Ghost hunting isn’t a very lucrative career path. For the most part, investigators don’t charge for their services. And, hey, you gotta get paid to make a living.
But there are few things you can do to make money in the paranormal. Get the scoop after the jump.
The Reality Of Ghost Hunting As A Job
Ghost hunting by itself doesn’t pay. Anything. Ever.
The community of paranormal investigators doesn’t charge. You’d get ostracized if you asked to get paid or sued when the ghost comes back to the haunt. Psychics, mediums and spellcasters can charge for their services. Ghost hunters … not so much.
You can imagine how working for free puts a damper on your checking account.
The people who do make money ghost hunting are on the TV shows, but they’re more media personalities at that point. IF you can get on a show, the pay isn’t that great. You’d make a few thousands of dollars per episode if it’s a hit show. And then there’s only a dozen episodes per season.
Most reality show ghost hunters make money from books, appearances, producing the show or endorsing/making gadgets. I saw the pay for one reality star, and it was $450 per episode in the first season. Again, this will change if the show takes off and every production house has its own fee structure.
With that in mind, you do have some entrepreneurial options to make a buck or two. Let’s take a look at 5 possibilities.
If you’ve got tips, tricks, techniques and tales to tell, writing about it can help make some bucks. All you need is Word or WordPress to start writing about it.
Magazine articles may not bring in big bucks, but you could make more cash from books, especially e-books like Amazon’s Kindle. You have to write and publish a lot to really grow your commissions from sales. You’d still make more money by selling your books (digital or physical) from your own website than using an online retailer.
In my experience with Amazon, you get a 70% commission on your Kindle books if you charge more than $2.99. If it’s less, your commission is about 30%. If you use Kindle Unlimited, you get paid by the amount of pages read. That’s usually $1 for every 250 pages.
The other option comes from advertising if you start a blog or website. Having a large group of readers and website visitors helps you set higher prices for ads. Keep this in mind: You need 10,000 visitors per month to start making decent money from advertising.
If you like showing people new tips, tricks and techniques, give a class and charge attendees for your time.
Many paracons looks for people to present or give a class on ghost hunting. You could ask about giving a class on setting up a SLS Kinect camera, how to slice-and-dice EVPs, or how to use full-spectrum cameras and edit the footage.
You have to be an expert in the area you want to teach. That’s what people are paying for, after all. Start small and then use your connections from the paracon circuit to see if you can get to bigger events.
You might get $10-$15 per ticket sold. The event promoter will likely take a cut of that, too.
I’ve done this at a few local paracons, but I donate my money to my ghost hunting team. We’ve got gadgets to buy!
Ghost Hunting Equipment
With equipment, you have to sell it (d’uh) to make cash. To get the most bang for your buck, I’d say build it if you have the ability to do it. That gives you more control of pricing it and how you sell it.
Another option is to promote products from your site and take a commission when someone buys on the gadget-maker’s site. To do that, you work a deal with the gadget maker and refer traffic over to their site to buy it. Then, you get something like a 5% commission if the visitor buys it within 24 hours. This is similar to Amazon’s affiliate program. Some manufacturers offer a flat fee for each sale. For the most expensive ghost hunting gear (like a SLS Kinect), you could get $15.
If you go the affiliate sales route, you have to state that you make money when someone clicks the link on your site and buys on the seller’s site. The Feds set this restriction to combat paid reviews, which could favor unsafe products.
Ghost & Haunting Tours
If you like haunted history and have ghostly tales to tell, you might like ghost hunting tours and haunted history walking tours.
Ghost hunting tours are what they sound like: You take paying customers to haunted places and let them investigate for a few hours.
Haunted history walking tours involve stops at haunted places and then the guide gives you the inside scoop on the ghosts that haunt it. Most haunted history tours are on foot, so that can limit how often you run it. For example, you don’t want to do a walking tour in Duluth, Minnesota in January.
In general, you’d have to work a deal with the homes and businesses on the tours. That may be a flat fee per month to allow access to the haunted spot.
Haunted history tours tend to run $15-$25 per person for 45 minutes. You can also work out private tours for more. A ghost hunt can run anywhere from $50 – $200 per person for 4 hours or more.
To save on expenses, have the tourists meet you at the start of the walk or at the ghost hunt site. Then, you don’t have to rent a van or bus to move everyone around.
People love to watch videos and listen to podcasts. If you have media savvy, think about starting a YouTube channel or sign up for a free podcast account.
For video and podcasts, you still need to grow your audience if you want to make money from sponsorships or advertising. That can be a slog in the very niche, ghost hunting space. It’s not a field with a broad audience, but it’s possible.
Ideally, use the 1,000 viewers or listeners as a benchmark. You could get a few sponsors in your local area with that number. The big bucks don’t happen until you have 100,000 views or downloads each month. Then, you may get the attention of a bigger advertiser.
For a podcast, you could charge $5 per 1000 downloads for a simple, 15-second ad. As you build your audience, you can charge more. For video, YouTube will give you a cut of the advertising money it makes, but it varies so wildly, I wouldn’t know where to give a benchmark. I’d probably ask for a sponsorship and negotiate it outside the video host’s payout.
Next, you need to the right equipment and editing software. It’s not as expensive as you think. Most digital cameras shoot video and many computers come with video editing software now. With podcasting, you just need a good mic and editing software. Luckily, Audacity is free software you can use to edit your audio files.
I’d say spend some money on a microphone: That’s make-or-break for your podcast AND video. When you start out, look for Blue or Audio Technica mics. Even the lower-end models will record a high quality track. You just need to spend the time to learn how to edit the file.
To start out, try interviewing your ghost hunting team to get some content, watch YouTube to learn about editing, and find a good host for video or audio. For me, video means YouTube. For podcasts, there’s many hosts that offer free accounts. I use Podbean for Ghostly Activities.
NOTE: So, I don’t follow my own advice. GhostlyActivities.com doesn’t sell products nor use ads. I pay for everything on my own.
Jacob Rice began investigating and writing about the paranormal in 2007. He has published 3 books on ghost hunting, ghost stories and paranormal protection. His podcast, Ghostly Activities, dives into these topics even more. You can also watch his ghost hunts on the Ghostly Activities YouTube channel. He lives in Olympia, Washington.