Danasia Fantastic puts the awe in awesome, with her inspiring millennial mag, TheUrbanRealist (TUR). Since its founding three years ago (which they celebrated in style), TUR has attracted 12,000+ Twitter followers, 3,000+ Facebook fanatics, and 10,000+ Instagram enthusiasts. We recently caught up with the content creative to find out behind-the-screen details on how she handles the hustle of digital stardom.
Tell us about TheUrbanRealist. How did you kick it off and to now celebrating your 3 year anniversary?
I launched UrbanRealist when I first moved to Atlanta. I had a positive lifestyle blog and it was doing pretty well, but I found it hard to be positive all the time. It was the reality to an extent, but you know, life happens.
So I wanted to do something where I could expand on what I had done and make it relatable to people between the ages of 18-30, and since I’ve lived in so many different cities, it made sense for it to be urban and real. It came together and really grew from there. We have contributors from LA, Miami, New York – and it’s fun, it’s a lot of work, but I’ve never enjoyed anything more.
What was that growth process like to transform a blog to a full-time digital publication that you can support yourself from?
It’s been about 3 weeks since I’ve only been working on UrbanRealist, but I think it’s the right time to do it. People have been really supportive which is exciting, especially here on the ground in Atlanta. I think it’s fun content, it’s also content that most people can relate to and I think that helps. We are very unpretentious in the fact that we are like, ‘hey, come read this, have a good time and learn something while you’re here if you can.’
What are some of the things people can learn from TheUrbanRealist?
We cover a lot of fashion and entertainment, but the meat of our site is on our life posts. One of my best friends is a sex and family therapist. She runs an office of four other millennials who are also sex and family therapists and they all provide content. So most of our relationship, dating, and self-help content are written by actual therapists. It’s information you can trust, versus being information someone without a certification is telling you.
Have you always had this entrepreneurial spirit?
To a degree. I remember being 7 or 8 and buying a ton of candy from the dollar store and reselling it to my neighbors – different things like that. But I’ve always struggled to find something I was passionate about. I’ve always loved writing and reading, but how do you turn that into something you can do full-time without getting a specific job working 40 hours a week for someone else. It worked out in the sense that because I’m so passionate about it, I’m willing to put in the work and do whatever it takes to get it done. When it’s your baby you’re going to work the 90 hours a week you need to succeed.
Can you speak a little bit about the app that’s coming up?
The app is awesome! My friends at Feed Labs designed it, so the first iteration will mostly be content from the site. Then, down the line, I want to have exclusive posts so you can get access to specific events and content.
What are some of the events you do and how did that become a feature of your brand beyond just the blog?
A lot of the publications I look up to are mass media and have more than just a digital presence. They have pop-up shops, they throw parties – different things like that – so I felt like it was important to work until your idols become your rivals. It was one of those things where I felt like, ‘If I’m going to try and keep up with Refinery 29 then we should probably do a party.’
We hosted our first event at the end of summer 2014 and that was a lot of fun. We were blown away by the 300+ people who showed up. We did one for our 2nd-anniversary party and that was another great turnout as well. This will be our 3rd big party we’ve thrown and we are hoping to do even more events this year. People seem to really enjoy themselves and I want to focus on throwing parties and creating meaningful events. We started Creative Coffee meetups which have been great because there are a lot of people that don’t go out drinking, so for them, they’d love to go out to a coffee shop and meet other like minded people. We want to build a sense of community around TheUrbanRealist offline.
You’ve been really great about leveraging your network to build TheUrbanRealist. Do you have any advice?
I think the most important thing is staying tenacious. It’s getting past saying ‘Hey, I just wanted to follow up’ and instead saying, ‘I’ve emailed you 4 times, is it a yes or no?’ and not taking anything personal. People are going to say no, but eventually, someone will say yes. My mentor always tells me ‘if you ask someone something twice and they don’t give you the answer you want, then go to their boss.’ It’s a lot of work, but there’s something very rewarding about putting faith in your brand.
Your social game is strong with an authentic voice and great imagery. How did you dig into that?
I feel like everyone is dealing with the quarter-life crisis. I have so many friends who have their master’s degrees and they’ve spent thousands of dollars in school and don’t want to do anything they went to school for. But I really love our generation. Millennials get a lot of flack, but we aren’t all lazy. We’re not all entitled. One thing I like about us is the fact that unlike previous generations who will see something good and be a little ornery about it, or even jealous, Millennials will see someone doing something awesome and be like, ‘I can do that too.’ They will actually make a point to try and do something similar if they’re passionate about it. Maybe it’s blind denial, but we’re like, ‘no I got this, I can make this work’ and I love that.
So what’s on deck for 2016?
A couple of parties – LA and Miami to start. Plus the launch of the app. We are also trying to do more culture-based events. Things around art and culture that speak to our demographic so it’s not always just parties. I want to be able to offer quality content in-person because like I said, not everyone wants to go out and rage all the time.
How does Atlanta shape your story?
So I moved here from Miami and I was in Brooklyn before that, and I’m from Philadelphia. So Atlanta is interesting because it’s unlike any of those cities. What I like about Atlanta is the fact that people are relatively open here, but if you have a product and you really put in the work, you’ll stand out on more than a local level. Brands throughout other cities will see what you’re doing because there are so many eyes on Atlanta right now, so it’s a great jumping off point. I feel like there are millions of people in NY who run websites and have blogs. The same goes for LA, and there are a bunch in Miami too. People do it here too, but if it’s executed right, you’ll stand out and make those contacts in other cities because of it.
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