You’ve heard the adage, don’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s be real: Of course you do. We all do. When you pick up an unknown book in a bookstore, the cover image (or lack thereof) will either pique your interest or turn you off. Book publishers work with designers who take into consideration the colors, fonts and images that are likely to work for the intended reader.
You need to do the same thing when it comes to creating a podcast cover image. When a user is looking for a new podcast to listen to, that cover art is either going to cause him or her to click to learn more or to simply pass it by. You want your podcast to be in the first group.
So, how do you go about creating a great cover image? And what should you do if you’re not an artist? Here are some tips and hints to keep in mind.
Use Your Current Logo… Or Something Similar
Do you already have a logo? It might not work well as a podcast cover image, but chances are good that there are some elements that can be brought over. Take a look at the parts of your design. Can you use the same font? The same colors? Maybe a smaller version of one of the images? Consistency is key here; you want your blog or website readers to know that your podcast goes along with the material they’re already reading and enjoying.
If your podcast is not closely aligned with your website, you don’t need to do this. You can also change things up if you don’t have a large readership or you’re going to be doing your website over anyway. Once you do settle on a design, though, try to use it with all of your related media to help make your brand more consistent and recognizable.
Make It Match the Current (and Future) Specifications
Right now, in late 2016, iTunes requires podcast cover images to be 1400×1400 to 3000×3000 pixels. The most perfect image ever is not going to work if it’s not the right size! Take a look at how it looks displayed much smaller, too; remember that in various areas, your logo will be much smaller. Also, be sure that the image has a high enough quality so that when iTunes raises the number of pixels needed, it will still work. Shoot for between 2,000 and 3,000 square pixels.
Think About What You’re Trying to Say With Your Cover Image
What’s your podcast about? If you had to describe your show in 10 words or less, what would you say? Can you use one of those words or phrases to evoke an image in your mind? What does it look like? This might be the perfect cover art for your podcast.
One caveat: Don’t try to say what your podcast is all about with actual words. First, people are skimming and words are less likely to attract attention (unless it’s one or two striking words). Second, words might not even be decipherable when displayed in a thumbnail size.
Think about color. If your podcast is about romance, you might choose something softer and lighter than if your podcast were about hunting. Do you want to use neutral colors? Black and white? Pastels, brights or primary colors? Don’t use too many colors at once, because this can be jarring to the eye. Think through your design and what mood you’re trying to portray in your image. Help Scout has some tips for choosing the right colors for your brand.
Consider Some “Don’ts”
Before you settle on your design, take a look at this list of “don’ts.”
- Don’t be too cute. Remember that the average listener is an educated adult. Comic sans is probably not an appropriate font, and for most podcasts, a cartoon-type image isn’t going to attract the type of attention you want (i.e. downloads and subscriptions).
- Don’t steal. It should go without saying that your artwork must be original and cannot belong to someone else. You also can’t use copyrighted images or logos unless you have purchased the rights to do so.
- Don’t be inappropriate. Sex, illegal drugs, violence, profanity, racism, homophobia… These are some of the themes that have no place in your cover image.
- Don’t use images of Apple products. This is against the rules for any iTunes podcasts.
In general, if you make sure that your image is of a high quality, original and not likely to offend people, you should be good to go.
Get Help If You Don’t Know What to Do
If you still aren’t sure what to do about your cover art, or if you have an idea in mind but don’t have a clue as to how to make it happen, you can hire someone to design a beautiful podcast cover image for you.
Depending on your budget, you can hire a professional design agency, a freelance graphic artist (like Jenny Hamson!), a college student or someone listing their services on sites like Fiverr. Just be sure to buy all of the rights to greatly reduce the chances that your image will end up elsewhere.
Your podcast’s cover image is the first impression that many of your listeners will get of your show, so don’t neglect to spend some time coming up with a design that is attractive, high-quality and effective. If you need to invest funds into this, that’s perfectly fine; consider it a vital part of your podcast’s marketing strategy.
Remember that you only get one chance to make a good first impression, so do whatever you can to boost the odds that people will be attracted to your podcast.
Over to You!
Let us know what you think. What did you do when creating your image (or wish you would’ve done differently)? This is not a one time decision, you can always update your show’s image and ‘rebrand’ the podcast. This may be a great way to relaunch your show with a new feel and style.
Drop in a comment below to let us know what your plans are with your podcast image.