In preparation for the Boca Raton season, we made a whole mess of changes to the way Old Jews Telling Jokes operates. Among them, we stopped distributing the show to iTunes as a video podcast. This was a tough call. iTunes accounts for a massive percentage of our traffic. The iTunes people have been very kind to us, spotlighting the show many times in their main menu, and also naming us as one of the top 25 podcasts of 2009 and 2010. But iTunes doesn’t allow us to charge money, and there’s no way for us to serve ads dynamically in a Quicktime file. So that’s not traffic that contributes to our bottom line.
To replace this, we changed our weekly mailing list, run through MailChimp, into a daily subscription option. If you subscribe to the newsletter you now get a link to the day’s joke delivered to you in email, and the other side of that link has ads. MailChimp allows this whole process to be animated. You tell it which RSS feed to watch and what data to pull from it, and it sends the day’s email on it’s own. But MailChimp had trouble reading the RSS feeds created by our Tumblr and blip.tv accounts. Solving this problem turned out to be unexpectedly difficult. I found several people who said they could do it but discovered they were wrong. And we were ready to abandon the entire plan when Philip Bump showed up in the clutch and fixed everything, building us a “pipe” that converted one RSS feed into another. To him it seemed to be pretty easy. To me it was as magical as flying to Santa Monica on a winged cocker spaniel. The whole system works now, we can leave iTunes and still reach people who prefer to have jokes just show up, our revenues will go up a notch, and Old Jews Telling Jokes stands a greater chance of living to see another day.
Thank you, Philip!