Take down requests and C&D letters will be forwarded to my attorney Marc J. Randazza.
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
tl;dr: click any of the images in this post to donate money towards keeping this site active.
When I started Jackass Letters there really wasn’t any way for people to show financial support. I did annual fundraisers to try to cover operating costs, and I would post my PayPal link on my twitter feed and hope for the best. I would spend a weekend feeling like I was running the NPR pledge drive and then at some point I’d get between $200-$600, but it felt like begging. It felt this way because that’s what it was. I didn’t want to spend my time like this, so eventually my letter writing fell to the wayside.
I’ve tried various methods of monetizing this site. I did google ads. I sold ads directly. I tried Amazon ads and affiliate links. I hit up some cooler small companies for sponsorships, and the Randazza Legal Group was awesome enough to cover costs a couple of years in a row. But this ended up being too much work on my part. I didn’t want to spend my time curating ads. I didn’t want to spend my time selling ads or begging my lawyer for funds. I just wanted to write.
So I am going to try this again. We can do it! Let’s be a team. I’ll write; you help make it possible.
Jackass Letters gets quite a bit of traffic. I have a fairly active social media presence. I’m hoping this will translate to enough dedicated super fans willing to help keep this project going for another decade.
I considered rolling my own membership system and only presenting one option, but again, I don’t want to have to manage payments and subscriptions. I just want to create. So I looked around to see what options were available for writers to be supported by their readers. I wasn’t sure whether it was better to offer only one, and to promote the hell out of that method, or to offer as many as possible and allow you to decide how you wanted to contribute and at what level. I decided to offer as many choices as I can, and I am willing to add more, but if some of these prove unpopular, or if people have ideas for a better way, then I am open for suggestions.
As always I am totally willing to take checks, cash, or stamps. Just mail to:
Christopher L. Jorgensen
PO Box 546
Ames, IA 50010
So pick your poison, drop a buck or two in the kitty, and if there’s a service you wish I was using, then please speak up! I have so many plans for this site, and I’d like to see them become reality. I hope you would like to see this as well. Together, we can do this!
Oh, and if none of these options work for you, head over to the support page for other options.
Posted by Christopher L. Jorgensen on 02/10/20 at 05:00 PM
I intend this area of the site to mostly be for me. I don’t intend to update it daily or to preserve profundity. I just want somewhere where I can write about writing and this site. On the old site I had an area after each letter for commentary, but people didn’t really like that. They thought my commentary belabored the jokes or undermined the humor, and I didn’t like it because it felt perfunctory and obligatory. It was a tedious task to have to write something about each letter. It also took time.
The old site took me something like an hour per post. More if you count the initial writing. Write several letters, get one back, hope my letter actually had some modicum of humor, hope their reply was worthwhile, scan the letter, have the letter transcribed by my partner, create multiple image files of the letter, put the whole thing together and hit post! All for a site that is a money losing endeavor. It started to feel like a really shitty job, and not a fun way for me to spend my time.
So something had to change.
Jackass Letters isn’t really a site for my readers. I do it because I find it fun. I do it for me. Initially, the letters weren’t even put online. I’d just write them as a goof and because I found them to be entertaining. I’m fucking hilarious in my own mind. Sometimes, I’d show them to friends, but it wasn’t until I had a stack of them that I decided to start sharing them. But I still write them for myself, and I am happy if others come along for the ride, but I am still my own number one fan. Most people don’t understand what I am doing here, or why it amuses me as much as it does.
People’s reactions to Jackass Letters vary. Sometimes people will say things like, “You could save a lot of money if you just sent these as emails instead of actual letters.” Well, yes I could, but that wouldn’t be this site. Or I am told, “You could just make up the replies and not have to send your letters at all.” Well, yes I could, but that wouldn’t be this site. I get a lot of feedback where people tell me how I could make this site better, and I always assume that they mean for them. I could do what they suggest, but then, well, that wouldn’t be this site.
That’s sort of how I am imagining this area. I want to spend more time writing. I want to spend more time writing about writing. But I plan to do so because I want to put these words in this order or that, and to think about this or that aspect of writing. This area will be for me. I don’t mind if others come along for the ride. I don’t even mind if people make suggestions. But unless you are somehow directly invested in this site, unless you are supporting Jackass Letters, or promoting it, or are somehow working to make it a success, well, chances are, you’ll mean well, but your comments will be for some other site.
I’m hoping this iteration of Jackass Letters will be easier to update, easier to maintain, more streamlined, and I hope people enjoy it as much or more than the old site. But at the end of the day, I’m still doing it for me.
You’re welcome to come along for the ride.
Posted by Christopher L. Jorgensen on 01/05/20 at 02:07 PM
I used to drink a lot in kindergarten, but not on school nights.— jackassletters.com (@jackassletters) February 13, 2020
That would have been wrong.