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This is our thirteenth year in business at Night Frights creating effects and Halloween props for a living, and I can attest that there are two sides to that coin. One reinforces the old adage "Do what you love and you won't work a day in your life."

The flip side is that you're taking something you love, something that is a source of joy for you, and turning it into a job, which often offers more long hours and hard work than it does moments of spooky bliss.

It's a trade-off. There are many days I consider myself incredibly lucky to be doing what I"m doing. And others where I miss the wide-eyed thrill Halloween used to be able to deliver before I saddled it with deadlines and deliverables.

My two cents.

Mike
 

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Prince of Arkham Asylum
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...And others where I miss the wide-eyed thrill Halloween used to be able to deliver before I saddled it with deadlines and deliverables.
Wow Mike, this was thought provoking. I hadn't even considered this previously, but you're absolutely right. I sincerely think this might be the single most important piece of advice in this thread so far in regards to making Halloween your business as opposed to your passion.

Rather than enjoying the coming of October, starting to set up your home haunt, etc., you've now turned July, August, and September into deadline packed months stripping away the excitement and anticipation of the greatest holiday of all, and then when October hits, hours turn into days, turn into weeks... you blink and Halloween is in the rear-view mirror. You probably didn't have a moment to enjoy any of it because you spent the whole time worrying about "business".

Sure you get to live Halloween to some degree the rest of the year, but in your own little bubble when few others even care. I mean, think about this forum. There are maybe a couple of dozen people on here posting in the off-season until 3 or 4 months before Halloween when more people come back or join new because they have an agenda. Very few of even the hardcore care in the dead of off-season. When it's your business, you get to care about it year long, but probably actually get to enjoy it very little at all.

@Night Frights , I appreciate the perspective!
 

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His name is Roger Clyne
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Pre-COVID our fire dept. would to have dinners & breakfasts & other events I'd make various crafty things & gift baskets for the occasion for them to sell or raffle off. Every single time some asks "Why don't YOU sell these things?" & my answer is always "Because I LIKE doing these things. Once I start selling regularly it then becomes a JOB & I'd start hating it & I don't want to hate it."

I can totally understand what Night Frights is saying only for me it's not a life altering decision to start or quit a job, it's just "Do I make 5 things or 10 things for the Mother's Day Breakfast or just skip it?"

Whatever your decision happens to be IowaGuy please keep us up on the crazy ride of getting there & back! Best of luck on whatever you decide!

On another version of this board we had a gentleman that had his home open 24/7/365 as a haunt & now for the life of me I can't recall his name. He had great stories about it too. Anyone else here remember him? I assumed he was an older man, over 60 or older.
 

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Prince of Arkham Asylum
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On another version of this board we had a gentleman that had his home open 24/7/365 as a haunt & now for the life of me I can't recall his name. He had great stories about it too. Anyone else here remember him? I assumed he was an older man, over 60 or older.
Yep, his name is Gym Whourlfeld. He has a 365-home haunt in far western Illinois.
 

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Oh I'm SOOO moving out of Iowa, as my original posts have stated I'm looking at southern MO. Probably an outstretch of Springfield or Joplin
Well I live a little south of there in Northwest Arkansas so u would be somewhat close. We have no decent haunted houses around here but lots of disposable income due to Fortune 500 companies in close proximity. A well done haunt would surely attract a significant following. A party bus up to SOMO to check out the best haunted attraction around sounds like a great way to spend a Saturday in Oct. Good Luck!!
 
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Yep, his name is Gym Whourlfeld. He has a 365-home haunt in far western Illinois.
Ahh Yes Ravens Grin in Mt Carroll IL. Yuppers in the middle of midwest cornfields... closest big "cities" Davenport and Dubuque IA or Rockford IL are all about 90 minutes away with mostly corn between it all. Got the chance to do this on our road trip back from Salem MA a few years ago. What an interesting house.
 

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I would LOVE to make a living off Halloween but, like everyone else have bills to pay and would need lots of capital to get it off the ground. The land around where my folks is incredibly inexpensive, like $1200 an acre, and beautiful, green, and and and....

And I have thought many times about buying a bunch and opening an attraction. Honestly, I wanted to build a huge castle complete with a moat and dragons in the keep. The best way I could figure to pay for my castle would be to open it year round. We are in North East Texas and have good weather most of the time. This would leave the land open for school trips, camping, rennaissance faires, farmers markets, haunts, Dickens era Christmas, Harry Potter theme wizard schools what ever you can think of. The challenge of course being the money and getting people to use your property for their events.

I keep trying everytime we have one of those $150 million Lotto drawings here. One day! One day!!!
 

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Halloween Elitist
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I don't think there is clear cut path but what I'm about to suggest might be the spring board.
What if you buy some acreage, substantial amount and make it into a Subdivision, you create your CCR (Conditions, Covenants & Restrictions) to set out that this is only for the hardcore Halloween community and that all houses are allowed to have Halloween decorations year round and stipulate that no other holidays are allowed , sorry xmas, you zone a few lots for commercial use but again geared towards Halloween theme. Now I believe, depending on jurisdiction , you would have to consider be out of the reach of the tentacles of local municipalities so they won't try to slap you with fines and violations but I think this is a good starting point. Anyone can chime in on why this would or wouldn't work. I believe you would at least your name would be immortalized as far as Halloween goes if you could pull this off. I would love there so give me a big discount on one of the lots.
 

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Discussion Starter · #49 ·
I've already started looking for land down in SOMO. I'm hoping 🤞 to get a workable lot of 3 acres right now. I dig your idea...
 

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Prince of Arkham Asylum
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I don't think there is clear cut path but what I'm about to suggest might be the spring board.
What if you buy some acreage, substantial amount and make it into a Subdivision, you create your CCR (Conditions, Covenants & Restrictions) to set out that this is only for the hardcore Halloween community and that all houses are allowed to have Halloween decorations year round and stipulate that no other holidays are allowed , sorry xmas, you zone a few lots for commercial use but again geared towards Halloween theme. Now I believe, depending on jurisdiction , you would have to consider be out of the reach of the tentacles of local municipalities so they won't try to slap you with fines and violations but I think this is a good starting point. Anyone can chime in on why this would or wouldn't work. I believe you would at least your name would be immortalized as far as Halloween goes if you could pull this off. I would love there so give me a big discount on one of the lots.
Oh man, I've never considered moving away from my hometown, for any reason, but this might do it for me. If someone built a literal Halloween subdivision, I'd DEFINITELY buy a house there! Especially if there were some plots designated for commercial Halloween businesses, haunts, stores, and the like.

I also volunteer for the HOA board. Because of excessive Halloween decorations, I already volunteered for my current HOA board. I didn't want complaints or harassment (there are a couple of troublesome/complainy religious neighbors). 😁 "Lucky" for me I was elected board president. That means any complainy neighbors who don't like the display can suck an egg. 🤣 Being on the Halloween HOA board would be friggin awesome! Don't like the decorating efforts of a house or two, FINE!! 🤣

One suggestion though... year round haunts might be tough. Imagine the toll on your props, builds, etc. Also, year-round decor will kind of take the shine off of Halloween a bit, and become stale. How about decorations should be up from the start of September through November? That allows the growing anticipation from winter through summer, and also save props from being in a constant state of disrepair. It also allows time for new builds and surprise if folks want to change things up drastically each year. Just a thought.

Also, might want to have a number models pre-selected for the sub-division. Like, all houses have to be Victorian or something. Work with a builder to design some exteriors. Options for state of disrepair are extra. 🤣 I mean, as long as we're dreaming, may as well go all out.
 

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As I started reading this thread, a few ideas came to mind and by the time I got to the end others had covered most of them, but I'll toss my cents in anyway.

You can go back and find various posts by Gym about him running his haunted house tour year round. He seemed to be happy doing it, but it is quite a different thing than running an amusement park.

I also had the idea of a halloween planned-community. I recently went to a little resort town on the olympic coast, and the model seemed to be doing fairly well. They developed and sold houses, but also managed rentals. Something like that you could have a community of like-minded folks living together in a spooky village, but also have tourists that want to enjoy it for a few days. That seems like it might help make year-round attractions more feasible.

The other thing is, how much is this idea for you and how much is it for other people? If it's for you, and you have the resources, build your dream.

Lastly, I highly agree with the sentiment that making your hobby into a job can take a lot of the the joy out of it. It's a lot different when you're doing it entirely on your terms, versus having to meet demands for someone else.
 

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Has anyone ever heard of a facility, similar to an indoor flea market, that allows home haunters/micro haunts to set up shop inside a single building during haunt season ? This would give patrons multiple options to visit smaller haunts on the cheap?
 

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His name is Roger Clyne
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Oh man, I've never considered moving away from my hometown, for any reason, but this might do it for me. I
Same here. I made that Homer Simpson drooly noise at just the thought of it!!

Of course I don't know if my husband would dig it but man....that would be HEAVEN!! If Jimmy Buffet can have an actual Margaritaville the Halloween folks should be able to pull their own development off!!

And YES GYM!! I miss his posts. Here's Raven's Grin's FB page:

Here's the website:

And their Etsy store:
 

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The short answer is yes. But keep in mind in order to make a living you will need to transition from a "hobby" to a "business" and you must run it like one or you will not succeed. You must also decide if you want to build and sell "stuff", operate a haunted attraction, or both. There are plenty of successful prop manufacturers, who will now become your competitors, as well as haunted attractions. Research those companies and get in touch with them to learn how they got started and to seek any advice. One person you may want to start with is Eric Lowther, the creator of Haunted Overload. Perhaps one of the most successful and innovative haunted attractions around he started just like all of us running a home haunt that eventually outgrew his home. Another person would be Scott Stoll creator of Stolloween. He started off small and eventual transitioned his creativity into a full time job. Both of these masters are great guys and would be good resources.

 

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I would love to do this!! Are you hiring?:LOL:

I grew up in Florida and there was a year around Haunted House (easier because of all the tourists) and it probably lasted 15 years or more. It wasn't even what I think we all would call "scary". There were more "mysterious" things happening than horror type things. You did get chased with a chainsaw at the end though.

Anyway, I think with the popularity of Escape Rooms these days that a full time haunted house could work. To me the trick would b e keeping it fresh for the locals in your area.
 

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Im late to the replies, but I might have some input for you.
You can absolutely make a living doing Halloween but it wont always look the way you think it ought to.
I make a decent living from monsters (pretty close to Halloween).
My income streams are
I have a youtube channel making DIY haunted house stuff
a separate youtube channel where I go live from my shop with a supporting patreon
A monster museum at a renaissance festival museum type monster displays
teaching classes in my shop about mask making and such (in person weekend camps)
Directing dark hour haunted house in Plano TX as a 40 hour a week job
I own a company that sells costumes and masks to haunted houses and people all over the country
(this only makes decent money because I invest in doing 3-5 tradeshows a year -the big ones the small website sales are driven by the youtube channels)
I do about 5-6 onsite haunt consultations a year and those I charge $2,000 for the full weekend. they are brutal but very rewarding for me.
I can tell you what the gross is for all the business and endeavors and that seems high but the net is pretty fluctuating. I work 12-16 hours a day (every day- not a joke or exaggeration) and love everything I do. I do work too much and need to slow down...but Im getting old lol.
I started on my path when I was 10 years old and never deviated from haunt work. What I have seen over and over is that if you want to keep doing the work then you need to start doing the work. Its out there for sure, and most of the stuff I do is very different from what you want to do.
You are not really asking if you can make a living off of Halloween, you are asking if your Halloween related business idea is viable. Its viable, but it takes start up money and would be a slow grower if you play it safe. Halloween is a harsh mistress but very rewarding. If this is 100% your passion then who cares if you succeed? I do what I do because Im supposed to, Its the only thing that feels right, not because I think it will make money. Money has come. I have a nice house and a nice shop and a good Job at the haunt and I could coast on that- everything else in an iron in the fire in case the haunt dries up. I can keep them on simmer and stoke them when I need it (like a covid year).
Im not a genius or special, I just love what I do enough to be willing to work hard to keep being able to have the privilege to keep doing it. Its a wild ride.
feel free to email or call if you think I can help. [email protected] or 469-337-4929
best of luck!
Allen Hopps
This is great. i would love to start a Halloween business myself
 

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This is our thirteenth year in business at Night Frights creating effects and Halloween props for a living, and I can attest that there are two sides to that coin. One reinforces the old adage "Do what you love and you won't work a day in your life."

The flip side is that you're taking something you love, something that is a source of joy for you, and turning it into a job, which often offers more long hours and hard work than it does moments of spooky bliss.

It's a trade-off. There are many days I consider myself incredibly lucky to be doing what I"m doing. And others where I miss the wide-eyed thrill Halloween used to be able to deliver before I saddled it with deadlines and deliverables.

My two cents.

Mike
So so true – with anything you love in life. Once you start trying to monetize something, it definitely changes your perspective, for better or worse. And if it becomes successful, then as business owner you will most likely transition from hands-on creator to director/manager (among other things, like marketer, bookkeeper, etc.), which in my opinion takes a lot of the fun out of it. I've faced this in my own line of work – I want to be the creator of the product, but once I try to scale up (to create more income), there is more work than I can personally handle, so then I have to step back to become a manager of a team who does the work. At that point, you are basically working for the money, and as an artist (who needs to create), that's not a fun life. Not everything has to be that way, but nevertheless, there are definitely trade-offs to getting into the weeds of things you love (losing the novelty of it) and delivering that work to a wide audience (losing personal touch).
 

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At that point, you are basically working for the money, and as an artist (who needs to create), that's not a fun life.
I relate with this on a very fundamental level, I am doing prop making as an outlet for my creative energy, I need to be creating without that outlet I don't do well. This was part of the reason I chose YouTube as the direction I took, an ability to share my love for creating with the world, but still having the luxury of building something different each week.

It's a tough balance to find something you enjoy, while it still retains the ability to be profitable and create an income.

Don't believe it is impossible, but do it as a side hustle until you know you have it in you for the long run.

Also understand that anything Halloween related is VERY seasonal. If in doubt look on social blade for your favourite halloween YouTuber to see just how seasonal it is.

If you can make it work the 9 months outside the halloween season or have what you make in the halloween season sustain you year around, that may be the biggest consideration to decide on.
 
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