On January 19, I did something I’ve never done before: I bought a website domain name. I considered it an investment for a project I’ve been working on: a total revamp of my website, vampirologist.com—the one officially launched on October 26, 2013 (Hogg 2013).
The revamped version was officially launched on January 20, via my Facebook group, “The Vampirologist”:
A new URL; a new title. Both changes begged the obvious question…
“Why Did You Change the Name?”
Having the freedom to really feel like there was no topic that I couldn’t write about, that was liberating in a lot of ways
— Laura Jane Grace, lead singer of Against Me! (quoted in Beattie 2014)
To be honest, I’ve never liked the original website’s name, even though it was meant to be a spin-off from my Facebook group.
The site’s aim, to “unite people interested in vampires” and “preserve the spirit of my Facebook group: free and open discussions on the subject and its various aspects, under the banner of a respectful community” (Hogg 2013a) simply didn’t fit the “vampirologist” banner; it wasn’t an academic site. It wasn’t built around me and my writings—nor did I want it to be. That’s not to say I didn’t want to uphold its original tenets, mind you. I just wanted something more open and accessible.
The “community” angle was the hook to me, something the site’s founder, Sufi Mohamed, latched onto and wanted to expand beyond the confines of my Facebook group. It’s also why I solicited writers from various backgrounds, experiences and interests in vampires. In that regard, I was partly inspired by self-promotion activities taking place on the “Vampire Writers Support Group” I co-admin with writer, Brian McKinley, on Facebook:
Have you got a vampire-related book or film to promote? A project? Website, blog? Why not write about it here? First step: join the site. Next, discuss your work with me via email or contact me on Facebook. Note: no press releases. Unique content only. This is a blog and I’m looking for a personal touch. Talk about why people should buy your book.
Do you think they’ll by your book or see your film simply because you post a link to an online retailer? Websites and social media are littered with people doing the same thing: spamming links. Ask yourself this: do you buy stuff simply because some posts a link or you like a page? No. You need a “pitch.” A hook. An angle (Hogg 2013c).
Vampire writers, particularly self-published vampire writers, have carved out a solid niche in the publishing world (Pilkington 2014)—but they still need a place to hock their wares above sizeable competition. But from a reader perspective, there’s the interest in knowing the story behind their stories, too.
Stories are the key. Within the same post, I opened the door to people who don’t usually write online, too. “What If I’ve Got Nothing to Shill?” I asked in third person:
That’s the beauty of it: you don’t need to! You can review other books or movies, share an article or video you find interesting (if it’s your own, doesn’t count!—that’s what a promotional blog post is for). This website is as much about establishing a community as it is about promoting stuff. A place to share your thoughts.
The blog is also an outlet for expression and a networking tool. It will also help you cultivate an online presence, especially if you don’t have a blog of your own. Use it to your advantage. In a good way.
It’s the human interest angle I’m going for. That can be just as appealing as academic studies of the genre. Take Paula-Maree Cavenett, the Melbourne housewife who wrote what is (so far) the most popular article on my site, “Being a Vampyre: My Perspective.”
Her story resonated with many members of the Vampire Community, because it upheld one of writing’s central precepts: “write what you know.” The main difference between her and any other reader is that she was brave enough to put pen to paper and share her story with the world. Her fascinating thoughts and experiences certainly helped, though!
There are many things that interest us about vampires and just as many ways and mediums these interests manifest. That’s what my website’s all about: sharing that passion with everyone else. Interesting items and insights. That’s what it’s all about. A one-stop vampire shop.
That’s why the site needed a new name. Something with mass appeal. Something that would accurately reflect the site’s direction and development—and “Vampirologist” wasn’t doing that for me. It didn’t inspire the purpose I had in mind. And if I wasn’t inspired, the site would’ve lingered in limbo.
In fact, I was this close to shutting it down. It wasn’t until I explained how dissatisfied I was with the name to Sufi, that I was forced into the position of coming up with an alternative. I discussed the matter with my friend and colleague, Erin Chapman. We brainstromed a few alternatives, and even collaborated on a proposal to refine what we wanted from the site. Sufi wanted something with more “pop”—he suggested Vamped.
It took a while for that name to grow on me, as it immediately reminded me of femme fatales—vamps—”a stock character of a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations” (“Femme Fatale” 2014). However, “Vamped” was certainly a serendipitous choice: The Free Dictionary, defines it thusly, “To patch up (something old); refurbish.”
The name grew on me (and I couldn’t think of a better alternative), so Vamped it was! Sufi also changed its layout, too:
So why vamped.org? Simply because vamped.com was taken. Its owner, GoDaddy, wanted a $70 fee just to check its availability. “Fuck that,” I thought. On the plus side, .org reflects the site’s status as a network. It was social networking that lead me to Sufi and Erin—whose help and support has been invaluable for the project. It was social networking that lead me to the site’s writers and the expansion of my Facebook group—which has 873 members as of this writing.
The site is still a work in progress, though. Erin and I are refining topics to include. When that’s done, sitemapping will follow. I’m also going to buy a website layout. I should stress that I’ve never invested money into setting up my own website. I’ve been content with free blog services for the most part. But that’s how much I believe in this project. I’ve also created a Facebook page for the site. Feel free to “like” it.
Imagine a magazine/social network/community/forum site about vampires. Random topics. Something for everyone. What you’re seeing now is its bare bones. Imagine what it’ll look like with meat on…
Don’t think I’ve given up on my vampirological pursuits, though. If anything, it’s helped refine this blog’s purpose, too. I’m narrowing its scope to academic stuff. Items like my previous post will continue, but the disco Dracula one would wind up on the website. This blog for serious stuff; the website for fun. Basically.
It also means there’ll be less posts here, but it’ll be a worthy compromise. Especially as I now feel liberated enough to pursue my interest on two levels. And to add a sweetner to the deal, I’ve got a much more ambitious project in mind, too. Something that perfectly caters to our academic sensibilities. On that, all I can say is: watch this space.
In the meantime, visit Vamped!
Beattie, Andrea. 2014. “Free Spirit.” mX (Melbourne), January 23, 15.
Cavenett, Paula-Maree Cavenett. 2014. “Being a Vampyre: My Perspective.” Vamped, January 8. http://vamped.org/vampire-community/my-perspectives-on-being-a-vampyre/.
“Femme Fatale.” 2014. Wikipedia. Last updated January 23, 2014 at 00:10. Accessed January 24, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Femme_fatale.
Hogg, Anthony. 2013a. “Hello!” Vamped, October 16. http://vamped.org/announcements/hello/.
Hogg, Anthony. 2013b. “Official Website Launch.” The Vampirologist, October 26, 2013. https://thevampirologist.wordpress.com/2013/10/26/official-website-launch/.
Hogg, Anthony. 2013c. “Writers Wanted!” Vamped, November 1. http://vamped.org/announcements/writers-wanted/.
Pilkington, Mercy. 2014. “How Vampires Sparked the eBook Revolution.” Good e-Reader, January 19. http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/how-vampires-sparked-the-digital-revolution.