It is with great sadness that I write to you to say goodbye. Yesterday LittleThings shut down. We just went live for the very last time. I wanted to take a moment to thank you, the audience, before I sign off and pack up my desk.
As many of you may not know, LittleThings started as a viral blog off-shoot of a pet food e-commerce website. I was a former actress/artist and aspiring writer who spent most of her time furiously submitting articles and personal essays to every digital media site on the internet. I rarely got paid to write. My day job was as the social media manager for a pet food e-commerce site called PetFlow. Joe Speiser and Alex Zhardonovsky had built an engaged audience of over a million customers on their Facebook page, and I basically was being paid to entertain them.
Part of my job was writing the blog once per week, and usually we had a sponsored content to fill the post, so I rarely had the opportunity to actually write. One week, however, I had no sponsored content to write, and so I decided to take a stab at something different. ViralNova had just burst onto the scene, with their incredibly viral articles about snakes and spiders in ceilings. They were all over my Facebook News Feed. I decided to see if I could imitate the phenomenon of viral articles by writing a piece about cats that would entice our audience to read and share. A large portion of our audience owned cats and responded to my (brilliant) cat memes, so I write a PSA entitled “7 Things In Your Home That Could Kill Your Cat Right Now.” The thumbnail image was a very distressed looking kitten.
We had monitors hanging from pillars in the office. As soon as I posted the article, traffic on these monitors spiked. 1,000. 2,000. 5,000. 10,000.
…And then the site crashed because the servers couldn’t withstand the traffic. Joe came out of his office, and as I tried to apologize for crashing the site he asked me if I could do the same thing again tomorrow. I had no idea that this moment was the moment that would change the trajectory of my career.
This was the birth of the blog that would turn into LittleThings in 2014. It quickly became clear that while my pet danger PSAs had some serious viral traction, feel-good content was better received by you, our audience. Many of you were moms, so we started creating parenting content in addition to pet content. It continued to grow from there. When we officially spun off from PetFlow and into LittleThings, I remember talking to Alex about creating original video. Six months after we agreed that it would probably be too expensive to try, we had a tiny and functional studio producing hands-only food videos.
The growth was fast and furious. So fast, in fact, that I only occasionally realized that I was living in a dream where I could almost immediately breath life into ideas. Joe and Alex gave me the opportunity to oversee the creative and social team, and I quickly learned that the only way we were going to be successful was if I hired people who were experts in their own fields – and did I ever find a team of experts with amazing hearts. The content evolved because of the people who accepted the jobs I was lucky enough to offer. Every month, every minute, our creations improved. Initially, we only covered curated viral video. By 2017, LittleThings writers were creating original first-person articles with photography and video. Our hands-only food videos became full episodic cooking shows. I watched LittleThings Live turn into Refresh with a dedicated audience of Sugar Cubes. I never, ever imagined that I would be given this kind of gift.
My happiest moments were when I got to promote creatives from within. The people who have been creating the content for you are some of the best and the brightest in the business. They genuinely care about the audience they’re creating content for. All of them. They’re fearless and hardworking. They’ve stayed at the office past midnight to hit deadlines. They’ve thought about creating things for you that I could not have dreamed up on my own. They’ve done a phenomenal job at leveraging Facebook to make very real connections with all of you.
In this goodbye letter, I want to tell you – the audience – how grateful I am for the past four years. Without LittleThings, I don’t know where I would be. The writing and work that I created before I came here were mostly about experiences I had in my life that were very dark. Very traumatic stuff. You, audience, taught me to be light again. You taught me that good news is infinitely shareable. That even in the darkest times there are glimmers of hope. That I can be a force for good in the world. My team taught me about how to be a good manager. They taught me about risk taking and about thinking outside of the box. They taught me, yesterday and today, that laughter is the best medicine.
For those of you who have been watching and reading our content, I will miss you. I’ll miss reading your comments and watching your reactions. Please stay in touch on twitter @Maiastar, or on Instagram @maiastarz. It has been an honor to entertain you.
They say that if you help just one person, you’ve succeeded. I wanted to share a clip from Refresh that’s very near and dear to my heart. Thank you, audience, for watching and sharing and loving the LittleThings.
To my beautiful, brilliant colleagues: You did this. You made a difference, and you will continue to do so.