Today we have a great treat for you all! We are bringing to you the woman behind one of the biggest and best celebrity news sites on the net today. After noticing there was nowhere to go for the latest stories on celebrities that look like her, Natasha Eubanks decided to leave law and follow her passion and instinct to create TheYBF.com, the go to spot to see the latest on all things popping in Black Hollywood.
She was nice enough to give us a few minutes out of her always busy work day to chat with us about how she was able to create and sustain a largely profitable business in a highly saturated and competitive market.
Tell us a little about yourself.
NE: I was born and partially raised in Chicago and lived in Louisiana after. I went to college at Texas A & M University and then went to law school for one year at Loyola in New Orleans and decided not to go back. I’ve been living in NYC for the last 3 years and I’m the founder and CEO of Young, Black and Fabulous LLC, which runs Theybf.com.
What were your first few jobs out of college and what made you decide law school wasn’t for you?
NE: I worked every summer in college. I graduated in the winter (December), so I had a semester until I began law school. I worked as a substitute teacher and a hostess at Olive Garden.
I didn’t go back to law school because I realized it wasn’t for me. We went to school during Hurricane Katrina and it was extremely stressful because we had to move ourselves to Texas after the hurricane and completely relocate without our family or friends. The state was bursting at the seams because most who evacuated from New Orleans went to Texas. I only had one day to fly to Houston to find an apartment. The whole situation was depressing and made me feel jaded.
I started the site two weeks before law school and continued it because it was kind of my escape from all that was going on around me. Once I realized I loved that more than my law studies, I realized it was what I wanted to do. And once I realized it could make me money, I began to see this could become my career.
What was your transition like into the entrepreneur life?
NE: I have a natural instinct towards business and making sound business decisions. I rely on what feels right to me. I used to stay up 2-3 days at a time researching copyright and defamation. My transition had no set plan or course; there wasn’t a business plan. I just relied on my gut feelings and knew that if something was an easy decision for me (not because the work was easy, but because it made the most sense to me), then it was what I needed to go with.
How’d you first find the stories for your site?
NE: I had no connections and no other websites like this out. Had I found them, I probably wouldn’t have started mine. I didn’t have a blue print, but I was obsessed with celebrity gossip from the beginning. I would walk around with a whole bunch of tabloids in my purse and if I saw anything on black celebrities, I would write about it. I’d also do Google searches and watch E! News and any stories I found, I would write about. It was basically my online diary about celebrities.
I learned to fine tune the business side of it once certain lawsuits started rolling in [laughs] and our readership and revenue started increasing.
Was there a certain point in time where you realized this was what you wanted for a career?
NE: I realized I was making money from this and in the middle of law school, started to see that if I gave 100% to this project, I could possibly make a living off of it.
Once the sponsors and revenue started coming in, how were you able to stick to your voice while incorporating the marketing messages they wanted to send to your readers?
NE: I make it a point to stick to my organic tone and feeling of me speaking to my friends, versus other sites’ attempts to not be opinionated and to be more objective. We like to make it fun and engaging. If it’s something we personally aren’t interested in or something we know our readers wouldn’t want to hear about, we simply won’t write about it.
What is a current day like for you?
NE: Hopefully I got some sleep. LOL. I try to start my day at 7 am and go through all my e-mails. We check all our sites and sources in the morning and begin creating our content for the day from that. I am the main content manager and I dictate which stories and angles we should focus on.
I get about 500-600 emails a day. I’m on the phone with celebrities and publicists. We do interviews. All day is basically story hunting and story creating. Sometimes I’m on the Rickey Smiley radio show giving celebrity gossip. Some days I am asked to do random television appearances.
We send correspondents to events and they give us up to the minute updates on what’s going on where they are. It’s not a 9-5 by any means and everything is just constantly moving.
What is your favorite thing about being an entrepreneur?
NE: I would say it depends on which day you catch me on. I guess since I’m a control freak, it’s the fact that the buck stops with me. With respect to our business, a lot of times, I’m thankful that I know things can’t happen unless I say they can. I love that I’m never surprised about what we’re doing and that I can shape what direction we are going in. This is all my vision which makes me appreciate it that much more.
What is the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur?
NE: Everything else. Being that last voice of authority causes all the blame for anything that goes wrong to fall on your shoulders. Sometimes you just want to relax, but there’s always fires to be put out; someone didn’t’ show up to this event, this post needs to be changed, technical issues.
What would you consider your biggest accomplishment to date?
NE: Staying in business for 9 years. I don’t think many people can say that for the online world. This is a very inundated field, so the fact we can still be here is a big accomplishment.
What do you look for when hiring employees/freelancers?
NE: I look for people that have a purpose of their own. Are you doing this because you’re an aspiring journalist? Are you trying to hone your skills? Is it part of your ultimate goal in life? I need someone who has a vision and goals and is working towards their personal bigger picture. That ensures me that they are going to take the work seriously.
We’re not a start up anymore, so we need people who already have skills and experience in the applicable role as well.
What is your best piece of advice for a young person looking to work in a similar field?
NE: Passion and work ethic. This is a very tough field and many people don’t know how difficult it can be. We do 15-20 posts a day, so if you aren’t ready to dedicate the necessary time, then you are going to lose credibility as your content won’t be up to date or interesting to readers.
If you’re willing to go above and beyond and would do the work for free, then this just may be for you.
What’s up next for you and TheYBF.com?
NE: Our main focus is expansion. I’d love to get into TV more, serving as a celebrity expert and commentator on different shows. At some point in life I want my own talk show of course. We are also focused on expanding into real life experiences like reader appreciation events, celebrity meet and greets, pamper parties and suites at awards shows.
Thanks again to Natasha for sharing her journey to the top with us. Make sure you check out TheYBF for your daily does of entertainment and info on what’s happening in Black Hollywood.