Minter Dialogue with Drew Ackerman
Drew Ackerman, aka Dear Scooter, aka Scoots, is the host of the soporific, mellifluously boring Sleep With Me podcast that has 3 million monthly downloads. We discuss his journey to making Sleep With Me, his creative process and some of the behind the curtain work that goes into making of each episode. We hear about how Drew deals with the online celebrity status and we also hear about his own battle with sleep issues. It’s a deeply personal, vulnerable and stirring conversation.
Please send me your questions — as an audio file if you’d like — to email@example.com. Otherwise, below, you’ll find the show notes and, of course, you are invited to comment. If you liked the podcast, please take a moment to go over to iTunes to rate it.
To connect with Drew Ackerman / Scooter:
- You can find Scooter on Twitter: @DearestScooter
- Drew’s “Dear Scooter” Instagram account with Bedtime stories for sleep….
Further resources for the Minter Dialogue podcast:
Music credit: The jingle at the beginning of the show is courtesy of my friend, Pierre Journel, author of the Guitar Channel. And, the new sign-off music is “A Convinced Man,” a song I co-wrote and recorded with Stephanie Singer back in the late 1980s (please excuse the quality of the sound!).
Transcript of Podcast with Drew Ackerman
Drew Ackerman: [00:00:00] In the race for productivity, like having sleep wins, like all science backs that up, but, but it’s like this illusion that, Oh, if I work harder and I sleep less, it’s ridiculous.
[00:00:24] Minter Dial: [00:00:24] Hello and welcome to Minter Dialogue. Episode number 368. Today is Sunday the 12th of April, 2020 and this interview is a very timely one, especially for anyone with difficulty sleeping. My name is Minter Dial and I’m your host for this podcast. This week’s interview is with Drew Ackerman, AKA deer scooter, AKA scoots, and he’s the host of the soporific mellifluously boring Sleep With Me podcast that has 3 million monthly downloads.
[00:00:56] In this conversation with Drew, we discussed his journey to making Sleep With Me, his creative process and some of the behind the cut and work that goes into making of each episode. We hear about how Drew deals with the online celebrity status. We also hear about some of his own battles with sleep. It’s a deeply personal, vulnerable and stirring conversation.
[00:01:19] You’ll find all the show notes on Minterdial.com. Please think to rate us. If you like the show, and don’t forget, subscribe to catch all the next episodes. Now for the interview with Drew Ackerman, my goodness, by which name you go most well-known, Scooter, Scoots, the man with the wonderful soporific voice, Drew Ackerman.
[00:01:43] In your own words, how do you describe yourself?
[00:01:46] Drew Ackerman: [00:01:46] Well, I guess I would describe myself as a bedtime storyteller or a, a spinner of long, winding, senseless.
[00:01:55] Minter Dial: [00:01:55] I’m going to guess you tell stories not just at bedtime, but you must be some kind of a storyteller.
[00:02:01] Drew Ackerman: [00:02:01] Yeah. I’ve always loved telling stories and actually that, I mean, that’s kind of where the idea of the podcast came from, was like, I used to tell stories to my friends when we’d be like sitting around in a park and a blanket.
[00:02:13] It would be like watching the clouds and relaxing. It’d be like, okay, just give me a few words and I’ll tell you a story. And they’d say, okay, squirrel, pineapples and banana peels, and I’d be like, Oh, okay. But my stories were never very exciting. There are more lying around in the park, relaxing kind of stories.
[00:02:33] Minter Dial: [00:02:33] Wow. Well, so the very much sign sounds like improv.
[00:02:37] Drew Ackerman: [00:02:37] Yeah, I guess it’s very similar. I never realized it until I’d been doing the show for a while and people would reach out to me. for me, it’s like. Instead of a stage in working with other actors, it’s working with all the different parts of my brain and personality that seemed to crop up and thoughts that pop up in my head and kind of saying, Oh, what do you have to say?
[00:02:57] Okay, let me listen and what do you have to say about this?
[00:03:00] So that really also speaks to creativity for me. Drew, so you’re lying on the, on the grass, looking at the clouds, a squirrel and, and tree or whatever. How do, how do you go from that to creating a podcast. Okay,
[00:03:15] so this is a long, that’s another one.
[00:03:17] Oh boy. Don’t get me started. They might put your items to sleep. It’s a little long wide big tail. The short version is, at some point in my adulthood, I’d kind of been trying to figure out, I didn’t have a set career path as a lot of people that are probably listening to this and I was like, Oh, what do I want to do?
[00:03:34] And I was frustrated. And I just had a daughter and I was thinking about my daughter and trying to raise her as a strong woman. And all these ideas you have when you have children. And at some point, when I, I was walking by a mirror and I saw my reflection in the mirror and I looked really tired and exhausted.
[00:03:55] And, and for some reason, I started to play this fantasy out of my daughter getting older and moving in with their boyfriends, which is like, and I was like, like a playing out this idea. And I’m like, what are you doing? Like, aren’t you going to be friends with your Dad? And he went, no Dad, I’m sick of you.
[00:04:11] And I’m like, well, what did I do wrong? And it’s like, well, you’ve always told me I could do whatever I wanted or be whatever I wanted. But you never tried. And then I kind of realized that that was my biggest fear, was like never trying, and that’s kind of how I’d been living. My life is half trying, and at that point I didn’t, it didn’t, it wasn’t a life changing moment other than it stuck with me.
[00:04:32] I still kind of screwed around and didn’t follow through on a lot of stuff, but it planted that seed of like. Well, what am I, what am I going to do if I’m, if I turn like 80 years old and I look back, what am I going to fear most? And it was that thing of like just not trying. And so, then I started doing some writing and taking some community college classes just to meet other writers.
[00:04:54] And writing other things. And then I was writing something with a couple other writers that were going to kind of like comedy that were going to do on YouTube, and then we ended up not like moving forward. And all along that time they kept having the idea for the podcast of like, Hey, what about a bedtime story podcast for adults?
[00:05:11] That’s kind of silly and goofy, and I’d be like, no, no, no. That idea is terrible. And then it’ll pop up again. Hey, why don’t, what about you could make a podcast and just tell stories and put people sitting then, and that’d be embarrassing. But
[00:05:23] Minter Dial: [00:05:23] this is the NO in your little mind. This is the learning, the no stir up here.
[00:05:26] Drew Ackerman: [00:05:26] Exactly that critic like, and it kept, it was years and I’d be like, no, I don’t know how to make a podcast. No, I don’t know how to talk on the mic. And eventually when I broke up with those writers, I’d had a lot of writing time set aside as a hobby, you know, like at night and when I was commuting to my day job and some part of my brain that I’m very unfamiliar with, there’s some, part of me was like, Hey, why don’t you start that podcast right now before you lose that time to something else.
[00:05:55] And that was like the biggest, seeing the story. I was like, okay, yeah, let’s just try and, and, and I said, okay, let’s just start making this by gas and see how it goes.
[00:06:05] Minter Dial: [00:06:05] And at any point, or what point did the reflection you have with your daughter come in to that? I mean, was it wasn’t an explicit, well, this is the thing I’m going to do to reply to the question that my daughter’s going to ask me?
[00:06:18] Drew Ackerman: [00:06:19] No, it was always. Like in a reflective moment of like, well, when I’m dealing with that, no. Or that critic of like, no, you can’t do this, or this is just too scary, or you’re powerless. It was like when I had a little bit of space, it’d be like, well, I hear what you’re saying, but when I’m, what am I really going to regret most?
[00:06:42] Is it really going to be the most emotionally painful for me? In like 20 or 30 or 40 years from now is that I just never did it. Like what won’t I be able to forgive myself for is like setting that example for my daughter. And so, I think that’s what gave me the space to be like, let’s just try this back.
[00:07:01] So we don’t know what we’re doing. We don’t know if anybody will listen, but does it really matter if we’re, if we’re, if our success is trying. It really redefined everything for me.
[00:07:11] Minter Dial: [00:07:11] That was a beautiful story. And it also makes me think about how these things come about, which in your case, you were talking about the sort of, you had this idea and it didn’t happen overnight, but it is sort of like mulled wine. It’s sort of eventually came to be, and then all of a sudden you have a little moment that you try. It was: who cares if it fails? And by the way, most podcasts when they start, of course have zero listeners except for one, for mum, you know, mom, I’ve tried this thing. So, when you start off, because you right now, as I understand it, your, your main, Sleep With Me is your main podcast. You’ve done other examples, Steve, strange end game of drones too, which I listened for many, many episodes. Talk us through how you’ve come to this point of Sleep With Me.
[00:08:02] Drew Ackerman: [00:08:02] Yeah, so it was a slow thing too. It’s like, okay, let’s just start making the show. And see how it goes and see how comfortable I could get.
[00:08:12] And, and again, that big threat for me was like, are you that little kid inside me? I was like, are you going to really follow through on this? Cause this is kind of fun. As soon as we started making this like, I really like this, and it’s like, then it was like, are you, you’re going to let me down once again and not keep doing this?
[00:08:28] And it was like staying in that place of like, okay, let’s just keep testing out these ideas. What works, what doesn’t work for. Making a podcast. You also have to usually listen to it before it comes out, which can be painful, but it gives you so many lessons of like, Oh boy, that didn’t work. And then, yeah, like zero people listen.
[00:08:46] And then one or two people listen and then eventually like 20 or 30 people listen in one of those 20 or 30 people. Well, I’ll actually offer their opinion, and a lot of times it’s like, Hey, I don’t know if I liked this. And for me it was like listening to those things and saying, okay, let me try to fix this.
[00:09:02] Like I won’t talk about snakes. Or one of the most powerful pieces of advice I got from listeners within the first year was like, I really don’t like it when you use cell self-deprecating humor, like in in a sharp way, it sounds more like you’re, you’re doing it for yourself or you’re feeling sorry for yourself.
[00:09:21] and they were like, you know, that impacts me as I’m trying to fall asleep. And it really helped me be like, okay, it’s okay to use it in a softer, fun way, but when you’re using it in a harsh kind of cruel way, yeah. Obviously cycles. It should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. It’s like, Oh, that’s not going to help someone fall asleep if I’m feeling bad about myself or letting my critic like trash me in front of the audience is, so it was just a slow process of seeing, Oh, this worked and this didn’t work, or this person didn’t like this, and then it was like, okay, in making stuff, then you get to the point where it’s like.
[00:09:55] You kind of have to find, and I think it’s a fluid thing of like, why am I making this? Or, or what is the guiding thing in my gut that’s guiding this thing? And then how do I process the feedback coming at me and how do I cut a stay balanced or vacillate and make a mistake and still recover? Because especially right now. People have strong opinions and, and it’s like you, you want to be able to listen to those or filter those and still be able to make the thing, because you can’t please everybody. What. But at least for me, I always find a default of wishing I could or wanting to, but it’s really impossible.
[00:10:31] Minter Dial: [00:10:31] Well, you’ve now got to the point where you have a Zionist Stan at 3 million weekly downloads as I was trying to figure out exactly the placement.
[00:10:40] That puts you in the stratospheres of podcasts. And so clearly, you’re a public figure now, Drew, and, and you must get a lot of interactions and. You know, people calling you out for stuff and you have to deal with some, I mean, it’s hard for me, hard to imagine, but do you have to deal with people who are being gross and an unfortunate with you?
[00:11:02] Drew Ackerman: [00:11:02] Yeah. Yeah. There’s only that. We’re only 3 million a month, which, so it’s not that quite that, but it’s still enough.
[00:11:10] Minter Dial: [00:11:10] Huge, but
[00:11:11] Drew Ackerman: [00:11:11] yeah, it’s weird that, I think it’s been helpful, and I’ve had to grow. So, anybody that’s listening that thinks that this just happened. It took me like six or seven years to get to this point of like being able to deal with the feedback.
[00:11:24] But my voice and my style of show hits some people’s brain in a way that makes them absolutely outraged. And so, they’ll send me these outraged emails of like, and it’s kind of a senseless outrage. I think that they’re, they can’t sleep. and then they’re listening to something that’s supposed to help them sleep that they strongly dislike.
[00:11:45]so I get those emails and it’s like, okay, right. The show is just not for everybody. so, it helps me learn that lesson again and again and again. And then I’ve also learned that. Some people just aren’t like, especially people that aren’t, can’t sleep, are not well, they have a lot of other stuff going on in their lives and they might lash out to me whether they like the show or don’t.
[00:12:07] I get, sometimes I get really personal, nasty things from people that like the show and I have to be like. Now I just hit delete. I’m like, okay, this person’s just not in a good place in I’m the one, they’re there. They’re lashing out and I don’t have to, like if I start to see something that’s feels insidious, I can just delete it.
[00:12:28] It just like if someone walked up to me and started talking to me that way, I’d say, you know what? Step back like, or I’m going to walk away from you because this isn’t not cool.
[00:12:38] Minter Dial: [00:12:38] Wow. Well, I mean, good on you for, for dealing with that. I obviously think you, of course, you’re, you’re an ongoing. For profit enterprise.
[00:12:49] But I think you’re a public service too. That’s the way I think you’re, that’s the stature I like to put you. So you’ve got these, this kind of tone, this, these contours. I feel like you always have to have padded corners so that you don’t ruffle too many feathers. And, and as you’re saying, it’s of like an organic process to understand how to put more padding on this side and political correctness on that side.
[00:13:13] And. That’s, you have to sort of meander. And of course, you’re always meandering, but finding your way through it.
[00:13:22] Drew Ackerman: [00:13:22] Yeah. It’s a bit like a jigsaw puzzle and trying to put it together, like with your eyes closed or something, like it can be fun. And then it could be, it can be. It’s like it’s, it’s never solved.
[00:13:35] Oh, okay. How many of you to talk about this? Or now we’re in this coronavirus era and I’m, I’m. Kind of like in this position of like, okay, how can it be a most service to the people listening to the show? Cause I realized that there was a portion of the listeners that doesn’t want to hear about it at all.
[00:13:53] And I’ve a compact with the people that take their mind off of stuff, but there’s also all these people that are impacted. So, it’s like, how can I balance that? And that’s something I guess I’m still exploring and trying to figure out and, and realize also, okay, it’s okay to be wrong, to like, and make a mistake.
[00:14:11] As long as you’re kind of trying to, trying to do it in the right way.
[00:14:16] Minter Dial: [00:14:16] When you do your recordings, I know you now have a sound booth and all of us, you’re very professional. The quality, the sound is beautiful. How often are you closing your eyes when you speak? Or are you, cause I, I, I’ve listened to other podcasts.
[00:14:30] You talk about being present is to say sort of a meditative presence, closing my eyes and just seeing it through, or do you feel like you need to follow some notes and you’re in more in an almost a tutorial kind of mode.
[00:14:43] Drew Ackerman: [00:14:43] Yeah. So, it’s kind of a mixture of the two things I actually like. So, when I do the writing for the show, I have this thing, I call them Meander points.
[00:14:51] So if I’m writing an episode or I’m taking notes from a TV show, it’s like trying to have so much. Material or enough structure that has these like points. I know where things are going to, but then in between it’s all open. Oh, I can kind of close my eyes and ideally if I’m in a nice place and I’m present, then I can kind of see what unfolds in my imagination.
[00:15:16] And then when I start to get that nervousness where I’d feel it Peter out and I start to get scared, I can be like, okay, let’s go onto this next point. I can kind of drift away. But I think like the one thing I’ve learned is like w when I get scared or when it gets petered out, I kind of have to have something to go to.
[00:15:34] Cause otherwise it’s going to wake the people up. I don’t know this, this is like in the area of like we’re feel that the knowledge, but it’s like, yeah, like how can I balance those two things?
[00:15:44] Minter Dial: [00:15:44] Sure. So, I wanted to, since there’s a growing interest in podcasting, not just because of today, but in general, it’s obviously a big area.
[00:15:53] And. You rightly point out that you’ve got here after many years of hard work when you’re a starting off, typically. I as I am, I mean, and not starting off, but I’m still small. I do the post-production myself. I do my notes, I clean it up, I’ve got it all, and I had my system, my work around. I was wondering how much preparation needed to go for every episode you do and, and do you have like a, I like I have, I do blog posts and I have maybe 30 stockpiled buffered and I go back in and clean them up, go back in and publish them.
[00:16:26] And so on.
[00:16:28] Drew Ackerman: [00:16:28] Yeah. So, like now this is not a good example, so be that actually listens to the podcast. You might want to skip to this part, but, it like overall, like about a hundred hours of labor going into the show a week and, like, so some of that’s like maintaining the show at this point, but like each episode.
[00:16:47] Ideally there’s like, depending on the style show, I would say on average, like 20 hours go into making one episode, one-hour episode. Maybe it’s more than that now is I’ve kind of like, I also tend to be a little bit obsessive, but, so there’s like the preparation. Then there’s the recording, and then there’s the postproduction that you’re kind of talking about too, of like I have at this point a half, an editor that I’ll send the raw recording to.
[00:17:15] They’ll run through it and give a listen and kind of clean it up. Then they’ll send it to me and then I’ll listen to it again and mix it so that way. I don’t know that that is a position I got into over a few years, but it’s like, Oh, having more sets of ears in this can catch even more stuff of like the editor will be like, Hey, there’s this weird thing in there.
[00:17:34] Or you were shuffling your papers, or, yeah, I don’t know what you said this, and it just sounded off to me. So, it, it just helps me be more accountable to the audience. But it is a lot of hard work. And I guess like if anybody’s listening that’s like thinking about starting a podcast, I like always look at it in reverse.
[00:17:51] Now when I’m telling people that place, it’s like. Oh well, how much time do you have to make a show and then kind of figure out, well, maybe just put it out once a month and then it, and then grow into it and then go out every other month or every other week. And then like, I kind of did it the other way where I jumped in the pool in the deep end in freezing cold water, and I was like, make this work.
[00:18:10] But that’s also. Part of my personality too,
[00:18:14] Minter Dial: [00:18:14] and I like to say, you know, a few, if it was a lot of people say, well, I’ll do it weekly. We’ll do you, are you sure you can keep it up? Because better than to add more than to wind it down, because we know that so many of these podcasts do fresh are away. So. You, as you explained in, in another podcast, you talk about how you were an insomniac when you’re younger.
[00:18:35]and, and I wrote this book on empathy. And the reason why I’ll make the parallel is sometimes I get a comment well, mentor, you think you’re, you’re like the expert of empathy, but that wasn’t very empathic of you. So, I ended up being the, the cobbler, poorly shoot or whatever the expression is. To your point.
[00:18:55] You’re an insomniac. Now you’re helping other people get to see, do you still suffer from it? Can you tolerate Sleep With Me? How do you get to sleep? Click on Sleep With Me?
[00:19:06] Drew Ackerman: [00:19:06] Yeah. So, so I think what the cobbler is, that’s a good one. But like, it’s like the wounded healer archetype is another one that people get so.
[00:19:15] I still suffer from sleep issues and, and I’ve like, at this point, like sleep is in the zeitgeists and I read all these articles about sleep and sleep, how to get a good night’s sleep and I test stuff out. Cause those sorts will be like, Hey, I’ve tried this as we do think of works. And I’m like, well, I’ll test it.
[00:19:32] I don’t know. I mean, so he’s just not too crazy. I’ll try it. But I still have trouble. Like, sometimes it’s falling asleep, sometimes it’s weight. Like for example, this is real world. like with the coronavirus, I have really not been sleeping well. Like I think the entire planet has not been sleeping well.
[00:19:51] And so also my whole routine was off. So, I was like, okay, Drew, you got to go back to your routine and try to have a bedtime routine and some kind of routine when you wake up. And I’m still waking up like this morning. I woke up at like five in the morning, wide awake, and I was like, Oh my God, like, and then I was thinking about our interview, which was at 9:00 AM my time.
[00:20:13] And I was like, okay, what if I fall back asleep? I sleep through this interview. And then Barbie is like, you’re never getting back to sleep. So, then I started reading a book and eventually, mostly at like six 30 I was like, okay, let’s try to go back to sleep. And I fell back asleep for an hour. So, so yeah, it keeps me, it keeps me empathetic like that.
[00:20:31] I know. I always wonder if that’s like a, a job hazard. If I start sleeping eight hours a night perfectly. That’s it. I have to stop the podcast.
[00:20:42] Minter Dial: [00:20:42] Well, it’s amazing. And, and, You know, the fact that you’re an audio, maybe we always talk about radio people having a face for radio, but you have this beautiful, I, I personally resonate with your voice.
[00:20:54] That’s the way I experience it. And I’ve talked about it a lot of times. And the good news, can you listen to your voice, peacefully.
[00:21:02] Drew Ackerman: [00:21:02] Yeah, I can listen to it. And I think maybe this is over the growth of making the show where it doesn’t, well, I have a funny story about putting me to sleep, but I don’t listen to it in a hypercritical way.
[00:21:15] I listened to him more in a curious way. So, if I’m listening to a show, it might be someone asks me a question or a lot of times it’s just like, huh, that’s an interesting decision you made there. Oh, like you kind of miss you. That kind of petered out, or, Oh, I wonder what we would do next time. So, I’m able to like listen to kind of a relaxed way to kind of learn maybe like these microscopic improvements are really how my show is grown.
[00:21:39] But also a lot of times I’ll edit, especially when I had a day job, I’d be editing on my lunch break. It would be warm. It’d be warm and I’d be full of food and I would fall asleep like at my desk, like listening to the show. So, it does put me to sleep, just not at convenient times. Like I’d be like, Oh my God, I can’t, cause it’s even more boring when I’m taking giant Oz’s or taking breaths or cooking water.
[00:22:04] I would just pass out of my desk.
[00:22:07] Minter Dial: [00:22:07] It’s not the nature of this beast, but you can’t sort of automate and dictate sleep. It’s sort of, it happens when you don’t want it kind of thing. You’re driving or, or not in inconvenient times, but when you need to have it and then all of a sudden, you know you’ve got to get up for the study podcasts and all of a sudden that kind of weighs in and then you can’t snap it in.
[00:22:27] Drew Ackerman: [00:22:27] Yeah. I mean, it really is this strange need that human beings have, like food, water, air, and sleep. at least in most parts of the world, like those are readily available except for sleep. I mean, some people will struggle to get food and water, but for the most part, like everyone. Struggles like sleeps is not under anyone’s control.
[00:22:52] It’s, it’s like the harder you try to control it, the harder it is. But we have a physiological need to sleep. Mind boggling. And then the more you need it and the more you want it, the further away it is.
[00:23:04] Minter Dial: [00:23:04] Well, some, some people, my wife would be one who just never has a problem sleeping virtually. Then it seems that there is this other epidemic of sleep where people do, and Arianna Huffington now and the Walker book, there’s much more talk about it. It’s becoming a common topic, but not in business yet where it is still sort of considered a personal thing. It’s almost like it’s almost, you can’t talk about sexuality or sleep.
[00:23:34] These are off limits almost. What do you think about that?
[00:23:39] Drew Ackerman: [00:23:39] I mean, I think maybe we’re progressing to that point. I mean, it’s kind of ludicrous that it’s like this. Like it’s like not talking about something else. Like, like why would you go to a board meeting and it’s like 55 degrees in the meeting room and you’re not going to say anything about it.
[00:23:56] Like, cause you’re afraid of like rocking the boat. it’s like the same thing. It’s like everyone is impacted by sleep. I’m sure that over the next 10 years, like insurance companies are going to be more involved and health is going to be more involved. It’s like Jesus, this is like in the race for productivity, like having sleep wins, like all science backs that up, but it’s like this illusion, Oh, if I work harder and less, it’s ridiculous.
[00:24:28] Minter Dial: [00:24:28] I totally agree. I mean, as I was mentioning before, we started recording about this, the three untapped levers for productivity, empathy, sleep, and purpose. And I, I’m, I’m so not ashamed about that. It’s just, it seems so obvious for me. I want to spend the last few moments through talking about more about the podcast itself because you know, the majority of people podcasting have.
[00:24:51] The average, as I was told by Rob Walsh, Lipson is 137 downloads. After 30 days, you’re at 33 million, in a month. So, any much bigger numbers. That presumably is obviously good for a business model, but speak to us about how you’ve approached the, the, maybe the journey to get to the business model you have because it seems to be pretty much, there’s, there’s a voluntary donations and then there’s, the, the, the gifts or the, the things you can buy in the, in your seat with me store.
[00:25:26] How do you get there?
[00:25:28] Drew Ackerman: [00:25:28] Yeah. So it was a slow journey like, like it was a, so I, I decided to make the show as we were talking about earlier, and I had set a goal of making the podcast for two years and I was like, okay, if we make this thing for two years, I’ll view it as a success no matter what happens.
[00:25:44] Like that was the deal I made with that mirror version of myself of like, are you ever going to try anything else? Like, well. If we do this for two years, that’s pretty successful compared to all of our other projects. We didn’t follow through on it. So then at the end of those two years, that paper dragon critical mind was like, Oh, this was a whole disaster.
[00:26:03] I blah, blah. But the rest of me was like, you know what? We should, I want to, I really want to keep making this podcast. People are listening and I’m enjoying it and it’s really hard, but I think we should keep doing it. And then it was kind of like, well, how are we going to keep doing this? Because the time I was working on it wasn’t sustainable.
[00:26:20] So then it was like, okay, can I bring on some help? But like a freelance editor, how much would that cost? How are we going to bring in that money? And then it was like the dream, Oh, could I work on this podcast full time? And it met. What I ended up doing was going from three quarter time at my job to AF time.
[00:26:37] So full time and just testing stuff out, like membership, like voluntary donations, trying to get sponsors, like would you advertise on a sleep podcast? What other things do people buy that. Well, like we have these sleep headphones that, that are very popular. So, it’s just kind of testing things out and being paid well.
[00:26:57] Most of the time I wasn’t patient. I’d be freaking out and be like, Oh my gosh, these people are listening to show, but I can’t figure out a way to, to keep it going or, or bringing any funds or anything. And they’d be like, okay, well let’s just take it slow and keep going. So, it is vacillating between being very, I’m still like, Oh man.
[00:27:14] But it’s like, okay. and it comes back to that purpose that you can set. It’s like, what is my job like? A lot of times I’ve almost ruined to the podcast by going down these other rabbit holes and it’s like, what are you doing? Your job is to make the podcast, so it puts people to sleep. Right. Does this have to do with that podcast?
[00:27:34] That puts real super, is this going to help make the podcast? It puts people to sleep. No, I guess it won’t. Okay. Then maybe we shouldn’t be doing that anymore. Oh, okay. That’s, thanks. Thanks for letting me know.
[00:27:46] Minter Dial: [00:27:46] I love that internal and journey that you’re talking about. So, when you are looking at the podcast, how much are you using the back office?
[00:27:56] Cause the data, and back in 2013 when you began data was quite impoverished to say the least. Now it’s becoming better. How much are you. Looking at drop-offs and I mean drop-offs is what you’re wanting, which is counterintuitive, but what, how does the data help you and what are you looking for in the data these days?
[00:28:17] Drew Ackerman: [00:28:17] So I love data. So, so like a, and I, it does inform a lot of how I make the show, especially because I can line it up with what the listeners are saying and see how the data correlates with that. So, for me, and it’s a super up Rob Walsh, because I had a conversation with him one time. cause they said, do you know, like with the, the new data we’re getting from Apple, I can see when like what percentage of my listeners have a 45 minute, a 30 minute or a 60 minutes sleep timer.
[00:28:45] So it’s just like these drop-offs at those points. And then I can also see how many people are re consuming shows, which was something I never knew before. It’s like a, how many people are real listening to an episode. So that can kind of help me be like, it can also see like, Oh wow, that episode just did not.
[00:29:03] No one liked it.
[00:29:04] Minter Dial: [00:29:04] Episode, turn it off early.
[00:29:06] Drew Ackerman: [00:29:06] Yeah. Or like they didn’t relisten. Like the ones that people re listened to more and more, it tells me, okay, there was something about this that really worked or, or that people don’t really listen to. It’s like, Oh, that didn’t work as well. or how many people start the show?
[00:29:22] Like a lot of mean emails I’ll get, we’ll be like, Oh, I can’t believe you’re asking for support, or Oh, I can’t believe that. And then I see the numbers don’t back that up. It’s like those people are, have a strong opinion, but only 2% of my listeners skip ahead. Okay, that just does it. The data doesn’t back up.
[00:29:40] That’s your opinion, but it’s not a majority opinion, so it can help, just like try to refine what I’m doing. I guess.
[00:29:49] Minter Dial: [00:29:49] I love the fact that you’re looking at the data and that you’re a data geek and I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s so relevant, the style of data that you have as opposed to what other podcasters are there.
[00:30:00] They’re wanting to have the 60 minutes when it comes to. The sponsors. of course, the challenge is remembering next morning, or, you know, waking them up and turn the lights on and then, you know, clicking on the, I want that right now. Yeah. When, what, what I’ve seen as, as a trend is, is that the, the host is the person who’s speaking the sponsorship and that is considered, I think, the winning thing because it’s more authentic.
[00:30:30] It’s coming from your voice. It’s more natural. It’s you, you know, the flow. To what extent do you feel like you also need to love the products? In other words, if I came to you with some horrible item, you’re going to be no way. There’s always a sort of balance you have to work on.
[00:30:50] Drew Ackerman: [00:30:50] Yeah. So, I think the host reds are very important, and for me it is like very important to be testing out the products, like everything.
[00:31:00] And I reject a lot of stuff. But I also will filter it through, cause I’m probably more rejecting than other people would be. So sometimes I’ll be like, Hey, I don’t, I don’t want to try this. And I’ll ask someone else, maybe another podcast or, or someone I work with and be like, well what do you think? Like I’m a, I’m pretty resistant to that, but I want to have your opinion.
[00:31:21] And usually they’ll give me their opinion. And very occasionally there’ll be like, I think you should try like at least test the product out or something. So, I think it’s very important. They believe in the product. I don’t have to necessarily, I don’t know. Most of all the ones that have stuck with me are like products I regularly use and it’s kind of devastating to me when like a sponsor doesn’t work out of a product I love.
[00:31:40] I’m like, oh my gosh, I’m buying as a customer in my listeners aren’t like a so, but I also can’t predict what works. It’s like some products I love or I think my audience will love, they just don’t land. And then other ones, like there’s this deodorant company and I love them. And I was like, Oh, I don’t, like, I was like, Oh, I love this deodorant so much.
[00:32:04] And I was so terrified it wouldn’t work out with the audience. I’m like, I just don’t know if that my audience will buy deodorant. And it worked out. So, I was like, so glad, cause I’m like. I don’t care if this company ever sponsors show, get them, I’m their customer forever.
[00:32:18] Minter Dial: [00:32:18] I had some lavender in it.
[00:32:20] Drew Ackerman: [00:32:20] Yeah. I mean, I think for me it’s like, I always look at the sponsorships like are they going to be, is this company going to become a part of the show?
[00:32:29] Like where the listeners feel like, Oh, I know this company and I fileted them. With helping me fall asleep in there. Kind of like part of this broader family sense. How do they fit in with that kind of concept in, are they, do they believe in the show enough to stick around long enough that they become a part of like where the listeners are like, Oh, I know them and they’re a part of the show.
[00:32:51] That’s when it will be successful. Like it’s just like anything else. Like. I mean, podcasting, it’s a little bit less than this, but somebody coming in and looking to sell a bunch of stuff right away or really fast, it’s just not going to work. Or it’s like, I need an instant return on my investment. It’s like, well, it’s not really how this show works.
[00:33:08] Like you have to believe in the show, for the listeners to believe in your product. It’s, it’s just a, it’s going to be a, a more of a long-term commitment.
[00:33:17] Minter Dial: [00:33:17] That makes sense. Have you ever had conversation around product placement? As in, so Scoots was talking this and then, you know, I put on the deodorant because I was feeling good and I like this deodorant called brand X and…
[00:33:32] Drew Ackerman: [00:33:32] I think like a, I guess, I don’t know. I guess like, I always think about it like a, I’ve always wondered if the risks are going to be like, like I had dream eight 46 a deodorant, like
[00:33:48] Minter Dial: [00:33:48] bloody brew. Well, I love it. so, Drew, where can, let’s say the, I, I’m imagining iTunes is probably the most popular podcast as it is for most of us were where, where do you like people to come find you? Follow what you’re up to, learn more about you. And I wanted to ask you one more question, which is, do you have a favorite app or other tool that you could recommend for us to also go down?
[00:34:14] Not to go to sleep, because that’s you, but otherwise.
[00:34:17] Drew Ackerman: [00:34:17] For podcasting or…
[00:34:19] Minter Dial: [00:34:19] You know, for sleeping.
[00:34:21] Drew Ackerman: [00:34:21] So I like, my noise, it’s called, it’s a, it’s an audio app and it, it’s, it’s, it has like a lot of different sounds and you can kind of adjust them. Like, I’m a big fan of pink noise personally, or I’ll use a lot of fans and I’m always in search of things.
[00:34:38] Like, because I can hear the loops and I can hear the brakes. And then I’m like, Oh, this just isn’t going to work. Cause I can hear when it re loops. So, this one, it’s really fun. Anybody that likes to audio, it’s a free app to download and then it has some free audio samples and then you can buy more. But it’s my noise and I’ll play with it everywhere and it actually works in the background so you can listen to other stuff.
[00:35:01] Like there’s like spaceship noises, there’s throat singers, there’s so many different things that you could test out and you can mix them together. So, I’ll be listening to like throat singers, jungle noises in spaceships all at the same time.
[00:35:17] Minter Dial: [00:35:17] That sounds very much like listen to the grateful dead where you’ve got so many different things going on at the same time.
[00:35:22] Love it, Drew. So back to my regular question, my initial question, which is how do people find out more about your podcast? And I put all these in the show notes and where would you like people to follow you or connect with you? Sure.
[00:35:35] Drew Ackerman: [00:35:35] The easiest thing to do is look in the podcast app you use for Sleep With Me and it should come up and you can check out the show there.
[00:35:42] If you need to know more, you’re like, wow, I’m not so sure about this guy or whatever. My website is, www.sleepwithmepodcast.com. I don’t think Sleep With Me has any, I think it’s just a part URL, but I don’t want to put that in your browser history anyway. So, Sleep With Me. Podcast stack, those the best way.
[00:35:59] Oh, and if you’re on Instagram. Right now, I’m trying to do a kind of just live streams about telling bedtime stories and encouraging people to tell the people in their lives bedtime stories. Especially now that we’re kind of all. To finding this new idea of loneliness and togetherness is kind of like we’re, we’re in a weird mashup of that right now, but I think people telling one another bedtime stories, just like we talked about at the beginning of the show, just for fun.
[00:36:27] It could give you a lot, like from an empathetic perspective, it’s like, you know how it feels not to be able to tell it to fall asleep. And it can kind of connect you with the other person. So, it’s just something I’m playing with is to test that out and have fun with it.
[00:36:41] Minter Dial: Well, I’m sure to put that in the show notes. Drew, thank you so much. I salute your journey. I definitely love and talk regularly about what you’re up to and I really appreciate the fact that you’ve taken the time to come on, got up early. Come on my show. Thanks, luxury.
[00:36:54] Drew Ackerman: [00:36:54] Thanks so much for having me on.
[00:36:57] Minter Dial: [00:36:57] Thanks for having listened to this recording of the Minter Dialogue show.
[00:37:01] You’ll find the show notes and other blog posts on Minterdial.com if you enjoyed the show, please head over to iTunes to give a rating and review and to finish. Here’s a song I wrote with Stephanie Singer, A Convinced Man.