Life IS the Party, for Stacey Ferguson, co-founder of the popular Blogalicious community and conference. Held in Las Vegas, Nevada, this year marks the fourth Blogalicious conference, which draws a diverse crowd of social media enthusiasts and bloggers.
Digital entrepreneur Stacey Ferguson has been blogging since 2006 and recently left her career as a technology attorney to devote herself to her thriving online ventures.
BlackEnterprise.com chatted with Ferguson about Blogalicious and her offline life.
What inspired Blogalicious?
Ferguson: We had the desire to develop a community for female bloggers of color. We saw mainstream bloggers who were getting paid opportunities and we wanted to see people of diverse backgrounds get those same chances. We basically had two aims; unite the community of bloggers of color and teach marketers about our demographic.
Interesting that Blogalicious started out for bloggers of color. Today, the Blogalicious conference is very diverse.
Ferguson: Yes and I love the diversity! It’s diverse in a number of ways. There’s diversity in ethnicity (We have Latinas, Asians, Indians, African Americans, etc), blogging niches (like tech, mom, lifestyle) and skill level. We have designed the conference in such a way that whether you have been blogging for 10 years or 10 weeks, there is something for you here.
What can people expect from this year’s conference?
Ferguson: Our theme this year is “Make It Personal.â€ Everyone and their mom has a blog and a business these days. We want to show people how to make the blogs and business plans more personal. We have a little something for everyone. We have poolside chats, workshops and talks on natural hair blogging, technololgy blogging. You name it, we have it. For the first time, we are also doing a service project. This year’s project is beautifying a local school. We’re also launching a social action circle so that our members can use their voices to affect social change.
What do you mean exactly by “Make It Personalâ€? For some people that means talking about what they eat on Twitter.
Ferguson: That’s definitely not what we mean. What we mean is that nobody wants to be sold to constantly. They don’t want to feel like they’re just another number. Even big companies these days understand that. They make their ads more personal. If you are selling cupcakes, you have to figure out how to connect with people who buy cupcakes. It’s been proven that people make purchases based on emotion. So make sure that 80% of the information you put on your social media networks is valuable. That other 20% can be what you ate today.
How did you transition from tech attorney to lifestyle digital diva?
Ferguson: I’ve been an attorney for 10 years and I have been blogging since 2006. Last year, I left my legal career because the Blogalicious responsibilities were becoming too difficult to keep up with while having a full-time 9 to 5.
How did that conversation go with your husband? “Hey honey, I’m leaving my stable 9 to 5 to devote myself to online stuff.”
Ferguson: [Laughs] That conversation is still happening. It’s only been about 10 months since I made the switch. I could not have done what I’ve done without my husband. He’s been great with filling in the gaps and just making all of this work. Right now he’s on a six-hour flight to meet me here in Las Vegas and he has all three kids – 8, 6 and 4.
That’s a good man! How do you balance the whole wife/mom/entrepreneur life?
Ferguson: I’m still a work in progress. For some strange reason, I thought it was going to be easier to work for myself and from home. But without a 9 to 5 structure, I find myself working around the clock and I have to self-police. I also learned that it’s important to keep in touch and stay connected with people. In a regular office environment, you run into co-workers in the hallway and on the elevator, but working from home can be isolating if you let it. Take those coffee dates.
What advice do you have for people looking to take the plunge from a regular day job to an entrepreneurial digital life?
Ferguson: Have a short-term plan and long -term plan. Treat your day job as your first investor. Put money away and sustain yourself. Tuck away enough money to stretch out for a year or two after you leave the job. Protect your business legally. These are ideas we’re talking about, so copyright things, protect your intellectual property. Make sure you are collaborating and look for mentors.