How to Design Stunning Podcast Cover Art That Stands Out in Apple Podcasts (iTunes)
Your podcast's cover art is the first thing potential listeners see in Apple Podcasts and plays a significant role in growing your audience.
According to a recent Buzzsprout Facebook poll, 62% of podcasters are more likely to listen to a podcast if they like its cover art.
So while quality content is the most critical part of making a podcast, your show's cover art plays a significant role in setting yourself up for success.
Before getting started on your design, there are a few things you need to know to ensure Apple Podcasts accepts your submission and that your artwork grabs the attention of new listeners.
Download: Create Stunning Podcast Artwork Cheat Sheet
Top 12 tips for creating quality podcast cover art
These tips will help you create high-quality, compelling artwork right the first time around, so you don't waste time remaking your design.
1. Make sure it meets Apple Podcasts' requirements
Most podcast directories take their cues from Apple Podcasts, so if your artwork meets the directory's requirements, it will also work in other top podcast apps!
The minimum size for cover art is 1400 x 1400, but Apple occasionally changes these guidelines, so we recommend you save your file at 3000 x 3000 to avoid resizing in the future.
If you're working within photoshop, keep your image at 72 dpi for optimal resolution (other programs like Canva do this automatically) and export the artwork in either .jpg or .png format.
2. Design for a variety of sizes
When designing your podcast artwork, make sure it looks great everywhere it's displayed — from a large monitor to an app on an iPhone; create artwork that still works well when scaled down to thumbnail size on mobile devices.
Your artwork will show up in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and dozens of other directories. There are three different cover art sizes within Apple Podcasts alone.
Thankfully, this step is a lot easier than it used to be. You can use this cover art preview tool to see how it will look in the top apps and directories.
3. Clearly communicate the subject of your podcast
Podcasts vary as much as the people who create them, and your covert art should convey the type of podcast you have.
Your goal is to make sure potential listeners understand your show's topic by glancing at your artwork. Which one of these scenarios best fits your podcast?
Podcasts about hobbies
If you are launching a hobbyist podcast, you want to use artwork specific to your hobby. For example, if you're starting a podcast about Star Wars, you'll want to make sure you incorporate some Star Wars-themed images. Make sure your fellow superfans can easily see what the podcast is about!
Podcasts promoting a business, brand, or church
A lot of existing businesses and churches are launching podcasts to promote their existing brand further. If your goal is to reach out to existing customers and members, you'll want to use recognizable branding like your logo. Here are some examples where the church or business logo is prominently displayed:
Even if your brand is less recognizable, you want to use images familiar to your current customers and members.
Even if your brand is less recognizable, you want to use images that are familiar to your current customers and members.
Personal podcasts (when you're the face of your brand)
Some of the most popular podcasts use the host's personality to drive the brand. If this sounds like your podcast, you might want to consider using a picture of yourself in your artwork.
Using your image as your podcast's brand can work out well, but, as this podcasting tip reminds us, don't focus so much on being a podcast personality that you forget to bring valuable content to your listeners.
Pro Graphic Designer Reacts to Podcast Artwork
4. Limit your words
Even though it's tempting to include the podcast's title, hostname, tagline, etc., try to keep it simple.
Cover art is small and can quickly get visually overwhelming with too much text.
Try to limit yourself to using four or five words max in your podcast cover art. When your artwork displays at thumbnail size, it will be nearly impossible to make out any more than that.
5. Refrain from using adult language or images
Even if your podcast has adult content, your artwork should be free of hateful, racist, or homophobic speech and images that portray violence, sex, or drugs.
Adult language and imagery also violate Apple Podcast guidelines and could be removed from the directory.
6. Choose fonts wisely
When adding text to your artwork, make sure to limit visual distractions. Using multiple fonts will add another dimension of distraction.
We suggest limiting the number of fonts in your artwork to no more than two, and if you use two different fonts, use one serif and one sans-serif font.
Here are some more typography tips to consider.
- Don't crowd the image with text
- Make sure it's readable in small sizes
- Don't use more than two fonts
- Avoid visually distracting, ornate fonts like papyrus, comic sans, curlz, and jokerman.
How to Select Fonts for Your Brand
7. Avoid overused podcasting imagery
Podcast artwork is replete with microphones and headsets, and using this imagery often misses the point of the podcast—with one exception.
If your podcast's subject is podcasting, you'll want to incorporate some podcasting imagery.
For instance, Jared Easley, host of Starve the Doubts, teaches on how to launch and grow a podcast, so it makes sense to use podcast imagery in his artwork.
And when rebranding our own artwork for Podcasting Q&A, we chose to use a mic and headphones so people would know what it's about at a glance.
8. Be consistent
As we mentioned earlier, you'll want to use consistent imagery across your brand (website, Twitter, Facebook, other forms of social media, etc.). Apple, Coca-Cola, and Nike are all masters at branding because they use consistent imagery across all their platforms.
Solopreneurs like Tim Ferris don't use a logo at all and instead use their own image as the face of their brand. If you go this route, make sure you stay consistent with the other elements (like your text and color scheme).
9. Use high-resolution images
Technically, high resolution means anything over 300 PPI (pixels per inch), but you don't need to get that specific.
If you use Buzzsprout's Canva integration, the artwork is already in the correct resolution for podcast cover art.
If you use stock photos from Pexels or Shutterstock, the resolution is high enough not to look pixelated (even if they aren't technically high-res).
10. Pick contrasting colors
Using contrasting colors in your artwork is one more way to make it easier for listeners to know what your content is about at a glance.
Listeners are more likely to click on your podcast if it has bold (yet simple) elements with eye-catching text that pops.
If you use professional design tools like Photoshop or InDesign, make sure to select the RGB colorspace which is the best colorspace for digital work (you usually don't have to worry about the colorspace if you use Canva or other free digital design tools).
Design Artwork That Pops
11. Compress your final image
High-res files are large and can take a while to load. Apple Podcasts suggests you compress your image to optimize the file for mobile devices.
This step only takes a few seconds and helps the file load more quickly on both smartphones and desktops.
12. Repurpose your artwork
Design your cover art with other mediums in mind so you can easily repurpose it across platforms.
You can use your new artwork on Soundcloud, your social media avatar, business cards, or even as a favicon for your WordPress site.
Feel free to tweak your artwork across mediums, but leave enough of the original design to stay recognizable.
Design your cover art (for free)
You don't have to be a graphic designer to create podcast artwork that looks slick and professional. These days, web tools are widely available that make podcast logo design simple—and free.
So if you have a little time and creativity, here are a couple of DIY design tools you can use to create your own podcast cover art that doesn't cost a dime.
Buzzsprout's Canva integration
The Canva Artwork Helper lets users created artwork within their Buzzsprout dashboard and guarantees that all cover art meets the industry requirements for size and resolution.
To get started, log in to your Buzzsprout account and go to the Podcast Settings tab. Scroll down to the podcast artwork section and click Design Artwork with Canva.
Choose from one of the 250,000 templates to work from and click on the individual elements to customize it how you like.
You can adjust the size, change the color, add shapes and designs, or remove a selection altogether. You can also add text, upload images, and organize your projects using the Folders tool.
Once you finish editing, select Send to Buzzsprout on the top right corner of the screen to upload the file straight to your dashboard!
Adobe Spark (Free Plan)
Spark's Free Plan lets you create a custom-sized image and offers a wide selection of various templates, text styles, and pre-made color pallets to spark your creativity.
To get started, create an Adobe account. Click the + sign at the top left of the page and select Custom Size Graphic and enter your dimensions.
Once you're in the creator page, select the Add + button to upload your image and overlay it with custom effects and text, or browse hundreds of free templates and icons.
In need of a little inspiration? Try Spark's step-by-step logo maker and let the tool generate some ideas for your show's branding. It won't create podcast art for you, but it can get the ball rolling if you have a creative block!
When you're done with your design, selected Download at the top right of the screen and save the file as a .jpg or .png.
Other free design tools:
Hire a professional designer
If graphic design isn't your thing and you prefer to enlist a professional, hire a designer to create your artwork. Here are our top recommendations ranked by price.
- Fiverr ($5-$100)—This platform is by far the cheapest and has many talented graphic artists looking to build their portfolio. If you choose this Fiverr, make sure you find a designer with good reviews and plenty of previous work examples.
- The Podcast Design Company ($147-$297)—The Podcast Design Company offers professionally made cover art designs for all kinds of podcasters and genres. They offer a 30-day guarantee, unlimited revisions, and 24/7 support. Use code Buzzsprout15 to save 15% on your first order.
- 99designs ($299-1,399) ($299-1,399)—99designs is a pricier design option but allows you to get a wide variety of potential designs. Start a design contest, review pitches from several creators, and pick the one you like most. We've used this service for our own podcasts, and we can vouch for their work. Use this link for $20 off any contest.
Upload image to your Buzzsprout dashboard
If you host your podcast with Buzzsprout, you can log in to your account and select the Podcast Settings > Podcast Info. Scroll down and click the grey box that says Choose Custom Artwork to upload your podcast cover design!
Click Save Podcast Info and wait up to 24 hours for the changes to appear.
As always, if you have any questions about your podcast artwork, feel free to reach out to our support team at [email protected].
More ways to market and brand your podcast
Like it or not, potential listeners do judge a podcast by its cover, and what they see plays a big role in whether or not they listen to that first episode.
Following these steps ensures you create visually appealing artwork that not only looks good but attracts new listeners in the process!
Now it's time to put your cover art to work as part of a successful podcast marketing plan! These resources can help you get started: