Jason Barnard is known as The Brand SERP Guy. SERP stands for search engine results page. Just think about any time you Google someone’s name, a band, an actor, a business – that’s what pops up in the results. And he works to understand Google and how you can adjust what pops up when people search for you. That’s pretty cool. In his lifetime Jason has been in a punk-folk band, a cartoonist, a screenwriter, and started a children’s tv show that had millions and millions of views. He currently is the founder and CEO of the digital marketing agency, Kalicube. He’s been on both sides of things as far as business and creativity, which gives him good insight and authority to talk about finding the line between business and creativity. Where do you find the balance between having fun and enjoying what you’re doing and profitability?
[00:00:00] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You were suggesting that it would be nice to talk about that border between creativity and business. And it’s really difficult to deal with, because the other people in the band tended to see me as the businessman. And I had that hat on for them. And so when I was writing songs and suggesting new ideas for the creative side of things, I tended to get sidestepped. And in the business world, people were saying, yeah, but he’s just this mad punk bloke, creative person. We’re not listening to him either.
[00:00:38] Narrator: Hello and welcome to Your Creative Haven, a podcast by Co-Be. Join us as we talk about things like community, creativity, collaboration, and self discovery. We’ll share stories, struggles, tips, and laughs about living lives as creatives, entrepreneurs, and dreamers. Join us on the journey.
A Background on Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) and His Work With Brand SERPs in the Digital Marketing Field
[00:01:07] Josh Rech: Hello, everyone, and welcome back to another episode of Your Creative Haven. I have Jason Barnard here. He is in the digital marketing space, he is known as The Brand SERP Guy, he started multiple companies, and he was previously a punk folk musician. So, he’s got a lot happening here. And I’ll let him say hello and introduce himself. So, hello, Jason.
[00:01:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Hi there. Yeah. Absolutely lovely to be here. Josh, thank you for inviting me. I am indeed The Brand SERP Guy, but I’ve had many hats over the years including cartoon blue dogs and punk folk musician, as you rightly said, and economist for that matter and video script reading person. I don’t know what you would call it. Reading off a teleprompter is a new thing I’ve started doing, which is an interesting creative situation, but we can probably talk about other things than that.
[00:02:16] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I deal in Brand SERPs, and most people don’t really know what they are. Brand can be your personal name. It can be a company name. It can be your pseudonym if you’re a creative or a nom de plume, as we said, because I’m French, if you are writing books or presumably painting. A Brand SERP is what your audience sees when they google that name. And it’s phenomenally important and totally underestimated.
Optimising Your Brand SERP Without a Wikipedia Page by Educating Google About Yourself Through Your Own Website
[00:02:42] Josh Rech: Yeah. I just actually checked my name. I don’t think I’m famous enough to have a Wikipedia page or anything like that yet. I did search my name because I was very interested on what came up. So, I’m so curious.
[00:03:03] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’d like to just point something out. Famous enough to have a Wikipedia page doesn’t come into this. And it’s a really important point because people tend to think, people will only search my name if I’m famous, and I can have a Wikipedia page if I’m famous, ergo I need a Wikipedia page in order to exist as a human being in the famous landscape, as it were. Anybody can search your name. In a meeting or a Zoom call, somebody can search your name. And you’re not famous when they do that. What’s important is that Google recognises who you are and can represent you in a honest, let’s say, manner.
[00:03:41] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And so if we come back to the Wikipedia idea, don’t think that you can’t optimise what people see when they google your name. It’s not linked to the Wikipedia page. It’s linked to the other stuff that you publish online. It’s linked to your own website, primarily. And that’s really important. It’s your website that represents you. You are the authority on yourself. And it’s up to you to help Google to represent you to your audience in the manner that you want it to. So, you are actually here, and this is nice, educating Google about yourself.
Who Are the Clients of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) and What Kind of Work Does He Do?
[00:04:16] Josh Rech: Are you working with individual people or are you mostly working with businesses? What kind of clients are you usually helping people out with that?
[00:04:29] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): This is actually coming to where we were talking about. I find that a lot of my work is creative. But to pay the bills, I need to work for companies, and companies aren’t necessarily the most interesting cases to be dealing with. But what I do is share everything I learn as much as I possibly can. So if people are interested in the tricks for this, follow me on Twitter or follow me on LinkedIn.
[00:05:00] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I’ve got to think of the Daily Brand SERP, which is basically I take completely at random what appears for a brand name or a person’s name or a music album name or a film name when somebody googles it. And then I walk you through it a little bit, and I point out something interesting or something helpful that the people might be able to make use of. And it’s a really good way to start to understand how Google builds that results page.
[00:05:27] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): A SERP, by the way, is search engine results page. I say SERP, and I think everybody knows what it is, but it isn’t. It’s a search engine results page. It’s what you see when you type something into Google. And if you can start to understand how Google is building that, you can start to control it. And controlling it, you would think that’s going to be really complicated. It’s not. It’s writing clear, helpful copywriting that explains clearly who you are, what you do, and who your audience might be. And if you can do that, you’re basically just explaining to Google who you are, what you do, what your audience might be, and indicate to it the content that you think is going to be valuable to that audience.
Google Is Going to Show the Content on One’s Brand SERP That Is Valuable and Helpful to Their Audience
[00:06:10] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And what Google is looking to do with that Brand SERP is saying, okay, I’ve recognised who this person is, and I’m looking to show the person who’s looking up that person on Google content that is valuable to them and helpful to them. So, that’s going to be your own website. And it’s going to be your videos, if you’re making lots of videos. It’s going to be your podcast, if you’ve got a podcast like you do. In fact, how do you say your second name? Is it Rech?
[00:06:36] Josh Rech: Rech. German.
[00:06:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I do apologise. Thank you.
[00:06:40] Josh Rech: No. Hey, I’ve heard all sorts of things my whole entire life. I had a basketball coach that it was a different last name every day.
[00:06:48] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Well, you probably get that from me today but in every minute. And I would like to point out, Josh actually asked me how to pronounce my name before we started. And I didn’t think to ask him how to pronounce his, more fool me, but back to that.
[00:07:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It is saying to yourself, if you’re tweeting a lot, Google would want to show your Twitter feed. If you are a painter, it would want to show images. So, you need to look at what appears in that relevant place, the geo relevant place that’s appearing for you and make sure that the right information is appearing.
It Is Important to Have Your Own Personal Website For Google to Figure Out Who the Authority on Yourself Is
[00:07:28] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Now, really important, if you don’t have a website, get one. If you don’t have a website, Google has nowhere to actually look to figure out what it is the authority on yourself is saying about yourself, because what it does is it looks at what you say, and then it goes around the web and it checks if you’re telling the truth, if you’re being honest about yourself. And if you are, it will show pretty much what you want. It’s quite a lot of work, very simple work, but it starts with your website.
[00:07:57] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that website can be one page. It doesn’t have to be a big website. One page will do it, absolutely fine. It can be two pages, it can be one page, it can contain your videos, it can contain your paintings, it can contain descriptions of your music, and contain important links to all your works and your profiles on other sites, which is basically saying to Google, look, this is what I’m saying and there it all is, really simple.
To Have Control Over Your Digital Identity, You Have to Establish That One Place on the Web That Represents You
[00:08:24] Josh Rech: Cool. That’s awesome. I feel like that’s just a very helpful tip for anyone that’s creating. So, thank you for that.
[00:08:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I don’t want to be scary. If you want any kind of control of your digital identity through Google and Bing and Amazon and Facebook, who are all looking at this information, although Facebook and Amazon obviously have different sources, but they’re all looking to find the one place on the web that represents the person or the company or whatever it might be. And you need to proactively go out there, create it, and be able to provide it to them because that’s where control starts. They’re all doing the same thing. They’re going to be looking at this and saying, this is what you are trying to say. Do we agree? Yes, we do. Then we will show. And if you don’t do that, I think further down the line, you’re going to run into a lot of trouble.
The Journey Through the Creative Side and Business Side of Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:09:16] Josh Rech: Yeah. That’s really helpful. So, thank you for sharing that. I do want to talk about your, because you have been in the creative realms and you’ve been in the business realm. And so, I do want to talk a little bit about just your story and where that began. And so, I know you’ve done music. You’re a cartoonist. I’m sure there’s other creative projects and things that you’ve been working on. So, can you share a little bit about just your story?
[00:09:51] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. The irony, I suppose, is that actually at school I was really good at maths. And that turned out to be good at economics. And I did a degree in economics at Liverpool John Moores, which is a fairly second rate university in the UK. And I met a guy. We basically decided to form a blues band, and we called it Stanley the Counting Horse, which is the silliest name for a blues band ever. And we played lots of years. We played the Cavern Club, where the Beatles played very famously, which doesn’t make me a better musician, doesn’t make me a better person, but it’s a cool fact. And that set me off thinking, yeah, I can be creative, I don’t have to be a mathematician my whole life.
[00:10:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then at the end of the degree, they had a big meeting with all the people from the degree. They said, 80% of you are going to become accountants, 10% are going to become teachers, 5% are going to become economists, and 3% or 4% will go and do something else. I’m in that last group. I’m not going to do the office job.
Moving to Paris and Learning to Play the Double Bass in 30 Days to Be Able to Join a Band
[00:10:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I then moved to Paris on a whim and met a group who were playing in the street. And they said to me, if you want to join our band, because I played a tiny bit of guitar, but I could sing. If you want to join our band, you have to play double bass. I said, I don’t play double bass. And they said, if you want to join the band, that’s the only way you’re going to get in.
[00:11:19] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I went and bought a double bass and came back and said, okay, right. And they said, you’ve got 30 days, you’ve got to learn the double bass. And I basically learned the double bass in 30 days. Not very well, of course, but well enough to suit their purposes.
Getting Great Advice on How to Ignore Mistakes When Performing From the German Guy Who Taught Him How to Play the Double Bass
[00:11:34] Josh Rech: Were you just practicing all day for the 30 days?
[00:11:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’d like to say yes, but no. I actually had a lesson from a German guy who told me, basically, he said, there are only a few things you need to remember. Number one is always hit it in time. Number two, when you make a mistake, forget about it straight away or you won’t be able to carry on. You’re just going to be thinking about it. As soon as it’s done, it’s gone, forget about it.
[00:12:04] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And if you have trouble forgetting it, think like this, there are only two types of people in the audience. One is people who know nothing about music, and they don’t know you’ve made a mistake. And the other is jazz people, and they will have heard you made a mistake, but they’re going to think you’ve done something incredibly clever that they haven’t thought of. So, they’re not going to say anything either. And that’s probably not true, but it does certainly help you to relax. And the other thing he said was smile. If you smile, people think you know what you’re doing. And it works.
[00:12:36] Josh Rech: That’s great advice. Yeah. I love that.
Going Into the Business Side of Things by Creating Their Own Record Company to Release the Band’s Record Albums
[00:12:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. So, I joined the band. And that has built me into this creative space where we started writing songs, and we were playing in the street, making a living playing the street, which was a lot fun. And then we thought let’s make an album. This was 1991. And in 1991, you couldn’t record an album at home, and you couldn’t mix it on Pro Tools on a PC. This was the Mac 2, if you remember that. It went 250K. It was a lot of memory. So, obviously, sound didn’t really hack it in that. And so, we tried to get a record deal and nobody would give us a record deal. And so, I decided to start a company just to record an album.
[00:13:28] Josh Rech: Wow.
[00:13:29] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And that’s how I got into the business side of things. I thought the record companies are all rubbish. They don’t know what they’re talking about. I’m going to record the album myself, release it myself. I don’t care, which is very punk. And it worked okay. We sold, I think, about 40,000 albums over 6 years. And that was purely by brute, I’m going to do this, pigheadedness.
The Border Between Creativity and Business and Jason Barnard’s Difficulty in Dealing With It
[00:13:56] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You were suggesting that it would be nice to talk about that border between creativity and business. And it’s really difficult to deal with, because the other people in the band tended to see me as the businessman. And I had that hat on for them. And so when I was writing songs and suggesting new ideas for the creative side of things, I tended to get sidestepped. And in the business world, people were saying, yeah, but he’s just this mad punk bloke, creative person. We’re not listening to him either.
[00:14:32] Josh Rech: Stuck in the middle here.
[00:14:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. A bit like Stealers Wheel, Stuck in the Middle with You. Actually without you, because you weren’t there at the time. You probably weren’t even born, now that I think about it.
[00:14:41] Josh Rech: I definitely know the song though.
Dreaming About Making It Big One Day and Playing Stadiums, But Eventually Jason Barnard’s Band Split Up in the End
[00:14:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. It was frustrating. I found it incredibly frustrating. But then actually, the group split, which is my favourite rock and roll quote. The group split. That’s what we all say. It sounds terribly romantic, and it’s actually simply completely depressing. Because if you think about it, when you’re in a band, you travel. We travelled around. We did 100,000 kilometers a year for 6 years. Completely boring, dull, uninteresting to play 3 or 4 gigs. We play 600 and something gigs over that period of time. And you would sit in the van for 7 or 8 hours in a day, turn up, play an hour of music.
[00:15:28] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): When you think about it, the investment of time necessary to do that one hour of live music was immense. All the practicing, all the driving, all the arguing with the other people in the band, sleeping on horrible mattresses in awful smelly hotels. And you really truly do it because you think, I think when you’re young, it’s fun, but you also think we are going to be rock stars. One day, we’re going to turn up, and this is going to be a stadium. And of course, it never is. You’re totally naive, but it keeps you going. Then one day, somebody in the band wakes up and says, this isn’t going to happen. And everyone goes, no, it isn’t. The spell is broken, and that’s the end of the band.
[00:16:10] Josh Rech: Yeah.
Started to Write Songs for Children and Releasing It Himself Through a Website With Cartoons for Children
[00:16:12] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. So, I then went on, and I decided I was going to write some songs for children, great idea. So, I recorded an album. This was 1998. So, that was a time when you could start recording stuff at your own house, mixing it all on Pro Tools. So, I got a copy of Pro Tools, and I learned to use it. And I recorded an album for children in my Parisian bedroom, which was cool, and pitched it to all the record companies. And they all said, nope, you’re a punk folk musician, you can’t do children’s music.
[00:16:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So once again, pigheadedly, I just said, I’m just going to release it myself anyway, I don’t care. So, I released the record and actually then ended up creating a website and building that up to be, it was the 10,000th biggest site in the world in 2007. And that was a site for small children, absolutely nuts.
Being Caught in the Middle of Dividing Time Between Trying to Survive as a Business and Creating the Content for the Website
[00:17:08] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But once again, I was caught between the creativity and the business side of things. Trying to survive as a business, trying to keep the website going, whilst also creating this content for kids. But that time, I did it with my ex-wife. And she just let me get on with pretty much everything I wanted to do. She was really, really cool about it. And so, I wasn’t caught in the middle of different people, but I was caught in the middle of trying to divide my time between the two effectively.
[00:17:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the economist then came out in me saying, how can I divide my time effectively and efficiently to make it move on? Which sounds contradictory, but you end up with these little pockets of time. You’re saying I have to be productively creative, because I have to move the whole thing forwards. And actually, that’s quite interesting. I was creating pockets of time for myself, where I said I have three hours on a Monday morning and I have to create something.
The Effect of Having a Deadline Every Month in Jason Barnard’s Songwriting Creative Process
[00:18:07] Josh Rech: Yeah. How did that affect your creating, feeling like you had to create something?
[00:18:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Frankly, I think it worked for me. If I just sit around looking out the window, thinking, oh, I think I’ll write a song, it just never comes. If I said I have to write a song by the end of the morning, much, much, much easier for me. And in the end, actually, I wrote 1 song a month for 5 years. And every month, I had to write one. They’re not really songs. They’re songettes. They’re little, short ditties for kids.
Releasing Two Games, a Manual Craft Activity, and a Short Little Story Every Month on the Website for Kids
[00:18:47] Josh Rech: And so, is this what you put out there for people? You have records of all these songs?
[00:18:55] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah.
[00:18:56] Josh Rech: Yeah. And are you still doing this?
[00:18:59] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No. Basically, what we did is we said to the kids, who came to the website, every month from the first of the month, there will be a song, two games, a manual activity, craft activity, and a short little story with the characters that we created. And so, we decide on the topic, for example, not being able to find you glasses. And so, the whole thing would be around the father of the blue dog that I was playing couldn’t find his glasses, and it was a big hoo-ha and a bit of a problem.
[00:19:34] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then I had to write a song. And what I would do is I would focus on the story and the game. Then I’d get all that done. And then I’d find myself three days before the end of the month going, what’s the song going to be? And literally, I just have to invent a song. And I would just sit down and say, right, what’s the song? And I would force myself to write a song. And that one, I can actually sing it for you.
[00:19:52] Josh Rech: Yeah.
[00:19:53] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Without my glasses, I can’t see. I can’t see properly. Without my glasses, I can’t see, but I can play this song. And basically, it’s that, and then you repeat it. So, it’s not writing a song, so I’m exaggerating. It’s writing a very short ditty that sticks in people’s heads despite themselves, which is exactly what you’re trying to do with kids’ music.
The Incredible Success of Jason Barnard’s Website for Children
[00:20:25] Josh Rech: Yeah. And that takes a lot of talent to do. And I think that’s really cool. Did you have, I just want to make sure I understand it. So, you guys had this, was it just a website that you were putting out all this stuff, and kids would just come and find the new songs and games and everything?
[00:20:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Exactly. And we were competing with Disney and PBS and the BBC. And we were on top of it all. And we were attracting 5 million visits a month, 60 million visits in a year in 2007. That’s a billion page views, a billion page views. It’s insane.
The Delightful Story of How Kids Sent Their Drawings for the Boowa and Kwala Gallery to the Tiny Island of Mauritius
[00:21:08] Josh Rech: So, did the kids know who you were? Did you show up on this or were you just playing a voice?
[00:21:15] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): No. I was a blue dog. My wife was a yellow koala. I was called Boowa. She was called Kwala. It was delightful. And the kids would send in their drawings of Boowa and Kwala. And it was a bit like Father Christmas, because we would write on the website, please send your drawings for the gallery, we’ll do a gallery. And we did a gallery every month as well, showing the kids drawings of Boowa and Kwala, which is super delightful.
[00:21:41] Josh Rech: That’s so touching.
[00:21:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And send it to, and the address was Boowa and Kwala, between the sea and the post office, Mauritius. That was it. And the parents would send them in and they would go, this is like Father Christmas, like sending it to Santa Claus, the North Pole. It’s not going to get there. And it did. Mauritius is this tiny little country in the Indian Ocean. And it would get to the main city in Mauritius. And the people in the local post office told the people in the main post office, anything for Boowa and Kwala, send it to us, we know where it goes. And for 7 years, the post office system in Mauritius adapted to this Father Christmas-esque situation. And it was absolutely delightful.
Jason Barnard’s Website for Kids Is an Example of the Web Giving Everybody an Opportunity on What They Can Offer
[00:22:25] Josh Rech: That’s so fun. I love that so much. That’s crazy how many visits you’re getting every month. That’s huge. There’s so many people.
[00:22:38] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It’s a good example, I think, of the web being what it was supposed to be, which is giving everybody, who’s creative, an opportunity to show what they have to offer the world and democratising the entire thing and hopefully moving out the big businesses so that we, as creators, can say, here you go everybody. And if they like it, they keep coming back. And you get that kind of traction, which we did. In 7 years, we went from zero to 5 million visits a month, and that was purely off our own backs, independent, no big business involved. And I thought it was incredibly encouraging. The problem then, of course, is that you have to make a living.
The Dark Side of Being Successful: How Business Minded People Could Take Advantage of It
[00:23:25] Josh Rech: I was just about to ask. Did you make any money off of doing this at all?
[00:23:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Not at the beginning. No. My wife had a very good job, and she paid the bills, basically, while I messed around with a blue dog and a yellow koala.
[00:23:41] Josh Rech: You get to play all day.
[00:23:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. It was absolutely brilliant of her. And then at one point, the thing is that once you start getting successful, business people get interested in it. We ended up making a TV series with ITV International and a couple of other production companies. So, it was a big deal. It was released in 20 countries. And it all just fell apart because we had the business people coming in. And you can’t do that if you want to remain creative.
[00:24:14] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And the mistake I made was that I ended up thinking I was the blue dog. I went a little bit mad, and I couldn’t distinguish between myself and the character. And that just basically meant that the business people could totally take advantage of me. And they do. Don’t give them that opportunity. Well, obviously, that’s easy advice to give because I got absolutely nailed by it. It is really, really, really depressing to think that a business person doesn’t have that point of view of thinking, it would be nice to. They come in thinking, how much money can I make out of? And the end of that whole business process was he was a business partner. It wasn’t even that I sold it out or anything.
Jason Barnard’s Business Was in a Situation Where the Income Will Always Outgrow the Cost, But His Business Partner Took Another Direction
[00:25:06] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): But I was saying, we have 5 million visits a month, and we’re making enough money for everybody, and everybody’s comfortable. We can scale this up. The nature of the internet is that you can scale this up. So if we get 5 million visits a month, it costs us, let’s say, 5,000 euros to run the silent server and all the infrastructure. If we double that to 10 million, the cost of the infrastructure only goes up to 5,500. So, we don’t actually have to make double the money to have double the income. And so, you actually got this situation where the income will always outgrow the cost because of the scalability of the web.
[00:25:48] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And from my perspective, I express it much better now than I did at the time. But it was actually, I just want to share this with as many people as possible, because I think it’s really cool and I’m having a great time and I’m a blue dog. And my business partner was saying, no, how many euros per head are we getting? And I absolutely went off the wall, because per head of a child, how can you do that? It’s awful. You are not being a kind human being. And the answer to that was no, I’m not a kind human being. I’m a businessman who wants to make a lot of money.
Unfortunately, Jason Barnard’s Role in Their Website for Children Ended, Which Is a Bit Like How His Band Split Up
[00:26:25] Josh Rech: Yeah. And that was the end of that then?
[00:26:29] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): That was very much the end of that. It’s quite spectacularly. A bit like the band split, but not as a kind of mantra.
[00:26:37] Josh Rech: You can’t say it as, yeah, not a cool saying for that. Yeah.
[00:26:45] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I got completely crushed by my business partner isn’t as cool as we realised it wasn’t going to happen, that we were living in dream fairyland, the band split. It’s unfortunate.
[00:26:57] Josh Rech: Yeah, that is. And I know from experience. It is a tough thing to deal with and takes some time to be able to work through.
Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Is Now Happily Building a Platform That Intertwines His Pragmatic and Creative Side
[00:27:08] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Today I’m building a platform that helps people with their Brand SERPs and their Knowledge Panels, to come back to very pragmatic stuff. But I’ve got a database of 70,000 brands and people with 10 million results for their names from Google and a tracking of Google’s Knowledge Graph, which is a really complicated idea, terribly, terribly, terribly complicated. And I find that I’m digging into the data, and this is my geeky mathematician economist coming back, in a creative way.
[00:27:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And what I’m starting to see and what I hope that I’m doing is I’m digging into the data as somebody who’s just incredibly inquisitive and curious. And because I can actually, I know how to dig into the data. I’ve got that mathematical brain somewhere on the right hand side, on the creative side, on the left hand side. I don’t know how it works or if that’s even true. But the idea is that I’m able to spot things that I think a lot of other people wouldn’t spot. If you’ve got a data scientist digging in, they probably wouldn’t see the same thing that I’m seeing.
[00:28:13] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I’m hoping that this time I’m going to marry that pragmatic data scientist with the creative person with the sensible business person who doesn’t get involved in the pure business side of things, and accept. If I’m happy digging into my data, I don’t need to make a lot of money. I need to make enough money to pay the bills. And being happy creating is the foundation of my existence as a human being. Sorry, I suddenly realised how Hollywood it was getting.
As an Artist or Creator, You Should Not Lose Yourself in the Business Side of Things
[00:28:48] Josh Rech: No, this is great. And I think it’s really helpful for people to know your experience and what you’ve gone through and that you do have both of the pragmatic and creative sides. I think that’s really unique for someone to have both and also to be able to have that experience. So, I really enjoy hearing what you’re thinking along the lines of okay, how do I, because that is really the struggle that most of us creatives struggle with. You’re like, I want to do something that I love doing and I’m passionate about doing and I like creating, but I also have to pay bills. And it’s also easy to get caught up in trying to make as much money as you can, too. And you can just lose the whole joy of creating and you lose your whole vision. So, there’s a lot there.
[00:29:45] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. There is that thing of the business person coming up to you and saying, oh, you could make a lot of money, you could be rich, and pulling you into this world. And obviously, this is a total generalisation, but their aims are totally, totally different to yours. Unless you’re a creative who just wants to make boat loads of money, and you’re willing to sell your soul to the devil to do stuff. But remember that, from my perspective looking back, what they’re aiming to do is make as much money as they possibly can out of whatever it is that’s being produced.
Do Not Forget, as a Human Being, That You and Your Company Are Not the Same Thing
[00:30:19] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And for them, it could be tomatoes, but it’s not. It happens to be a song or a book or a film or whatever it might be, but they’re not looking at it like that. They’re looking at it. And my business partner actually said, and it should have run lots of bells in my little brain, but it didn’t, I could be selling zucchini, but I’m not, I’m selling cartoons. And I should have just run away at that point. Because as soon as somebody says that, he was very honest. It really was very honest of him, but I didn’t actually take it that seriously. And I should have done.
[00:30:52] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I talked to somebody yesterday about his company as well. He was saying, oh, I keep forgetting that my company and me are not the same thing. And we do that as human beings. And as an artist or a creator, I think the danger is double in the sense that we will confuse that kind of thing. And the pain, when it goes wrong, is gazillion times worse, as my factual scientific evaluation of the volume of pain.
The Everyday Journey of Learning and Understanding How Google Functions Is Empowering for Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:31:22] Josh Rech: Yeah. And I’m curious to where you stand now going through all these experiences. Where do you stand as far as creating and making a living? Do you feel like you’re in your sweet spot right now, as far as what you’re doing?
[00:31:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. I think, from a creative perspective, I’m creating a platform. The platform, it’s code. So, honestly speaking, I put lots of love into it. I wouldn’t say I put my soul into it. I don’t know if there’s really truly a difference between the two, but there is now. But most of what I’m actually doing is learning. I’m trying to figure out how Google works, how Google thinks.
[00:32:15] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And what I love about it, and it’s so delightful, is that it’s a bit like thinking you’re going to play as a stadium rock band. It’s never going to happen. I’m never going to understand how Google functions. It’s this moving target that’s running so fast ahead of me, that I’m trying to run to keep up. It can be really frustrating because you think, I thought I’d understood lots of stuff last week, but they’ve just changed 25,000 million things and it’s all moved forwards much faster than I can keep moving forwards.
[00:32:46] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): The idea of the journey and learning and understanding a little bit more every day is incredibly, for me, empowering. So, it’s not creating. It’s understanding and getting those little light bulb moments. I’m really enjoying that. And that’s not so much creativity, I suppose. I think it’s creativity that helps me to get there, but I’m getting pleasure out of the light bulb moments that I’m getting every day as I understand a little bit more. So, maybe it’s just applying creativity in a different way that’s less dangerous for my inner soul because I’m not actually putting myself in it.
[00:33:23] Josh Rech: Yeah, yeah.
To Understand How Google Works, Jason Barnard Does Experiments on Google Where He Feeds It and Educates It About Himself
[00:33:24] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Part of this learning how Google works is I do experiments on Google. And part of that experiment is to feed it, educate it about my music groups, my music albums, my songs, my TV series, myself, and so on, my site. I have all of these listed out. It sounds like I’m completely obsessed and terribly, terribly one of these people who wants to organise everything all the time. It’s not true. I’m actually just listing it out, feeding it to Google to see if I can get Google to fully understand how it all fits together.
[00:33:58] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): One interesting thing is that one of the albums has 53 songs on it, very short songs obviously. And when I started my experiment, if you search for the album name, it could only name 12 of the songs from the album and it got them in the wrong order. So, what I did is built a section on my website that just basically explained it to Google in really simple terms. And four weeks later, it could list 51 of the 53 songs in the right order.
[00:34:29] Josh Rech: Whoa.
[00:34:31] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah, exactly.
Conceptually, Educating Google Is an Interesting and a Fun Job for Jason Barnard
[00:34:32] Josh Rech: That’s so, I know nothing about any of that or how you would even go about doing that, but that’s really cool that you can figure out how to make Google understand that. So, that is a fun job.
[00:34:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. That’s a very good point and thank you for making it. It’s a fun job. And educating Google is actually, conceptually it’s really interesting and it’s fun when you do it. Actually, doing it is pretty boring because you’ve got to list all this stuff out, but it also forces you to think about what am I actually doing? How is all this fitting together in my brain? So, it helps you understand how you think too, which is a really interesting introspective thing to do. And I love my job, as long as I’m doing my silly experiments on the blue dog, the yellow koala, and my music group.
What Are the Lessons Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy) Learned While Making the Cartoons?
[00:35:22] Josh Rech: So, Jason, I know you’re doing these cartoons. Let me start that off.
[00:35:30] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’ll do your voice. So, Jason, how was it during the TV series? What lessons did that teach you? That’s my American accent.
[00:35:40] Josh Rech: Yeah. I actually have cousins from our families from Australia, and they do some pretty good American accents. I was like, yeah, that’s pretty impressive. So, Jason, you did these cartoons. So, what lessons did you learn in doing this?
[00:36:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): It actually taught me a phenomenal amount, because we’ve been doing this website. And then we started doing a real TV series, and we wrote the script with my wife. And the idea was that each episode would be exactly five minutes long. And we would write the scripts and we would end up with 6 to 7 minutes of animation at the end of it. And the director had a phenomenal talent for being able to cut out all the right parts that meant that the storyline didn’t get lost and the narrative didn’t get lost.
[00:36:37] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And I was being incredibly precious and sitting there thinking, you can’t cut that bit out, the bit where the blue dog jumps into the swimming pool is incredibly important to my life. And looking back today, I don’t remember any of the parts that he cut out that I thought was so phenomenally important at the time. I was being incredibly precious.
Learning How to Take a Step Back, Trust Other People’s Process, and Not Thinking so Highly of Yourself
[00:36:58] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And what I learned from that is take a big step back when somebody you’re working with in collaboration on something like this, and think, if they really know what they’re doing and you trust them, you need to not be so precious. Because if they’re doing a good job, you will not remember the things that you were so precious about when they actually did it. And it also applied to playing music at the same time.
[00:37:20] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And then I actually had an experience today, that now we’re talking about it comes back to me, and makes me realise that that taught me a good lesson is that I’ve become quite good at that from watching this guy do it so successfully and understanding, probably not understanding, but certainly getting a good lesson from him. Because we did 52 episodes, and I sat through the editing of 52 episodes where he ruthless cut 20% of all my beautiful animation and storytelling. And to remind you, today I still don’t know which bits he has cut out, even though I was there when he did it. So, they weren’t that good or they weren’t that important.
Jason Barnard’s Experience on Cutting Out Unnecessary Parts of His Work for the Daily Brand SERP and Being More Concise
[00:38:01] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And today I was doing a Daily Brand SERP. What I do is every day I take a Brand SERP, the Google result for a person or a company or a music album or a film or whatever, and I just analyse it quickly. And I point out some interesting things about it and suggest things that people can do to improve what Google shows their audience when they search their brand name or their personal name. And the person who does the video editing wrote to me and said, you’ve recorded, I did Captain Sensible’s Brand SERP, the guy from the Damned, for a joke. And I thought it was really cool. I got a bit carried away because he is a big hero of mine.
[00:38:39] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I started off by saying, oh, I played a gig with Captain Sensible when I was in a punk folk group. I supported him in Germany. And he had measles, so I couldn’t talk to him. And when I opened the door, he said, oh, I’ve got measles, you can’t come in and talk to me. And only afterwards did I realised he probably didn’t have measles. He just didn’t want to talk to some awful fan who happened to be supporting him on his German tour in the 1990s, but I believed him. And so he was telling a white lie, a kind lie that made me feel better about being a fawning fan as it were, but that wasn’t the point.
Being Ruthless With Yourself and With Your Own Creation Can Actually Be a Positive Experience
[00:39:12] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I recorded this video, and it was 2 minutes and 45 seconds long. And the person who’s doing the video editing wrote to me and said, you’re going to have to cut some of this out because on Twitter, you can only do 2 minutes and 20. And I listened to it. I was going, I can’t cut the bit about the measles out, it’s such a great story. But in fact, I’ve cut it out and then I cut out another bit further on. And these bits that I think are interesting, are they important? No.
[00:39:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): So, I actually realise, now that we’re talking about this, that I cut that down from 2 minutes and 45 to 2 minutes and 15. And it’s just as good as it was before, probably better because it’s more concise. And that story, the measles, I think it’s funny. Maybe nobody else will. And it actually doesn’t fit in with what I was talking about around it. So, hopefully, I learned that lesson from that director, that being ruthless with yourself, with your own creation can actually be a very positive experience. I’m actually really happy that I managed to do it. And I think it’s better for the fact that I was ruthless with myself.
As Long as the Narrative Still Functions, It Doesn’t Matter What Parts You Cut Because the Audience Doesn’t Know It Exists
[00:40:23] Josh Rech: Yeah. I wish I had done that for, I’m a video editor, so I wish I would’ve done that for many projects and films that I had done. I probably could’ve cut some of those in half, and it would’ve made it so much better. But at the time, I was like, we can’t lose this because we made it. But really, the audience has no idea that any of this got cut.
[00:40:47] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yeah. That’s the thing. The audience doesn’t know it exists, so it doesn’t actually matter, in and of itself, as long as the narrative still functions. And that is the thing is if you set yourself an absolute time limit, this was 5 minutes, the TV series, 5 minutes to the second he had to edit it down to. So, he will be editing part of the dog coming around the corner and saying, we don’t actually have to see him start coming around the corner. We only have to see him end coming around the corner.
[00:41:13] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): And honestly, great respect for him for doing such an amazing job on that. And it was really coming down to these tiny moments that we would cut out. And today’s experience with Captain Sensible, when she said to me, it has to be 2 minutes and 20 or less, I was forced to be ruthless. And I think that might not be a bad thing.
Jason Barnard’s Piece of Advice to Creatives and Entrepreneurs
[00:41:37] Josh Rech: Yeah. I definitely agree. So, one thing that I do ask everyone is, and this might be, it’s always a hard question because I had someone turn it around on me and I was like, oh yeah, I definitely put people on the spot.
[00:41:53] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Put me on the spot. I’m ready.
[00:41:58] Josh Rech: So if you have one piece of advice to give to creatives and entrepreneurs, what would that be?
[00:42:08] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Mine is totally personal. It’s have fun, enjoy what you’re doing. The thing about it is I signed up with economics and realised that I didn’t want to be an accountant. And from that moment onwards, I have basically just done what I thought would be the most fun and done it, even though people didn’t necessarily, weren’t interested in it. The music group took a long time to get off the ground. The cartoon series, we were very successful, but it took two years to get any kind of traction at all, same thing with what I’m doing today.
[00:42:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): If it’s fun, you get up in the morning and you think, yeah, this is going to be a good day. And that’s a really, really nice feeling. So, yeah, I would say make sure that you actually truly enjoy what you’re doing, and you’re not doing it for reasons, for example, I think it will be successful or my mother thinks this is a good idea or anything along those lines. You have to live with it. You have to live your life. You have to stand by whatever it is you’ve created, so create something you love, that you have fun doing, and that you are proud of.
[00:43:21] Josh Rech: Yeah. I love that. Great advice. So, yeah, you answered that very quickly. So, I’m very impressed.
[00:43:30] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): One thing you’ve just learned about me is I actually don’t think. It just comes out of my mouth.
Where Can People Go to Find and Contact Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)?
[00:43:37] Josh Rech: So, Jason, is there anywhere that people can find you?
[00:43:42] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Yes. Please search my name, Jason Barnard, because basically that will show you the places you can find me. And then you can choose where you want to interact with me, if you want to interact, or learn about me on my own site, on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Facebook maybe. I don’t really like Facebook much. But if you really want, you can always come and talk to me on Facebook. My favourite is Twitter. But basically, if you read down the results when you search my personal name, you’ll find me and be able to interact with me, and I like this part, where you feel most comfortable.
Ending the Show With an On-the-Spot Song From Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy)
[00:44:13] Josh Rech: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Jason, for being on the show. We’ve loved having you. This has been so fun, so thank you.
[00:44:23] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Absolutely awesome. And I can sing a song to end it, but I never have a rhyme, which is why they always fall apart when I get to the end.
[00:44:37] Josh Rech: I love it. There you go. What a wonderful way to have a musician and singer on this show. So, I appreciate it, Jason.
[00:44:49] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): I’m now wondering that the singer in my band, he used to be able to do that and actually make it all rhyme. And I’ve just done it. I don’t think anybody really care if it rhymes, and I think actually no.
[00:44:59] Josh Rech: No. Honestly, I think it’s way cooler if it doesn’t rhyme. I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me.
[00:45:05] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): You’ve inspired me to write an album of non rhyming songs whereof.
[00:45:09] Josh Rech: There we go. Well, thank you all for listening. And if you want to hear any of Jason’s singing, please contact him. And we will see you all next time.
[00:45:21] Jason Barnard (The Brand SERP Guy): Thanks a lot, man. Bye bye.