Your podcast cover art is the first experience potential listeners have with your show as they browse on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or their favorite podcast app. They’ll use your artwork to decide if they should read your description, skim your episode titles, or listen to their first episode. This makes it a critical part of promoting your podcast.
If your artwork doesn’t capture people’s interest, there’s a good chance they’ll decide to scroll past your show. But if people find your podcast artwork enticing, there’s a good chance you’ll gain more listeners.
So even though you didn’t get into podcasting to be an artist (and probably never thought you’d have to in order to start a podcast), you still need to take your podcast cover art seriously. In this article, we’ll go over how to create quality podcast imagery that helps grow your show.
Podcast Cover Art Technical Details
First, let’s talk about the technical stuff. Make sure you are podcast cover art meets this criteria precisely for maximum visibility. If it doesn’t, the podcast directories may fail to display your image or refuse to display your show entirely.
- Your podcast art should be square. Make it 3000 pixels by 3000 pixels. This way it will look good everywhere, even when it’s scaled down. 1400 pixels by 1400 pixels is the minimum for Apple Podcasts.
- Make it 72 dpi and use RGB colors.
- Save your art as a JPEG or PNG (but JPEG is best).
Podcast Artwork Design Recommendations
Now that you understand the technical criteria, you need to know how to design a pleasing and enticing image. These aren’t hard-and-fast rules, but they’re good tips to help make your podcast cover art attractive, engaging, and understandable.
1. Leave some space between words and the edges of the image. This way listeners will understand your artwork even if the podcast player or directory cuts off part of it.
2. View your artwork when it’s small. Some apps and players will scale your image as small as 30 pixels by 30 pixels, so preview it at that size to make sure people will understand it.
3. Don’t use more than two fonts. Any more is distracting and messy.
4. Don’t use silly, hard-to-read, or gimmicky fonts. It’s okay to exhibit your personality, but you don’t want to be difficult to understand.
5. Tell a clever story. Use your cover art to express the core theme of your podcast. For example, the Strangers podcast uses an image that helps you understand what their show is about.
6. Limit the number of words you use. Your artwork needs to be readable in small sizes, so don’t try to pack in a paragraph (or even a long sentence). Use your show’s name as the main headline. Subheadings are okay, but keep them short and punchy.
7. Stay away from overused images like microphones or headsets, even if your show is about podcasting. Otherwise you won’t stand out.
8. Make your cover artwork consistent with the rest of your branding. Use the same copy, images, fonts, and colors.
9. Don’t be afraid to use your logo. If your podcast is part of a larger organization that people already recognize, your podcast cover art should leverage that branding. Notice how Nike includes their switch logo on all of their podcast art.
9. Use high-resolution images. Since your cover art will typically be displayed small, you want it to be as clear as possible.
10. Choose contrasting colors. This helps you stand out from the crowd, especially if your colors are vibrant and eye-catching. Notice how these cover images pop out at you because they use contrasting blacks, grays, whites, and yellows.
11. Don’t crowd your podcast cover art with too much content. White space is a critical element of any design, so don’t crowd your image’s elements.
12. Make your cover image adjustable for other mediums. For instance, you might want to use your cover art to promote on Facebook, as a static image when you republish on YouTube, or as some part of your podcast website. Consider the dimensions of these locations as you design you image.
Designing your own cover art can be hard. If you don’t have creative skills, it’s best to spend a little bit of cash on a proper design. Hire a designer you trust or use a service like Podcast Designs or 99designs.
Things to Avoid in Your Podcast Cover Art
Here’s a short list of things to keep off of your podcast art. These items either violate the terms of the big podcast directories and/or turn people away from your show.
- Explicit or adult-only images and language.
- References to drugs, sex, gore, profanity, violence, or hate themes.
- Images or languages that reference racism, homophobia, or misogyny.
- Low resolution or blurry images.
- Complex words that most people won’t understand.
- Words and images that are the intellectual property of other brands, unless you have permission to use them.
Examples of Great Podcast Cover Art
Before you start creating your own podcast cover art, here are some examples you can use for inspiration.
1. This is Your Life
This is Your Life is a podcast by author and coach Michael Hyatt. Since Michael is the brand and his audience knows him well, it’s smart of him to put his face on his podcast cover art. Also notice how his image matches the branding on his website precisely.
Using a well-known face isn’t unique to Michael Hyatt’s show. Lots of famous people put their faces on their podcast cover art.
2. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a playful show about extraordinary women. Its cover art expresses the show’s themes of adventure and reaching for bigger things. It uses contrasting colors well and a font that’s unique, but not hard to read.
3. Slow Burn
Slate’s Slow Burn is quite clever. Not only does the image burn away to reveal the show’s title, but the image itself is highly recognizable, even without the face.
S-Town is a story podcast about a scandalous town in Alabama. The cover art uses eye-catching colors and unique imagery. You don’t normally see flowers and clocks together like that, so it makes you wonder what the podcast is about.
5. The Joe Rogan Experience
The Joe Rogan Experience is one of the most popular podcasts in the world, party because this cover art is so… weird. But it works! Each episode of Joe’s show is an eccentric, investigative journey. Furthermore, the circular design stands out from all of the other square cover art.
6. Inside Psycho
This podcast cover art is all about the vivid typography. You can immediately tell that this will be an eerie show that dives into an unsettling subject.
7. This is Life Unfiltered
We love this podcast cover art because of its vivid, eye-catching colors and whimsical typography. The expression of the woman in the photo is hard to miss too!
Make Your Own Podcast Cover Art
You don’t need an expensive tool to create your own podcast cover art. We recommend Canva because it’s easy to use and free. (There are paid options as well, but the free version should work fine for you.)
Once you sign up for Canva and enter your dashboard, click the Create a Design button, select + Custom Dimensions, and enter 3000 for height and width.
The page that opens is your work space. This is where you’ll add photos and text to create your podcast cover art.
The column on your left contains all the tools you need to build your podcast image. Backgrounds offers a selection of patterned wallpapers that cover your canvas. Photos is a library of free-to-use photography. Text is your tool for typing and editing text (lots of great templates available). Elements is a bank of lines, shapes, gradients, icons, and clipart. And Uploads is for adding your assets.
Drag elements you like onto the canvas to create your cover. Start with a background pattern or image, then add some styled text on top for your podcast name. Don’t be afraid to add your own files, like your headshot or logo. Align and resize your elements until you get them just right.
If you decide to use Canva, make sure to check out their design tutorials.
Take Your Podcast Cover Art Seriously
Your podcast cover art is a critical element of your brand. It’s the image listeners see every time they play an episode, and it’s the first thing potential listeners see when they search for new content.
If your artwork is boring, uninspiring, and similar to everything else, potential listeners won’t get try your show. They’ll scroll right past your name as they look for something exciting.
So even though you didn’t get into podcasting to design visual art, it’s important that give your podcast cover art the attention it deserves. It could be the difference between a big, engaged audience and no audience at all.