kim-coles-blogalicious_web.jpgThe three women had a great deal in common. They were recent graduates of Howard University’s School of Law in Washington, D.C. They were new wives and young mothers.

They were each struggling to balance their various responsibilities. In an effort to cope and share ideas on how to find more work-life balance, Stacey Ferguson, Nadia Jones and Nyasha Smith began exchanging long e-mails and letters to share their triumphs and struggles.

One day Ferguson, who was familiar with social networking, suggested that they start a blog so that they could share their stories with other women.

“Stacey believed that other women would relate to what we were going through and that a blog would be a great way for us to share advice and learn from women everywhere without any geographic boundaries,” Jones said in an interview.

Named Mamalaw, the blog became a popular destination among working and stay-at-home moms who identified with the honesty and openness in which the three friends shared their experiences and stories about their family and working lives.

Like Mamalaw, Smith said, many mom bloggers begin their blogs as a way to share their experiences. But for some it is a way to earn money or get into a home-based business.

“Blogging is very attractive for busy moms because it’s a great opportunity for work-life balance,” Smith said. “Since you can blog at 3 in the morning when everyone else is sleeping, it allows you to be available for your family.”

But, as the Mamalaw team began to learn more about blogging through conferences and seminars, the women noticed that many bloggers who were women of color expressed the same sentiment: connecting with marketers was an ongoing challenge.

“The bloggers we spoke with felt like they were being ignored by marketers and the marketers we talked to didn’t know who these bloggers were nor did they understand their influence,” Smith said.  “One of the primary missions of Blogalicious was to let marketers know who we were and that we’d been here all the time.”

The inaugural Blogalicious Weekend took place in Atlanta in 2009 and attracted women from around the country. This year, it is moving to the Ritz Carlton hotel in Miami Beach Oct. 8-10 and will include a seminar focusing on marketing.

The women say last year’s attendees are diverse and include women who live in remote areas and blog so as to connect with other women, as well as those who have turned their blogs into viable businesses and are looking to expand their network and strengthen their personal brand.

“This is a great opportunity for both bloggers and marketers to connect. We want marketers to understand that 85 percent of the purchases that we make are made without color in mind,” Smith said.  “The marketing sessions will help bloggers fine-tune their image and better package themselves.”

The success of last year’s conference attracted big-name sponsors such as title sponsor General Mills, Buick GMC and McDonald’s.

“General Mills is very excited to be one of the title sponsors of this year's Blogalicious Conference,” said Kim Bow Sundy, manager of public relations and multicultural marketing for the giant food company. “Our team has spent a lot of time on the road and in Minneapolis learning from bloggers over the past year. We are excited to come to Miami and continue to build relationships with these key influencers.”

The conference will include exclusive networking events and a musical performance by Kindred The Family Soul. Conference tickets and registration are still available and South Florida Times readers will receive a discount of $115 by entering the code TIMEROCKS10 at checkout on the group’s website.

“Blogging is very much like writing in a journal and I think it is great, cheap therapy,” Jones said.

Added Smith, “Just don’t be afraid to share what you are going through because there is someone out there going through the same thing just like you and blogging is a great way to share like interest and make great friends.”

Photo: Kim Coles