We’re lucky that Josh Hallett, founder of the BlogOrlando unconference, is joining us to emcee BlogPotomac on June 13, 2008. Josh is a new media strategist for Voce Communications. He’s Florida-based when he’s not traveling and speaking. He’s also a hugely talented photographer.

Note: BlogPotomac is selling out. We have limited seating capacity at the historic State Theater (directions) in Fairfax, VA where the unconference is being held. Fairfax, BTW, is a subway ride away from downtown DC. It’s also an easy drive. Register here. Learn more about the all-star lineup of speakers and the agenda.

Josh Hallett Debbie: Josh, you organized the first BlogOrlando in 2006. What happened that turned it from a gathering of friends into a full-blown unconference?

Josh:The thought was, if all these people were coming to Orlando why not turn it into something bigger.  Also, like many similar events, i.e. BlogPhiladelphia, there had never been an event that brought together bloggers from the Florida market. By keeping it free and relatively basic in size/scope the organization was pretty easy.

Debbie:  Then you forged ahead with BlogOrlando 2007. That turned into a
pretty major event. Why?

Josh: I think it was a combination of things:

1. It was still free.

2. It was still the laid-back modified un-conference format.

3. Yes the topic did become more popular and we also had some collaborative promotion going on with local PR and advertising groups.

4. I tried to diversify and reach different segments, that’s how we ended up with tracks focussed on Marketing/PR, Journalism, Technology and then Life/Local.  It was interesting to see some of the crossover though.  What I mean is the number of Marketing/PR people in the tech track or the journalism track.

5. Orlando is a great destination….it’s easy to convince speakers to ‘visit’ when we can offer them access/behind-the-scenes tours of Kennedy Space Center, Universal and EPCOT.

Debbie: What is your biggest lesson learned that you can pass on to us for BlogPotomac 2008?

Josh: The one lesson I share with just about every group that has followed this model (BlogSavannah, SoCon in Atlanta, BlogPhiladelphia, BlogCarolinas, etc) is that with a free event it’s important to keep the big costs in check, usually that’s food. BlogOrlando has never offered food, everybody is on their own for lunch. 

With a free event it’s easy for people to sign-up, and just as easy for them not to show up. Budgeting for 200+ people for food, but only having 100 show up can put a big dent in your budget. I know that BlogPotomac has a small fee [Ed note: US $75], which helps with this.


Debbie: I see that May 2008 marks the 5th anniversary of blogging for you (kudos, BTW). Has your
   approach to blogging, whether it’s style, subject matter or passion, changed over the years?

Josh: It has, more and more my personal blog focuses on what I am passionate about and what I’m doing.  Today that’s a mixture of travel (what I’m doing) and photography (what I’m passionate about).  More of my industry-specific content is now posted to Vocenation. I also see that the people I really respect in the industry also post less than they used to, we’re all very busy.


Debbie: You and I will be emcee’ing BlogPotomac together. Should we rehearse ahead of time – or just wing it?

Josh: Luckily I know just about every presenter so I can say something personal about them during the intro so that helps with the prep.  Are we allowed to use cue cards? 🙂

Debbie: Yup.