If you think about all the books you’ve read, and how you chose them for their great covers, you know how important first impressions are. That’s especially the case when confronting any library of infinite content, like iTunes when it comes to podcasts.
So how can you make a great first impression and get listeners to tune in to your podcast? Follow these 9 steps to making great, eye-catching, and clear artwork for your podcast.
1. Follow iTunes’ requirements
iTunes is the largest podcast directory, and the most popular, so it’s important to make sure your artwork adheres to its requirements. As stated in iTunes’ help section, they require that
Podcast feeds contain artwork that is a minimum size of 1400 x 1400 pixels and a maximum size of 3000 x 3000 pixels, 72 dpi, in JPEG or PNG format with appropriate file extensions (.jpg, .png), and in the RGB colorspace. To optimize images for mobile devices, Apple recommends compressing your image files.
And remember that all podcast episodes, XML, and artwork have to be hosted on publicly addressable servers with byte-range requests enabled. The easiest way to make sure you’re set up correctly is to import your RSS feed to iTunes from another platform. Read how to do it with Spreaker here.
2. Design it for scalability
Even if iTunes requires 1400 x 1400 images, always remember that your cover art can get scaled down at any point, so it must remain legible even when its dimensions are really small. Starting creating your artwork with the smallest size first, like 125 x 125 or 55 x 55. If it still looks good and you can clearly make out what’s there, it’s perfect!
Podcasters: make sure your cover artwork looks great and is legible when scaled down. pic.twitter.com/0CNpW92A6i
— Steve Wilson (@StephenWilson) July 23, 2016
3. Use high quality images or vector graphics
The last thing to keep in mind when it comes to sizes and pixels is that even if you’ve sized your artwork correctly, it will still look bad if the images aren’t high quality in the first place, and you’ll spoil the final product. You can find great, high quality pictures on the many free stock picture websites around, like pexels.com or istockphoto.com. You can also try creating cover artwork with vector graphics using Canva.com. If you’re comfortable with Adobe’s suite, you’ll also find some great readymade vector graphics on freepik.com.
4. Keep it consistent with your brand
Generally speaking, you should never underestimate the importance of brand consistency: you want to stay recognizable and familiar to your listeners no matter what they see. It’s why you should use the same logo, fonts, and general color scheme for your artwork on Spreaker, iTunes, and every other podcatcher, as well as your website, social network pages, and accounts.
We recommend you create a template for episode images, so that you can distinguish episodes from each other, yet still keep them consistent with the show’s overall artwork.
5. Make it eye-catching
As listeners browse through shows on Spreaker, they’ll be deciding in a matter of seconds what to pass up based solely on who has attractive or unattractive images. So, consider creating artwork with bold contrast, and try to use images that will immediately convey what your podcast is about.
The best podcast cover artwork is simple + iconographic. Keep to ONE logo (avoid network logos) to ensure legibility pic.twitter.com/dFok14BtfA
— Steve Wilson (@StephenWilson) May 21, 2016
6. Easily communicate what your podcast is about
Your show’s art is the first thing your listeners will see, even before listening to your podcast. That’s why it has to visually evoke the content of your show to your listeners. The question you should answer with your artwork is: what is my show about? Here are some great examples from our community:
About a specific interest:
Fun and entertainment:
7. Use few words
There’s no time to read, not even a haiku! This is not the place to explain with words what your show is about. Save those syllables for your podcast description section! Daniel J. Lewis of The Audacity To Podcast gave this great advice: “The easiest word to remove from your cover art can be the word ‘podcast,’ as it’s really unnecessary in your title. […] Think of ‘podcast’ as the label for your distribution method (which it actually is, technically) and not part of your title unless necessary.”
8. Don’t use more than 2 fonts
Your artwork’s text needs to be legible, even at the tiniest dimensions, and the easiest way to do that is to use the right font. Another great tip from Daniel J. Lewis: Serif fonts (with “feet”), like Times New Roman, Garamond, or Bodoni, often have thin lines and small details that get lost or blurred at small sizes. Script fonts can be too ornate to be legible, unless they’re really big (and never put a script font in all-caps!). Sans serif fonts (“without feet”), like Arial, Myriad Pro, or Futura, work really well with thick or uniform-thickness lines, clear characters, and strong contrasts from the background.
9. Avoid overused images
Like the word “podcast”, try to avoid microphones, headsets, and other overused pictures of podcasting gear. Podcasting is the medium, just focus on the great content you’re sharing and make it eye-catching by following all our previous steps! (The only exceptions are podcasts about podcasting!)
Don’t be overwhelmed at all the steps we’ve listed above, it’s not as daunting as it seems! But if you really think it’s too much work or you’re not confident enough in your design skills, consider paying an artist who can quickly make high quality graphic designs for you. Discover how to get new images now, at this link.