A self-professed celebrity gossip fanatic, Natasha Eubanks was unable to satisfy her need for the salacious life of black Hollywood. “I thought, ‘I read celebrity gossip all the time and they’re not talking about black people,’” recalls a fed up Eubanks. So in 2005 she decided to do it herself. With no prior experience, Eubanks put in a few sleepless nights, researching other blogs and designing a functional site (at no cost) to spread the juicy news via The Young Black & Fabulous blog (www.theybf.com), known simply as YBF.
Operating the blog in her spare time, first posting weekly, then daily, was totally out of sync with her next stint: law school at Loyola University in New Orleans later that fall. But a week into classes, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Feeling angry and depressed, the New Orleans native admits she nearly gave up on YBF and didn’t blog for at least two weeks. But e-mails and comments of concern and encouragement from her growing readership gave Eubanks a change of heart. “People want this, people need this, and people actually love it. And there’s still nothing really like it, so I have to keep doing it,” she says she realized.
Eubanks’ enthusiasm grew and with it, the site’s popularity—from 25 visitors to 25,000. Approaching her second year of school, the aspiring lobbyist made a hard decision to quit and run her blog full time. “My mom was like, ‘Oh, no, no, no. There is no money in that, what are you talking about?’” says Eubanks, who was still only earning a few hundred dollars from blogging. “My parents thought it was just a really bad move.” But Eubanks saw her gamble on gossip differently. She quickly went to work making YBF an official business, like custom designing the site, purchasing her own server, and posting four or five times a day. Traffic to YBF began to swell.
Today, The Young, Black & Fabulous blog averages 15 million page views a month, making it prime real estate for big advertisers such as MetLife, Macy’s, and Wal-Mart looking to reach a niche audience. Revenues for 2009 were $1 million—90% of that generated from advertisements. “People are willing to pay but you have to know the value of what your product is and the value of your brand.”
And Eubanks leverage’s the YBF brand well. A weekly segment on the syndicated radio program Big Boy’s Neighborhood lets her dish celebrity news and gossip across the airwaves. Plans extend into radio, books, and online magazines. “I’ve never been one to put all my eggs in one basket,” she asserts. “And that’s the most powerful thing about owning your own stuff: Why choose?” And all the right moves have gotten Eubanks this far. “I’m not following anyone’s footprint, so you have to learn as you go. You have to trust your instincts even more.”
One thing guiding Eubanks is knowing the value and responsibility in being your own boss. She stresses, “Maintaining ownership is the end-all, be-all of my goal because it’s important, especially for the black community.”