Getting into a location is not the easiest task. Sometimes a location (like the Baker Hotel) has allot of history and stories about being haunted. In those cases the owner probably gets a call about ten times a day from various paranormal people wanting to go poking around. By call nine hundred and ten, they really just aren't interested in letting people tromp around their property anymore. If they are, they are probably charging an arm and a leg to have people go through there. Even then it's usually big groups and not real conducive to getting any kind of real investigation going. Other places may not have that particular problem, but aren't so willing to let an investigator in because they don't want the attention that it draws. Which, is understandable, being known for having paranormal activity is a double edged sword. Because, many paranormal investigators tend to be overly annoying and sometimes off-putting to any kind of regular clientele you might have.
But how do you even find places to investigate. Of course there's the old standby of “well that place looks haunted” which will give you something to do on the weekend, but likely will either be unproductive or just get you in the bad habit of calling everything evidence because you will want to find a haunting so much that you will stretch your imagination. If you are a weekend ghost hunter, just looking for some fun. That's fine. But, if you're like me and you want to be a little more serious finding locations will take a little more forethought. Consider going to the library and checking out the local history of the town. Look for potential hotspots or published stories about paranormal events that have happened in the past in the area. If there is a local historian or tour guide, that is a good person to ask for tips on places to check out. The Shadowlands website had a huge catalog of rumored places. Also the paranormal and travel sections of your bookstore should have some books featuring haunted places in your area. The rest of it you're really only going to find through word of mouth and straight rumors. What most people will find is that you will be starting small. For some strange reason people just don't want strangers poking around their property.
So lets say you come up with a list of places you want to check out. How the hell do you get started? Well, it depends on the place, but here's my current advice based on situations I have encountered. But, before I get started here is my standing advice for all situations. First, look professional and clean. Do not go to a potential case wearing ratty clothes looking like an idiot. If you have some tee shirts printed up, then jeans and a tee are acceptable. But, they should be clean and fit well. If you don't have logo branded clothing, dress business casual. If you look like an idiot people are going to think you're an idiot. Second, get some decent cards printed up. I avoided this for the longest time because I thought it was hokey. It's not. Your life will be much easier if you can give someone a well made card with a number on it. Yes it makes you feel more like a business which is what I wanted to avoid, but if you want people to trust you enough to let you roam their property at night you're going to need to be professional. As soon as I started handing out cards, people started paying attention. Last, if you can't have a website at least have a social media page. People will want to check out your credibility before letting you investigate. And, it's their right and responsibility to do so. At least have something for them to look at with some kind of mission statement on it. Okay, on to the scenarios.
In my experience so far it seems like residential investigations are the easiest to get, but the hardest to find. They aren't exactly something you can go looking for in most cases. Most of the time when you are being offered the chance to go into someone's home it's because they are experiencing problems and are possibly scared of what's happening and looking for answers. If you have close friends it can be okay to ask them if it's okay to try things at their home, especially if they have had activity before. But generally I try to stay out of a friends home who has not brought it up first, mainly because I don;t want to be responsible for making them feel uncomfortable by uncovering potential activity. I'd also hate to be the one to debunk something they were very excited about. Not everything has to be about getting to the truth. Sometimes it's okay to just have a great story about something that happened at your house. Having said that, if asked I'm always game. People are after all curious. But outside of that circle I never feel like it's appropriate to go “looking” for residential hauntings to investigate. How would you feel if random people just came up to you and suggested that you let them wander around your home at night recording things. Oh and by the way, could you stay out of the way while we do it. Yeah right, not going to happen. No, those cases some to you and there's nothing you can do about it. But, when it does happen there are some important things to keep in mind. You need to be courteous, willing to listen to the concerns, and maintain an open minded stance when discussing the haunting. My tactic is that I try to remain neutral, the goal is to document facts. It's possible everything that the client experienced is supernatural, or maybe none of it is. Listen to the incidents, tell them possibilities from both sides of the camp. Document what happens and give honest explanations. If you get noises and cant determine the cause, say so. Don't immediately blame ghosts. It very well could have been audio contamination or a creaky board. It's fine to present questionable evidence, but do so as such. Let them know that it could be a spirit, or it could also be bad plumbing. It's really up to them to decide, but only after you as the investigator have done your due diligence to test all those theories and arrive at an honest result.
Oh man, the old standby. I get asked about this allot actually. In allot of our videos we are in a graveyard and it's after dark. Everyone wants to know if we trespassed... The answer is yes and no. our first adventures we were definitely there illegally. I do not recommend doing it. If you get caught you could go to jail and be fined a ton. It didn't used to be such a big deal, until ghost hunting got popular. Now everyone and their mothers want to break into the local graveyard at night and cause shenanigans. Allot of these people desecrate and defile grave sites. This is deplorable and people should be ashamed (and punished by the law for doing this). It's disrespectful and it's a horrible thing to do to families who go to visit their loved ones. So because of that police are less tolerant of anyone trespassing in a graveyard at night. The proper thing to do would be to contact the funeral director at the cemetery and ask for permission. Depending on the place your contacting, they are usually okay with it if you explain that you would like to do it at night so as not to disturb any guests who might be grieving during the day. Offer to bring by proof of ID and be willing to sign a waiver saying you will pay for damages caused by you. If they say no, don't be pushy. Think about what you are asking. These people are responsible for maintaining the graves of peoples loved ones. Not something to take lightly. If you are hell bent and determined, consider a low tech daytime investigation. If you go that route, make double sure you are not disturbing anyone who might be visiting the deceased.
Old Buildings, Lots
Once again, don't trespass. As a general rule of thumb, if there's not a private property sign and the place is wide open it's okay to go in unless asked to leave. If there's a fence, or any kind of indication that the building and area are owned by the city you will want to contact that city's Fire Marshal for permission to enter. Be prepared to sign waivers.
These might actually be some of your best bets depending on how many requests they get for paranormal investigations. As a tip: Don't start off with “We want to come hunt your ghosts.” My suggestion is talk to an employee or owner and strike up a casual conversation first about the rumors of the haunting. If you can get them engaged try to work the rest in naturally and you might have a better shot at getting in for an investigation. If all else fails, you can always use the old standby of offering to pay them for the opportunity to ghost hunt their property. If your group makes videos, offer to give a little free advertising in the form of your youtube video. Pandering never hurt anyone.
There are more examples and I could go on forever, but you get the idea. Be professional, be kind, and be credible. You are going to get told “no” allot. Even the big shows with tons of money get turned down all the time. The truth is that paranormal investigations allot of times hurt the places that they are conducted at. In residential cases it can cause property value to drop if people think the area might be bad. In businesses people may stop going there for the same reason, or maybe the place get's to “trendy” because of people just going there to hunt ghosts and never paying for what the business offers. Be flexible to the owners terms, if they don't want their location displayed on blast for all the internet to see – don't. We never give names or addresses for residential cases we work. Only the people involved know the details of that. Public places we only mention if there is a consensus that it is okay. Otherwise we generalize the location as “This local restaurant in Fort Worth” or “Lancaster Warehouse.” It's enough information that the viewer can follow along, but unless they are familiar with the place specifically nobody is going to know the exact location.