My Most Unusual Client – An Interview With Les Rivera
A story I’ve grown fond of telling is how CaptainJetson.com (aka Les Rivera) found my WordPress training videos last summer and learned how to make a successful travel blog.
It is by far the most unusual way I’ve ever heard anyone learn how to create a web site from my WP A To Z Series.
As I did, you may think that your airline pilot has his or her eyes in the sky with hands firmly on the wheel at all times. (If you are a fearful flyer now is the time to stop reading!)
But that’s not exactly what goes on inside a cockpit.
During hours of “free” time while his jumbos flew the friendly skies, Captain Les was watching my videos and learning how to build a WordPress site. Some time last summer he emailed to tell me his story. Since then he has become a friend and a client. While he’ll tell you he’s learned a lot from me since then, I’ll tell you I’ve learned so much about what it’s like to do something I could never dream of doing – flying a jumbo jet.
I recently interviewed Les and here’s his most unusual story.
Me: Did you really watch my WordPress training videos while flying?
Les: Yes I did! But it’s not as sensational as you’ve come to believe.
I do a lot of typical long-haul 10-12 hour flights, especially to Buenos Aires and Rio. On those types of flights, with up to 3 pilots on board, here’s how that works:
There is only one captain on these flights, which is me. But on these long-hauls, we have to take mandatory rest-periods away from the cockpit. So, when it’s my turn to have my rest (my “free time”), my cockpit duties are temporarily assigned to the relief-pilot, who is a First Officer (co-pilot), who will take my seat, while I go to the crew-rest quarters. While on a rest period I am free to do whatever it takes to make me relax.
Things I do include sleep, read a book, have my first-class crew meal, watch a movie, or anything else to enjoy the break from cockpit duties. Of course, I am still ultimately responsible for my ship (airplane), crew, and passengers while on break. My pilots up front would notify me immediately if I am needed during my hours of break.
And now to how I learned your course:
A U.S. airline pilot is not allowed to do anything beyond flight duty-related activities while working on the flight deck (cockpit). So, of course I could never sit in the cockpit and study your course.
How I did it, however, was by learning your ENTIRE course in my jets inside the crew-rest area in flight! I just love the tranquility of crew-rest time outside the cockpit, so I grabbed the opportunity to benefit from your great course there.
So, how many people do you think have learned your WordPress course in its entirety inside a $264.6 million passenger jet, and getting paid (by the airline) while attending a Bud Kraus video class??? Yes, pilots are paid by the hour from engine start to shutdown on any flight.
I believe that’s a WordPress world record for the Guinness Book of World Records, if you ask me.
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Me: More to the point, did you actually learn WP from my videos? Were you practicing what I was demonstrating?
Les: When I opened your first video in June of 2018, I entered this new and strange world called WordPress. I wanted to launch an aviation and travel blog site as a hobby, and there was no way I could do that without knowing how to make a website.
Of course I could hire someone to design and run my site, while I would feed my webmaster some articles to publish. But how much of a fun hobby would that be? I always had a quest for learning new things, and WordPress was something I just wanted to learn.
I immediately fell in love with your teaching techniques! You explain things in a very easy to understand way, resulting in a great methodical progress of a full understanding of each subject matter.
Your method of teaching is actually very similar to basic flight training. You beat a subject to death until it sticks in your brain for life, before moving onto the next subject. You cannot perform advanced tasks before you master the basics in anything you do. Since an understanding of the basics will feed your advanced development skills later, I wanted to be baby-fed the WordPress foundation. Your videos provided me with what I needed, exactly.
As I completed every module of your course, it was practice-time to make sure I could do what you taught me. After completing your entire course, I was as ready as could be. First I would review my notes from your course again. After that I put my new-found knowledge onto the test.
Then, voila, and my new website was born!
Me: I’m amazed at how good your CaptainJetson.com site is. I’ve seen major changes in just a few months. There are tons of travel sites out there and I know you’re getting very good traffic. What’s the secret?
Les: Hahaha, there is no secret. You taught me from early on that there are no shortcuts. I think the rapid growth of CaptainJetson.com stemmed from quality content, frequent publishing, and the application of good SEO knowledge. I also feel I picked a unique niche in the otherwise saturated world of travel blogging.
My niche is aviation and travel combined, but specializing in air travel articles. The content I offer fulfills a need, since I aim to solve visitors’ travel-related questions or problems. How many airline captains have a travel blog? Passengers ask airline pilots a lot of flying-related questions all the time.
For instance, “How does a jet engine really work?” Or, “I am a frequent flier, what air travel apps do pilots and flight attendants use?” Or, “I want to travel on a supersonic airliner. Are airliners going supersonic again?” I am fully qualified to give them those answers, and I explain things in a very easy to understand way on the website.
I noticed a lot of “wannabe” airline pilots or just plain journalists publishing articles on flying-related travel questions. But their lack of professional knowledge of the subject is often very apparent from the incorrect information and facts they provide in their articles.
With that I was able to offer useful and factual travel tips from my more than 30 years of traveling the entire world many times over. I try to write my articles from the passengers’ point of view, with no confusing professional aviation jargon.
To help give the site an equal opportunity presentation of non-aviation related travel articles, I am fortunate to have a team of greatest writers with a lot of travel experience. Plus, I am able to present a lot of destination tips based upon my own experience.
For instance, “Can you tell me how to best experience Tahiti and where to go in Tahiti?” was a frequently asked question from visitors. So, I have produced three articles on that so far, packed with stunning South Seas pictures from French Polynesia. These were articles that went viral.
Another thing that contributed heavily to the rapid growth was a very effective social media marketing plan of action. The word-of-mouth aspect of social media began spreading like a wildfire after that, getting lots of referrals to the website.
Social media, however, requires more time than what I have available. My solution to that was to hire the best full-time social media manager anywhere. And I found him, he’s located in Bangladesh! He is super reliable, honest, hard-working, and a true social media marketing expert.
I have also made mistakes, of course. That’s normal. For instance, I somehow ended up with some bad backlinks on my site, which temporarily affected my traffic for about a month, until I got those removed completely.
Me: One thing you encourage is to have guest bloggers for your site. I’ve written 2 posts. How do you get people to write for your blog?
Les: Guest bloggers were hard to find when I first started. It seemed like nobody wanted to spend valuable time volunteering their works on an unknown newbie site.
The very first guest blog to hit a viral reaction of popularity was your article about bullfighting in Madrid! Google stats showed that your article was read an average of 233 times a day by the second month!
Today I am getting a lot of inquiries from writers all over the world, asking to guest post on my site. Having learned the types of articles which are most popular on the site, I only choose the volunteer writers who can deliver something of value to what my demographics want to see.
Me: I know you have big plans for your travel blog. How are you going to continue to build your audience and monetize your blog?
Les: Having a lot of fun at this. The plans are to slowly grow the site to a world-recognized brand authority on aviation and travel tips, guides, how-tos, solutions, news, and much more. The main focus is to continue delivering frequent new quality travel content for my visitors.
At the same time, I intend to continue educating myself on all aspects of blogging, from content writing to WordPress, marketing, and SEO. You can never stop learning.
I am very fortunate I have you (and JoyofWP) not only as my mentor and reference, but as my friend too. Running a website often necessitates a team-effort. There is always someone with so much more experience than yourself to turn to for help.
Although monetizing the site was never on my mind, I decided to incorporate Google Adsense and a few affiliates on the site just to cover the operating cost, which it already does.
I earn a good living getting paid to travel by flying jets worldwide, so the money-potential of my site really isn’t a factor. The rewards from making people happy helping them find the air travel – and any other mode of travel – information they seek on my site is my full compensation. It’s like the rewarding feeling a jetjock (pilot) like myself gets after those landings that were so soft your passengers don’t even realize yet that they’re on the runway with the wheels safely planted on the ground!
In other words, I apply the same “can-do” military style attitude of my piloting skills to everything I do in life, and that includes doing my best with CaptainJetson.com too.
And That’s The Story
I have no doubt that Les and his CaptainJetson.com site will grow and continue to be a big hit with the traveling public. Every decision he makes is the right one. He knows when something’s not going the way it should and makes changes.
With all this being said, I have to wonder if anyone one on the space station has ever received my WordPress training!