Welcome to the Online Success Journey Podcast. Your opportunity to discover and learn from entrepreneurs like yourself. This is not your typical podcast but a place where you can get the real story and find out how real people encounter speed bumps and detours but journey through to find success. Now here’s your host for the Online Success Journey podcast, Patience.
Patience: Hello everyone, and welcome to Online Success Journey this is episode 129. Are you ready to join the clan? Today we have Chris Parker, the founder and the CEO of whatismyipaddress.com, the number one website in the world for finding their IP address. According to the Alexa ranking, Chris’ website is one of the top 3,000 websites in the United States with over six million visitors per month.
Patience: I know the clan is anxious to hear your story, so let’s get started with the basics. Can you tell my clan a little bit about your background? What you did before you started your own online business? Right after the last job or business before your online.
Chris: Okay. I originally started out working in a mail-order catalog fulfillment working for a company that sold computers and electronics over the phone, and with the advent of the internet, I got to go into the team that helped facilitate that, a little bit of building the website, and a bunch of marketing there. That was a great learning experience as the internet was growing before Google when it was Alta Vista and all those search engines that no one remembers anymore. It was a great fun time to be a part of the internet.
From there, I went on and spent about eight years working for an online life insurance broker, helping them build their platform that helped them sell thousands of policies to customers throughout the United States. Again, it was a fun opportunity there to apply the skills that I learned at the previous job and to really grow in the things that I learned about marketing. I think it really helped prepare me to be able to take the reins of my own business and be able to run with it.
Patience: Why do you do what you do Chris?
Chris: I originally started out whatismyipaddress.com as a hobby. One of the companies I was working for was trying to diagnose a technical issue with our network, and the company that I was talking with said, “Hey what’s your IP address? I think you’re having problems getting on our network. If you tell us what your IP address is we can try to diagnose it.” I went on the search engine at the time, and there was no quick easy answer. There was no Google that told you that right away.
So I thought, “Gosh, I could build a website that will do this. It will make it easy for other people, and they won’t have to dig around for it.” That night I went home, spent a couple hundred dollars to register a domain name—which is what it costs in 2000 or so—and put together a very simple website which answered that and promptly forgot all about it.
About a year later, I was looking through my server, and I realized I had the log files for my website were pretty darn big, and so from there, I realized that people were visiting the website, and thought, “Hey, this could be a fun opportunity just to have a little business, provide useful information.” and so that’s what I did for many years. It was just a nice little side gig and was able to provide useful information. I started building out contents. After that, I started to realize that people started having a lot of questions, “Hey I’ve been scammed, this person who I’m talking with on the internet, I don’t think they’re who they claim to be.” and that so it really became an opportunity for me to help people to be safe, and really watch out for themselves online. That’s where it’s grown from is my desire just to help people.
Patience: How did you make the transition from working in the corporation full time to being a full time entrepreneur.
Chris: It was a good opportunity-bad opportunity situation. The company that I was working for when the economy in the US started going down, they were struggling financially and couldn’t afford to keep us all on full-time and so they laid most of the company off, and asked a few of us, “Hey, can you work for us like 10 or 20 hours a week?” and so my wife and I, we talked about it and debated back and forth, “Should I get a new full time job or is or is this an opportunity to invest significantly more time in my website, in my own business and see if I can get it to the point where it’s enough to live off of?”
We thought about it and said, “Okay, let’s give it a couple of months, and see if putting that additional time into it while effectively working a part-time job was enough to grow the business.” Lo and behold, definitely saw improvements and growth in the business, growth in the traffic, growth in the revenue. I was like, “Gosh, this could become a full-time job, this is pretty neat.” About a year or two later, the company went from having me there part time to saying, “Hey, we can’t make you go over it anymore, we got to let you go.” and so at that time, it was, “Okay, let’s review this again. Can this become my full-time job?” My wife and I talked about it and said, “Let’s give it a year, and if in that year we can make as much or more than what your daytime job was doing, then let’s stick with it.” That’s what we did, and that’s how that transition went.
Patience: You have a really good wife advising and giving you all the encouragement you needed.
Chris: Yes, she has been incredibly supportive.
Patience: That’s good. You should be thankful, not many people have that encouragement and support.
Chris: I am very thankful.
Patience: Okay, let’s put it on the side of Chris. How did you know you are successful?
Chris: I think part of what I look at as success is being able to provide for my family, not just for our needs today, but to be able to put aside for our future needs, and that I’m also able to—through having contractors, the people that work for me—I’m actually able to provide for multiple people’s livelihood. To me, it wasn’t a dollar amount in my bank account, but to be able to say, “I’m able to support myself or things that I’m excited to do.” That’s what I consider as a success. It’s not a particular car in the garage, not a particular size of the house or things in my life but I’ve got some great family, great friends, and I’m able to help other people out with their lives as well.
Patience: What are some of the challenges you have faced in running such a popular website and how have you responded to those challenges?
Chris: One of the challenges to me, as a new business owner, I think I had a little bit of naivety in thinking that everybody that I would deal with on a business level, would be honest and professional in what they did. I had a number of incidents where I had a vendor that I hired to do work, and they took my money, and they didn’t produce what they said they were going to do. I also had an advertiser who looked like a reputable advertiser, so I started running their ads on my website, everything looked good until I went to get the first paycheck from them, and found out that what it was, was someone else was pretending to be this company.
They had bought the .net version of that company’s domain name, they made the website look exactly the same, they just changed the phone number to their phone number, and it turned out to be entirely fraudulent. It was kind of a wakeup call that I couldn’t just assume and trust that everybody did what they said they would do. But I really had to do my own due diligence, do my own checks to the people that I’m working with, “Are they a legitimate organization? How long have they been around? Who else do they work with?” Almost as if when you’re looking for a job, if they check your references, I had to start doing that with vendors and not just assume that everybody was who they claim to be.
Patience: How did you achieve six million constant visitors per month for your site?
Chris: It’s been a challenge, part of it has been applying good SEO techniques over the years, and for many years, when I was doing this as a side hustle or as a hobby, I invested almost all the revenue from the company would go back into growing the content, working on advertising, and really spent a lot of effort growing the business and not trying to line my own pocket.
The website’s been up for 18 years. It’s taken that process of, constantly working on it, constantly growing in it, constantly looking at what my competitors are doing, and areas that I’m not doing well compared to my competitors, I’ve got to work on those areas. Even places where I might do something better than one of my competitors, I’ve got to not rest on my laurels, not assume that just because Google has been friendly to me for that for the last so many years that they’re going to continue to be that way, but I’m going to continue to innovate, continue to develop, and continue to make my website better even if my competitors aren’t doing that on theirs.
Patience: Do you need to be a super tech-savvy when setting up an online internet or can you just figure it out as you go?
Chris: I think when I started, you definitely had to have a technical background. There weren’t as many platforms as there are today, there weren’t as many Software as a Service company is out there. Today, it’s really a lot easier for someone to put together their own website, to plug in e-commerce, to plug in fulfillment. The companies providing those services have really blossomed and could make things a lot easier for entrepreneurs without a significant amount of technical experience.
I do think though that if the entrepreneur themselves doesn’t have technical experience, they need to have someone that they work with that can help them at least achieve the minimal technical requirements. Making sure that you’re updating your website platform, making sure WordPress is current, that you’re aware of what security patches need to be installed on the different tools that you’re using. Because if you’re not keeping those things current, at some point, your website could be compromised, your computer could be compromised, and if you’re not prepared for that sort of thing, it could be devastating for a small business..
Patience: Can anyone be an entrepreneur, or are some people more cut out for it than others?
Chris: I think definitely, some people are cut out for it, and others aren’t. We’re all wired differently. Different things excite us. Some of the things that we’re comfortable with or not comfortable with can really play into whether or not we can be successful as an entrepreneur. I know that for me, since fully working for myself—I work 365 days a year, not eight hours a day always—but if I’m on vacation, there’s at least some amount of time spent checking email, making sure everything is running, just keeping on top of my business. Just because I go on vacation doesn’t mean my business can grind to a standstill while I’m on vacation.
That’s something that my wife and I have talked about. If we’re traveling internationally, she knows that I’m going to spend some portion of my day working. If we get a really slow internet connection somewhere, I’ve got to work through that and continue to do that. I think if someone’s willing to work more than 40 hours a week, they’ve got a lot of patience in their life, they can deal with stress, they’re willing to work hard, and they’re open to mentorship, I think they can be successful as an entrepreneur. But if a person’s not willing to work hard, they’re not open for input in their life, I think they’re going to have a very hard time achieving success however they define it.
Patience: You mentioned to have a mentor, do you have a mentor or coaches in your business?
Chris: Yeah, I have mentors in a number areas of my life. I think mentorship is truly important for us. It’s hard for us to see our own selves clearly. We have blind spots when we look at ourselves, we have weaknesses that we don’t realize, and we’re not experts in every area of our life. For me, it’s not just business, but I’ve got other people involved in my life. I’ve got mentors in my church, and I mentor people in my church. I’ve got a fitness coach that I work with because it’s something that I don’t know what I’m doing, I’m not good at, and I know I need help and accountability with.
I’ve got another businessman that he and I meet for breakfast once a week. We talk about how our businesses are going, some of the challenges that we’re running across, and ways that we think we can grow our businesses. I’ve got a group of older men that I meet with, and talk about family, talk about relationships, talk about spiritual things. I think having mentors in all areas of our life can really help us to see things from a different perspective.
For my business, I did hire a coach last year. He’s really been able to help me to grow personally, not just my business but help me to grow personally and to realize that I’ve made a lot of decisions out of comfort and convenience, and that I really needed to start doing things that challenged me, that were uncomfortable and not let that discomfort prevent me from learning new skills, prevent me from building new networking relationships, but to really get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and that’s been really helpful for me.
Patience: What is the most valuable thing your mentors has told you?
Chris: I think for me, it’s really been that combination of accountability and helping me to be uncomfortable. I think it’s easy to see, “If I just did this, I could grow my business but I’m not really good in that area, so I don’t want to do that.” Or we tend to shy away from things that we don’t have confidence in and having mentors that can challenge us and help us to see those things can really help us to grow and push through our own barriers and walls that we put up in our life.
Patience: What parts of your business are automated and which requests your time or attention?
Chris: I’ve worked really hard to automate tasks that are very repetitious. There’s database maintenance that has to happen, and so I’ve tried to automate these things. Sometimes it’s hard to automate things. In my mind, if it can be automated, if I can reduce the time, the effort, and attention that needs to be applied to those things and really put my time on things where it requires my skill set.
Patience: What is one thing that has contributed to your success?
Chris: I think one of the things that’s really helped me is having realistic expectations. When I was a kid, “I want to run my own business.” When I was in high school, I had a paper route, and I thought, “Wow, hard drives. These new things you can store tons of data on. I could probably buy these and sell them for a little more than I buy them for,” and so I pulled out my spreadsheet, “If I could sell 10 a day, if I could sell 20 a day, 30, 40, 50,” and I got very unrealistic in what I want that to be very quickly.
I think sometimes we have to be careful that we’re not living in a dream state of, “Oh my gosh, this is what my business could be 50 years from now. I could be making millions of dollars.” But to realize we have to take things one step at a time, not to say that we shouldn’t dream but our dreams need to be realistic as to what our next steps are. We shouldn’t think like, “If I just turn on my website that suddenly, millions of customers are going to come running to my door.” We have to work for these things. Nothing happens overnight. It just takes constant pressure and effort to make a business grow.
Patience: What is one thing no one knows about you Chris?
Chris: I thought of a game that me, my friends used to play, people that I know used to play. It’s called two truths and a lie where you tell several true things about yourself and one lie about yourself to see if people would figure it out. The one that I had always catch people with was that I was an A student, I was a horrible student. Education has never been my forte, I’ve struggled with it, and for some reason, everybody thinks I’m a really smart guy, but I was not a good student by any means.
Patience: But you are successful, here you are.
Chris: Yeah, got to find what works.
Patience: What is the most valuable thing you have ever given away?
Chris: I think that’s your heart, honestly. For me, to really care about people, and to be compassionate with people, is a value to me. I look at people that come to my website, and if they’ve been a victim of a scam, it’s easy to have that mindset of like, “How could you fall for that? Oh my goodness, how could you ever do that?” But that’s not compassionate. It takes effort to be compassionate with people, to really feel their pain, and try to meet people where they’re at. I guess I’ve given away monitors, and computer equipment, a hundred or a thousand dollars worth but to me, it’s not necessarily money. I think the harder thing to give away and more valuable thing is your time, your effort, and your heart.
Patience: Chris, tell us more about whatismyipaddress.com website.
Chris: I’ve worked really hard over the years to build out a variety of tools that not only tech people can use—originally, it was tech people—but a lot of people need to know when you’re online with tech support, you’re having a problem accessing a website, they want to know your IP address, it would make that very easy to use, and to be able to see that with a map, and location information. But with more businesses online, and people having comments and forums and all these sorts of things on their websites, people want to know who’s visiting their website, is this the same person trolling me, are my orders potentially fraudulent, are these real orders.
I know one of the things that challenged me in one of my small businesses many years ago, the biggest order I ever had, and I believe gleefully filled it and shipped off, and found out that the credit card was stolen. When I did that did a little bit of digging into it, I found out that the person wasn’t in Arizona like they said they were, but they were in South Africa. It was a stolen credit card. Part of the services that we can help people with is looking at where people’s customers are, if there’s a big order people can look into it and say, “Hey, gosh this IP address of the person who placed the order is coming back in a different country halfway around the world.” and that for certain businesses should raise suspicions if they’re a local business, and it’s their biggest order, they should always be cautious about that.
We’ve also worked really hard to build a lot of content over the last year or two about online privacy and online safety. There’s this just so many scams out there. There’s so many people trying to take advantage of innocents out there, and we’re really trying to help people be aware of what the types of scams are out there, and how to avoid them, and how to prevent themselves from becoming a victim.
Patience: How can we find you and get in contact with you, or can we get in contact with you personally? Do you answer emails personally?
Chris: I actually do. If any of your listeners want to contact me, they’ve got an issue, along those lines, they can always email me at [email protected]. They can always visit the website, and we’ve got a support staff that’s willing and able to help in whatever ways we can. We even try to help them with things that have nothing to do with IP addresses. If we get questions, we do our best to help out with whatever we can.
Patience: Okay, so clan, there will be more from Chris in a moment. If you are listening on one of the many podcast platforms rather than my website, and you are encouraged by Chris’ journey, go to onlinesuccessjourney.com. for a bonus portion of the interview.
The Online Success Journey is a wonderful membership community, beautiful people searching for the path for success. We are one big clan, and you can be part of this community for free. Once you have joined the clan, click on Path of Chris’ Journey or over 100 other journeys that are available, and learn how you can find the right path for your own online success journey. That’s a wrap clan. Remember, success is a journey. Patience, and Chris.
This is not the end of the journey. We hope you’ve enjoyed listening to part one. I want to be sure you know there is a second part to this and every journey podcast at onlinesuccessjourney.com. Filled with even more success tips, uplifting stories and even a bit of fun. There are dozens of episodes only available to the members of the Online Success Clan. Check out the website and click on join the clan for more information.
Patience would like to thank you for listening to this podcast, and she has a free audio gift for you at her website, go to onlinesuccessjourney.com. for instant access to this gift. Of course, you know that listening to the journeys of others helps each of us charter our own path, so make sure you’re subscribed to be notified as each new interview is posted. There are so many ways to stay connected to the Online Success Journey and to listen in. If you’re enjoying the podcast, we appreciate your help in telling others.
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