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When I was growing up I used to frequently hear the saying that one should never put his/her eggs into one basket. The basic meaning is that you should never rely on just one or two things in life and one should always have a backup plan in case something unexpected happens. I had a harsh lesson in that just a few years ago when my husband abruptly walked out on me without ever indicating that he was the least bit unhappy and I later learned that there was another woman involved. Luckily I had friends and family I could rely on because had I totally concentrated only on my relationship with my husband to the exclusion of everything else, I would’ve been worse off when he left.

This saying applies to business as well. Last week a popular website known as LittleThings.com had abruptly shut down. LittleThings.com originally started as an e-commerce site selling pet supplies when it decided to branch out into posting uplifting stories about pets. LittleThings.com frequently used Facebook to promote its stories and it found a huge response to those stories in terms of clicks and likes. In time LittleThings.com morphed into a full-fledged media company that specialized in posting uplifting stories with happy endings along with DIY tips that provided a contrast with the stories involving politics and celebrities that usually get shared around Facebook. Here are just a few samples of the stories that LittleThings.com used to cover:

99-Year-Old Grandma Held Hostage By Teen Keeps Him Calm Until He Eventually Surrenders

More Than 30 Pets Left Behind During Hurricane Marie Reunite With Their Families 6 Months Later

Stranger Spots Single Dad’s 11 Missing Teeth During TV Interview And Offers Him a New Smile

Before You Toss That Toilet Paper Roll, Make a Beautiful DIY Kaleidoscope With Your Kids

Dryer Sheets: 14 Brilliant Ways To Use These Everyday Laundry Items

Mom Of 4 Fires Back At Stranger Who Ridiculed Her For Wearing ‘Inappropriate’ Ripped Jeans

The only thing major criticism I’ve ever read about LittleThings.com was that it was basically a content news aggregation site, which means that it would conduct Internet searches looking for those lighthearted uplifting stories that would fit in with LittleThings.com’s brand. Here’s an example. Let’s say that there was an incident where some burglars broke into a home in Des Moines, Iowa while a teen boy was home alone with his family’s German shepherd dog. The dog confronted the burglars only to be beaten and shot. Despite his injuries the dog continued to defend the teen against the burglars while the teen called 911. The teen was unharmed and the dog survived his injuries. This story was originally reported in the local media. A staffer on LittleThings.com would search the Internet until she came upon the original story as reported by the local media. That staffer would then write her own story about the incident based on what was reported in the local media and that story would sometimes include an embedded video from a local TV station that covered that story.

The issue of content news aggregation is a pretty controversial one and there are some nations (such as Spain) that have sought to regulate this in some way. But there’s no doubt that LittleThings.com was able to become initially successful without having to hire a team of reporters who would roam the streets looking for anything that was both newsworthy and fit in with LittleThings.com’s brand.

LittleThings.com’s popularity rose when people started using Facebook and they would share links to that site’s uplifting stories. Over time LittleThings.com relied exclusively on Facebook’s algorithms to help publicize its content. On top of it, unlike other digital media companies, LittleThings.com didn’t use venture capital (VC) money and it opted for self-funding instead. Those two factors helped propelled LittleThings.com to popularity but they were also the roots of its ultimate downfall.

What happened was that Facebook changed its algorithms so that posts generated from a user’s friends and family would be emphasized more than posts from web publishers like LittleThings.com. That algorithmic change resulted in LittleThings.com quickly losing 75% of its viewers who visited that site from Facebook. LittleThings.com apparently didn’t consider diversifying its content on to other social media sites (such as Twitter and Instagram) so it was almost totally dependent on Facebook for its business. Since LittleThings.com didn’t have VC money it had almost no financial cushion to help it weather the lean times. On top of it, LittleThings.com faced competition from larger, more established media companies.

Had LittleThings.com focused on other social media sites in addition to Facebook, it would be still around. Instead LittleThings.com had put nearly all of its eggs into one basket [Facebook] and it has gone out of business as a result. It’s too bad that it had to happen because I used to sometimes share stories from that site on Facebook and there were times when I shared the occasional LittleThings.com link in this blog. Oh well. Too bad, so sad.

UPDATE (May 8, 2018): LittleThings.com has been resurrected thanks to a buyer. One day I happened to notice a new story from LittleThings.com in my Facebook newsfeed, which freaked me out until I read about what happened. This story of a business being brought back from the dead sounds like a story straight out of LittleThings.com. (LOL!)

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As I’m typing this my area has literally been shut down due to this massive wind storm. In fact I had my scheduled job interview get postponed until next Thursday, which is probably just as well since I’m hearing the wind howling outside of my home and the National Weather Service has issued a high wind warning urging people to stay home unless it’s an emergency. In fact the federal government has shut down today along with the public schools. I’m definitely not going to drive today since my car can be pretty difficult to handle in very windy weather but I might take a walk later on this afternoon.

As some of you may know, I have an Instagram account that I tend to update on a regular basis. This morning, while I was hearing the howling winds outside my home, I was leisurely checking my email when I came across this doozy:

Subject: project on Instagram for women photographers: Women’s Month Theme: Women’s Art

Hi,

I hope you will consider participating in our women’s photography Instagram project.  As a women’s photography community we run an Instagram project for women photographers of all levels to encourage, inspire and promote women’s passion and accomplishments in photography. The project postings are at: @womeninphotography.

The projects are to increase awareness and we do these projects in our spare time voluntarily. There is no commercialization by us of your image. So If you would like to join and help promote women’s work and passion in photography it is easy to participate. If you do not want to receive project notices like this just let me know and I will take you off our list.

Any woman photographer can participate or you can help us spread the word to women photographers who may want to.

Our project theme for this month is: ‘Women’s Art’.

What do we mean by this theme?

It is open to your interpretation so just send us your best to show.  I will curate the submissions and I or my husband bill will post up to 12 a day on Instagram until we are done.
There is no rush as we will post images until we stop getting them for this theme. We will email you when yours is posted.

Instructions:
Email your image to me:

  1. Attach one or more of your photos.  It is easier if it is a .jpg
  2. Your full name and your Instagram id if you have one so we can post and tag your image
  3. One web site link that you want posted with your image: (your website, facebook, other if you have one)
  4. Your note about the image to be included with it on Instagram
  5. Any additional hashtags you want posted with your image

Regards,

Gittel and Bill Price

In a nutshell, instead of me uploading my own photographs to my own Instagram account, they want me to send my own photographs to them, wait for them to decide whether they want to include it in their uploading just 12 pictures per day to their Instagram account, and, if they decide to choose whatever I send them, they will do this in exchange for no financial compensation but I will get credit.

So I can send my pictures to these people (whom I’ve never met nor communicated with before) for their Instagram account (which I had never heard of before I received that email) where I won’t get any kind of compensation other than credit (providing that they are actually honorable enough to give me credit). Or I can continue to upload my own photos to my own Instagram account where I won’t get financial compensation but I can at least ensure that I’m getting full credit for my own pictures that I shot and I can completely control such things as captions, hashtags, and tagging locations.

Well, that’s a no-brainer. Since I wouldn’t be getting paid either way, I’ll just keep my photos for my own Instagram account.

However I decided to play with these two freeloaders a little bit. I did a little bit of research on pricing and I decided that I would base my regular fee on the low-end of the amateur photographer scale per picture while cutting a further discount since they claim to be “non-commercial.” Here’s my reply email that I sent to them:

Dear Gittel and Bill Price,

Thank you for your interest in my work. Since I usually charge $25 per shot, I would be willing to cut you a discount of $10 per shot since you say that you’re a non-profit. I really can’t afford to give my work away for free since I’m financially struggling to pay my bills so I hope you would understand. You can pay me via PayPal at kimstark61@gmail.com.

Sincerely,

Kimberly Keyes

I haven’t heard back from them and I seriously doubt that I ever will. LOL!

It’s annoying that these people are looking for free pictures for their Instagram account under the guise of “feminism” and “women photographers.” It’s just as annoying as Ivanka Trump claiming to be a “feminist” who wrote her book Women Who Work while the women who work in those factories in Third World countries making her clothes and shoes for her fashion line are being paid very little while working in poor conditions with little occupational safety and they are frequently separated from their own children. She was also very reluctant to give maternity leave to her own female employees working in her U.S. offices. And that’s not to mention her own father, whom she has continued to serve in his administration despite being recorded bragging about how he grabs women by their pussies. (It’s no wonder that Ivanka Trump’s recent tweet honoring the fact that this month is Women’s History Month went over as well as a lead balloon or a submarine with screen doors.)

By the way, if Gittel and Bill Price want photos of women accomplishing great things for their Instagram account, I suggest that they get a smartphone and start shooting their own pictures of women doing amazing things instead of begging other photographers for freebies.

I know it may sound tempting for others to submit photos to someone else’s Instagram account in exchange for exposure but take my advice. The best way of promoting yourself as a photographer is to take out your own social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) and upload your own photos on to your social media accounts a minimum of one picture once a week. (Don’t forget to use hashtags in order to increase the chances of someone else discovering your work.) For added measure, start a blog or website and post your pictures there. Don’t rely on someone else to post your photos online for you because not everyone has your best interest at heart. There are plenty of free tutorials online that you can access by doing a simple Google search on “how to promote yourself as a photographer.”

UPDATE (March 4, 2018): I got an email response from Bill Price when I sent back a response asking for payment in exchange for them to use my photos on their Instagram account (which, as the previous paragraphs indicated, I would have to manually email each photo to them and hope that it makes the cut among their 12 posts per day limit). Here is what he wrote:

Hi Kimberly,

We understand. We do not own the images we only post them as part of a promotion of women’s photography.
We put in hundreds of hours on each project as volunteers with no pay. We do not monetize the effort in any way.

So the artists support each other and hopefully get more visibility from participating as well.

Best wishes

Bill

Yeah it sounds nice and stuff. But I’m still leery about participating, especially since they require that you manually email each photograph to them then hope that they choose your photo among their own 12 posts per day limit all for credit only. If they had asked me to tag them in the captions to my own Instagram photos on my account I might have considered doing it since it’s pretty easy. (I’ve done it for others in the past.) But I’m not about to give away my photos to them for free so they can upload it on to their own Instagram account, especially since it looks like they are relying on other photographers to supply them with content for free.

I said it before a few paragraphs ago and I’ll say it again: If Bill and Gittel Price need content for their Instagram account, they should grab a smartphone, take their own pictures of women doing extraordinary things, and upload it to their own account themselves instead of relying on other photographers to supply their content for them for no payment. Stop being freeloaders with other people’s photographs.

Man builds a Furby organ using recycled vintage electronic Furbys.

From the Green Book to Facebook: How black people still need to outwit racists in rural America.

If you care at all about the idea of journalism, Project Veritas should horrify you.

Here’s a free tutorial on how to crochet a blanket based on climate change data.

The “Pocahontas” nonsense matters but not in the way that Trump might like it to.

CNN crusades against the slave trade in Libya but they knew about it for years.

A look at a LEGO set featuring the women of NASA.

The Church of Sweden no longer refers to God as “he” or “lord.”

What if American hadn’t done the dumbest thing imaginable after 9/11?

The executives who bankrupted Toys R Us want $16-32 million in bonuses for their performance.

More than 80,000 vintage sewing patterns are now available online.

The driverless revolution may exact a political price.

10+ revenge stories that will make you think twice about being an asshole to other people.

6 badass acts of resistance erased from history.

Dollar General hits a gold mine in rural America where even Walmart failed.

Will the alt-right produce the next Timothy McVeigh?

How Clinton and Obama failed to defend the middle class.

Undoing the New Deal: The 1944 coup against Vice President Henry Wallace.

A free tutorial on how to make your own DIY safe from common household items like a can of shaving cream.

Democrats paid a huge price for letting unions die.

Sexism, remembered and forgotten.

Remembering the life and music of labor agitator Joe Hill.

The 10 greatest films of all time according to 846 film critics.

15 gay Founding Fathers and Mothers.

How to make America more like Scandinavia.

Hey, Nicki Minaj, Pocahontas was a rape survivor, not a sex symbol.

Before buying a Kindle, consider the physical book’s benefits.

The Internet is enabling a new kind of poorly paid hell.

One person’s opinion after visiting the Museum of the Bible.

Closing malls and bankrupt stores: blame Wall Street predation for the “retail apocalypse.”

An Etsy seller specializes in papercraft dollhouse-sized miniatures of furniture, housewares, and decor.

Your brain on poverty or why poor people seem to make bad decisions.

Yeah, sure, #Resistance, let’s pretend that Bill Clinton isn’t a sexual predator. 

Forget the Nordic Diet. Try the Nordic Tax Plan.

Behind the scenes of the new Museum of Selfies in Los Angeles.

The secretive family making billions from the opioid crisis.

Harvey Weinstein, Hugh Hefner and the poor excuse that explains a lot.

I recently dodged a financial bullet. That near-miss started during the recent Christmas/Kwanzaa/New Year’s holiday week when I was uploading a bunch of new holiday photos on my Instagram account. One night I saw a comment posted to one of my Instagram photos from a company known as Boho Queen Jewelry. The comment basically said that they liked the photos I had posted under my own account and the company invited me to apply to become on of its brand ambassadors.

My immediate reaction was that I was thrilled to receive such an invite. I had heard about some people becoming Instagram influencers where companies will either pay or give free samples of a product to Instagram influencers in exchange for posting a photo of themselves actually modeling a product. I thought this invitation from Boho Queen Jewelry could potentially be the first step for me to eventually become an Instagram influencer myself and it may lead to a new career path for myself.

I was very flattered to receive such an invite mainly because most of the pictures of jewelry I’ve posted in my Instagram account were either of my own creations or they were ones I had shot of other people’s jewelry during craft shows, art shows, and trips to the various shopping malls. I hadn’t done any kind of professional modeling before nor had I ever done any jewelry reviews. I thought it was cool that someone thought of me as being a potential online marketer of some really cool looking funky jewelry whose photos I saw posted on Boho Queen Jewelry’s website.

I decided to sleep on it since I had received that invitation so late in the evening. The following morning my immediate thrilled reaction had chilled and I wanted to proceed with this proposed brand ambassador gig with caution because I had never heard of the company before. I decided to do a quick Google search on Boho Queen Jewelry to learn about how others view that company. I immediately came up with a bunch of links that alarmed me.

Boho Queen Jewelry was previously known under two different names—Mirina Collections and Nora NYC—which became notorious for the way it conducts its business using this pattern.

First the company searches the Internet for photos of jewelry created by talented jewelry artisans. Then the company creates knockoffs using the cheapest materials they could find. The company lists a knockoff on its own website with a retail price that’s two or three times higher than what the talented jewelry artisan charges for his/her original work. Sometimes the company will list its knockoff product using the photo of the original jewelry that it swiped off of another website.

The company trolls various blogs and Instagram accounts by leaving comments inviting people to become its online brand ambassador while providing a link to a page where the person can apply. The person applies and is always accepted into the brand ambassador program. The newly appointed brand ambassador is then required to buy the jewelry but at a special lower discount than the retail price.

Here’s where the fun begins. While sometimes the person receives the jewelry in one piece and writes a good online review of the product (such as this one), usually the new brand ambassador encounters one of two scenarios.

1. The person never receives the jewelry. The person contacts the company via emails only to have them ignored.

2. The person receives the jewelry but it’s broken or damaged. The person contacts the company asking for a replacement or refund only to be ignored.

If the dissatisfied brand ambassador tries to contact the company through its Instagram page, the company will block that person. There have been cases where the company has threatened to sue the brand ambassador for writing a less-than-glowing review about that person’s interactions with the company on his/her blog or Instagram account. There have even been a few cases where the company went back into the brand ambassador’s bank or charge accounts at a later date and took out even more money.

Even though the company has changed its name for the third time, the way it conducts its business still remains the same.

After I read the accounts of people getting ripped off I decided against applying to become Boho Queen Jewelry’s brand ambassador and I immediately deleted that company’s comment on my Instagram photo.

The one thing that most raised my suspicion is the company’s requirement that you purchase its products (even at a discount) in order to do an online review. I know from my days working for the school newspaper during my college years that most legitimate companies never charged for a product that it wanted someone at the newspaper to review. Instead these companies would frequently send free samples of a product in exchange for a review. In the case of something like a movie, the film’s distributor would either provide free tickets or would set up a special free screening at a local theater that’s limited to reviewers only prior to the film’s official release.

Additionally when I worked in the corporate office of a now-defunct computer reseller, I saw that the various computer and/or software companies that wanted the reseller to sell its products would either send free samples or send a sales rep to do a free demo of a product. None of those companies ever charged the computer reseller money for reviewing the product before deciding on whether it would sell that product.

The one big lesson I can impart here is this: If you get an invitation from any company to be its online brand ambassador, always do a quick Google search about the company first before accepting that invitation. Just typing in “NAME OF COMPANY reviews” in the search box (without the quotation marks while replacing the all caps with the company’s name) will do the trick. If the number of negative reviews outnumber the positive ones, do NOT deal with that company. Your banking and credit card accounts (as well as your online reputation) will thank you.

I’ll end this post with a list of links to blog posts about other people’s less-than-thrilling interactions with Mirina Collections/Nora NYC/Boho Queen Jewelry.

Boho Queen Jewelry: A Review

Product Review: Boho Queen Jewelry

Boho Queen Jewelry Storytime/Honest Review

Retraction: Mirina Collections & Nora NYC (Updated)

“Mirina Collections” LIES

Santa Claus

Here’s a free recipe and tutorial on how to create a gingerbread replica of the Millennial Falcon starship from Star Wars.

19 baffling vintage Christmas cards.

The 25 most popular passwords that people used in 2017 that you definitely do NOT want to use for yourself.

Check out the bizarre Christmas cards of comedian John Cessna.

All 19 fun, festive, utterly bizarre Rankin/Bass Christmas specials ranked from worst to best.

Chilling images of German Christmas decorations inspired by the Nazis.

Need a new Christmas tree topper? Here are free instructions on how to make one that resembles the house from the Disney/Pixar film Up.

27 completely tacky and hilarious Christmas displays.

Want to display ornaments without getting a Christmas tree? Here is a free tutorial on how to make a Christmas tree consisting entirely of ornaments.

29 viral posts and GIFs from 2017 that were totally fake.

Happy Holidays! Retailers are still destroying unsold clothes and blankets instead of donating them. 

What’s wrong with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer? It’s not what you think!

Here is the Nobel prize winning physicist’s theory on what is the root cause of all evil in the world.

50+ epic Christmas design fails that you will find hard to believe actually happened. 

Everyone can’t stop laughing after this grumpy cat crashed a nativity scene in New York City. 

Racy vintage postcards from Germany of Krampus cavorting with sexy chicks and she-devils. 

Family sends the most awkward Christmas cards for the past 15 years and the results are funny.

 A free tutorial on how to make hot chocolate on a stick.

 Dad turns his baby into a real-life Elf on the Shelf and the results are adorable.

Atheist group trolls small towns with “Church is Fake News” billboards.

Here’s a look at Woolworth’s Christmas catalog from 1954.

Here’s a hilarious look at 27 hipsters ruining Christmas.

A rant on why ugly Christmas sweater parties need to end.

Was Julian Assange attempting something far more damaging than putting Trump in office?

There’s a book of “beautiful” (but strictly unauthorized) poetry by Donald Trump and it’s a hoot.

Reckoning with Bill Clinton’s sex crimes.

It was the Democrats’ embrace of neoliberalism that won the election for Donald Trump.

This half Christmas tree is half absurd, half genius.

Media blackout as millions of Muslims march against ISIS in Iraq. 

Why poor whites are so angry.

Big Data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens.

How the Fingerling caught on as the Hot Toy of 2017.

Believe it or not there was a time when the National Rifle Association actually supported gun control.

A series of photographs show the effects of nuclear bomb testing has had on a remote area of Kazakhstan.

A free tutorial on how to turn dollar store tea lights into the cutest snowman Christmas ornaments.

How the deranged took over America and why they may be here to stay.

There’s a cop who calls himself the “Riot King” of St. Louis and his behavior is scarier than his name.

Serialized television has become a disease.

A Tumblr user shares how naughty her great-great-grandmother was back in 1890.

Here is how you can create a professional camera rig for $200.

The history of Russian involvement in America’s race wars.

Study by MIT economist says that the U.S. has regressed to a Third World nation for most of its citizens.

A stock analyst downgraded Chipotle for paying its workers too much. That tells you everything wrong with the economy right now.

The anti-Trump resistance forgets that George W. Bush is a war criminal.

Paper cutouts turn landmarks across the globe into scenes of temporary amusement.

TrumpsHair is the site that lets you add Trump’s hair to anything.

Photos show the North Korea that neither Donald Trump nor the Western media wants the world to see.

How a narcissistic brand of nationalism is taking over the United States.

The deadly consequences of militarizing the local police force.

This Arab illustrator is empowering women through art.

Harvey Weinstein and the economics of consent.

Decline and fall: how American society unravelled.

How millions of white Americans bought into a racist myth.

The reason why Harvey Weinstein is the beginning of a new backlash against sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.

Brad Pitt talks about his side venture as an artist.

Banning terrorists won’t stop terrorism.

10 stories about Donald Trump you won’t believe are true.

6 ways to break the hypnotic spell of the mainstream media.

This is what it looks like when the president asks people to snitch on their neighbors.

Make these spooky masking tape mummy hands.

Chinese textile firms are increasingly using North Korean factories to take advantage of cheaper labor across the border while the resulting clothes still sport the “Made in China” label.

Why do so many super rich despise the poor?

Disabled and scraping by in the underground economy.

Seven weird side effects of President Trump that nobody saw coming.

“Magic yarn” wigs delight thousands of kids with cancer.

Straight people don’t exist, new research says.

The 50 best protest songs of all time.

How the Nazis used Jim Crow Laws as the model for their race laws.

The lie that poverty is a moral failing was buried a century ago. Now it’s back.

How to turn your passions into retirement income.

A brief dictionary to help you understand the terminology that the US far right uses.

Brexit, Trump, and sexual harassment are all united by the same chauvinism.

Inside Russia’s alliance with white nationalists across the globe.

How to spot and stop fake news.

A free tutorial on how to make your own gnomes from champagne or wine corks.

There’s a word for the state of American Democracy: Kakistocracy.

It’s time to stop sympathizing with Ivanka Trump.

Nikita Khrushchev’s granddaughter says that Trump uses the term “fake news” in the same way that Stalin once used the term “enemies of the people.”

Black Friday is about to become a victim of the retail apocalypse.

Meet 15 unique animals that you’ll have a hard time believing are real.

6 Civil War myths everyone believes that are really total bullshit.

10 examples of Donald Trump unraveling before the unraveling began.

American Flag

Let’s take a moment to remember the sacrifices our armed troops have made for this country on this Veterans Day holiday.

Now let’s go on to the links for this week.

A U.S. military veteran speaks out on the issue of whether NFL players should be allowed to take a knee or be required to stand during the playing of the national anthem.

NFL players never used to stand for the national anthem before 2009, when the NFL switched it as a marketing strategy to make the athletes look more patriotic.

Here are some ways people disrespect the flag daily based on flag code.

Niger is the perfect example of the US state of perma-war.

How Twitter killed the First Amendment.

Sorry, but Haribo gummies are reportedly made with slave labor.

Interesting and colorful paintings made with controlled pours.

Artist shows how people in other professions react when asked for free stuff.

How to be an artist, according to Bauhaus master Josef Albers.

Artists who caught companies and fake artists shamelessly copyright their work and selling it.

White people commit the most heinous crimes, so why is America terrified of black men?

11th-century herbal remedy guide now digitized and online.

Wall Street got a bailout, why not Puerto Rico?

One man’s hobby is to Photoshop himself into various celebrity photos in a hilarious way.

Facing poverty, adjunct professors in America turn to sex work and sleeping in cars.

How to master color theory.

Trumpism run amok: How Alabama’s GOP runoff explains the brave new world.

Profile of an American city where the government barely exists.

Is this the end of the job as we know it?

Ta-Nehisi Coates explains why America should have seen Trump coming.

Leonardo da Vinci’s bizarre caricatures and monster drawings.

Hurricane Maria started in 1898: how America spent more than a century brutalizing Puerto Rico.

The United Nations says that robots could destabilize the world through war and unemployment.

How many Palm Beach mansions does a Wall Street tycoon need? As many as destroying America’s hometown newspapers can buy him.

Smithsonian digitizes and lets you download 40,000 works of Asian and American art for free.

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