It’s true. Sometimes we click on a new podcast because the cover art catches our eye. When there are thousands of new shows to choose from, it’s not a bad strategy.
Color, font, graphics — it can all be so exciting for a new listener on the hunt for their next favorite show. Does she pick a bold, bright cover? Dark and mysterious? What vibe is the art giving off? What mood is she in?
For new podcasters, though, we’ve heard graphic design can feel overwhelming. What font? What colors? What size?! So we called in an expert— Sounder’s graphic designer, Janko Pocuca. He creates the cover and episode art for Sounder’s podcast, The Big Exit as well as allllll the graphics that represent our brand. We love him and his creativity very much!
How to Create Podcast Cover Art
Truth is, your cover art is the beginning of your visual brand. It’s what helps a podcast stand out from the crowd and defines your place in the market (think Apple Podcasts and Spotify). It’s what inspires perusing listeners like us to tune in! And we’re here to infuse a little more fun into the creative process. Read on for seven helpful tips to create eye-catching cover art.
1. Define The Essence Of Your Podcast
Okay, so you’ve carved out some time to create cover art for your new podcast. You have a hot cup of tea and the playlist of your dreams singing in the background. Not sure where to begin? No problem. There are a few ways to go about distilling visual representation from your audio creation.
“For initial inspiration, focus on keywords in your title that best describe a particular subject,” says Janko. In other words, use the name of your podcast to define what concepts are at the heart of your show. This way, new listeners will immediately understand what your show is about.
Have a little brainstorm session. Is your podcast titled If Wicks Could Talk, or The Lost Heart of Candle Making, or Fire in The Jar? Keywords might be wax, scent, aromatherapy, natural. Janko explains, “After defining the main elements from the title, it’s much easier to create the whole image.”
Browse your niche’s art
Another handy tactic: check out what others in your niche are doing. Go to your podcast category on large listener platforms and browse the cover art. After all, this is where your podcast will live and spark new listeners. What’s appealing? Is there a dominant color or style? What’s working? Take note of what can be improved and use that to define your differences.
Scroll for inspiration
Janko also recommends browsing free image websites like Graphic Burger, Icon Finder, and Freepik for inspiration. Collect a few graphics that you feel drawn to. Free images can give you a jumping-off point to start playing with color and placement.
2. Know Your Dimensions
Cover art dimensions matter because not all popular listener platforms display at the same size. Every platform, and every screen-size on every platform, has a unique size requirement. Not ideal.
Read the fine print
When building a digital archive of your cover art, it’s essential to have a collection of graphics based on each platform’s requirements. As an example, this is one collection required to host your podcast on the Apple and iTunes Store platform.
- Apple: minimum 1400 x 1400 pixels and maximum 3000 x 3000 px
- iTunes Store Podcast Page: 220 x 220 pixels
- iTunes Store New and Noteworthy: 125 x 125 pixels
- Apple Podcasts Mobile: 55 x 55 pixels
To save yourself time and headache, Janko recommends starting with the largest size, which has a lot of buffer space to trim to various sizes. Another tip: stay organized. Keep a labeled folder of cover art for each platform so you can edit and upload with ease.
Testing is Essential
Because your show’s cover art will display on every possible screen, size, app, and hot air balloon (just want to make sure you’re still with us) do your best to test each image. How? Get critical. Before uploading, ensure your design looks good large and small, on desktop and mobile. Ask friends to view it on their phones. Send it via email. Mail a photo to great Aunt May.
3. Use Contrasting Colors
Color is undeniably vital for your podcast cover art. It shows the personality, mood, even the energy level of your podcast with a single glance. There are many attractive potential color choices, “as long as you have good color contrast,” says Janko.
Think back to high school art class. Remember the color wheel? “Play around with light and dark colors and see which colors go well together,” advises Janko. “Mixing only bright or dark ones should be avoided.” Contrasting makes more powerful imagery and simplifies your color choices.
Take our The Big Exit cover art for example. Janko chose a light background to contrast the bright pops of color from his graphic. And the colors found in the graphic are used to make all other marketing materials (like newsletters, social media posts, and our website).
4. Choose A Font With Personality
A little bit goes a long way in a small space. Stick to one or two fonts for all the text content of your podcast cover art. You will likely want to print your name, production company, and possibly a subtitle or teaser depending on how you arrange design elements. In some cases, the title lends itself to a separate artistic font.
Choose a font or two based on your podcast’s personality and the mood of your branding. You might choose a more playful font for a comedy show or a serious font for politics. Your font style is another simple indicator of what listeners can expect from the show.
5. Keep It Simple
It can be tempting to fill your podcast cover art with content. After all, you have a title, a logo or graphic, a photo, and color to play with. But Janko warns not to overdo it with elements and details. Don’t forget, most of the time, your cover art will be seen as a thumbnail, not a full-size rendering. “Finding a balanced composition can help to create an eye-catching cover image at any size.” It’s best to keep your design simple, clean, and well-spaced.
6. Scale Your Cover Art Into Marketing Material
Finally, you can put all of your hard design work to work! Make a simple text document that lists out all the colors, fonts, graphics, and rules of your cover art. Vavoom! You have yourself a brand style-guide. A style-guide is your touchpoint for all brand visuals, like newsletter headers, social media graphics, even swag for your listeners.
The more unified your imagery, the more recognizable your podcast will become across multiple broadcasting platforms. When you create your cover art, you are creating the template for your podcast’s brand. So take your time, think it through, and HAVE FUN.