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How to create awesome podcast cover art and episode images
Podcasters are busy people.
If you are a podcaster you know what I’m talking about.
A podcaster typically is doing the work of a team of people at a radio station.
As a podcaster, you are the…
- Topic Researcher
- The interview scheduler
- The host (on-air talent)
- The audio/video editor
- The producer
- The Blogger
- The Copywriter
- The advertising sales person (if seeking sponsors)
- The social media marketing person
… and more.
This post will focus on another task that podcasters have to either take on themselves or outsource.
And that is the role of the graphic designer.
As a podcaster, you either have to learn how to design your own images or you will have to outsource your graphic design work.
What do podcasters need a graphic designer or graphic design skills for?…
Podcasters need attractive album cover art.
Fire up iTunes or your favorite podcast app and take a look at the variety of podcast cover art in your niche.
Some are better than others. But compared to just a few years ago the quality has dramatically improved. Your podcast album art is the first impression a potential listener has of your show. So make sure it is a good one.
A poorly designed album cover art image will make your show look unprofessional and inferior to the other shows displayed on the same page.
Apple will not feature your podcast in in iTunes or Apple Podcasts if you don’t have good quality album art.
Apple Podcast Album Art Guidelines:
- Minimum 1400 x 1400 pixels
- Maximum 3000 x 3000 pixels
- 72 DPI
- Must NOT contain Apple branding
- Include title and brand in your image
Refer to the iTunes Connect FAQ for more information on Apple’s podcast policies.
Podcasters need episode specific cover art and blog post featured images.
Episode Specific Album Art
Having good quality and attractive images for your blog posts and podcast episode specific art is important.
In addition to your show level album art, you have the ability to apply specific images for each episode. The episode artwork may be displayed instead of the show level album art depending on your RSS Feed settings and the podcatcher app you use.
You could have a picture of each guest that you interview, a relevant image with a text overlay or just your show logo with an episode number next to it.
Whichever graphics tool you choose it will save time to create templates for your episode specific art.
Podcast Show Notes Featured Image
If you have a podcast website then you may want to use your episode album art as your featured image.
WordPress and other platforms allow you to select a featured image for your post. Depending on your theme settings, you may need to customize the dimensions of the image for it to display the way you want it to.
Social Media Images
Podcasters need platform-specific images for their Social Media Profiles and social updates.
Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets!
Each social media platform has its own optimized image size.
Even though square images can work on a lot of social platforms is still better to optimize the dimensions of the image for each platform.
A square image doesn’t look as good on Pinterest as it does on Instagram.
Also, sharing your episodes and blog posts on social networks with an attractive image increases engagement.
If you create several images that you can use within your post (podcast show notes page) then you will have images ready to share on social.
Alternatives to hiring a graphic designer:
If you can afford it, hiring a professional graphic designer for your album art is a best practice. You will get a high quality professional looking image.
The cost of hiring a graphic designer varies of course. And not every indie podcaster will have a budget for a pro designer.
There are services that can get you a great design for a decent price.
The Podcast Design Company:
They specialize only in podcast artwork, with three packages to choose from that will best suit your needs. Cost: $147-347
Get 10% off your pro design artwork.
Use Promo Code “PodcastHero10”
If a professional designer isn’t in your budget then you will be able to get a decent design done for you through an online service.
If having your own graphic designer isn’t in the budget you can use a service like 99 designs. Here you will post your project and many designers will create something for you. You choose and purchase the one you like most.
For only $5 you can get your graphic done for you on Fiverr.com. Just keep in mind that you get what you pay for. But sometimes you can get some pretty good work done on Fiverr. I’ve had mixed results using Fiverr with some better than expected results as well as some that I just couldn’t use. Good thing it is only $5.
How to create your own Podcast Album Art:
Before we get into the design tools that are available I want to go over a few design tips that are important to have in mind before you start designing your album art.
(1) Design for a small screen
Your podcast album art will be displayed to people searching for content on a smartphone or tablet. They will be seeing a small version of your image. Make sure your design is optimized for viewing it as a very small image. It should be simple and easy to see. Text should stand out and images shouldn’t be too complex.
(2) Match your existing brand
Match the colors and style of your existing business or personal brand. Use elements of your business branding in your album art. If you already have a popular blog or youtube channel then match your podcast album art to your existing platform branding.
(3) Use Big Bold Text in your Album Art
Some of the best album art that I’ve seen has had high contrast big block letters on a solid color background, texture or image. Keep in mind that your text needs to be readable in a thumbnail image.
Tools for Creating your Podcast Graphics
There are a lot of tools that can help you design your own images.
Here are some of my favorites:
GIMP is a free an open source graphic design software. It is essentially a free version of Photoshop.
I’ve used GIMP for many years and it is a great tool. It has a little bit of a learning curve but once you know the basic interface you can create your own unique images.
Canva is a great online tool that allows you to create images with custom templates. There are free and paid versions of Canva.
Canva has free images and icons available and you can easily add text overlays and transparent layers. They also have a large library of paid images you can select from. You can get a license to use the image for as little as $1. You don’t pay for the image until you are happy with your design.
Canva has pre-formatted templates for Social Posts, Documents, Header and Profile images, infographics and more. You can also choose custom dimensions to create whichever image size you like.
The Canva for Work plan allows you save company colors, fonts, logos, to your account with folders to organize your graphic design work. There are also team collaboration tools allowing your team to make branded images quickly.
For most podcasters, the free plan is more than sufficient.
Stencil is my go-to tool for designing great graphics on the fly.
You can use the browser extension to quickly generate an image from any website.
Simply highlight some text on a webpage and right click your mouse.
Select Open with Stencil and an overlay will appear with your selected text already added to the image editor. This also works with images. Right-click on an image and choose Open with Stencil and the image is added to the editor.
With over a million images, hundreds of design templates, ready to go quotes, and over a million icons, shapes and graphics, you will have everything you need at your fingertips. And with the browser extension, you won’t even have to go to getstencil.com and login before you start designing. Just click on the extension icon or right-click and choose Open in Stencil and start designing.
Like Canva, Stencil has hundreds of templates for Social Media Header and Profile Images, Social Ads, Social Post Images, Book Covers, Blog post images, and more. You can upload your own logos, fonts and branding to use in images.
There are countless other tools available for creating and editing the images you need for your podcast. The ones I’ve highlighted here are my favorite ones.
Stencil is the tool I use the most because I find it to be the easiest and quickest option for creating quality graphics.
I also just started using a new tool that helps you generate great looking PDF versions of your blog posts (podcast show notes) that you can use as lead magnets to build your list! The tool is called Designrr and I can’t wait to create PDF versions of all my top posts. They have a premium version that is an awesome tool for podcasters as well. I haven’t purchased or tested this one yet but have my eye on it. They are running a really good promo right now so if your interested now is the time to check it out.
They have a great post on how their software works that I’ll link to here. How to write an eBook in 7 easy steps.
What graphic design software do you use? I’d love to hear which tool works best for you!