Herb Leibacher runs worldofwalt.com one of the most successful travel information websites dedicated to Walt Disney World. Herb uses ClickBump theme for WordPress, along with the recently released ClickBump “Magazine” skin for the site’s look and feel.
Q: How did you decide to build a website dedicated to Disney?
A: Ever since my parents took me to Disney World as a little kid, I have been fascinated by how Disney creates amazing experiences for families. Over the years I read more and more about Disney. I enjoyed sharing that knowledge and discussing Disney with friends. In time sharing that information on a web site and building a community of Disney fans seemed like a natural progression.
Q: How did you find ClickBump theme and what led to your decision to use it for the website?
A: A while back I spent some time building “Made For Adsense” sites, in hopes of making a bit of money. That is when I first heard about Clickbump and how many people really loved it. While “Made For Adsense” was a legitimate activity, I never felt like I was really doing something super helpful to my readers. It was a step on my journey. I read more about creating an “Authority Site”, and decided that sounded like fun. It was a great way to combine my interest in Disney and in the internet. Clickbump was the perfect theme for me since it was well-proven and looked great.
Q: Do you have any additional websites that you use the theme on?
A: I do use ClickBump to run a few non-profit sites on the side for friends, as well as my for my wife’s business. However, World of Walt is my main site.
Q: What are your favorite CB features and how are you using those on the site?
A: This may not be what you meant, but my most favorite feature is your support! It isn’t often that you find a product where the maker is willing to really go above and beyond to help you through issues. That is invaluable. Beyond that, I like how Clickbump makes my site look professional and well-designed. With Clickbump, it easy for me to build and maintain a site that really looks good, whether it is how captions appear beneath photos or how the theme creates a table of contents. For me, Clickbump seems to really make WordPress run better.
Q: Do you use any plugins? If so, what and how?
A: As much as possible, I try to avoid plugins that run when rendering the pages. I want to take advantage of the speed that Clickbump offers. However, I do use a few plugins that mainly run on the admin area and some on the front end. I use Broken Link Checker, Contact Form, Google XML Sitemaps, Pin It Button for Pinterest, Limit Login Attempts, and WP to Twitter. One of my favorites is WP Jump Menu, which allows you to quickly access and edit a post by typing the post’s name in a box that sits at the top of the every screen. It is a huge time saver.
Q: What is your monetization strategy for the site, how has that evolved over time and are you able to support the site’s operational costs through ad revenues?
A: My basic approach is to build a fan community, provide interesting material on my web site, and then earn money via Google Adsense. I recently added the AdPushup plugin and service, which tests various ad placements and sizes. I really like the idea of testing, but it is hard to do manually. AdPushup automates that. It provided an immediate increase in earnings, although I’m still trying to determine the impact over time. I am fortunate that the Adsense earnings cover the cost of the site and allow me to invest more in building the community. Right now I plow back all the earnings into improving and growing the site. I hope that someday the site can provide an income. One can always dream…
Q: Have you talked to any potential sponsors? Anything you can share.
A: I do have a partnership with a travel agency. This has been a win-win-win situation: my readers get to hear about and use the valuable and free services of the travel agency; the travel agency gets new customers and helps them plan their Disney vacations; and I get to earn a little commission. Overall this is a small part of my income, but it is a helpful service to my readers. I would love to explore other sponsorships in the future.
Q: Discuss your user engagement strategy. Specifically, using Discus vs WordPress default comment system.
A: I’ve done my best not to get stuck in “analysis paralysis.” The internet provides a great way to try things out. If they work, great, and if they don’t, I can adjust. That was the situation with allowing user comments on my site. I really wasn’t sure what to do regarding a comment system, so I did a little research and just decided to jump in with Discus. Overall Discus has worked really well for me and I haven’t had any spamming issues, which was my biggest concern. I didn’t want to spend hours filtering out junk messages that weren’t helpful to my readers.
Q: What sort of feedback do you get from readers? What do you feel is the primary value that the site provides to them?
A: I’m blessed to live nearby Disney World, so I get to visit often and share the latest news and information with my readers. I do my best to focus on providing interesting and valuable information about Disney World, and I’ve heard from my readers that they really enjoy that. The Disney fan community is tight-knit and engaged group. We love to talk about all things Disney and share our (sometimes strong) opinions on what is happening in the world of Disney.
Q: What is your SEO strategy and how has your traffic grown over time? What are your primary sources of traffic? Do you use paid SEO services or Adwords? If so, what has the ROI been?
A: Most of my traffic today comes from Facebook and my e-mail newsletter. I haven’t used any SEO services or Adwords, although I would be open to it in the future if it could help to build the community in a cost-effective way. This may sound odd, but I don’t really have an SEO strategy per se. I do my best to provide interesting content and build a community of fans, and I believe the rest will take care of itself. As the community has grown, traffic has grown too. I had to move from a basic hosting plan at HostGator to a much more robust hosting plan at RackSpace. HostGator was great, but there became a point when they couldn’t handle the traffic. RackSpace has provided terrific support and can handle all the traffic I can generate.
Q: What features would you like to see added to the theme?
A: Something that I like about Clickbump is that you guys are always thinking ahead for me – creating new features that I haven’t yet realized I needed or wanted. I really trust Scott is looking ahead for me. However, if I had to pick one thing to add, it would be to build in the features of the WP Jump Menu plug in. That little back-end plug in saves me huge amounts of time in navigating across posts. If it ever stopped working I would take me a lot more time to navigate around the WordPress back end. Another great addition, although it would be a big undertaking, would be something similar to what AdPushup does – testing and improving Adsense placement and sizes to increase ad revenue.