About Timber

Learning together about how to succeed in podcasting

In March of 2020, just before coronavirus shut down the world, I was attending Podfest Expo in Orlando, Fla. The night before the show started, my podcast co-host Chris Hickman and I were on the phone with each other and our wives. We were stressing about whether we should cancel our plans because we were so nervous about bringing the virus home with us. We risked it and went.

Chris and I were hoping to learn the secret to building a must-listen podcast and we were hungry for stories about podcasters that had discovered the formula. As it turned out, we weren’t the only ones. Every session that even hinted at audience growth was standing-room only.

Captivate CEO Mark Asquith talks audience growth to a full room. Photo by Jon Christensen

We podcasters want to know how to find our listeners and get them addicted to our shows. The answer is different in every case and there is no one formula, so we decided to try to collect the real success stories. Maybe we could see the thread of what works running through all the stories and share it.

That’s what Timber is for. The articles on this site are the stories we are striving to replicate. They’re the journeys from 10 listens to 10 million. There can never be enough of these. Each story is fascinating on its own, and together they’re a trove for those of us still finding our voices.

We’re so lucky that the stories we’ve collected are so well told, and that amazing writers were excited enough about the idea to join a publication that didn’t yet exist. Jacob Feldman who profiled HORSE Hoops, Light Years, and ESPN Daily was a staff writer for Sports Illustrated. Shruti Ravindran has been a podcast producer for Gimlet Media, a communications consultant for the United Nations, and a writer for The Guardian. Sean Williams who wrote the feature on Undisclosed has written for The New Yorker, GQ, The New Republic, Harper’s, Daily Beast, and Wired.

We hope you enjoy reading these stories and learning from them as much as we have. Every time a new one comes in, I brew a cup of coffee and lean back in my comfy chair so thrilled to read something brand new. This is like seriously a masterclass for all of us! Podcasters that have made it to that top 5 percent or even that top 200 are telling us how they did it.

Please sign up for new stories. Email is the collateral of the digital age and we would be so thankful if you’d join us in this publication, and in return, we’ll not spam you. We’ll send you valuable, entertaining, podcasty goodness as we make it.

More Stories

Three Million Listens a Month Without a Big Name or Network

Three Million Listens a Month Without a Big Name or Network

Drew Ackerman credits his consistency for the year-over-year audience growth of Sleep With Me.

The world’s “most boring podcast” brings in three million listens per month and has been Drew Ackerman’s full-time job for the last three-and-a-half years. Sleep With Me is a podcast that helps people fall asleep. Ackerman recites bumbling bedtime stories […]

A Breakthrough in Growth From Advertising

A Breakthrough in Growth From Advertising

The Growth of Pessimists Archive, with Jason Feifer

All great podcasts have to start somewhere. Many of the behemoths of today began in someone’s closet and with just a handful of friends for listeners. So, what changes that? How does a little, independent podcast spread, ultimately growing to […]

She Set Out to Change the World, Not Entertain It.

She Set Out to Change the World, Not Entertain It.

Rabia Chaudry's story of creating the breakout, genre-busting hit, Undisclosed.

As soon as Serial ended, Rabia Chaudry knew she needed to act. It was 2014. Sarah Koenig’s 12-parter, about the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, had just changed podcasting forever. The New York Times called Serial “podcasting’s first breakout […]

The Academic Whose Podcast Is Trying to Change the Law

The Academic Whose Podcast Is Trying to Change the Law

Probable Causation wants to bring research out of the ivory tower and into the fabric of our lives.

Prefer to listen instead? We add new stories regularly to the podcast Timber—Stories for Podcasters. For that class of workers known as “the media,” reach is everything and having an audience is the ultimate goal. For academics, however, the equation […]