I’ve been a Bigfoot researcher since 2005. It all started when I was sitting in my little office inside the laundromat here in Happy Camp, California. Yes, we have a laundromat with an office room in the corner, it was for rent, and I paid 2/3 of the rent while the Chamber of Commerce paid the other 1/3. This is a very small town!
I used the room for my webdesign business and for Happy Camp News, which I owned at the time. I’d recently gone to a day-long seminar hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. They invited a couple of publishers of travel newspapers from out of town to come speak to us about how to attract more tourism to Happy Camp. I wrote an article for Happy Camp News about what I’d seen and learned that day. The most memorable thing I learned was that a small town needs to choose a niche or sub-set of people to market their town to.
The example of river rafters was given, because we have a river running through our town and rafters pass through all summer long, usually without stopping. I pondered the possibilities and suddenly realized Happy Camp already had a theme. Bigfoot! We had the Bigfoot Jamboree every labor day weekend, and a lot of businesses were named after Bigfoot. We had the Bigfoot Car Wash, Bigfoot Apartments, Bigfoot Trailer Park, JavaBob’s Bigfoot Deli, and Bigfoot Towing. We also had three Bigfoot statues in town – one in front of the US Post Office, one at Evan’s Mercantile, and one on the corner coming into town – the one you see pictured here. It made sense to me that “people interested in Bigfoot” would be the perfect niche of people to market the town to.
Unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce chose to market to artists instead. Nothing wrong with artists. I am one! See my coffee cup design? However, during the ensuing 6 years, I haven’t seen any real attempts to market the town to artists or any other specific group, at least, not by the Chamber of Commerce. We do have an outstanding and active group of artists here who are working toward building a huge and attractive new art center in the middle of town, so I am in no way denigrating art or artists here. I’m just saying that Bigfoot is a far better niche for the time being.
Anyhow, at that time, 2005, I started a blog about Bigfoot – Bigfoot Sightings. Org. You have to understand, I was a webdesigner and writer, and it is only natural for me, when I’m starting to study something, to get a blog started to chronicle my research efforts. We live in a huge forest and so my research has been both field research and book/web research.
Over the years I’ve seen many attempts to make money with Bigfoot research. The most successful is Matt Moneymaker, star of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot TV show. For years before that he made money by taking groups of people out into the wilderness to look for Bigfoot – a rather silly venture, in my opinion, because Bigfoot knows how to avoid large groups of people! It is hard for them to be quiet! However he made the bucks while we nay-sayers watched and chuckled.
Another researcher made business deals and got funding from investors… and used that money to travel all over the USA following up on Bigfoot sighting reports. Fun! But… sort of a rip-off to the investors. I’m sure this fit into some tax write-off scheme I don’t understand because I’m not rich and looking for loopholes.
I make a little money by putting AdSense and Amazon affiliate links on my Bigfoot blog. This has paid for the server and domain name over the years, and not a whole lot more. The Bigfoot keyword doesn’t seem to attract much in the way of AdWords advertising. However, I’ve been happy with the little payments and grateful that at least the site wasn’t a money-drain.
A few people have made money to fund their Bigfoot research by adding stores with Bigfoot related products to their sites. I have no idea how well they do with their Bigfoot merchandise. Hopefully, well enough to at least pay for their server, as I do.
Some people write books about Bigfoot, and make money that way. I should try it! I do manage to mention Bigfoot in most of my novels.
Other people make money by hosting Bigfoot symposiums and conferences. I’m not sure what the dividends are but I imagine they could be considerable. My neighbor is planning one here – to take place next year. I will probably be a speaker there.
So, that’s it so far as I know. Bigfoot is a great business to be in if you like hiking in the woods, tracking, reading, and associating with other Bigfoot researchers. I have never attended a Bigfoot conference yet, but it looks like 2012 will be the year!