How to Design Podcast Cover Art: Step-by-Step Guide 

Michael
11 minute read
14.01.2022

Before you can win your listeners with your well-placed voice, sound arguments, and interesting anecdotes, you need to persuade them to click on your podcast. Besides word of mouth and good podcast ratings, solid podcast cover art can help you attract the attention of your target audience. 

So, let’s figure out what makes a good podcast cover art and how you can plan for gorgeous and effective cover design. But first, some basics for a better understanding of the task. 

What is cover art in a podcast? 

Podcast cover artwork is a banner for your show. It is a visual representation of your podcast, which helps the listeners to identify your podcast quickly. Treat a podcast cover as a visual hook that accurately represents your podcast style and theme and appeals to your target readers. 

Fun fact: this is a podcast cover of the oldest active podcast, Open Source with Cristopher Lyndon. The show has been up and running for 17 years. 

Podcast cover art of the oldest active podcast Open Source
Source: Podtail

Its design must have had a few iterations, but its essence (and red circles) has remained the same for over ten years now. This podcast cover showcases the longevity of minimalistic and clean art. 

Why is the podcast cover art important?

Did you know that Apple Podcast features more than 500,000 active podcasts, while Spotify has more than 3,2 million podcasts (though it’s unclear how many of them are active)? 

Of course, not all of them are your direct competition, but even the smallest of niches can have dozens upon dozens of podcasts. So you need to stand out and make a solid first impression to win over listeners. 

Google selection of top Spotify podcasts
Source: Spotify podcasts, Google

A podcast cover art is important because it is the first (and often the only) visual impression your podcast will make. 

A professional-looking podcast cover design is also about prestige and shareability — posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement. So, with an excellent cover, you can expect that people will share your podcast more. 

Besides that, “Apple launched paid subscription tiers, which offer more exposure, but also require more artwork, for things like banners and landing pages.” And Spotify followed suit.

In the words of Timothy MacAuffie — associate creative director at Spotify — the world of podcast cover art quickly changes: “In my experience, recently, the art is being treated more similar to the level of key art for TV and streaming.”

All these developments mean that visual marketing is becoming more critical for podcasts’ success, and a proper podcast cover design should be the marketing’s cornerstone. 

What are the dimensions of podcast cover art?

Whether you’re designing podcast cover art for Apple, Spotify, or Google, podcast cover art dimensions are 1400 x 1400 but preferably 3000 x 3000 pixels in JPEG or PNG formats. 

What are the requirements of podcast cover art? 

Podcast cover art requirements will vary slightly from platform to platform. So, we suggest reading their rules carefully before designing your podcast cover art. Besides that, the core requirements to podcast cover art are the following:

  • The artwork should be original

  • The artwork shouldn’t violate copyright policies

  • No references to violence, illegal drugs, and profanity

  • No hate and offensive content

  • No advertisement

How to make a good podcast cover art? 

As you see, podcast cover art matters and your marketing efforts can benefit from a solid, professional design. So, let’s figure out how to make a podcast cover art? 

What to consider before designing a podcast cover art? 

On top of appealing to the target audience, a perfect podcast cover design communicates 

  • Podcast’s theme;

  • Podcast’s brand identity;

  • Podcast’s tone of voice.

That’s a lot, considering you have a relatively tiny square to work with. 

Fortunately, we have a handy framework that can help you plan your podcast cover design. It consists of three questions: 

  • What is my podcast about? 

The answer to this question will help you determine the focus of your podcast cover art. Ideally, you want a single short sentence that laconically describes the central theme of your show. For example, my podcast is about the insides of archeology and what makes the science so intriguing. Or, my podcast is about life and finding personal benefits even in its bleakest moments.  

  • Who is my audience?

The answer to this question will help you determine visuals that will appeal to your listeners. The more detailed the answer to this question is, the better. So define their preferences, tastes, cultural and political views, etc.  

  • Which adjectives describe my unique podcasting approach the best? 

The answer to this question will help you determine your future cover art’s style and color palette. So, what is your style? Is it whimsical, ironic, relaxed?  Or is it serious, well-focused, and deliberate? Be sincere and direct, don’t be afraid to use “obscure” adjectives or simply odd ones. The more unique your description is, the better! 

Plan for a podcast cover that stands out

Now that you have the idea of what your podcast cover should represent. It’s time to develop the initial concept of the design. 

But first, you need to do some research and find references for better results. So, we suggest checking out your competition, paying particular attention to podcast covers that represent the style and vibe you’re striving to achieve. 

Besides that, do the following:

  • Determine which cliches your niche has and do your best to avoid them.

  • Find what you can include in your podcast cover design to stand out more without feeling out of place.  (it could be the bold color choice, or maybe an elaborate logo, or spot-on typography)

Based on your findings, you can develop your future podcast cover design concept. Our advice is to make the idea simple. Simple podcast artworks are better thumbnails and generally more suitable for a broader appeal. 

Generally, you’ll have three approaches to podcast cover art to choose from:

  • Object or logo-focused podcast artworks. Perhaps the most common type of podcast covers. They focus on a logo or an object that communicates the theme or general vibe of your show well. 
  • Typography-focused podcast artworks. A very accurate title, powered up by top-notch typography choices and some proper colorwork, can create captivating and catchy podcast covers. 
Minimalistic Typography-based podcast cover design in yellow
Podcast cover design by Getcovers
  • Personality-focused podcast artworks. Such podcast cover focuses on the hosts of the podcast. Those are the best for famous people who want to pursue podcasting. However, if you don’t have fans or your appearance doesn’t tie up neatly into the theme and tone of your podcast, avoid it.

You need to determine which approach will suit your style and niche the best. But remember, regardless of the approach you chose, the title of your podcast will be essential to the success of your design. A proper podcast title is a powerful marketing tool that should convey the theme and style of your show too. 

Decide on a podcast cover design approach

With the podcast cover art concept at hand, you can decide which style exactly you want your podcast artwork to have. Usually, you choose between two approaches: 

  1. Graphic design-based podcast cover — constructing your podcast cover art from stock photos and other premade elements. It’s a flexible approach that the majority of podcast covers prefer.

  2. Illustration-based podcast covers. A podcast cover with a handmade illustration is rarer and more expensive. Though illustrated book covers are on the rise, they still stand out more because of it. 

Both approaches can work well regardless of niche with professional design. Though some niches will prefer illustrated covers over graphic design ones or vice versa. The choice also comes down to your taste. If, for example, you wish to have an illustrated artwork, don’t let market research stop you from doing so. You need to love the cover, or what’s the point? Besides, the trends in the podcast industry are quick to change. 

Choose proper podcast cover color palette

When choosing a color palette for your podcast cover, make sure that the colors

  • Suit podcast’s tone of voice

  • Suit podcast or personal brand

  • Fit in the niche

  • Contrast each other well, so the imagery is discernible

Podcast cover art with contrasting black and pink colors

Podcast cover design by Getcovers

Also, we suggest picking no more than three primary colors unless your goal is the vibrant explosion of colors. If you doubt which complementary colors to choose, you can use the good old color wheel

Usually, the colors on the opposite sides of the wheel are the most contrasting and work together well, reinforcing each other. (The color wheel has plenty of different patterns you can experiment with to find the palette that suits your needs best.)

Design or illustrate focal art of the podcast cover

Unless you want a photo or text-based podcast cover, you’ll need to design or illustrate the art for it. We have a few pieces of advice concerning podcast artwork:

  • Make it simple. Too much detail will make the artwork overwhelming and difficult to discern at smaller sizes.

  • Ensure it communicates the theme of your podcast well. A proper title is important too, but the image gets processed much faster than text.

  • Don’t make the artwork too big. Remember, you need plenty of space for the title of your podcast. 

As for the style of the artwork itself, there’s a sea of possibilities in front of you. You can choose linework, vector graphics, realistic illustration, highly-stylized illustration, and various graphic design approaches.  

Often, to create complex art, you need the help of a professional podcast cover art designer. However, if you lack a particular skill, it’s better to team up with an experienced artist to ensure that the final result is top-notch. 

Choose proper podcast cover typography

Even if you have a very art-focused podcast cover, typography is consistently among the essential elements of your cover. 

You can have the most beautiful artwork on the market, but inappropriate use of Comic Sans or failure to adhere to basic typography rules will undermine its impact significantly. 

So, 

Treat choosing font, font size, color, and texture for the title of your podcast as you will treat choosing the main art or title itself. 

Typography-focused podcast cover art about marketing
Podcast cover design by Getcovers

Stick to a single font for the title. If you want to make a part of the title less prominent, you can change the font’s boldness, case, or transparency, but not the font itself. Using a few different fonts makes sense if you go after the Mad Hatter or wacko style. 

Treat the fonts themselves as art. The style of letters, spacing between them, everything communicates thoughts and ideas. 

For example, 

  • Letters in bold show power;

  • Slanted letters convey a sense of movement;

  • Straight letters refer to stability;

  • Fonts with fewer embellishments feel comforting and chic. Use them for the impression of elegance, strict confidence, or authority;

  • Fonts with more ornaments speak creativity. Use them if your want the text to seem loud, expressive;

  • Use wide or narrow letter spacing to communicate airiness or the anxiety of confined space.

If you’re unsure how to present text on your podcast cover, consulting a professional podcast cover art designer is an advisable solution.  

Build proper composition for catchy podcast cover art

Podcast covers are squares. It means that their primary focal point is strictly at the center of the cover. So, that’s where the main art or text goes while the title is set on top or at the bottom of the art. Usually. 

There are some exceptions. For example, you can place the art subject on one side of the square. But then, you’ll have to put text on the opposite side to balance the art and give it a pleasant, easy-to-follow visual hierarchy

Host-focused podcast cover art about trading

Podcast cover design by Getcovers

Imagine that the center of the podcast cover is its center of gravity, and all the artwork elements are drawn to it or float around it, like planets around the Sun. 

General tips for a great podcast cover design 

Finally, here are a few tips for a good podcast cover art: 

  • Stick to a shorter podcast title — up to 60 characters and five words top. This is because they are easier to work with when designing a good podcast cover.

  • Don’t create a podcast cover that can work only as a podcast cover on a particular platform and nothing else. You can use the final design to create promo materials for social media and emails.

  • If you’re unsure that the podcast cover has good contrasts, switch the color mode to monochrome and check whether the imagery is still discernible.

  • No matter how simple, the original design is better than a stock photo 99 times out of 100.

  • When the cover is ready, check out how it looks at 55 by 55 px. It will help you determine whether the podcast cover art is a good mobile thumbnail. If it’s too mushy or illegible, some changes are due. Maybe, you’ll need to adjust the colors. Change the size of the elements, or tinker with the art itself.

  • Gather feedback. Before committing to final revisions, ask your potential audience or people who might be interested for feedback. They can see what you or the designer won’t because you’ve stared at the podcast cover for too long already. 

What makes a good cover art?

So what makes a good cover art? Is it great art, neat typography, amazing colors, accurate title? Of course, all these things are undeniably important. But what truly matters is the appeal. If your podcast cover art appeals to your listeners, to quote one band of some renown, “nothing else matters.” So, create a cover that makes them want to click on your podcast, and you’re good to go. And if you aren’t sure how, then, create a podcast artwork that you would want to click on. 

Good luck and have fun 🙂 

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    Michael

    As a part of Getcovers marketing team, Michael helps indie creatives master their craft. In his free time, Michael likes playing his electric guitar, losing hours in video games, and reading unhealthy amounts of SF&F (and trying to move his body at least a little bit to not transform into a plant).

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