research this on my own, but if anyone wants to save me the work and explain how you get your blog on these feeds, it would be great.
01-16-2007, 05:42 PM
I will research this on my own, but if anyone wants to save me the work and explain how you get your blog on these feeds, it would be great.
If you use Blogger.com or your MySpace.com blog, the feeds are generated automatically for you. Look for a link that says "RSS".
Then it's just a question of submitting your feed to the right site.
One of the tricky things about this is that, while it's easy to find a newsfeed reader for personal use, it's a lot more difficult to find one that will display feeds on a website - I had to reverse-engineer a personal reader to get it to work on my feed sites. So (to my knowledge) there aren't a lot of feed sites out there... yet. It's a new-ish technology; I figure in another year or so (if that) it'll become pretty commonplace...
I know Chris uses something similar for HauntedHouse.com - Chris, if you read this, what did you wind up using, and how would you rate it?
01-16-2007, 06:35 PM
If you at some point have enough content to hold an audience, you do things like have minor little promotions and contests, giving something way like a trade show freebee or a T-shirt or something similar. In exchange the winner will be one who is on your feed, has you on their Tecnacrati search or something like this.
For some period of time readers who otherwise did not do this automatically will do so to enter your contest. Like wise you reading other peoples content enter into any thing they are doing for traffic no matter the topic of their general discussion and their site may bring browsers to your blog. Once you have say 1000 subscribers, you are pretty much already somebody.
01-16-2007, 07:50 PM
In general, no one will subscribe or manually check in to a site that does not have daily quality updates and great information. From what I can see a blog might take a good portion of a year before it great results become automatic. Just at the time the domain name fee is due.
So the paid content sites are a great way to put stuff out there and see what flies and still at worst case promote the support of haunted houses attendance.
All of this content can be accumulated, updated, edited and revised, is stored out there somewhere and then all at once you might have the large quantity it requires to attract serious Blog intrest.
Sort of like, you go by a car with a for sale sign on it by the side of the road Verrsus you see a car that looks pretty good among 30 cars. Which is more likely to make you let up a little on the gas peddle.
Or of course you can begin first class to begin with.
01-20-2007, 11:02 PM
I had nothing better to do than start typing into my Blog/journal. In 4 days I'm already having things go into the archives. I will be posting daily trying it out as some kind of therapy.
If you would like to leave comments or have something discussed a bit further let me know. This should appeal to those just starting out or who have low turn out events.
Overall, this is a good place to discuss what topics the world should or should not know or maybe doesn't care about. Or what would be the overall goal of blogging the planet about Haunted Attractions?
It is tough to be interrupting Transworld discussion but, no time better than now. The link below takes you to my AOL Journal.
Comment here or there it doesn't matter. What subjects everyone should consider should go here on the forum.
Duke of Darkness
01-21-2007, 02:04 AM
Just got through reading all the entries in your blog. Some interesting things there. I thought that your numbers where way too low until I gave more thought to the fact that you are in Tyler. A much smaller than average population to draw from. One thing to point out is that the haunts that are doing bigger number are spending much more on advertising. I have been involved with haunts that did over 20,000 guest in a year, but in some cases they spent over $2.00 per head on advertising. That eats up a budget real fast.
Anyway, thanks for being so honest and willing to share. I will check in with your blog periodically.
01-21-2007, 02:45 AM
The actual town of Noonday is only 564 population about 7 miles south of town on a major highway. It is a very large new clean building not at all spooky and if you go into town no one knows where it is. It wasn't until I asked for it that their fire hall sign is eternally lit at night. Despite the low advertising capability just having a good attraction will bring it around maybe.
Yet it is valuable information as I had run into so many that did not crash 500 their first year and wondered what gives. Even advertising must keep pace with what is really happening or it is money wasted.
01-21-2007, 05:23 AM
I agree completely with the $2 per customer advertising figure. I guess your closest city is Portland Oregon? Population 3.6 million.
In comparison, back in the day, Verdun manor saw 25,000 being 20 minutes from Dallas. Hangmans once saw 30,000 being in FortWorth each slightly larger in population but, then there are so many right in the heart of the same cities actually doing poorly.
We are 100 miles from a large city. Yet still being in a small city is weird as people will travel 100 miles to a rural event but not generally come to a smaller city. One rural event I'm familiar with started out at 800 and increased 30% per year and now sees over 8,000 in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps it is a Texas problem with travel perceptions and haveing to travel to do anything so why do it for entertainment when you can just stop by BlockBuster on the way home?
People won't travel from this town 80 miles to the rural event but people will travel 120 miles from Dallas to the rural event.
The other thing about advertising is it can back fire, If your attraction has not matured to being a killer event and you claim it is in an ad, you will have a lot of upset customers.
The "gurus" proclaim spending a minimum of $25,000 for an event first starting up. I have seen them leave even the Dallas/Ft Worth area after seeing 800 people with people kind of upset with them. It sucks.
Duke of Darkness
01-21-2007, 04:27 PM
Yes, Portland is the nearest large city. I have been involved with several haunts there, and the Portland metro area is where our new attraction will be located this year. The population of Portland is, however, only about 600,000. 1.2 million including the suburbs (within the tri-county area). The 3.6 million figure is for the entire state.
That said, the numbers that you are likely to draw to a new haunt are very much related to location and population. I know most of the people who do or who have owned haunts in this are in the last few years. While you have seen haunts drawing numbers around 800 in your area, the number for a new haunt here seems to be around 3000. Population may be only one factor in that number however. There have been several long established and very large haunts in the area for several years now. Perhaps the populace here is more educated about this area of entertainment, and therefore more willing to try a new attraction? I don't know that is the case, but it could be a factor.
I understand what you are saying about people traveling, especially in Texas. On the other hand, I have spent some time there (I went to school in Waco and was stationed in San Angelo when I was in the Navy), and I have seen entire towns depopulated on a Friday night as everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) traveled 100 miles or more to go to a high school football game. Not that I would ever expect a haunt to gain that kind of loyalty in Texas, where high school football is akin to religion, but it brings me back to the idea of educating your audience. I firmly believe that if people believe that they are going to get their money's worth, and that they are going to have a good time, they will be willing to make the trip.
I have a friend here who has a rural haunt on his farm. It has been rated the best haunt in the area for the last two years. He does not, nor does he want to, draw very large numbers. But he did draw over 2,500 in his first year and around 3000 the last two years without any high budget advertising. And this is about 25 miles out of Portland.
The point is, if you want to be successful in a more rural area you will have to do several things. You will have to put on a good show. And you will have to educate the public about what to expect when the get there.
I appreciate your approach of starting small and growing. I hope this model continues to work well for you. I will look forward to reading more about how things progress.
01-21-2007, 07:59 PM
Since my house, The Ravens Grin Inn is open all year, I am in a place to scoop up more free, off-season advertising than an October only haunt.
The other night at a tour's conclusion a new customer introduced himself as working for NPR radio and he said he will be returning to do a story about this place.
Educating the customer before they get out of their car in my parking lot should be a "win-win" situation for everyone, unfortunately , the customer also has to read a web site or a brochure to get the info.
The positive customer experience (P.C.E.) will directly transfer into the absolutely best free advertising and glowing testimonials imaginable, something you cannot buy for any amount of money.
It sort of runs in the same neighborhood as the front page, or better, headline in a local newspaper. Space (or "ink") is not for sale in most newspapers but if you are a news story , you may find yourself in this envious position, unless you are the maniac in the tower with the scope rifle, that is.....
"Hey! I got my name on the front page everybody!"
("Take him out now!")
01-21-2007, 10:37 PM
I have been in Tyler since 1987 almost 20 years now. I wandered around a full 10 years wondering how does this work. The last 10 years I have sort of just gone a long with the flow with simply making a living with my business(s) as a goal.
It's more than spending money at some figure or injecting something into every potential patron's skull. The flow here is not necessarily productive and it shows in all sorts of business and their lack of true profit.
For a while I was a parts manager at an auto parts store and honchos from Atlanta would come bitching about how the store only made $33,000 per week and the one on the wrong side of the tracks made $50,000. Well, before I did my thing it was $25,000 and beyond that it wasn't my fault somebody screwed up on their marketing plan and put a store here in the middle of the part of town where people do not work on their own cars.
Somehow I ended up with my own company putting decorative concrete usually around larger swimming pools. This is brutal out in the 104 degree temperatures with 140 degrees blasting up from raw concrete surfaces. Of course once we are done the temperature of the concrete is down and it is nice but it is time for us to go to the next blast furnace and tame it as well.
No specific pity to me, looking around a lot of opportunities require this being out in the elements thing and so everyone is at a state of pretty much being beaten down physically because of it. It is pretty tough to be a go getter and then find ones self out there going to get it when it is 104 degrees and so a little slower pace is observed on most things.
So now you are going to take the populace effected in this way and say "Hey let's put on a show!" You are liable to be hit with lunch left overs. The home is devoloped to be a place to get to around sundown and rest, not neccesaritly to be left. Of course there are a percentage of the young who do but, of course there is drinking and such involved and a haunted house might be considered kiddy stuff. Or in our past black plastic rip offs.
In comparison the semi annual car shows have the biggest turn out of the "convention hall" and I saw them high fiving at reashing 3000 customers. So you have to reel back expectations a bit or move.
The haunt related work is second to our normal business which keeps us in a 200 mile region of east Texas. Even when we postured ourselves to provide any work anyone wanted for cost (doing it for free) we only got one big haunt related job per year. And had to chase people all over the country to get paid. So that didn't work. We have a great sounding resume but, at tremendous personal expense.
I used to be pretty smart but, my only current observations of go getters have set themselves up in air conditioned offices with automatic dialers preaching being productive. They are all a little unproductive when it comes to writing out checks too. I further notice that 2 million dollar per year companies have ONLY a small black and white ad in the yellow pages and rely on referals. Simply yelling at people on TV doesn't do anything here. They still have no web presence and do not accept emails. Advertising firms are certainly here to take your money but, there is no guarenteed effect. And this is every day kind of business.
Any would be participant or customer is fighting these same constraints and living conditions. I'm still thankful to have any inpired turn out. It's a seasonal brain snap to declare that the temperature is okay to leave the house tonight. We set up in September in 104 degree temperatures and take tickets in 35 degrees, a dramatic drop in a week. Customers are showing up in T-shirts and standing in line for an hour. I'm going to have to build a comfortable lobby to make it more comfortable for them as they don't know how to dress?
As I seasonally decided it was my job to go see other haunted houses it was really an effort after a hard days work. Driving great distances to the other side of bad storms to find events opened and uneffected.
Up North there isn't any stay home because it is raining or cold. Fall actually is beautiful as the trees turn colors. There is a natural indicator of what to do now. Here they have a row of Halloween decor and masks and the isle behind it is already Christmas stuff in September.
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