Take down requests and C&D letters will be forwarded to my attorney Marc J. Randazza.
I've been running Jackass Letters for 13 years (give or take). Sometimes more actively than others. I've written hundreds and hundreds of letters (thousands even!) and gotten a fair number of replies. The one thing I've been unable to do is make money doing so. I like writing the letters. I enjoy sharing them. I think I've built a fairly fun little site, but I think it's nearly time to put the whole thing into read only mode and devote my attention elsewhere.
I've tried all sorts of things to make the site profitable. Ads. Fundraisers. All the various tip jars and direct support services. Hell, I even put the letters into a couple of books, but at best, Jackass Letters is a breakeven project for me. I make enough money from my day job where the postage, paper products, and web hosting aren't going to break the bank, but over the years it adds up. Regardless, nothing seems to work. It could be that I'm just no Lazlo Toth or Henry Root or perhaps the time of the goofy letter has passed. It doesn't really matter.
Jackass Letters has always been a site for me. I enjoy it. I find it worthwhile and entertaining. I've always just invited everyone else along for the ride and hoped they agreed.
Going into this pandemic I thought this site would be what kept me sane, but I should have realized that the response rate would plummet. People don't want to open letters from strangers. It's hard to reply to office mail when you are in a WFH environment. It's also difficult to find the motivation to write when I don't even want to get out of bed. Especially so when I'm just not getting my letters answered. I've written fewer letters in the last year than I have in a long time, and the percentage of responses has been dismal.
All this is to say that I plan to put Jackass Letters back into hiatus.
I could write more about this and my reasoning why, but it comes down to time, money, and the reward to effort ratio. I'm putting more into the site than I am getting back and that's not good for me. So this isn't the end. This isn't goodbye. The site isn't going anywhere and it may even still see an occasional letter, but I can no longer treat it as a labor of love. Time is finite and I need to devote more of mine elsewhere.
Thanks for coming along for the ride.
p.s. I doubt I'll spend much time on twitter going forward either. If you need to get ahold of me, you know where to drop a letter.
Posted by Christopher L. Jorgensen on 03/09/21 at 09:19 AM
Since it appears I will be homebound for the foreseeable future, and since it seems like sending out letters is currently not the most productive use of my time, I have decided to reboot Jackass Letters: The Podcast. I even have a number where you can call and leave voice mail to appear on an episode: 515 650 1706! Just make sure you make it clear what you are replying to and who you are.
Previously, I had this idea where I would record myself reading each and every letter on the site. And while that was sort of fun, each episode of the podcast was 30 seconds to three minutes long. Not the length of your typical podcast. I also had this idea that people would read their favorite letters or replies, and I could assemble them all into a weekly episode, but that never really caught on. Add to this, I never did very many episodes at all. They were too labor intensive.
I also didn’t really see enough subscribers or listeners to really make it worthwhile, and maybe I won’t this time either, but one of the things I think I’ll do differently is to make each episode be multiple letters. A couple unanswered letters, one with a reply, commentary on them, explanations of inside jokes, whatever. I’ll probably also talk about what I am doing on the site and new features I’ve added or design I’ve changed or whatever.
I’ll yammer about writing, life, and whatever I feel like at the time.
The first three episodes are up. I think I am looking at a lower-production value sort of thing that I can update without much editing. It’s too easy to get bogged down striving for high value production and perfect multi-take readings with flawless editing.
That’s not me.
The new podcast artwork is by Kenny Durkin. He’s done some other illustrative work for me in the past, and I have a slew of images he made for the relaunch of the the site.
Anyway, if you want to subscribe, you can do so through Apple by going here: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/jackass-letters-the-podcast/id541474730
Or, you can do it from this website if you use some other app: https://jackassletters.com/podcast
Please hit subscribe, and go ahead and give it a review or a like or stars or whatever the cool kids are doing. And if you are looking for ways to support this site, I will eventually maybe perhaps be accepting sponsorships for the podcast. I am looking at making these weekly, but in order for me to keep up interest I am going to need to see people engaging with the material. Let me know what you think.
I have a lot planned for the podcast, but it's going to take me a while to get there. I'd love to build an audience, so if you enjoy what I am doing, please share my endeavors with those who you think may enjoy my writing.
Posted by Christopher L. Jorgensen on 04/23/20 at 06:25 AM
I have come to the reluctant conclusion that I am going to have to once again put Jackass Letters on hiatus. This saddens me, but the reality is I picked the exact wrong moment in time to decide to start sending out letters to people and businesses. I have sent out twenty-eight letters in the last two months with a total of three responses. That’s just not a high enough response rate to make this site viable. So I am hitting pause. Not stop. Pause.
And don’t get me wrong, I understand the reasons behind the improbability of a reply. There’s a good chance no one is where I am writing. That the guy who sorts the mail is currently on a ventilator or cowering in fear at home (like I am). That the woman tasked with writing me back doesn’t want to open hand addressed mail that looks like it’s from someone quite irrational. That the operation in question is still actually functioning. And in the event that life is going on as nearly as normal as possible, well, I am guessing writing some jackass back isn’t exactly high on the priority list right now.
Take all of the above, and add to this my not wanting to add to people’s stress. So I am going to focus instead on the website. I am going to continue to migrate content from my old layout to this new one. I am going to focus on the functionality of the site and the look. I am going to figure out exactly what services I want to offer and get those up and running. Podcast? Syndication feed? Feedback form? Memberships? I don’t know.
In programming there’s an expression of ship early, ship often, but when you are a one man shop, you can’t do everything all at once. I tend to focus on one thing until it’s done, then move onto the next. I got the site “good enough,” and moved onto content. I wanted a lot of fresh and funny letters. I wanted to really make the push for having the site fully converted and back to a regular publishing schedule by April 1st (it seemed fitting). But after reevaluating I have decided this is an untenable goal. As much as I would like for it to happen, it’s just not going to. The timing is wrong.
I am sure that of the twenty-eight letters still out there that I am likely to still receive a reply or two. Normally with this many letters I would get nine replies (or more). Three is a bit shocking, but totally understandable.
While this isn’t the relaunch I was hoping for, I’m not going anywhere. I am still going to write letters like mad. I’m just not going to send them. I will wait until everything settles down and then release them into the wild all at once where they can go forth, be fruitful, and multiply. That is assuming I don’t get COVID-19 and die. I put tons of energy and hours into this redesign, so I am disappointed this is the call I have to make.
There was also the pesky part of not being able to raise funds. I really want to make this site work. People seem to love it (for the most part). The feedback I get is almost anyways positive, and even when people don’t like it, it’s generally because the site really isn’t for them or they think I am an asshole. I get this. I can’t be all things for all people, but I really do need to figure out a way to get the people who enjoy this site to support my writing. If you are on twitter, go ahead and follow me there: @jackassletters. If you are on Facebook, you can like & follow the page there: Jackass Letters Facebook Page. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ll be updating this page when I go live again. Until then…
I am sheltering at home, and I hope you are as well. Be safe. Stay healthy.
Posted by Christopher L. Jorgensen on 03/22/20 at 02:45 PM
tl;dr: Please share some of your favorite letters on social media or through email forwards to your grandma or however you can help get the word out that Jackass Letters is active again and donate if you can.
I like writing letters. I like designing and coding Jackass Letters. I do this primarily for myself and for fun, but part of that fun is having people appreciate what I do. Art in isolation has value, or people wouldn’t sing in the shower. Humor without audience can still be appreciated, but when you feel seen, when others are reading your work, participating in the process, and giving feedback, well, that’s something special. Everything is better with others.
So I have an ask for you. Go ahead and consider the Support page and see if anything there strikes your fancy. I’d really like to make Jackass Letters be self-sustaining, and I can’t do that without the financial support of readers like you. I really like the Public Radio and Public TV support model. I like that they are listener/viewer supported. I want that as well.
I understand that not everyone is in a position to be generous with their money. So what can you do to help out if you can’t open your wallet? Share my content. It’s as simple as that.
If I’ve ever written a letter that amused you, send that one onto a friend. If you think people would appreciate Jackass Letters, let them know about it. Help promote the site to people of like mind. Make a Facebook post. Link to my site from your blog (do people still blog?). You can be my evangelists. You can become a super fan!
Now, it could be that I’m the only one that really enjoys my hobby. Or it could be that I am just not giving enough of an incentive to people for them to want to support Jackass Letters. I mean, the old, “Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” adage may be at play here. But the reality is I need to figure out ways to make this site thrive both financially as well as a service to my readers. If I can’t then what’s the point of doing this?
But again, I get that not everyone can donate. So if you can’t donate, share a letter on your Facebook page. Follow me on twitter: @jackassletters. Give my Facebook page a “like.“ Reach out and let me know what I can do to make the site into something you want to support.
I’m here for you. Consider returning the favor.
Posted by Christopher L. Jorgensen on 02/25/20 at 08:05 AM
tl;dr I will post a new letter this weekend if anyone makes a donation in any amount. I will give a signed book to all Patreon backers at any level. Offer expires 3/16/2020.
I would love to pick up a few Patreon backers. I think going forward this is going to be my preference as a method for showing support. And if you back my site, at any level, I will send you a signed copy of Jackass Letters: Archive Volume 1 or Jackass Letters: Archive Volume 2. I can make this out to you or a friend or just sign it. You just tell me what you’d like it to say and I’ll write that (within reason and space constraints).
If all you want to see is a new letter, then here is my PayPal link. You can even donate anonymously, so no one has to know about you and me and what we get up to when no one is around.
As always I’m totally willing to take checks, cash, or stamps. Just mail to:
Christopher L. Jorgensen
PO Box 546
Ames, IA 50010
I’m still researching ways for people to more easily and effectively show support. If none of the above options work for you, head over to the support page for other ways to show me some love. Eventually, something will click. Well, hopefully.
Posted by Christopher L. Jorgensen on 02/12/20 at 02:00 PM
If I had my life to live over again I might change a few adjectives.— jackassletters.com (@jackassletters) February 22, 2009