Stacey Ferguson, known as Justice Fergie in the blogosphere, is unstoppable. Simply, a digital leader in the flesh. The former lawyer and self professed foodie, who spent a great deal of her free time blogging about balancing family and career is watching her hard work pay off. Justice, the co-founder of the annual BeBlogalicious conference, which is a collective of minority women (and men) interested in business + media is charging full steam ahead; yes! they just completed their fourth event in September 2012 @ the Red Rock, Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. But that’s not it; her most recent blog, Life is the Party, is all about making everyday life enjoyable. MommyNoire recently sat down with Justice Fergie to talk about creating a brand, the importance of social media, and how she finds the energy for it all.
MN: Why did you create Life is the Party?
I am an attorney by trade and I practiced advertising and technology law for eight years. About six years ago I came up with the idea to start a blog to write about being a working mom – juggling career and home. Me and two friends from law school who were in the same position started a blog called Mama Law, because we were moms that were lawyers. We wrote about work life balance. In two years of writing in that space, we found a need to bring together bloggers of color, because it didn’t seem many were out there when it came to working with brands and marketers. So that’s how the idea of Blogalicious came about. We wanted to do a gathering of women of color social media enthusiasts to let people know a) we were out there and b) to show brands that we do exist and we’re a powerful consumer demographic. The first event was in 2009. In the meantime as Blogalicious was there and getting bigger (I think we thought it was going to be a one-time event) I decided to grow my personal brand. So I started a blog called Foode that was a gal with a crush on food and social media, because I’m a foodie. From there I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself and just be about food and that’s where Life is the Party came from.
How do you give each of your things your all?
It’s a huge undertaking. Before this year, it was a lot of waking up early and staying up late because I was working a full-time legal job and taking care of three kids all under 8 years old. In the beginning the blog was an outlet, really, and a stress management tool because I could write what I wanted to. People would comment and it would act as a support group. And as the blog turned into more of a business that became another project that I had to really devote a lot of time and attention to, I realized I had to find a balance. It was very hard and I couldn’t have done it without a very supportive husband and family. And then this year I left my legal job to pursue the digital space full time because it was just overtaking my regular day. I wanted to really take a chance and give it my all to see what could come of it if I was devoting 100 percent to it. It was kind of like put up or shut up.
How did you develop your following?
I recently went to a TED X talk called “Building a Movement” and I said hey that’s kind of what we did. We made sure people knew Blogalicious was there for them. It was never about the founders. It was about having a voice and platform for women of color in social media because they didn’t have one at the time. I think because people saw it as something they had ownership in it made them invest in it emotionally, financially and personally.
If it weren’t for the people there would be no Blogalicious and I always remember that. We wanted ours to be about a place where, even if you don’t have crazy traffic, you could share your gifts and skills with the whole community and in return we’ll lift you up.
How important is social media to your brand? What tools do you recommend?
Social media is my brand. If it wasn’t for social media I would have no brand. I think social media has definitely helped me to have the following that I have, and the voice that I have. It’s all due to blogging. I don’t want people to underestimate the power of social media. People say, “Oh, you’re a blogger so you have to be on social media,” but that’s not true. Whether you’re a baker or a gardener, social media is going to be critical to you developing your business and your brand, so you should embrace it.
I absolutely [recommend] Twitter. I know people who aren’t on Twitter and say they don’t want to know what people had for breakfast, but it doesn’t have to be that. It’s a wonderful place to make connections and to connect with people you would never be able to connect with on your own. Before Twitter you would have to figure out who the PR or ad agency and find the email or make calls that don’t get returned but now you can just tweet them. It also depends what your target market is. Of course Facebook is a no-brainer. Everyone’s already on there so you don’t have to go through the work of finding them.
What is the one thing of the attendees to walk away with?
I want them to walk away with information or resources so they can go back and take their blog, businesses, and brands to the next level in a way that’s personal. That’s where I see things for my conferences. It is to make it personal. With so many businesses out there on social media, it’s really easy to get lost in the fray and the way you’re gonna really stand out is by how you connect with your clients. We want everybody to figure out ways to really engage and make it personal and have their brand messages resonate.
You went from 0 to 60 in terms of recognition. When did you know it was real?
The first time was when we got to the first conference in 2009 and we got to our room and it was full. We didn’t think anyone was going to come but people were there in person who we’d never met before. It was a trip. That was when it was crystallized that it was real and we’d done something awesome.
For more information on Justice Fergie go to beblogalicious.com