Jackass Letters funding
tl;dr: I set up a Jackass Letters Patreon account so you can help make this site thrive. I already have a PayPal donation page (just click the banner below). Soon there will be other options as well, and I am open suggestions on how to increase revenue.
You can skip reading this unless you have an interest in transparency and want a glimpse into what it costs to run a site like this. Instead you could just consider giving by clicking the Patreon link above or the PayPal banner below.
Or if you like, just drop a check in the mail to:
Christopher L. Jorgensen
P.O. Box 546
Ames, IA 50010
While old fashion infusions of cash are great, and I won’t turn a check down, honestly, I am looking for sustaining funding. I need reoccurring revenue.
When I started Jackass Letters I had a dream the site would take off, that I’d generate enough in ad revenue to sit around writing letters in my underwear, all day. I dreamed I would post daily, and there would be books and merchandising. I’m not a greedy person, and I live fairly frugally, so I’d only need the site to generate a modest income. It never did. It never made enough to even cover my postage costs. So why keep doing it? I love writing, love the letters, love the process, and I love both my fans. I want to keep doing it.
So you can see why I am asking you to help.
I have this pesky belief that content creators deserve to be compensated for their efforts. I believe if you value something, you should work to preserve it, and I believe if you give, you get a sense of ownership in return. I’m hoping enough others agree. Now, I would love to pull a living wage out of Jackass Letters, but I am realistic and pragmatic. That’s probably not going to happen any time soon.
In which our hero dispels the notion that letter writing is a lucrative business.
I renewed my P.O. Box for another year. That’s $82.00 more dollars sacrificed on the altar of stupidity. $65 for domain registration (5 years at a go), jackassletters.com was registered 2008-04-28, so is a whopping 3099 days old! It’ll need renewed again before 2018-04-28. $17.95 a month for hosting, and $2 a month for DNS (these services are discounted for paying 24 months in advance). And then there’s postage and pranks; so maybe another $200?
PO Box: $82.00
Domain: $65.00 (for five years)
Hosting and DNS: $19.95 (discounted for paying in advance).
Postage, paper, envelopes, misc: $200.00
Software: $600 (one time purchase with occasional upgrade costs)
Illustration/design work: $100 (occasional expense)
This comes out to roughly $600-$700 a year to run this site.
So you can see why I need your help, right?
The last time I did one of these breakdowns people were all too happy to tell me how I could purchase various services cheaper. But I have the setup I have for good reasons; I believe you get what you pay for, and I believe in dancing with the one that brung ya. So I could go to a discount host, deal wth crap customer service, outages, and paying extra for basic services, but I’m not going to. And regardless, even if I could shave a couple hundred off that number it doesn’t change the equation. I don’t need to get costs down, I need the site to generate an income.
Jackass Letters is 8 years old! At a minimum that means the site has cost me $4,000. Now, this cost has been offset by some generous donations (mostly from Marc J. Randazza) and some minor ad revenue (I refuse to have obtrusive or ugly ads on the site), but that’s a ballpark figure (the cost is greater the more active I am in my writing).
The rest of the cost is out of my pocket, and while I can afford the money, it doesn’t sit right with me that others enjoy and value the site (I hope) without somehow enabling them to actually show this.
So show me: Jackass Letters Patreon.
I used to do an annual fundraiser in April (kicked off on the 1st obviously), sort of like NPR and their member’s supported fund drive, but I felt like I was begging, and it wasn’t exactly a matter of needing the money. I have a day job. I get by. It’s more of, where do I want my money to go? $600 on this site is $600 I can’t spend somewhere else. That’s a damn nice puppet or an iPad. And while I usually made my goal, I always felt a bit dirty when I was done, and often I’d only get there because Marc came through at the end.
So I’d like to change my funding model. I want to see if I can’t get some people to contribute on a monthly basis. I want to see if I can’t get some reoccurring revenue. It would be awesome if instead of costing me money, that Jackass Letters actually made me some.
It takes about three or four hours a week to bring you a weekly letter. I get about a 25%-30% response rate. So it takes three or four letters written for every reply, and let’s face it, not all replies are created equal, so it’s more like, for every five letters written, I post one. To write five letters I spend about two hours. Now I have to drive to the post office, scan the letter and edit the image, transcribe the letter (the girlfriend/editor/typist does this for me), post and write a bit of commentary, and promote it on Twitter and Facebook. So if you have been paying attention, for ever hour I put into the site, it costs me about $5. That’s not what is known as incentive.
So hopefully I can turn this around. What I would love is $100 for every letter posted. No, not from you, but if you chipped in with another 25 or 30 fans, we could make this happen! Honestly, that’s not that much once you break it down. That’s roughly $25 an hour, and once you deduct overhead (PayPal and Patreon both take a cut), site costs, and taxes, I’d do better with a part time job at Denny’s. Jackass Letters isn’t going away. I’ll still keep it a weekly endeavor, but I think it would be awesome if I could do it even more often. But even daily, and even at $100 a letter, that’s not a living wage. I can’t keep my puppets fed on $15,000 a year. But I don’t expect that much. I’d be happy covering my costs!
Here’s that Jackass Letters Patreon account link again. Consider giving.
And here’s the PayPal banner.
Maybe the site will start to turn a profit someday. Maybe I’ll get sponsorships and advertising and I won’t need others to pay for the content they are consuming. But I’m not there yet. So honestly, if you’ve read this far, you are probably exactly the person who should consider ponying up some cash to help keep Jackass Letters running.
Have a comment? Put a stamp on an envelope and drop it in the mail to:Christopher L. Jorgensen
PO Box 546
Ames, IA 50010