(Updated on November 2018)
First impressions count, there’s no denying it. And, although people always say to never judge a book by its cover – they inevitably do, especially when it comes to podcasts. Good cover art can make the difference between being ‘featured’ in Apple Podcasts (which is the new branding and identity from iTunes) and gaining tons of new listeners, to appearing unprofessional and setting your show up to fall flat on its face.
Therefore, the real question is: how do you make your podcast’s image pack a proverbial punch? Luckily there are some handy (and easy-to-follow) tricks you can employ which will immediately help your visuals – we’ve listed 9 of the most important in this written tutorial. Read the guide, cross the items off your checklist and give your podcast some added pzazz!
1. Get Your Podcast Artwork Dimensions Right
Size DOES matter. First off you need to ensure your artwork follows some basic requirements (which are pretty much the same wherever you’re submitting) in terms of dimensions so that it gets accepted across the main podcast directories.
Most importantly, you need to be 100% sure that your image fits Apple Podcasts requirements. Although Stitcher, Google Podcasts and all the others out there are great, Apple Podcasts is without a doubt the biggest platform and luckily as a consequence, most other platforms have followed suit to create similar requirements.
Here are the Apple Podcasts’ album artwork specifications:
- Must be a minimum 1400 x 1400 pixel resolution, recommended 3000 x 3000 pixels
- Must be a JPEG or PNG file
- Must be in the RGB color space
Last but not least, before finalizing your design check how it looks in smaller formats too. You want to make sure your podcast cover art resolution stays crisp, and always easy to read when displayed in different dimensions on the various Apple Podcast sections and also when scaled down to thumbnail size on mobile devices.
Here are three of the key Apple Podcasts dimensions to be aware of:
iTunes Store Podcast Page on desktop displays at 220 x 220 pixels.
iTunes Store New and Noteworthy Section on desktop displays at 125 x 125 pixels.
Apple Podcasts on mobile displays at 55 x 55 pixels.
2. Check Out the Competition
If you’re lacking inspiration for your podcast cover art, a great way to get your creative juices flowing is by looking at what your competitors and peers are up to.
For example, if your podcast is centered around learning, why not try selecting the Apple Podcasts category for ‘Education’ see what’s already listed? Or click the ‘What’s Hot’ section for ‘Education’ and have a think about why those particular podcasts stand out from the crowd.
Below is a snapshot of the current educational podcasts in the section. Take the time to look at the podcasts included, think about which one your eyes are drawn to, why is that? Do they have anything in common? What have other podcasters done which might work for your show?
3. Communicate Your Show’s Message
Your show’s artwork is the first touchpoint your listeners will have with your show. That’s why it’s SO vital that you immediately communicate what your podcast’s about, the topic, theme or ethos of your show – using imagery, visuals and colours.
Your podcast artwork has to visually evoke the content of your show to your listeners. With this in mind, think about the answer to this question and it might help inspire you: What is my show really about?
Here are some great examples from our community:
Credits to: Cooking By Ear by Kristina Loring, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Timbuktu Labs, Be Your Change by Juliette Roy
4. Keep It Consistent With Your Podcast Logo and Brand
Never underestimate the importance of brand consistency: you want your customers to instantly recognize your brand, wherever it is being represented. That’s why you should use the same logo, fonts and color scheme for your artwork, whether it be on Spreaker, Apple Podcasts or your social media accounts, so as to visually connect your brand.
Spreaker Top Tip!
Create a template for episode images to distinguish episodes from each other whilst keeping them consistent with the show’s overall artwork.
5. Use Design Tools or Outsource Cover Art Creation
If you’re quite a creative person (lucky you!) and you’re wondering how to create your cover art using a specific tool, well we’ve listed some of the best design tools available for developing your album artwork. If like most of us you somewhat lack artistic creativity, no worries, outsourcing is also a great option. We’ve summarized the best options for both categories of person below.
- Canva – Create your own images using one of the custom templates available. There are both free and paid versions of Canva’s stock images available, with images costing as little as $1, and you only pay once happy with the image in your artwork.
- Snappa – Snappa is a free graphic design tool that allows you to create eye-catching images in minutes with professional quality templates and a library of over 500,000 photos to choose from.
- Stencil – Over a million icons and images, hundreds of design templates, ready to go quotes and shapes and graphics. Stencil is extremely easy to use for people looking to create professional looking graphics.
- Desygner – Desygner is a free graphic design software with thousands of ready-made beautiful templates which can easily be tweaked, shared and printed in minutes. Best of all, it can be used on your computer, tablet or even a phone.
Outsourcing Your Cover Art
Fiverr – Fiverr offers the option to find design freelancers who provide excellent quality work at decent rates. With Fiverr it’s your responsibility to contact and select from the potential candidates and it’s always better to go with someone who has good feedback and a portfolio you like. All designers will want to receive a very detailed brief, so if you’re going to use the platform, make sure you have a clear idea in mind!
Upwork – Alternatively, with Upwork, you publish a job with your requirements and wait to receive applications from potential candidates – it’s the better solution if you don’t have a clear idea in mind. You’ll probably receive lots of applications but you can sort through the candidates quickly by seeing who’s got good feedback and a portfolio that you like! It’s also standard practice to discuss with your chosen designer the specifics of the job (which could lead to their initial quote price rising).
6. Use High Quality Images (which aren’t already overused!)
Using a quality image will convey that you mean business with your podcast. Your potential listeners will already know that they are looking at a podcast, so avoid using overused and obvious images such as microphones or headsets – they’re boring and a waste of space.
7. Make it eye-catching
As listeners browse through shows on Spreaker, they’ll be deciding in a matter of seconds which shows to listen to, based solely on who has attractive or unattractive images. So, consider creating artwork with bold contrast and try to use images that will immediately catch people’s eye as they’re scrolling through. And it goes without saying that if the artwork isn’t attention-grabbing enough, Apple Podcasts won’t feature it.
Credits to: Reaching for Words Category by Spanish Obsessed, Always Listening: Podcast by Joel Sharpton, Your Soccer Passport Category by Public House Media
8. Use Your Words Carefully
Don’t use too many words, listeners don’t have the time nor want to read a full blog post explaining what your show’s about: save those syllables for your podcast description section!
“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.”
9. Don’t use more than 2 fonts
Your artwork’s text needs to be legible, even in the tiniest dimensions. That’s why font is so important.
Another great tip from Daniel J. Lewis: Serif fonts (with “feet”), like: Times New Roman , Garamond, 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.
Whether your podcast’s been running for a long time or just getting off the ground, a great image is vital to its success – use these top tips and see what sort of impact your visuals have on your show’s popularity!