Scaling a Website to 7 Million Visitors per Month with Chris Parker

#11: Chris Parker, entrepreneur and creator of WhatIsMyIPAddress.com (which is ranked as one of the top two thousand websites in the world), shares what it’s taken to scale to 7 million website visitors a month.

Not only does Chris dig into the technical and logistical side of scaling a website, he also shares how he’s had to adapt his content for a global audience and how stepping out of his comfort zone as an entrepreneur has reshaped his business.

To find your IP address or to learn more about online privacy, visit WhatIsMyIPAddress.com. And don’t forget to connect with Chris on Twitter.


Episode Transcript

Ep. 11: Scaling a Website to 7 Million Visitors per Month with Chris Parker

Chris: And it was just this cataclysmic failure that would occasionally happen. Probably the biggest turning point was when that happened, when I was on vacation out of the country. I'm on the phone with my brother, I'm in the airport, $2 a minute phone calls. He's a very technical guy. He's really smart. Like, can you remote into the server? I can't get it. Okay, go to the house and call me when you get there and we're walking through stuff. I almost missed our next flight because of it and it was just this like, okay, things have got to change. I have to think about this different light.

Josiah: That was Chris Parker, Entrepreneur and Creator of whatismyIPaddress.com which is ranked as one of the top 2,000 websites in the world. And in this episode he shares what it's taken to scale to 7 million visitors a month. Not only does Chris dig into the technical and logistical side of scaling a website, he also shares how he's had to adapt his content for a global audience and how stepping out of his comfort zone as an entrepreneur has reshaped his business. If you are interested in gaining massive traffic for your website, you'll definitely want to stick around for this one. So let's jump in.

Announcer: You're listening to the content heroes podcast where entrepreneurs, marketers, and creatives share how they build profitable businesses on their own terms by creating content online. And now your host, Josiah Goff.

Josiah: Welcome to Content Heroes everyone. I'm here with Chris Parker who is an Entrepreneur and Founder of whatismyIPaddress.com which most people listening to this podcast have probably used at one point in their lives. And so I'm really excited to have this conversation. Chris, thanks so much for joining us today.

Chris: Thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.

Josiah: Awesome. So let's dive in and can you tell us about your origin story and how you started whatismyIPaddress.com and what that's looked like?

Chris: It's an origin story that starts 20 years ago in the the birth pangs of the internet. Back in the old days, I was working for an online, actually, technically when I started working there they weren't online. It was a mail order computer reseller, so you couldn't go online and buy computers. You had to make phone calls. They were starting to go online at the time and had brought in a whopping 1.5 megabit T1 into their office. And we're trying to get some things worked out and we were having a technical problem connecting up to one of our vendors and we needed to know what her IP address was. And we didn't know. And we're like, well how do we figure this out? Go on Alta Vista, Lycos, Excite pre-Google days and try to figure it out. I'm like, gosh, it took us a while to figure it out and I thought, well, you know, I can build a server that will do this around my internet connection at home. And that's what I did. And all it did was spit out the IP address, eight point Ariel font, no ads, no content. It just did exactly what the site claim to do. It showed you your IP address. You know, I never really thought of it like, Oh Hey, this is going to be a business. This is going to be my full-time job at some point it was just, I'm just providing something that I think was useful for me, not really thinking that it's going to be useful for other people specifically. But I did, you know, go through all the search engines submissions and get it out there and over the next couple of years I just kind of forgot about it and let it run on the server until I started getting alerts saying that the hard drive space was running out. There's nothing else going on on this machine. Why is the hard drive space getting low? And it turned out it was all the logs from all the people visiting the website. This is kind of cool. People are using it. Let's see if I can be a little bit more helpful and I'll put an email address up there and ask if, do you have questions about IP addresses? Go ahead and email me and I'll do my best to answer. And so people started emailing. So at nights and weekends I'm responding to people's emails. It's not very scalable. Eventually, I said well, you know, I'm answering a lot of these questions over and over and over again. I should put some frequently asked questions and the answers to those questions up on the website. So that was the birth of the actual content of the site was to actually start answering those questions so I didn't have to answer them via email because just copy paste, copy, paste and so that's how the site kind of grew. I tried to do a couple of other online businesses which took off for a little while but promptly flopped. Like I think most entrepreneurs will have quite a few failures in their bag before they get to success or vice versa. It's just about continuing to work through it. Even though something doesn't work out. A number of years later, just continued to build content and my employer started going through some financial challenges with the economic crisis back a number of years ago and ultimately ended up with me getting laid off and that was kind of the kick in the butt that I needed to decide, Hey, am I going to do this full-time or resist or is it still gonna be a side gig or a hobby. And so my wife and I sat down, we set up some milestones that I needed to hit because it was not just can the website continue to make money as much as it did when I wasn't investing in it full-time. But if I invest in it full-time, can I actually grow the revenue? And so we set some milestones, three months, six months and one year, milestones and hit all those milestones. And now five years later, I'm still working, happily working from home, plugging away, do the things that I enjoy doing.

Josiah: So when you were in that place, kind of making that decision of whether or not I can do this full-time. What was kind of going through your head? Were you scared? Were you excited? What was your thought process around that?

Chris: It was a little bit of both. My wife and I are both financially risk averse, which maybe doesn't make for a good entrepreneur, but it's like I really wanted to weigh the values of it. Like, okay, can me dedicating 40 hours a week grow the revenue of the website more than if I were to go out and find a new job. I was confident that I could find a new job, but it was the question of, well, we're doing okay. We don't have kids. We've got some money in the bank. We can afford some risk. But I think that was the point of setting up the milestones of like, okay, if I can't grow the business by dumping an extra 40 hours of time in it, then it doesn't really make sense for that to be my full-time occupation. Still great side gig. It's still going to bring in travel money and vacation money and things like that. I just didn't know if it was scalable to my time. So I think that was the big question of will that make a difference? And ultimately it did.

Josiah: Awesome. So when you were looking at making it your full-time gig, what was your revenue model for the website at that time and has that changed over time or how has that changed over time?

Chris: So initially, the very beginning revenue model was purely display ads. Once Google AdSense came in, that was a boon for people who had traffic because you didn't have to go out and find specific advertisers. You didn't have to go out and sign contracts, you just had one easy snippet of code and it's just magically making you money. It doesn't quite work that way anymore with Google AdSense. But at the time it was almost this magical thing that you could do. Probably the first five or six years, it was just purely display ads. I tried a couple of ad networks. they never really worked for me quite as good as AdSense did. So I stuck with that for a long time. And then I started to mix in affiliate programs into the model. I think the first one that I was working with was GotomyPC, which was remote access software, which really tied in very well with whatismyIPaddress. People are trying to figure out how to get to their computers and things like that. And so that was kind of the first affiliate program that I joined up and it was $10 a lead, $35 a sale, something like that. A couple of leads, a couple of sales a day adds up over time. As the years have gone by, the display ad model has gotten more sophisticated. There's this, it's not really new, but within the last couple of years, there's is new technology called header bidding that allows other platforms to compete for the traffic. So someone comes to your website and the platform says, Hey, I have an ad impression. Here's the user's IP address and all the other, this is the device, the geolocation put it out to all the ad networks and they come back and who's willing to pay the most for it? Okay, I'm willing to pay 10 cents per thousand for that. $10 per thousand and so works to serve up and kind of compete against AdSense to bring in more revenue. And so that's been really neat because it's allowed me to scale and work with a larger number of advertisers and advertising platforms, but not having to constantly be fiddling on the back end of like, okay, well this person's paying me this much, this person's paying me this much. The platform itself manages all that, which frees up a lot of time for me not having to manage those relationships as much. Along with that, I've also worked to more actively look for affiliate programs that tie in with the website, so it's privacy and security related affiliate programs. Probably the ones that work best these days are VPNs, which are privacy, security, access software. Not so much used in the US but definitely outside of the US people concerned about their governments watching their online behavior. They want to be able to access Netflix or BBC One. And people that are just worried about their ISP is monitoring and things like that. So it's becoming more popular in the US but definitely outside the US it's a definite good draw. And that is also then one of the biggest challenges with the site is monetizing traffic from outside the US. Lots of people are like, Oh well I have a very US centric product or a very US centric business and so therefore 90%, 95% of their traffic is US. I have almost the opposite where it's probably about 30% US traffic and 70% non US traffic. Anyone who's trying to monetize non US traffic, it takes more effort, particularly when I'm not outside the US.

Josiah: That brings up something I'm curious about. What did your traffic look like in the early days up to the point where you made this your full-time and where are you at now?

Chris: Yeah. So traffic has, I mean it's been 20 years. I have the advantage of being in the game early but you can't rest on your laurels just because you've been around a long time. So traffic currently is about six and a half, 7 million sessions a month. So that's absolutely massive traffic. It's one of the top couple thousand websites in the world for visits that has its own scalability issues because the 1299 a month hosting plans don't work when you have that much traffic. And you get denial service attacks, servers don't scale back ends, don't scale, there's all sorts of fun stories in there and trying to keep the platform up and running. But I think at the time that I transition from around the time that I left my job was around probably 5 million sessions a month. So I've been able to grow it over the last couple of years. I was about 30%. there's probably about three sites that are doing what I do that have about that same amount of traffic. So I think when you're kind of leader of the pack or in that front, part of the pack, it's hard to substantially grow your audience. When you have 5,000 people a month, you can double your site to 10,000 but when it's 5 million, okay, where do I get another 5 million users?

Josiah: Right? Yeah. What is your strategy been for gaining more traffic? Have you put together like a content strategy? What does that look like?

Chris: It's been all about content. The way to grow that is to start providing more information that is tangentially related to IP addresses. So starting to build a lot of content around privacy and security, around scams, things that happen online and even trying to provide non-technical answers to technical questions. There's a lot of great resources that if you read about the information about IP addresses, it's been written by a network engineer and if you're a network engineer, you totally understand what they're saying, but if you're not a network engineer, it's just a whole string of geek speak and not a single word make sense in there. I've got a couple of really good writers who are very good at taking technical content and explaining it in like real world. Okay, I understand what that means. Not just in US terminology. It has to be kind of international terminology. So you have to be careful of how you phrase things to make sure that we're targeting a larger audience, not just people in the US 'cause we talk about, Oh well it's kind of like this other technology that's only available in the US or predominantly available in the US and other people are like, that doesn't mean anything to me. So we try to produce content that teaches things in the easy to understand digestible, short form. No 10,000 word articles about IP addresses.

Josiah: You mean people don't want to read that?

Chris: No, nobody wants to read that. Sometimes, I get complaints from network engineers that are like, well you're oversimplifying it. But my target audience is not network engineers. I mean they can come to my website and get the IP address, but they're not coming to my website to learn about IP addresses, whereas other people are. So I'm trying to reach that audience, not the technical audience.

Josiah: So Chris, I'm really curious to hear what scaling has looked like for you, because like you mentioned earlier, at 1299 a month hosting account, like a shared host, it's not going to be able to handle anywhere near the amount of traffic that you've gotten. What does that process look like going from starting out to, you know, serving 5, 6 million people a month?

Chris: It's been interesting. I think I honestly made some fundamental mistakes at the beginning that are still haunting me to this day that I'm working to unravel years later. And part of it was that I wasn't thinking of it as a scalable business and so I was doing things with a hobby mindset. I really enjoyed the technical aspect of running my own domain name servers, running my own web server, kind of figuring out the whole technical backend myself. And while that's fun, that's not necessarily a scalable business aspect. And so for quite a few years, higher website, my email, everything ran from a growing massive equipment in my condo. So it was a T1 connection. A bonded T1 connection, a 5 megabit fixed wireless, all going into a device which routes traffic according to which one has the least amount of traffic on it. In order to support all the traffic that was coming in. Why I didn't think about moving into a co-location, I was just enjoying the process. Load balancers, link balancers.

Josiah: Your electricity bill must've been through the roof.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, definitely during the summer months in Southern California trying to keep my growing server room cool. We probably had a few like six or $700 a month electric bills. And even during the winter it was hundreds of dollars a month just trying to keep that room cool. And it grew from a couple of computers in a pile to a quarter rack to a half rack of servers. And at one point my wife was like, you know, if someone breaks into the house, you're going to lose your business. That was kind of like, ah, yeah, you might put a shirt doing something about this. And so it, you know, I definitely had issues where I would get traffic spikes and it would saturate all my internet connections and basically stop serving the site to people. I had issues where I was at one point running it on a single box and the database would start bogging down, therefore queries to the website would start slowing down and it would just be this cascading failure. Now the website's slow, people are hitting it, hitting refresh more. So that's causing the internet connections to saturate. And it was just this, you know, cataclysmic failure that would occasionally happen. I think probably the biggest turning point was when that happen when I was on vacation out of the country. So I'm on the phone with my brother, I'm in the airport, I'm, you know, a dollar a minute phone call, $2 a minute phone calls. He's a very technical guy. He's really smart. Like can you remote into the server? I can't get it. Okay, go to the house and call me when you get there. We're walking through stuff. I almost missed our next flight because of it. And it was just this like, okay, things have got to change. I have to think about this different light. That was when I started looking at, okay, I'm very fortunate where I live here. There are probably a dozen co-location facilities within a mile of my house. It happened to be very convenient process, so I ended up kind of not just moving my existing hardware into the co-location facility by ended up spinning up basically like a second instance of the website. I brought in a new database server, brought in multiple web servers behind a load balancer. So rather than quickly running my machine down the street, it was, you know, copy all the data, make sure everything is right, spin up the new location, switch over the DNS and everything's up and running in the co-location facility. It's been a very good experience. We've had hit a number of technical issues even there. When we originally moved in, the router is perfectly happy until it started getting denial service attacks and that 50 megabit denial service attacks, the router started going offline and the site would go down. It's like, Oh, okay, so drop a couple of grand, bring in a higher end router and okay, 50 megabit denial service attacks, no big deal. Okay, now they're moving up to 250 megabits denial of service. And the routers going down again, or the servers just can't handle an extra million queries or a couple of million queries over a very short period of time. Then so then migrated to start doing things like, okay, all my content started moving all of the static content to Cloudflare, which is Amazon's CDN. And so that helped reduce my bandwidth, kind of keep things stable, but I was still getting denial of service attacks. So I ended up moving the site behind Akamai so they could kind of stand on the front end. They could absorb the denial surface attacks. So I was with them for a couple of years. They're great for an enterprise customer, but I was not an enterprise customer. And so their interface was difficult for me to manage. So I ended up ultimately going over, Oh, sorry. Actually it was, CloudFront was the first CDN, not Cloudflare. And so now I've gone over to Cloudflare that's a much more user friendly interface. Their team is more supportive of smaller entities. So they've been great at absorbing some fairly massive denial service attacks and I think since I've been with them, I don't think anything substantial has gotten through, which was really cool.

Josiah: Yeah, I love CloudFlare. I use them for all of my websites and I always try to get my clients over on the Cloudflare as well.

Chris: They're free program works for almost everybody and if that doesn't work, they have a $20 a month plan which will work for 99% of the people. It scales up after that, but...

Josiah: Yeah, that's really awesome. I was kind of geeking out a little bit because I do have a more technical background and just thinking through like all of the...

Chris: All the moving parts behind the...

Josiah: All of the moving parts. Yeah. Behind that, because that's a lot.

Chris: To me that was so much of the fun of it being a hobby of being a side gig, a side hustle was me being able to figure out these technical things. Okay. I'm having a denial of service attack. What do I do? I'm having equipment failures, they don't scale. How do I resolve this myself and that's fun, but that's not necessarily the right business mindset to have. Is this a good use of my time trying to figure out how to spin up a new server on my load balancer? Probably not the best use of my time.

Josiah: That brings up a really good point. When you made that transition out of your full-time career into doing this full-time, I made that shift into an entrepreneur. It sounds like what came with that was a big mindset shift for you, too because what I'm hearing is it's no longer a hobby 'cause when it's a hobby you could do stuff like that and it was just, it was fun. Now it's your main focus and I'm curious what other big shifts have come out of taking off the hobbyist hat and putting on the entrepreneur hat?

Chris: It's funny. I historically has, even though I went to college for a short period of time, focusing on a business degree ended up not doing that route, but up until recently I have never enjoyed reading a business book. The whole thought of reading a business book, I don't want to do that. It's not interesting. It's not fun. I think my mindset has definitely changed on that in more recent years and trying to figure out if I want my business to do better, I have to, I have to be different. I have to change, I have to grow, I have to do things that I'm not used to doing. Otherwise, the business is just going to stay where it's at. Yeah. Maybe you can get a linear growth by doing the same thing over and over, but at some point you've got to bring in other people that are experts at other things or change the way you think about things. And when you're in your forties getting close to your 50s it's kind of difficult to change mindsets and trying to do things. About two years ago, I hired a business coach and one of the things that he said to me a number of times is, you've got to become comfortable with being uncomfortable. To me it was like, no, I don't want to do things that are difficult. I don't want to go on podcasts and talk about my journey. That's uncomfortable. I don't want to try to get media exposure. I don't want the attention. Well, but that's what you need to do in order to grow your business. You need links from authoritative sources. You can't just get links from hobby sites. You need media, you need to be talking to the media. You need to be active on social media itself. And all these things are like, I don't want to do that. That's not fun. It's not interesting. I'm not good at it. But you've got to either outsource the people that are good at it, but you still have to do things that are not you and figure it out. You need to figure out how to get yourself motivated to change it, to do those things. So I think it's, you know, there've been like little steps along the way. I bought a book many, many, gosh, it's probably I think about in '86 or maybe it was early nineties getting things done. Yeah, productivity book. And I've probably, prior to a couple of years, I'd probably read it three or four times. Oh this is interesting, but could never really implement it. I don't know if it was just because I was at the right place or because technology is better, but it's been something I've kinda been pretty passionate about of like getting my to do list and the things that I need to do out of my mind is I'm not preoccupied with like, okay, what do I need to do today? When do I needed to do that. I'm not waking up at two o'clock in the morning worrying about what I forgot or what I didn't do. But it's like, okay, I still worry about things like - is a hard drive gonna fail or what a critical piece of hardware explodes in the middle of the night. I still wake up with that kind of thought. But it's not like what's on my to-do list that I forget something. That's been very helpful for me if it's just like, okay, when I'm unfocused, what I'm kind of overwhelmed. It's like, okay, just go to the list. What's going to take five minutes? Okay. Nail a few five minute things off the list and feel like, okay I'm getting productive or getting back and focused. There's a couple of other tools I've been really excited to me it's, I've moved away from dealing with lots of different advertisers to one partner that manages a lot of that for me. But prior to that I was just juggling a lot of, you know, every advertiser wants to have a phone call with you once or twice a month. If you've got 20-30 advertisers, that's 60 phone calls a month. Most of them aren't going to be that useful. They just want to, you know, Hey can you give me a better placement? Can you give me more? Or they're just follow-ups - How are things going? One. I didn't want to spend that much time on the phone with people 'cause it just was taking me away from actually working on the site and two is like scheduling all that stuff was just a nightmare. You're in Tel Aviv. I'm in California. We've got this 15 hour time difference. Okay. When are you available? I think you use it whether it's ScheduleOne, Calendly, there's a couple of products out there that coordinate phone calls. And here's my calendar book, the call. Oh my gosh, what a godsend in time.

Josiah: Yeah. I feel like it's so much easier to get a business up and running and doing all of that these days than it is like five or 10 years ago.

Chris: I think, we really are like living in a golden age of anyone who wants to start a business can start a business. There's so many tools available. All these tools that make scheduling calls. You've got voice over IP telephone systems, you've got Skype. People don't even make phone calls anymore. And you've got shared office space. Just so many things that people can do that like get them that leg up from where it was even 10 years ago. I think even businesses are much more likely to work with freelancers than they used to be. I mean, my entire team is freelancers.

Josiah: How big is your team?

Chris: Let's count it out and we'll talk about it. I've got a content writer, editor. He does marketing as well. A graphic artist and marketing guy. They work together, they know each other and I've known them for years. And they're here local to me. I have a caller VA in the Philippines. She transcribes whenever I'm on a podcast, I have her transcribe it all for me. I have her do research on hosts before I show up on shows that way I kind of know what I'm getting and have an idea of what's going on. She also does, there's a great service called HARO, Help a Reporter Out, H-A-R-O, where reporters can go and people that are writing content, they want to look for experts. They post their question to HARO and experts in those topics could respond. So she goes through and looks through all those queries and it's may be like a couple of hundred a day. She goes through and finds the ones that are appropriate to me and sends those over to me for me to decide whether I want to respond to them or not. So that helps me scale maybe an hour or two a day that she spends doing that, but it's not an hour or two a day of my time doing it. It's a very scalable, it's like okay, I'm now just focusing on queries that are relevant to me and deciding that. I've got another writer in India, who writes specifically about privacy and security stuff for me. I have a couple of other people that write like one article a month for me on things that are formerly in the privacy security space or cybersecurity and they still have fun. Kind of keeps them in the loop by writing articles about it, which is really cool. So I feel like I'm serving them. I've got some web developers out of Pakistan that for a flat rate a month, they'll do maintenance for one or two of my sites.

Josiah: That's a lot. That's a lot.

Chris: And I have someone else who helps with another stuff. I have people producing video producing, infographics going out and pitching me on podcasts to be a guest. I have a company that handles that for me. So I'm trying to make sure that the stuff that I'm doing with my time is the stuff that only I can do. The stuff that is uniquely me as opposed to spending 20 hours a week doing accounting or something like that. I do my own job, but I'm kind of a control freak about it. My accounting is pretty simple, but a lot of people, they're not good at accounting, they shouldn't be doing accounting and it's something that could easily outsourced to people that are exceptional in that area.

Josiah: I'm definitely one of those people that should not be doing accounting. So I don't. So that brings up something I'm really curious about, too. What your day to day looks like now. Cause you said you're trying to focus on only doing the things that are in your sweet spot. And one of the other things that you had mentioned before was that you weren't interested in business before and you kind of made it sound like that's changed for you. And I'm curious to hear about that as well because when I started, when I left my job, my original goal was to just be a freelancer. You know, I have a kind of a unique skill set on the WordPress side of things 'cause I've built an enterprise app on top of it in addition to doing all, you know, being in the marketing technology space for a long time. So I thought, you know, I'll just do some freelance work on the WordPress side of things. Because before stuff like marketing and sales and business to me always felt like they were a necessary evil. When I was an engineer or a product manager, it's like I just want to work on my stuff. I want to build my thing. And then the "business", business side are the people telling me it has to be this way or it has to be that way. Yeah. That completely shifted for me when I started my own business because what I learned from that is that, business is not a necessary evil, business is what makes everything possible.

Chris: Yes.

Josiah: And the marketing and the sales. That's what generates the revenue to do what you want to do and to help people. And when it's done really well, it's done in service of the customer or the user or the client or whatever. I've completely shifted that starting my own business. I'm curious about what that has looked like for you, how you feel about what you're doing now and what your day to day actually looks like.

Chris: I think I've had a similar experience that I grew up career-wise a developer or web developer and worked really well with marketing people and stuff like that. Luckily I work with some very good marketing people who understood that like as a web developer, gosh, I can get you 98% of what you want. If you're willing to give up that 2% I can cut weeks off your development schedule. And so I appreciate that I work with marketers that are like, I like that idea. Let's do that rather than, no, I need that three pixels to the left or two pixels up. And if it's not that way, everybody's going to die. And I like work with people like that. But working with people that were like, we're working for the common good, we're working to help the company succeed. And I think that was kind of part of the turning point for me was working with some people like that, that were, IT in marketing are often very adversarial, can be very adversarial roles. IT will stick their feet in the ground and say, no, we have to do it this way. And marketing will say, Hey, we have to do it this way. And people butt heads over it. And I think by having a good marketing guy in me wanting to work with him, it helped me understand the marketing side a lot better. And to see like, okay, sure IT rules and methodology is important, but if money's not coming in from the marketing side, well there's no money to pay the IT people so you better get on board here. But also trying to find out like how can I help the marketing guy achieve his goals as quickly and effectively as possible. And so I think that helped me to start trying to change my own mindset before going to work for myself. That was kind of the beginning of that transition. My day to day, I'm lucky. I think at this point I don't necessarily work eight hours a day, which is nice. I have the flexibility of, my wife has a career and she's eight, nine, 10 hours a day hustling there and doing a great job at her job. But that frees me up to, okay, so I take care of the errands and I take care of food, which, I love cooking. I love eating. You know, an hour lunch, go out, go grocery shopping, you know, so it's a little bit more relaxed pace than it has been in the past, which I like. But I think there's also that, well, it's my business, so if something happens at night, I need to, to be able to be there to resolve it. It means weekends, vacations. My wife, she just knows it's part of part of the routine that when we're traveling, I will spend an hour a day making sure that everything's moving along. People are doing what they're supposed to be doing, things that only I can do, I do. And that way everything kind of moves along even if I'm out of the town or out of country. And some of this is in transition. I'm really trying to move to more of the big picture stuff where I'm not getting involved in. Well, I don't like the wording of that. Or phrasing, but say, okay, Hey, we need to, Tim did a great job this year, so we decided to do something different. We decided to totally unrelated to privacy and security. We decided to do an Advent calendar for the website for December. And it's just every day something new shows up. Here's something nice to do. Text a friend, send someone a card, just nice stuff. And it was like, okay guys, just run with it. It's not a pitch for products. It's not, you know, hey, install a VPN, you know, and here's more to choose from where we make commission, but it's just purely let's just do something nice and encourage people to do something nice. And I sent it to my team and said here are some guidelines around what I want to do, you just take care of it. And the guys did awesome. Producing great graphics, great content. There's a social media person as well. A person who cues up social media stuff like clockwork. Everything happens. So it's like, okay, it took maybe an hour or two of my time talking with people to direct, but if I were involved in the nitty gritty, it would've been 40 hours. If I were involved in every step, it would just have absorbed a massive amount of my time to do something like that. So it was like, okay, we can produce stuff that's fun, that serves the audience, that helps you know that, Hey, this is a time of year to do something like that. Let's just do it. Do I make any money off of it? No, but it was something fun and different that we could do. So I think that was a recent success of being able to work with the team and hand stuff off.

Josiah: I love that.

Chris: Part of the current challenge is that I am in the process of migrating some of the site to a CMS because it's, it was a hobby. It was all hand coded. The whole back end is all designed by me, so that consequently meant any updates to the website, I'm the gatekeeper, the programmer and it's not the sort of thing where I could just give somebody else access. Well that gives them access to everything. You know there is no access, there's all access or there's no access.

Josiah: Right.

Chris: Which is not a really good security metric. It's just the way it is. So I'm in the process of trying to, like I said, those things that have just taken a tremendous amount of time and effort to move away from this all being me model to a model where okay now my writers can actually write content in the CMS and get it live on the site. Without me at all being involved. I still want to give approval and make sure they're writing things that I like. I don't have to code it, I don't have to push it live, I don't have to schedule it. They can take care of all of that and that frees me up for big picture and bigger initiatives of like, okay, we need to start adding, take the top 50 most popular pages on the site and we need to create a video in support of that content. A one or two minute video that we can embed and we can put it on YouTube, we can use it in the social media and start taking advantage of the audience that we have, providing them content in different formats. It's not just people read these days. You've got to do audio, you've got to do a video in order just to meet people where they're at and serve them content that's interesting to them in the way that I like to consume it.

Josiah: Awesome. It sounds like you're making great progress in that transition of stepping out of the day to day really and just focusing on the strategy and the vision for the company, which is exactly where we're all trying to be so that's great. Awesome, Chris. So before we go, what are some, a couple of key takeaways or tips that you would want to share with our audience, online content creators?

Chris: Yeah. I think when it comes to content that you already have that's successful for you, it's figuring out how to leverage it in as many formats as possible. So I have people on my team that are taking content and turning it into an infographic that can be shared on Twitter or Pinterest. I've got people that are going to take it and turn it into a 30-second video, which could be an Instagram story. Go up on LinkedIn, on Facebook, talk about your products and services on podcasts. There's all these different ways that you can use your existing content and reach people in the way that they like to consume content. If your website is just a big wall of text as time goes forward, that's just not gonna work. What are you doing to add graphics to make it more stimulating? What are you doing to show the call outs to the important points of the article? Are there action steps? The things people should do once they're done reading the article. There's all these things that you can do just to magnify your existing content and that'll give you ideas for new content as well.

Josiah: Awesome. Thanks so much, Chris. Before we hop off, can you just share with everybody where they can find you online?

Chris: If anyone wants to read more about privacy and security and seeing the things that I'm doing, you can visit the website at whatismyIPaddress.com.

Josiah: Awesome. Thanks so much. Really appreciate you being on the show today, Chris.

Chris: Thank you very much.

Josiah: Hey everyone! Thank you for listening to the Content Heroes podcast. I just wanted to take a second and let you know that we have some amazing guests planned for the coming weeks. So if you haven't already, go ahead and hit subscribe so you can make sure to catch every episode. And if you enjoyed today's episode, go ahead and leave a five star review to help make it easier for other content creators to find and enjoy the show. Lastly, I'd like to invite you to join our Content Heroes Facebook community where you can connect with other online content creators to share, learn, grow, and have fun. To join the group, just visit contentheroes.com/facebook. Once again, that is contentheroes.com/facebook.

+ Click to view entire transcript
- Click to collapse
Share via
Copy link