112 million Americans have listened to a podcast according to Edison Research – you can find more fascinating stats here – up 11 percent from 2016. Overall, 40 percent of Americans have listened to a podcast at some point and that number has nearly doubled since 2013. Podcasting is rapidly on the rise and the market has become more and more saturated to meet the growing demand for new content.
If you want to attract attention in this crowd, you’re going to need an eye-catching cover that targets the perfect listener. While the most important component is the content of your podcast, your podcast artwork will help you attract new listeners. Cover art helps your podcast stand out in iTunes, makes you look more professional and is often a potential subscriber’s first impression of your podcast. Creating an awesome podcast cover isn’t difficult, you just need to make sure you follow a few simple things.
What Do I Need?
The #1 priority is the big square image that is the face of your podcast. The two specifications to keep in mind are:
File type: JPG or PNG (RGB)
File size: 1400 x 1400 pixels minimum, 3000 x 3000 pixels maximum
If you plan on promoting your podcast across other channels – which you probably should – I would consider adding social media and blog image assets to your to-do-list. These might include:
Facebook page banner
Individual episode art
How Do I Get The Goods?
You have two choices. You can design your own podcast cover art, which is the cheapest option, you’ll just pay with your own time. If you’ve got the ability, fire up Photoshop, use the specs listed above, and design away. If Photoshop is not your thing, you can always give Canva a try.
If you have other things to focus your time on, a professional designer is the way to go. Hiring a designer frees you up to do what you do best and also brings a designers creativity to the table. If you don’t have a designer who knows you and your brand, contact me here and let’s talk.
How Do I Make Sure It’s Awesome?
A great podcast cover won’t make or break your podcast, but it can move you from “amateur” to the “clearly knows what they’re doing” podcaster. That means more subscribers and a podcasting brand that people will respect – whether they’re new subscribers, on-air guests, or potential sponsors.
Even if you’re working with an amazing designer, it’s still a good idea to understand what makes a great podcast cover. Start by browsing new or noteworthy shows in iTunes and write down what catches your eye, peaks your interest and why. Here are 9 tips to help you out.
Visually Communicate The Subject
Your podcast artwork should be determined by the type of podcast that you have and visually communicate what it is about. If your podcast is on the subject of a hobby you’re going to want to use artwork specific to that hobby. If the goal of your podcast is to reach out to existing customers, then you’ll want to use recognizable branding such as your logo. If you’re the host, a personality with a following, then get your face on the cover.
Make it Scalable
iTunes requires 1400 x 1400 images, but keep in mind that your cover art will get scaled down so it must remain readable even when it’s really small. If it still looks good and you can clearly make out what’s there at 125 x 125 pixels or 55 x 55 pixels, it’s perfect!
Future Proof It
A few years ago the minimum podcast artwork size was 300 x 300 pixels and has since increased to the current 1400 x 1400 pixels. It will more than likely jump again in a few years. Make your artwork future proof by creating a larger 3000 x 3000 image pixels max. Use High Quality Images No matter what size you are viewing your artwork, it will still look bad if the images aren’t high quality to start with. You can find plenty of great, high quality images on free stock photo websites, so don’t ruin your cover by using low quality images.
Avoid Overused Images
Please, for the love of all things clip-art, don’t use microphones, headsets or the RSS icon. If your podcast is actually about podcasting, then you get a pass and may want to incorporate some podcasting elements. Podcasting is the method you’re using to share your thoughts, it isn’t the subject of your podcast so just do us all a favor and skip the mic… you want to stand out, not blend in!
Don’t ignore the importance of brand consistency… you want to stay recognizable and familiar to your listeners. Use the same logo, fonts, and general color scheme for your artwork as well as your website, social media pages, and accounts.
BONUS TIP: It’s a great idea to create a template for individual episode images so that you can differentiate episodes from each other while keeping them consistent with the show’s artwork and your brand.
Catch People’s Eye
The decision to skip or listen is made in a matter of seconds based solely on whether your podcast has an appealing image or not while listeners browse through the endless lists of podcasts. Create artwork with bold contrast, and try to use images that will instantly convey what your podcast is about.
Use Few Words
Podcast artwork needs to look great when it’s big or small so keep the words in your artwork to a minimum. When your artwork is displayed at a 55 x 55 pixel size it will be nearly impossible to make out more than three or four words. This is not the place to explain in words what your show is about, that’s what your podcast description is for!
Use Only 2 Fonts
Your artwork’s text needs to be readable, even at the smallest dimensions, and the best way to do that is to use the right font. Make sure you limit the number of different fonts in your artwork. Using multiple fonts will just add another dimension of distraction.
BONUS TIP: Serif fonts (A small decorative line added as an embellishment to the basic form of a character) like Times New Roman, Bodoni, or Garamond, often have small details that get lost at small sizes. Script fonts can be too ornate to be easily readable, unless they’re really big. Sans serif fonts (do not use serifs, small lines at the ends of characters) like Helvetica, Verdana, Univers, or Futura, work well with thick lines and strong contrasts from the background.
There You Have It… Now Go Get Started!
You can download my free PDF “9 Elements For Eye-Catching Podcast Artwork” and make sure your cover is as awesome as you are!