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I have been doing Christmas lighting for about 10 years but just went computerized this year. Lots of work as you all know very well and it was VERY disapointing. We've only seen 1 car come by to watch in the whole season. No crowds and lines of cars like you folks talk about. I think I wasted a lot of time and $. I did enjoy getting outside and doing the work but mostly I ticked off my wife for spending so much $.. Any thoughts?

Disappointed:confused:

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My advice? Do the display because you want to and enjoy it. If you do get people parking to check it out (or just driving past and enjoying it) then that's good too, but don't base your decisions around that.

I ran out of time this year to put much up. Did I feel that I disappointed anyone? No. I enjoyed walking and driving to look at other people's displays, but I'm not competing with them. If you're doing it to gain acceptance or something else from others, you're doing it for the wrong reasons IMO.

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Do not get discouraged as this was only your first year. Use the opportunity to evaluate what was good and what did not work.

Depending on how many channels you have, it could be a good thing. For instance if you have less than 50 channels, you could grow your display up to 150 next year. Then you would be glad many people did not see your first attempt as your next one would be so much better.

What songs did you use? If you used nothing but fast rock guitar songs, then perhaps they all started to sound the same.

My first year I had 32 channels that created lights that looked like they were having seizures. It took me the second year to realize I did not have to have every light flashing to 0.01 seconds.

So look at what you had, give it an honest evaluation, then grow the display accordingly.

And if you decide that it is not worth the work (I spend hundreds of hours), then learn from this and cash out. The good thing about your equipment is that you can find buyers here.

good luck, post a couple of videos and let us know how we can assist you for next year

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Hang in there and don't let the "first year" blues get to you.

I did my first year with animating last year and did not have much traffic either. The only thing that made it worhtwhile for me was a family with a sick little girl that I ended up doing a special Christmas eve show for. Other than them there was almost no traffic.

But this year I have had a steady stream of traffic every night, so it does take some time for the word to get out about your display too.

You may be surprised by what you will see next year coming around.

And as was said, if you think after a couple more years of animating that you don't see the amount of traffic or it is too much work you can always sell off the animation equipment and just go back to a static display.

Although I think personally that you will find that people will come to see your display as they hear about it and the traffic will pick up in the following years.

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Are there other computerized displays in your area? Did you contact your local paper about your display. Most likely people just dont know about your display. My first year it was very slow as well. If I told someone it was computerized they kind of looked at me strange. The lights do what with a deer in the head lights look. Popularity like you hear about on here....in most cases.....does not happen over one season. I'm on my third season and am probably only getting 20-30 cars a night on a god night......first year it was like 3-5.

I send out 4x6 flier every year to the newspaper and radio station, police, fire, schools, ect. inviting them just to help get the word out.

Good luck and be patient.

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I too thought that I wasn't getting many cars, but I had a lot of people come up to me at work and tell me how much they enjoyed the show.

Point is, in my case anyhow, there were a lot more people watching the show than I thought were out there.

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Yes it can be upsetting. Our display this was by far our best ever. The traffic, well not so great. However, when we did see a car outfront, parked. It made it all worth while....We are still hopefull that each year we will get more traffic, we live off the beating path. Next year we will work harder to get the word out to as many as we can. If you enjoyed it yourself, then you did a fantastic job. Keep trying, just like we do. One day it pay off.

M&K

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This is our third year animating. Our first year was a success. I think about 20 people saw the display. (15 of that was family) Now we are nowhere near the visitor level others are. We have probably 30 cars a night on a good night. Most nights I would guess is 5 to 10. This is per night not per hour. ;)

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Don't be discouraged, Rome wasn't built in a day. It takes time for your display to become known. I've been doing a large display for many years and it was static for the majority of those years. I put the display up for personal reasons that I won't go into, but the bottom line is, I would do it whether people came to see it or not. After a while you don't even notice how much traffic you have, it becomes common place. When I made the transition to computer control, people weren't quite sure what was going on but I already had an "audience."

Do the people in your community known about what you have done? How did you get the word out?

Hang in there. If you enjoy doing it, continue. But if not, better quit now and find something else that you enjoy.

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I do a static display and I'm well off the beaten path. However, around this time of year, when I'm in town picking up some odds and ends for my display, sometimes people will ask me "are you the house on such and such corner? We love driving by your house" and I'll see cars linger a little at the stop sign, or take their time turning the corner. Once in a while as I'm setting up, someone will stop and tell me they're glad I'm doing it again this year because they love driving by to look at the house. That, for me is the reward; knowing that people are looking at it. It really doesn't matter how many people look, as long as some of them enjoy it. And bottom line is, I enjoy it, and even my 18 year old who acts like he's to cool for the room sometimes, enjoys it. Like Carrie said, I'll keep doing it no matter what, because that's Christmas for me. I'll bet you have more traffic next year just through word of mouth. And look at the bright side, with the low traffic, you haven't PO'd your neighbors yet!

Jeff

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Evaluate what you want out of the display. I, like others, do this for myself and family first.

Next there are 2 famous sayings that you need to consider. "Be careful what you ask for", and "Build it, they will come".

The best way to grow is word of mouth. You will not feel pressure to make things bigger and better each year to please your crowds. Also you have to consider what traffic will do to your street or neighborhood. Getting local attention helps. Another thing to consider is your neighbors. Make sure they know what you are planning and get on their good side now. You will challenge that relationship soon.

Next does any TV or newspapers offer display listings in your area. Get on those lists too.

Don't over extend yourself. Keep things within a budget. That is not just $$, but time and energy as well.

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Like the others have said, It takes time to establish a reputation. Huge crowds are built over time and mostly by word of mouth. Continue to persevere and in a few years you'll be spending your time figuring ways to limit the throngs. I have avoiding local (TV and papers) for the last several years to try to keep the traffic manageable.

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Guest Lightzilla

I have been doing Christmas lighting for about 10 years but just went computerized this year. Lots of work as you all know very well and it was VERY disapointing. We've only seen 1 car come by to watch in the whole season. No crowds and lines of cars like you folks talk about. I think I wasted a lot of time and $. I did enjoy getting outside and doing the work but mostly I ticked off my wife for spending so much $.. Any thoughts?

Disappointed:confused:

Traffic means very little to me since I do this for the small village in which I live, for my family, and for myself as a hobby. If I get a few cars that actually stop I am happy.

So do not let this get you down. If your wife says sale the stuff, sale it and you will get most of your money back. Otherwise, stick to it and try again, and word of mouth will help.

Do not fall for that channel count theory, I have 160 channels and get 3 cars per night, and 30 cars each night on Christmas eve and Christmas day.

Yet I know of people with 16 and 32 channels and they get over 100 cars a night and 14 that actually stop at one time.

Talk to your wife and find out her thoughts, and ten go from there.

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My thanks for all of you for your encouraging words. I appreciate the suggestions. I'm going to keep going. I started small intentionally (16 channels) and hope to grow next year. I work about 60 hours per week so I have limited time. For me simpler is better.

As I think about it, I didn't do anything for publicity. I didn't know I was supposed to. Maybe it's best that I didn't publicize, because in retrospect, there wasn't much to look at. I simply computerized by old static display which is basically house lights, shrubs, 2 trees, 3 holly trees, and some ground lights.

Any suggestions for a next step (Besides buying more controllers, of course)

Encouraged :(

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the amount of cars you get also depends on your location... if people see the flashing lights from a main or feeder road they are more likely to drive back into your neighborhood to actually stop and watch the display..

another thing is people Love "artful" lights.. not only do people like sequences that are fast.. they like sequences that keep them captivated... not just that the lights blink to the beat, but that the keep the audience mind and senses tempted... and thats something you learn with time.. I go back and watch my 2006 sequences and go "wow there was no rhyme or reason to it" i go back and watch my 2009 sequences and think "now im beginning to learn a little more".. and of course then watch other's displays that have been doing this for many more years and / or more artistic than me and go "wow thats incredible"...

take video, go watch other displays in person.. whenh you see opne you like ask yourself "what keeps me sitting here watching?" and then you can get ideas for your own...

then also ask yourself what is the reason you build it? is it to draw traffic and people? is it because you enjoy designing , building , programming, installing, and running it.. is it to learn new skills? do it for the reason you like to do it.

if you want publicity in the future.. get your word out there.. take video and write to TV stations.. put something in your display that you have never seen in others in the area or at all, call into radio show bulletin board shows, write the newspapers, post flyers on the cork-boards in libraries and grocery stores around..

one thing I can almost guarantee is that you wil look back on your 2009 display and think "wow i want to change ....... for 2010".. and thats where the learning curve begins..

but really.. HAVE FUN!

-Christopher

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IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME!

Word of mouth is the best advertisement. My first year it was for my satisfaction, and if people liked it they would get the word out. We had no more cars than normal then.

Year 3, we are on the tour-bus map. "Word of mouth"!!! Funny thing is watching the buses try to turn around in the culdesac.

Dont give up, 'cus the ones that come next year will be disappointed.:giggle:

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one very important thing is make sure people know it goes to music!!! my first year i just used rock speakers and i had one or two people stop a night... the next year i had my sign and radio transmitter and it made a world of difference! but like someone said...be careful what you ask for...this is only my fourth year and the police actually stopped on christmas eve and made me shut down for a half hour to clear out traffic. :(

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Are others doing the animation in your area? Hardly anyone else in my area seems to and people didn't understand at first at all. I still have people who haven't seen mine and it's been up for weeks they drive by and think I just have lights blinking around this year. Even with the radio station sign it is taking some time to get people to understand it.

And people are watching when you do not think they are too. Next year I am going to go with little signs that say, "Ok to park here" at the base of the driveway, because sometimes people will want to see more but not want to be a bother.

I just did 16 channels but I can relate with the expense.

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Guest csx5861

one very important thing is make sure people know it goes to music!!! my first year i just used rock speakers and i had one or two people stop a night... the next year i had my sign and radio transmitter and it made a world of difference! but like someone said...be careful what you ask for...this is only my fourth year and the police actually stopped on christmas eve and made me shut down for a half hour to clear out traffic. :(

Instead of having the police come and shut you down like that, why not just hire an off-duty officer for a small fee and allow them to control the traffic flow on your busiest nights?

Seems to me that would not only give your neighbors peace of mind by keeping traffic flowing, but would also get you to be more favorable with your local law enforcement community because you'd be supporting them by hiring that off-duty officer for a few hours to control traffic flow in your neighborhood.

If I ever get to where some of you folks are and have that much traffic, that is exactly what I plan on doing, hiring an off-duty officer for traffic control. I want to keep my neighbors and others that want to view the display happy. This is also why, if, and when I finally am able to go LOR, I WILL NOT make a show that would last over 10-15 minutes maximum (unless I owned a good chunk of property across the road from my house that could be used for parking and viewing, then I'd do longer and more sophisticated shows!), but currently the way it is, no show over 15 minutes, that way more people in less time could watch and hear the show, as opposed to those shows that are 30+ minutes, where road blockage could become a problem due to stopped/parked cars for extended periods. And even then, traffic congestion could still become a problem. JMO.

Clay

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Anita:

Thanks for the suggestions.

No... Noone else in town is doing this. Most people dont' even know what I'm talking about when I tell them. THe one car that did come by said they had never even heard of this kind of Christmas display.

I do have an FM transmitter and a sign to let people know what to do.

I appreciate all the suggestions.

I need to know what is the next step to take to improve.

Thompsol

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