Are you ready to be inspired by successful entrepreneurs and learn from some of the best minds in marketing? This is the Local Business Leaders Podcast hosted by award-winning web designer¸ bestselling author and nationally recognized SEO expert Phil Singleton.
Phil: Hello, everybody welcome to another episode of the Local Business Leaders Podcast. Today are featured guest is Chris Parker. Chris is the founder and CEO of whatismyipaddress.com, the number one website in the world for finding your IP address. According to Alexa, Chris’s website is one of the top 3,000 websites United States with over 6 million visitors a month. Chris started his website on January 4th, 2000 and for the first five years, his revenue didn’t even cover his internet bill. In 2005, Chris made $30 from display ads and he knew he couldn’t give up. In 2014, Chris was laid off from his corporate job was faced with the scary opportunity to make his website a full-time business.
Since then, he’s aggressively grown his site to generate just under seven figures a year in revenue with no employees, no office and no inventory. whatismyipaddress.com has granted Chris and his wife time and financial freedom that they used to travel the world and raise their mini schnauzer, Bailey. Chris, welcome to the show.
Chris: Great to be here Phil.
Phil: Awesome. So I’d love to hear I’m right off the bat like just what got you into the business world in general. first steps at a high school or college or whatever it was and what was your first job and kind of just give us the good quick story in terms of how you got involved in the business world and what brought you here today.
Chris: Sure. M first job was in 1984. I was 12 years old and I delivered newspapers. I think I had the smallest route in the neighborhood. I had like 30 customers so to speak and I made like $4 a month or whatever it was. But I grew that, took over all the neighboring routes and did that for a number of years and then realized, “I don’t want to ride my bicycle every morning and every night delivering papers.”
I think might my first business that I tried running was a website called discountbibles.com back in 1999. That was just around the time, I think the Amazon had launched not too long before that. I was competing against Amazon selling Bibles and it was fun. I was working a day job online or I guess at that time it was a tell a mail order catalog, a computer reseller called Club Mac and I thought, “I’m going to sell Bibles on this side.” and so I put together a website. I got some databases of things and put together something fairly clever and put up the server on my own DSL connection in my home.
Over the course of a couple of months I realized it really sucks to have to pick up the books, box them up at night and on my lunch breaks, take them over to FedEx, UPS, the US postal service and on the weekends, I was boxing and running credit cards and trying to do all this out of my apartment. I realized, oh my gosh, this is not scalable. I don’t want to be doing this. I think I was making maybe a couple hundred bucks a month at the end of the day which is nice to have some extra spending money but way too much work for what I was making.
So my next thing that I tried was well, if you can’t beat Amazon, you should join them. I switched over to the site called The Bible Finder, keeping your niche when you know what you’re doing and rather than packaging them up myself and doing all that, all the credit card processing, the chargebacks, all that fun stuff, I just became an affiliate for Amazon. No more books lying around the house, no more dust. I thought, “This is awesome. It’s totally scalable.” until Amazon decided, “We don’t want to have to charge sales tax to all the orders that we ship to California, so we’re dropping every California affiliate.” and overnight, my business disappeared.
I think during all that time it actually started whatismyipaddress.com back in 200 and it was totally a hobby. I’d never thought of it as a business, I just put up the site because it solved the problem that I was trying to figure out for the company I was working for and I just kind of let it run and honestly didn’t really pay attention to it for a while. Once I saw there was a traffic to it, it was originally just showing people the right IP address, no welcome to the site, just eight characters, 12 characters, just effectively one word of text on the screen.
Phil: One point there before we could continue on there just as a refresher on an IP address, can you explain to people kind of what that is? I think most people have heard about it especially if you got a job or something and we’ve all heard about, “Hey, what’s our IP address?” I think definitely for marketers, that has become something that they’re familiar with for a variety of reasons but can you explain just in simple terms to the layman that that really doesn’t maybe spend a whole lot of time in the computer what an IP address is and why somebody might want to look it up?
Chris: Absolutely. It’s the internet equivalent of your home mailing address. When you’re at home and you want to mail something, you get a response back from someone, yeah you put their name on the envelope, you put your return address on the envelope, you send it off to that company, they want to send whatever they want back to you, they need that return address in order to get the envelope back to you, that’s the internet equivalent of an IP address. So websites and email servers and all the things that we do online, games, data it knows how to get back to us when we put a request in.
It can reveal a little bit more about you than you realize. It can provide someone with a database, they can figure out who your internet service provider is and what’s more advanced databases. They can actually probably figure out within a few blocks of where you live just based on your IP address.
Phil: Yeah, some practical things I’m thinking of like we run into all the time is, for our websites. We a lot of times will put some additional layer of security against malware and hacking and there’s ways to kind of block access to people, maybe to the admin, to the back of your say WordPress example, WordPress website and you need to know basically your IP address so that if people that will lock in there if you want to like whitelist them, allow them in. that’s one thing I know that we’ve use your site for to look up an IP address so that we can whitelist people to get them in. to be able to access and through the security settings that we have for our website.
I can also think of other things that are like hot today like—I hear people talking about geo targeting, geo fencing all this kind of stuff that’s based on maybe a device and a location. I’m guessing that probably has something to do with an IP address for some of these things is that right?
Chris: Yup. When it comes to mobile device, they primarily go based off of the GPS data that you’re intentionally sharing but even if you turn off the GPS data, you can fall back to the geo location based off of IP address. Not as accurate but nevertheless, when you’re surfing the internet, they can give you ads for your local neighborhood as opposed to the wrong country.
Phil: Awesome. Okay, thanks for that kind of refresher there. I think again most people have heard about it, they look it up for certain different things but I think that kind of put things into perspective. Get you back on to the trail of where you were. You said that you had started what whatismyipaddress.com kind of as a hobby, still had kind of a day job and where did you take it from there?
Chris: I at some point put an email address on the site. So maybe if you have questions, ask me questions. So I started answering questions about IP addresses via email and I realized that I’m getting a lot of the same questions over and over. So I put up a FAQ on the site and that was the beginning of my content development days of thinking scalability here rather than one off responding to these emails, but to put the information online and that’s kind of how the site started to grow.
Like you said back in 2005, you had the launch of ad networks and AdSense. And so I put little ads on the site and realized oh my gosh, I can make a little bit of money doing this and offset my bills for my hobby. Then it finally started being more than my bills, we were making a little bit of vacation money, some travel money and a little investment money. Again, it was never really on my mind as this is going to become a full-time gig. At this point it become a side hustle until the day that the company I was working for started struggling in the financial crisis.
Over the course of a couple of years and multiple rounds of layoffs, they finally came to me and said, “Well Chris, we can’t afford to keep paying you full time. We’re going to have to let you go.” which is I don’t think what anyone wants to hear. I suppose some people want to hear, but I didn’t want to hear it. So I was always faced with a decision, do I try to turn whatismyipaddress.com into my full time gig or do I look for another corporate job. My wife, we sat down and talked about it, we set up some milestones of like, “Okay, can I grow the business enough in the course of the next year or so to offset the loss of my full time income.
So we set up some milestones every three months or so to kind of reevaluate and see how things are going and low and behold by putting 30 to 40 extra hours a week into the website, it was able to earn back my day job. Having a look back, it is a blast being able to work from wherever I want to.
Phil: Yeah, I mean you’re definitely living the dream from that respect and be able to kind of—you solved a bunch of different things. You solved the problem, you turned into a website, you got traffic and then it sounds just kind of like by the force of the economy or outside economic forces that you were almost forced to turn it into a revenue generator. You really got serious about it and found ways to turn it into a nice profitable business. But on that note, I love to talk about like what—because as you’re talking I’m thinking, “Wow, okay.” at some point you really knew you were on to something because the traffic probably really started to take off and you were definitely one of the first ones on there.
So from a search engine standpoint, we will talk a little bit of that later, your kind of first move or advantage, working on or probably people linking to you. You mentioned AdSense in the beginnings. So it was probably the first thing that you did to try and monetize it, right? and you realize, “Okay, not a whole lot of people get rich just from AdSense money or just from display ads.” but there’s all sorts of other things I’m thinking, I’d love for you to talk about like did you try, was there any affiliate marketing, up selling people, email lists, all these other things that probably have come into play maybe in recent times or you put that since you went with this full time. Can you talk to us a little bit about how do you start monetizing a site like this once it starts taking off.
Chris: Absolutely. Actually one of the big challenges has been to actually monetize the traffic. Everybody jokes of like, “If I just had lots of traffic, then I could make lots of money.” I’ve actually had kind of the flip problem that most people have it’s, “Okay I’ve got lots of traffic. No, how do I make money off of this?” and people immediately go, “All you have to do is just throw ads on the site and you’ll make lots of money.” well, when 70% of the traffic to your website isn’t in the United States, it hurts.
There’s not a whole lot of money to be made in banner ads to people in India, China, Russia Poland there just isn’t money in that. It’s really been an interesting challenge over the years of trying to find the right ad vendors, the right ad networks. There’s been a few tried and true ones but most of them I’ve been able to work with them for a couple years and then they’ve become less effective. It’s been a very unique challenge with most people I’ve talked to about it because that international element to it makes it complicated.
The other side of it is that the whatismyipaddress.com does not draw really targeted intent traffic. it’s not like they’re coming to my website because they’re researching a camera that they’re about to buy and I can, “He, here’s a camera I can buy.” whether it’s via ads or by affiliate marketing, that’s not the case. People are coming, “I just what my IP address, I’m going to get it and I’m going to go. I’m not going to look on any other pages. I’m not going to look at any of your ads.” So it’s been difficult to manage that.
One of the exciting things has happened over the last couple of years is a new infrastructure technology that kind of can be used to compete against Google AdSense and that’s called Header Bidding. I’m not sure if you’ve heard about it.
Phil: I haven’t, I’m all ears.
Chris: It’s basically when someone hits your website, it sends off a request to a variety of ad networks and they can bid against that impression, “I’m willing to spend this much money for the impression.” and then if you’re using like I have been Google’s DoubleClick for publishers as an ad platform it could then turn around and compete against AdSense. So not only do you have the builder to monetize impressions that maybe AdSense wouldn’t, it creates a little bit of competition and pushes the AdSense rates up a bit.
Phil: Yeah, takes the money off the table for them basically.
Chris: Takes the money off the table, lowers their margins a little bit and pushes your revenues up a bit. The technology is a bit in its infancy so there’s definitely some hickups I think over the next year to, there will actually be a lot of consolidation in all the ad networks as they just can’t have 500 or 600 companies competing on exactly the same product, exactly the same space, there’s going to have to be some consolidation there. But I think over the next couple of years., Header Bidding will really come into fruition. A lot of it will be done on the backend and not on the on the client browser. It’ll help website owners who are monetizing with display traffic a lot.
Phil: I love that because it really seems like up—and even now when I think about it, I think geez, it just seems like you really can’t make the majority of your revenue, again this is from the outside and because we don’t do a whole lot of it but, you just think of somebody’s if their only the way to monetize their website is through AdSense, then you know that there’s probably not, no matter how big, unless it’s like super huge, they’re probably not making a whole lot just from that. Because it takes a lot of displays to make those checks really bi.
Chris: Yup and the if anyone who’s been doing AdSense for more than five years can attest, the rates that publishers are making for traffic has just been dwindling over the years. We get a smaller and smaller bang for our buck. For those that are in kind of that general—if you’re really nichey and have really good intent, you can get some crazy good ad rates. If you just have a very general interest, news site, a general information site like I do, it’s hard to get good rates on the ads.
Phil: A couple of things I’d like to ask one is, what’s interesting from the advertising perspective from the banners and things like that, over the years, Google has changed their algorithms and scrutinized a lot more, what’s being presented on the space in terms of above the fold and things like this. You get a lot of like stuff where you’re going to make more impressions or better ads and they don’t want you to push them down. If you don’t, you kind of have this game that you’re applying versus how do I satisfy the search engines to keep my rankings up versus, they don’t want you to have a bunch of ads above the full because they’re going to say, that’s not most beneficial to the users.
I guess that you thought about that and had to play that game a little bit. I think it’s a little bit tougher for people that are selling ads right? because it’s like, “Why?” you just took that away, “You’re going to take our rankings away and you’re going to make us put what’s valuable down below the fold that makes it even a little bit harder.” I think if you’re relying a lot on organic traffic.
Chris: Yeah, it is a challenge. The balancing act of that is a lot of given poll. You’ve got the ad networks who want as many ads and as high up the fold as possible, covering as much of the real estate as possible. You’ve got the users who want no ads whatsoever because it’s on the internet, it should be free. And then me who, “Well, I’ve got to pay my bills. I have to make a living.” trying to balance all that out. My general approach has been, I want as good of a user experience as I can provide and still make a living.
I’ve definitely tried in the early days, “Hey, let’s try these.” pop ups that were paying $20 per 1,000 impressions or $50 per 1,000 impressions and yeah, I could make a lot of money very quickly but it disenfranchises the users. I’d get hate mail, I’d get, “I’m never going to use your site ever again.” and I kind of took that to heart and said, “I can’t do that I’ve got to find that balance that keeps my users engaged and doesn’t turn them off. Hopefully, they’re going to understand that I need to make a living. There has to be some ads on the site but not so much that it becomes a horrible experience.” We’ve all been on those sites, you open it up on your phone and it’s like one sentence on the screen and all the rest of it is ads, that’s a horrible experience. Those site sites should be penalized.
Phil: Right. The next, what we’re talking about right now is the banner and the ads that show up that you’re basically being paid on the amount of impressions they receive, have you tried any or do you have anywhere like they’re affiliate relationships, right? So for some people, obviously back in the day it was a huge thing. I think even now, I think people still do really well with it in some areas where you got a banner ad, you got a relationship with the people that are the advertisers, if they click through to their website, it carries over a cookie and a sale is made, then you get a piece of the sale. Is that something that you tried, is that part of your current model and that’s changed a lot over the years. Can you talk to affiliate marketing a little bit?
Chris: Yeah, I definitely do affiliate marketing and it’s probably been the quickest growing segment of my revenue over the last couple of years. I’ve tried doing it with ads kind of just competing against the ad networks all in an ad server software. It’s a lot of management. I very quickly realized that I was spending a large portion of my time tweaking a little bit more here, turn that one up, turn that one down. And it really just became too much time consumption to manage the affiliate relationships within display ads.
Again, I think a part of it is because I have such a non-nichey site only in certain place on my site could that even potentially work. In most cases, it just doesn’t work at all. I have really worked really hard on affiliate relationships over the last couple of years and building content which promotes particular products which are in the same sort of vertical of a portion of our user. A lot of that is privacy, online safety have done really well with VPN affiliate offers. I’ve tried newsletters.
Phil: That was going to be my next question, is like building email lists and trying to have that other thing I guess to monetize.
Chris: I have a fairly large mailing list that is really hard to get them to do anything. Again, I think that comes down to it’s a lot of international people as well on the mailing list and while it might be more targeted than the website, it’s a pretty hard mailing list to move to do stuff. I’ll get a lot of great open rights on my emails, but really hard time getting clicks into affiliate offers and the newsletters.
It’s something that’s like you know there’s more bang for my buck to do other things. Work with more strategic exit intent pop ups, things that engage users after a certain amount of time on the site through opted monster, there’s a bunch of other platforms to do it. We’ll try to catch people with other types of interactions when it’s less intrusive than when you hit the help page.
Phil: Right. The next thing I was going to ask is have you tried or thought about any type of premium service, upsell, software to service type of model where somebody comes and you got the—I mean I see on your site now, it looks like in the bar, I haven’t checked too many of them but there’s other things we can check on whatismyipaddress.com. Are any of those premium or is it just another way to draw more traffic and have you thought about that model?
Chris: I definitely thought about the model. Some of it I’ve questioned the scalability based on the amount of effort that I have to put into it. So currently all the tools, all the functionality that’s mine on the site is entirely free. I just kind of like that model. I’m still in talks with a couple different data providers who provide let’s say, it was called the background checks type of stuff. A little bit more in depth than the information that I can provide and an awful lot of work for me to build it out in house that are offering white label solutions where I can start to brand that. They’ll handle all the billing.
So I think there’s great opportunity there, something that we’re looking at in Q1 of next year in order to grow that. A lot of it has been the amount of work to get a subscription. It’s one thing if you’ve got this great master class and you can charge $5,000 a year membership. If you get a couple of members, if you get a couple dozen members, you don’t have to scale it up. Anything that I do just because of the niche, I’d have to scale it up to tens of thousands of people for it to be profitable and kind of dealing with credit card processing on 10,000 transactions a month or annual subscriptions in order to get $10 a month from people. I don’t think that the metrics work out for me.
Phil: So it’s safe to say, it’s been great, you kind of mentioned your bio that you’ve grown this essentially as a 7-figure business. But the majority of that seems like it’s coming from some shape or form of advertising, is that safe to say?
Chris: Yup. At this point, it’s either display ads or affiliate relationships. There’s a few data things that I’m doing but it’s kind of that 1% on the backend sort of things.
Phil: That’s really cool. I want to get into a little bit and I don’t want to get too deep into the SEO stuff but kind of in the green room before, we’re talking about that because some it’s out of sight since 2000, I’ve seen it grow you a ton of organic traffic. I looked at the HRESS which is a tool that we’re both familiar with that we use here at our agency. I’m looking at it, I’m going to share a screenshot of what I see. They’d show that you’ve got and this just organic traffic I’m looking at today. You know how these things are, it’s not analytics so it’s not going to be like your exact numbers.
But they’re showing organic traffic of 4 million unique hits a month. So that’s just only organic. I’m sure you guys have direct links, direct traffic, referral traffic, social media traffic, all sorts of stuff to get you up to 6 million and above. Of course we know a lot of times, these external ones aren’t as accurate. But it also shows one of my favorite metrics inside the HRESS is your monthly traffic value in terms, I don’t know if you’re familiar with this one, it’s one of my favorite ones in SEMrush and also HRESS where they assign basically an AdWords value to your organic, the free traffic that you’re getting.
I’m looking at right here and it says your monthly organic traffic’s worth $3 million a month. Wow, okay so they’re basically because you get so much organic traffic, they’re cobbling together lots of probably diverse stuff that you’re ranking for and obviously to see that’s one thing to be able to monetize into that is something else. But it does show the power of what you have in terms of what you’ve been able to build in the amount of organic traffic that you’re able to get. I’m sure it’s really probably only getting in building and getting more over time as more people get more familiar with IP addresses.
It’s become a hot topic. Since the last election and stuff. Things that are going online, what people are looking for, what the people know about us, it’s more in the media right now. More people are trying to understand about what people know about certain things. The more they become familiar with it, the more likely they’re going to be looking up, “What is my IP address?” so I’m sure you guys have benefited a little bit of that as well.
On the topic of SEO, I just love to hear about, because you’re starting way back in the day, 2000 things that you’ve seen in terms of these massive Google updates, them going after links and content, panda, thin content, even recent years you see great sites doing really good things but for whatever reason, you’ll see good sites with great content still get hit randomly by one of these Google updates that they do every day.
Once or twice a year, they do a really big one that sends a tremor pretty much that everybody feels. Can you talk a little bit about your experience with Google and has it frustrated you over the years, and have you had to kind of move things and change things and that you ever experiment with stuff, have you changed your site strategy and content based around SEO and Google, those kinds of stuff. Just kind of give us a little bit of a background about how SEO’s impacted or affected this business.
Chris: Yeah I mean it would definitely like you say, there’s a crazy amount of natural search traffic and I think when you are so reliant on natural search traffic, there is always that kind of underlying fear of, if I get slapped by Google, this is going to be a problem. I think every time there’s been a major update it’s always kind of like, okay, I hope this doesn’t impact me. I think part of why a lot of these haven’t impacted me is I really tried to use kind of best practices. I don’t buy links maybe 20 maybe 15 years ago, 10 years ago. I played around a little bit in that space. Honestly, it’s not cost effective for me. I’ve tried to avoid just a lot of the practices that were sketchy to begin with. I never paid companies to spam my links and forums, and comments and stuff.
Phil: Did you ever try and build out tons of pages that were kind of fanning that way, did that ever happen or?
Chris: I never tried to do this intentionally thin pages. There were some stuff that looking back at it, that there’s definitely some pages on the site that have very thin content, but it wasn’t like, “Hey, let’s…”
Phil: “Let’s build 1,000 pages for each keyword here and try to…”
Chris: Yeah, it was never that. It was, well, I had an article written on what is SMTP the way mail service communicate and it was like, 300 words, 250 words. In my mind it’s like, it’s really pretty thin. I don’t really know if that article is that helpful to anybody who reads it. So algorithm changes which affect that sort of stuff have concerned me over the years. One of the ways that I’ve addressed it is to go back to a lot of that content and either get rid of it entirely just for the page, redirect it somewhere else or have a better writer come in and write better content that’s just more useful to people.
So that’s kind of one way of dealing with that. The one algorithm update which scared me the most and I think all businesses in some sense should be kind of scared about it was, when Google directly started answering questions. If you Google right now, “What is my IP address.” Google will actually tell you what your IP address is.
Phil: It’s the knowledge box and now they’re starting to work in more direct stuff and basically answering things on the page and bypassing the source where they get the answers from. That’s just been something I don’t know if we can specifically call that like an update. They really just did this and did this, it’s almost somewhat been creeping into the search results where more and more it seems like they’re trying to provide to me data that has answers to it without as much maybe commercial intent to it.
So it’s like, you ask a question and you get an answer. So there’s no reason for you to go to a separate page. It’s funny because this is one of those things with Google where they don’t want you scraping content but they can scrape content from you and show it directly in the search results before going to your page. So some of that stuff I could see I guess how that would be concerning for some people that are supplying answers to people like this.
Chris: Yeah, informational sites kind of run the risk of either being scraped by other people or being scraped by the search engine. Search engines just totally bypassing you. the interesting thing about that update and subsequent traffic is that I saw maybe a 10% hit in traffic due to that update with Google starting to answer that question and it really made me think of a couple things like, do people just not trust Google that much so they’d rather go to my site instead of trusting a result from Google? Or that I’m actually providing more information beyond that which is what I’m doing.
Phil: Right. When I look at your site I see some of the Google, sometimes when you do the Google one it either gives you, you can maybe explain this a little bit better but sometimes the IP address looks different, it’s like a longer string with colons in it versus the actual whatever that multiple digit with the period numbers is and it doesn’t give you like the carrier and the math results and that kind of stuff. So obviously you’re just giving you a lot more information than just a number.
Chris: Ye. So as a segue or as a tangent, the short one with the period, the four numbers with four periods, that’s IP address version four. It was designed as, we’ll never need more IP addresses than the 16 billion IP for supports. Then magically, all these internet of things devices started connecting up and everybody’s got 20 internet-enabled devices in their home now. Slowly, the transition has happened to IPV6, that’s the one that could be a lot longer with colons and sets four digits.
You never kind of know whether you’re connecting the IPV4, IPV6 and for the vast majority of people, it’s totally behind the scenes and they don’t really even ever need to know. But you visit my website not only IPV4, IPV6 carrier where in the world it is and some other interesting things that we might be able to determine about the user of that IP address based on available information.
One of the weird side effects of Google actually answering that is the quality of my traffic went up. Because the people who were, “I just want the number and I’m going.” didn’t come to the site anymore. So average page views per session went up. The click-through rates on all the ads went up because effectively, Google carved off the worst traffic for me and kept it for themselves. So it really only upgraded the quality of my traffic. I saw almost no revenue hit from losing that traffic which is really kind of crazy.
Phil: Nice. This is fascinating for me I mean just to kind of see how somebody that’s gone through it and like I said, there’s a lot of people out there that are side gigging, wanting to build up their own internet asset so that they can one day step away make a 7-digit income and be able to do whatever they want. So in a lot of ways, you’re basically living the dream. That being said is like a lot of these “Overnight success.” that’s taken many years to get to the point we are today.
It’s not like you just had an idea, popped up a website and made $1 million one year. So I’d love to know that, we’ve got the $10,000 question where is, if you didn’t have any of your assets right now and had to build something from scratch and I gave you $10,000 to do so, where would you start? I mean if you’re trying to rebuild the empire.
Chris: If you’re telling me I had to go into the What Is My IP Address, space…
Phil: Something similar to this.
Chris: I think I can probably do something in the affiliate space where I can build up content around products and really provide some insights about those product’s comparisons versus others. There’s a lot of ways to do this, to find a really nice, maybe it’s even a VPN niche because I have experience there. But to really find a really tight niche where I can really get a good understanding of the audience really zoom in on who they are, what they do, why they do it.
Today, the ad targeting that you can do these days through Facebook and Google AdWords is just amazing that if you really know your audience, I’d rather have 10 people who want to buy my product coming to the site than, 10,000 people who have no intent to buy any product. So I think these days, there are some crazy opportunities to make money being super nichey, super targeted. So, I’d probably go that route.
Phil: Build a site, build some content around it and then start just giving a lot of value and maybe doing some really highly targeted advertising?
Chris: Yup and start working out from there.
Phil: So just off of that real quickly, you mentioned VPN. We talked a little bit about that at the beginning too. You mentioned that once or twice. What’s going on in that space where there’s some interest. Why is that kind of a hot area for you and something that sounds interesting?
Chris: So the 10,000-foot view of what a VPN is. A VPN is a network, not your internet connection like your internet service provider, or your wireless carrier, but it’s a company that provides transit for your data. So rather than you appearing to be surfing the web from your AT&T mobile phone, your traffic gets routed through your VPN provider and it pops out the internet kind of almost wherever you want it, wherever your VPN provider has server.
So if I am traveling in Singapore and I wanted to look to the internet like I’m on the internet in California, I can use a VPN company which routes my traffic through a server in California. So as far as the rest of the world knows based on my IP address, I’m in California not in Singapore. Where this is really impacting things these days is you’ve got oppressive governments who are trying to limit access to social media and information. People in those countries don’t want their government spying on them and watching what they do, so they use VPNs to route their traffic elsewhere.
So they can get access to content which they otherwise might not get access to and I think even more so, people are becoming more concerned about that even here in the United States as well. I don’t trust the government, I don’t trust these big companies with my data, I want to make sure that I’m protected and things like that. Then you’ve got people who are expats, they’re US citizens living abroad and they want to be able to access US Netflix. You can’t do that from many other countries so if you get a VPN which routes your traffic to the US, your traffic to Netflix and Hulu and the common streaming services appear to come from the US.
There’s a bit of cat and mouse going on with that because Netflix and Hulu, those licensing issues, they really don’t want to be distributing US content to people in other countries. So there’s a little cat and mouse game going on there as well but the use of VPNs involved around, I want to access something I can’t access in my country, I want privacy, I don’t want people whose website I’m visiting to know where I am, know anything about me or security. Like I’m on Wifi at Starbucks or my local Mom and Pop Café, I don’t trust their ability to keep their network secure. So if I use a VPN, my devices are protected, my traffic is encrypted and no one can sniff out what I’m doing while I’m at the cafe.
Phil: It makes perfect sense. As you say, I’m also thinking like earlier this summer, my wife’s from Taiwan. We took a trip there and spent a couple weeks and of course we got kids and we have a Netflix account. Of course, if you go overseas and try to access your Netflix account, you can’t access it because you’re outside the country. So I was like, I wonder if a VPN would kind of solve that problem where you can actually access something that you already should have access to. It’s just they don’t tell you, they’re not explicit about you can’t use this traveling outside the country type of thing.
Chris: Yup. A VPN is a good solution for stuff like that. You got to test it to make sure it works but each one is a little bit funky. They can be a funky in how they implement it.
Phil: Well Chris Parker, this has been really awesome. Of course, I guess we’re kind of geeking down a little bit more, maybe than we do on some of the shows. I found this really fascinating because some of the stuff also is a great lesson for, it just happens to be IP addresses. But it could really be anything. If somebody gets on to something they’re passionate about and they’re able to build up traffic, it all comes back to full time, it’s got to be profitable and you got to monetize it.
So one of the lessons I think we learned here today are going to apply to a lot of different folks especially when it comes to advertising. Can you give us like what’s the best way to kind of follow what you’re doing. We mentioned whatismyipaddress.com a couple of times. What else do you have going on, what’s your favorite social media channels that you kind of act and distribute and share content on and any other websites where people can follow you.
Chris: Definitely you can get all the social media profiles for whatismyipaddress.com down in the footer of the website and unfortunately whatismyipaddress.com is too long to be a social media handle in most cases. You can find it there. We run all the main social media channels. If people want to follow me personally and kind of some of my behind the scenes in my journey, they can visit us cgparker.com and find all my social media there.
Phil: Is there any particular one that you spend more time than others? Facebook, Instagram LinkedIn, or kind of mixed up?
Chris: If anyone is personally trying to get a hold of me through social media, LinkedIn is probably the best way and I will provide a link for you for the show notes.
Phil: Awesome. W will definitely place it. Well, thank you very much Chris. This has been really awesome. I’m so glad we get to have a person with your experience and of your caliber on the show. I just want to thank you one more time.
Chris: Thank you, Phil, I had a great time. It’s always fun to geek out on some of the technical aspects of the site.
Phil: All right, bye now.
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