You probably know that my thoughts can seem like a weird mix of “what if…?” speculation, and hard facts.
Sure, I believe in things we can’t yet explain. That includes ghosts. But, I also study trends and patterns in every aspect of what I do.
Nobody was happy when, in 2010 (and earlier, but more quietly), I said that the ghost hunting fad was in a decline. It had been faltering since around 2004.
(Okay, a few rabid, skeptical critics were thrilled by the prospective demise of ghost hunting. They missed my real point, but I’m okay with that.)
This weekend, examining the trends and stats of October 2016, I’ve seen something interesting.
Take a look at the following graph. It shows the popularity of Google searches for the phrase “ghost hunting,” from January 2004 to Halloween 2016. (The blue line and grey horizontal bars are from the original. Everything else — the orange dots and black arrows, for example — are mine.)
As you can see, the most recent popularity of ghost hunting peaked in 2004. That’s not news.
The subject has been in a decline for years.
The orange dots mark each October’s search figures. They’re most of what I look at.
Around Halloween, I expect that my website traffic will trend upward, and my book sales will surge.
That’s when I study the trends, to be sure I understand readers’ interests. And, to be certain I’m staying current, I track my numbers against others in the field.
Every October, if my books sell at least as well as other long-time ghost hunters (like “Ghost Hunters” star, Jason Hawes), I figure I’m doing okay.
(Sorry, Jas, but you know I’m always honest. And often tactless. But there it is.)
However, like Jason (and others), I built my first ghost-related website around 1998 (maybe earlier). It was kind of a hobby site, to start with.
And, like the Jason and the TAPS team and other “old-timers,” I’ve never been involved in paranormal research because it was trendy. I do this because I have a passion for it.
To track my readers’ interests, I use a variety of tools, and Google Trends is one of them. That’s what you’re seeing in the graph, above. The line from 2009 to 2014 made clear: during those years, the interest in ghost hunting was fading.
In fact, if you look at the general trend from 2004 to 2014… well, it didn’t look good.
But, here’s what I’m excited about, the day before Halloween 2016:
Comparing October 2014 and October 2015, the line went up.
It’s only a slight increase in interest, but it’s still an increase.
For those of us who earn a living from work related to ghost hunting, that’s a good thing.
The portion of the Google Trends graph that really excites me is the trend between October 2015 and throughout 2016.
It’s the first year-long “ghost hunting” uptrend I’ve seen in some time.
(Yes, this October’s Halloween-specific search figures are down. I see that. What I’m looking at are the long-term trends… what interests people the rest of the year. And, when it comes to ghost hunting, those numbers are trending up. For the first time in several years.)
I’m not entirely sure what it means, but I have some ideas that I’m exploring, right now.
Of course, the field is changing. That’s a given. It’s normal.
But, over the past few months, I’ve seen some dramatic shifts in interests, related to ghost hunting.
A lot of my friends and fans are still as interested as ever. I’m grateful for that. (Thank you!)
Many (most?) of the really dramatic shifts are coming from new people in this field. They’re asking really different questions.
(That’s why I stopped selling my 2014 “101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered” book, and started posting its contents — free — as articles at Ghosts101.com.)
For me, this is energizing. (Right now, I have six tabs open on my browser, as I compare results from various research & trend-related sites I use.)
I know that a lot of people left ghost hunting (professionally, at least) when the in-fighting and exploitation (online, on TV, and in podcasts) became too tawdry and upsetting.
I sat it out, myself. I had no problem being a wallflower during that particular dance. (Growing up geek-y, I’m used to it. <– I’m saying that with a smile.)
But now, the tide hasn’t just turned… the tide is coming in again. And, the long-term search trends at Google prove it.
So, if you thought ghost hunting was taking its last virtual gasp, think again.
We can’t do ghost hunting the same way we did back in 2004, or even in 2014.
Well, I suppose some can, and probably will.
Me…? I’m not interested in reliving the “good old days.” The memories are great, but the future beckons.
If you’re involved in ghost hunting — especially as a professional — take a good look at what’s happening.
This is more than just exciting. It’s exhilarating.
Happy Halloween (and happy Samhain, if you celebrate it)!
2017 is going to be a good, fun year for ghost hunting. I’m getting ready for it, right now.
What are your thoughts? I’m interested. Leave a comment, below.