Interview with Ben Heckler of Promo Panda, Juice.aiPosted by Mike Schuck
Today we’re interviewing one of our own, Ben Heckler, the founder of Jam Addict. Heckler started the blog 3 years ago as a side project to share some of his drumming tips, provide his perspective on music, and just write some hilarious and entertaining music articles.
Heckler authored hundreds of articles and got Jam Addict to gain tens of thousands of organic traffic a month, gained drum students that he would teach over Zoom calls, and sold T-Shirts over his website.
Now Heckler manages a team of writers to continue to grow Jam Addicts web traffic and offer great content for its readers.
Heckler has since used his writing skills and SEO knowledge to work for Panda, a startup that runs a PR service called Promo Panda and an SEO content generator called Juice.
We sat down with Heckler over a 30 minute zoom call to ask him how these last couple years have treated him.
SEO and its power
JA: Good to see you! Feels a little lonely around here without you.
Heckler: Haha, same here. For the (readers) who don’t know, we started (Jam Addict) in 2019, that golden year before the pandemic. So we actually did get to meet face to face once and a while.
JA: And what a golden year that was. That’s actually a good place to start, maybe you can give us a history of Jam Addict and where you are now.
Heckler: For sure! Well I started the blog in 2019. I was just starting to learn about SEO and was consulting some mentors about the best way to optimize the blogs so that I would see the fruits of my return.
Apart from the boring SEO stuff it was really just about me putting my nose to the grindstone and writing some really engaging content on the stuff I knew.
I’m a huge drum nerd and so I could write about that stuff all day. I was also teaching a lot of drum lessons at the time so I would incorporate what worked and didn’t work into my blog posts.
Myself and a small team would also make articles that satisfied the more general audience and clickbaity tendencies we were seeing (see: https://jamaddict.com/7-worst-rock-and-roll-drummers-of-all-time/).
We took a humorous approach to these topics so that no one would think we were really trying to dis on anyone, but they ended up being some of our most popular articles!
JA: (laughs) Yeah I remember those days.
Heckler: So since then one of my early consultants and I decided we could use the same SEO skills that we’ve used to grow Jam Addict and help other businesses and blog owners do the same.
We founded the company Panda in 2020 and began looking for blogs that had similar SEO practices to what we do. We’d make contact with the blogs and establish a relationship with many of them through the process of sharing SEO tips and tricks.
Our first product was Promo Panda, which was a PR service that users could sign up to and solicit media coverage. By then we had so many contacts we would just spend most of our time pitching and making sure all of our clients’ content was well-optimized for the search engines.
This was our biggest value-add that we had over our competitors. Since then we’ve grown and still serve a number of clients each month!
Why SEO matters for musicians
JA: Wow, that's very cool. Yes I remember making contact with other blogs and sharing insights in those early days. That’s obviously how we met.
So is Promo Panda your main endeavor these days or do you have something else on the horizon?
Heckler: Yeah actually we’ve got a new product that is much more focused on helping small business owners and bloggers specifically.
The product is called Juice and it is an SEO content generator that helps creators make content writing and SEO optimization a breeze.
The tool not only helps generate a first draft of an article — it also optimizes it with meta tags, relevant images and videos and all sorts of other SEO components that we have learned here trying to grow Jam Addict.
JA: Wow, really cool! So this is one of those AI writing tools we’ve seen so much press about, right? GPT-3 and all that?
Heckler: It is a writing tool, 100%, however our main goal is more than just writing. The goal is to get you an SEO optimized piece of content that you can then adapt and add your own expertise to.
We provide you with great keywords that you can build your content off of, and then we use AI to generate a first draft that is optimized for ranking in the search engines.
The idea is that you don’t need to be a professional SEO to get value out of our tool. In fact, we’ve made the tool especially for the person who doesn’t know (and frankly doesn’t care to know) about SEO.
JA: Right, you’re just trying to help people get traffic on their website.
Heckler: Exactly! At the end of the day, we are all writing in order for someone to see, and so we want to help creators get seen.
And BTW, we don’t use GPT-3. We use an open source GPT, which allows us to give unfiltered content to our users.
JA: Oh, I didn’t know that! Open AI’s GPT-3 censors content?!
Heckler: Most definitely. Open AI is now owned by Microsoft and they have many limitations on the use of their product. They have token limits everywhere you look and they censor output that is against Open AI’s rules-of-use.
We thought these two limitations alone were a great reason NOT to build a business off of Open AI’s GPT-3.
We didn’t want silicon valley ideals to influence how people use our product and we certainly didn’t want to be cut off from their service based on some misstep that they perceive.
JA: That’s super interesting! So this product is mainly geared towards small businesses?
Heckler: Small businesses, SEOs, Shopify/Woocommerce and any sort of online business will get really good use of our tool. Our platform makes it super easy to target keywords that work for your brand and start creating content around your specific niche.
JA: Awesome, we will be on the lookout for that. Anything else you want to add? BTW do you still have any time for music these days?
Heckler: (laughs) Yeah I still do some music on the weekends. I’m actually releasing a couple albums this year, you can check out benheckler.com and seafuzzmusic.com for more updates on those fronts!
As far as Panda, Juice is released in beta and we are currently allowing users to try it for free!
The Jam Addict team is a revolving door of writers who care about music, its effects on culture, and giving aspiring artists tools and knowledge to be inspired and keep on creating.
If you have any questions or concerns or just want to drop us a line, don't hesitate to contact us! We always appreciate the feedback.