Ashley Qualls does not have an MBA, a high-school diploma, or even a driver’s license yet, but she already has an influential and lucrative Web site. Whateverlife.com attracts more than 7 million visitors a month — mostly teen girls, a valuable but typically elusive niche audience.
It all started as a hobby, Ashley figured out how to design MySpace layouts and posted them online for friends. When word spread in the MySpace universe, the audience exploded. To pay for the servers needed to handle her traffic, she signed up for Google AdSense. Now ad revenue reaches as much as $70,000 a month.
With seven million monthly visitors, Whateverlife.com has a larger audience than the circulation of Seventeen, TeenGir, and CosmoGirl combined.
Recently MySpace co-founder Brad Greenspan, approached Ashley with a bid valued at more than $1.5 million. She passed. Later, Greenspan came back with a second offer: $700,000, the car of her choice (up to $100,000), and her own Internet show with a marketing budget of $2 million. Again, no thanks. “I want to see how far I can take it,” she says.