What is podcast artwork & how to get approved by apps
Good podcast artwork is important for a show. It is the first thing potential listeners will see. They will notice your podcast artwork even before reading the title of your show.
Some apps (like Pocket Casts), on some screens, only display the artwork of podcasts and hide other information!
Your podcast’s artwork signifies the quality of your podcast. It will give a first impression of it and will foreshadow the quality of your content. Now, I’m not implying that a podcast with mediocre artwork can’t have good content. But it’s your chance to grab the listener’s attention earlier!
People that are searching for podcasts through search engines are more likely to click on a show that has good artwork than not. Artwork can spark curiosity in the potential listener and make them browse through your episodes’ catalog to find one that appeals to them.
In this article, we will see what podcast artwork is, the actual reasons that you need podcast artwork, what it should contain, how to create it, the rules you must follow, and some technical details.
- What podcast artwork is
- The reasons that you need podcast artwork
- What podcast artwork should contain
- How to create podcast artwork
- Podcast Artwork Guidelines
- Podcast Artwork Technical Details
- Looking Forward
What podcast artwork is
Podcast artwork is a square photo that will appear on podcast apps (Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Pocket Casts) as a unique identifier for your show.
A podcast can have only one, main, artwork image and it will usually be displayed on the top of its page, on each app.
As there will be dozens of podcasts listed through their apps, it’s what will set yours apart and intrigue the listener.
The artwork will represent your podcast and will be part of your branding. Branding is important, and it can be coherent with the rest of your assets, like your business website or social media presentation.
Artwork is a visual medium and it’s a chance for listeners to notice you and take you seriously, before discovering your content. I bet your content is awesome, you don’t want to hinder it with bad artwork!
The reasons that you need podcast artwork
There are many places where you will use your podcast artwork, some more important than others.
For submitting your podcast to directories
The most important one is when submitting your podcast to popular directories, like Spotify and Apple Podcasts. They require that you have uploaded cover artwork, otherwise they won’t approve your show! You don’t want to go back and forth in the submission process just because you forgot to upload the artwork. There are a couple more things that you are required to do and you can see them on “What should I do before publishing my podcast on directories?”.
For podcast listening apps
Nearly every podcast-listening app will display your artwork. Both on the web, on your mobile phone, and even on TV.
Your artwork will be displayed on the top of these apps, next to your podcast’s title. If someone is casting your podcast on TV your artwork will be displayed on the screen, taking a big portion of it. So you must make sure your artwork is of high quality!
Artwork is usually displayed on a small square, but in some cases, apps can choose to show it on a bigger size.
On some apps, like Pocket Casts, when someone sees the shows they have subscribed to, the only thing that they will see is podcast artworks displayed as squares next to each other. So yours should be unique and distinct.
On your podcast’s website
You already have planned on building a custom website for your podcast or have chosen to use your host’s podcast website feature.
Nearly every podcast site has its artwork prominent, somewhere near the top of the screen. For example, check these podcast pages:
All of these podcast websites have their artwork on the top of the screen! It’s common and a good idea. You have taken the time to make some nice artwork, so why not feature it?!
On social media
You have probably started a Facebook page, and an Instagram or Twitter account for your podcast. Promoting your content is important!
You will need some quality material and graphics to post there so that you engage people visiting your pages.
Your podcast’s artwork looks stunning, so you can use it as a page photo on these platforms!
Having the same photo on both social media pages and podcast directories will help your podcast be recognized easier! Make it part of its identity and make a coherent brand!
On posts you make on these pages, it’s a good idea to have the same visual language so it is recognizable. A good rule of thumb is to have the same color palette for all your posts. You have probably seen this on bigger pages with a lot of followers.
Use it in your newsletter
Starting a newsletter for your show can be beneficial. You can recycle your podcast’s content in a written form, so people that don’t have much time to listen to audio can quickly check your latest email.
Also, you can send exclusive content to the ones that chose to subscribe to your newsletter, by finding out about it through a section on your podcast.
People nowadays can receive many newsletters, so including your podcast’s artwork or elements of its brand, can help receivers recognize it easier and keep reading! I sometimes subscribe to newsletters and then completely have forgotten about them when I receive an email. If there were some visual element reminding me of where I have seen it again it would make it easier to remember.
What podcast artwork should contain
There are a few elements that every podcast artwork image should contain.
It’s very common for podcast artwork to contain the podcast title in a big, clear font.
The reason that it should be bigger than other text is that often your artwork will be displayed small, so you want the title to be visible and easy to read.
It is recommended that you keep your podcast title relatively short so it can fit on the artwork. For more information about how to name your podcast check out our “How to name a podcast? (17 tips)” article.
In some cases, especially if there’s something very distinctive about your brand like characterizable colors, you can skip adding the podcast title. For example, I bet you will recognize Spotify’s branding, if it started a podcast, without its artwork containing the title.
Many podcasters choose to include their names on the artwork. This is especially important if you have a personal brand and/or are a public figure. Some podcasts even contain the author’s name in the title! There’s nothing bad with that, if you want to use your personal name as the title of your podcast it’s fine.
But if you do not, consider adding it with a smaller, lighter font somewhere on the artwork.
If there are multiple co-hosts it’s fine to not include any names. Remember, artworks are usually displayed small, so using much, smaller text will be very difficult to read.
It’s a good idea for a business to start a podcast, or you may have developed a personal brand. You have probably already done some effort to create a visual style for it. If not, you can start with your podcast!
A personal brand should have a unique aesthetic, making it easily recognizable among others. Think about the big companies you interact with. Many of them have done a massive effort to build their brand!
You can use a specific color palette, with colors you like and fit together. You can use whatever color you want, as long as you keep the hue the same on every graphic.
If you don’t know how to start you can always hire a graphics designer. Prices can range based on experience.
How to create podcast artwork
There are many ways to create podcast artwork, using online free tools or premium software. The most important thing is your creativity!
Artwork Creation Apps
There are different software that you can use, depending on your needs and how much time you want to invest. I will give you a few options I have personally used and are good choices.
It is an online tool (that means you don’t have to download anything) that you can use to design artwork using pre-made or custom templates.
You can add your podcast title, author, and a custom image on the background or use a free one from the library.
Canva is powerful and has many features. It’s a good choice to quickly come up with something of quality, even on the free version!
Well, Illustrator is the most common software for graphic creation and manipulation.
Almost every creative professional in the field is actively using it or is familiar with it. It is more than 30 years old and it has established itself as an industry standard.
It is premium software, and you need a subscription to use it, but you can make good use of it for everything graphics-related for your podcast or business.
A newer developer, Affinity, has made an excellent alternative to the Adobe Suite, including programs like Designer and Photo.
It is very powerful software and has all the features you will need to build your visuals. I’m personally using it and am very happy with it.
The best thing about it is that with a very affordable universal license, you will own the software for life, and be able to use it on every available platform (macOS, iPadOS, Windows). That’s very generous of Affinity, compared to the subscription-based Adobe Suite.
If you are considering investing in quality tools to run your brand, I would highly recommend this!
There are a couple of places where you can get free to use, Creative Commons quality images. You don’t necessarily have to pay to get an image to use on your artwork.
This is the biggest stock photography site out there. It contains hundreds of photos that you can easily download and use.
They are of high quality and you can crop them to your liking.
More than 265.000 photographers are submitting photos to it and their catalog contains more than 3 million images.
It has a great search engine, that you can use to quickly come up with something you like.
Another stock photography site I’m often using is Pexels.
Like the previous one, it contains very high-quality photos that you can easily download and use.
Its catalog contains more than 3 million photos and videos, and it is owned by Canva.
Again, its search engine is fast and you can discover a great photo to use easily.
Free podcast artwork generators
There are a couple of free podcast artwork generators on the web. You can use them on the browser, without downloading anything, and they can generate high-quality results.
They are specifically made for podcast artwork generation, so you can quickly generate something of quality.
The best thing about them is that they will take care of all the technical details and give you a file that will be exactly as it should be to be accepted by podcast directories.
Stay tuned because we are planning on releasing such a free podcast artwork generator soon!
Podcast Artwork Guidelines
To make the best artwork your podcast can have it is a good idea to follow some general guidelines, distilled from analyzing the artwork of the top podcasts out there.
It should be unique
This is important. You want your artwork to stand out and catch listeners’ eyes the moment they look at it.
On apps, many podcasts are next to each other and their artworks are displayed the same way. Make yours catch eyes quicker than the competition!
A good tip is to not use a background image that looks a lot stock-like and uninteresting. Use the sites we talked about above and you will find a perfect one quickly!
Fonts should be was to read
The artwork will oftentimes look small, especially on phone screens.
You will want to make the title of your podcast, and the rest of the text easy to read, even when displayed like that.
Use big, clear fonts and keep the text short. Don’t use too many words, as this all forces you to make the text smaller and harder to read.
Should look good in small sizes
When creating your artwork, try zooming out, making the whole canvas small on screen. Ensure that the image, as a whole, looks good and clear, even on that size.
Don’t forget to do this when you are making changes. You may have made the text unreadable for most people browsing through podcasts on their phones!
It’s a good idea to have good contrast between the words on the image and the background photo.
Less contrast will make everything difficult to read, and on small screens, even graphics will be hard to read.
What is good contrast? I’m not suggesting you really push it and use black-on-white. But play with hues until everything is clear. That can be black-on-yellow or dark grey on very light grey.
Don’t use swear words
This is important. If you use swear words in your podcast’s artwork you are risking not getting approved on Spotify or Apple Podcasts. You really don’t want this to happen.
Many other, smaller, apps will use Apple Podcasts to discover and list your podcast, so if it doesn’t get approved there it’s a problem.
Don’t use copyrighted images
Again, like the previous one. By using copyrighted images you are risking your podcast not getting approved.
Use the free photo sites we mentioned above. You can find many high-quality photos, on these.
Even making a Google image search and downloading a photo can be illegal. It may be copyrighted!
There are algorithms the apps can use to figure out if the photo you have used is copyrighted.
Of course, if you want to use a specific copyrighted photo, you can contact the copyright holder and get on an agreement with them. If you stumble upon any trouble later, you will be in the clear.
Podcast Artwork Technical Details
Alright, after everything else, let’s get to the boring technical details, that you must follow so your artwork is good to go.
Generally, you want to use Apple’s Artwork Requirements because they are an unofficial leading authority. Remember, in reality, podcasting is distributing. That means that no one can “own” it.
The rules are simple. Your photo should be 1400x1400px to 3000x3000px and it should be square. If you submit your podcast with a lower-resolution photo you’re risking being turned down.
Everything in between is alright.
The majority of artworks are in a JPEG format, so use this.
Every app you’re trying to export your photo with will support this.
Small File Size
It’s much preferred to use a JPEG image with a 85-90% compression.
That way your artwork will look good and be small in file size, so people can download it quickly.
Beware of white borders
Sometimes your photo may not fill the whole background and there will be a white border towards the edges.
Please avoid this. Zoom the photo so it fills the whole canvas but beware, you don’t want to scratch the photo. That will look bad. Just make it bigger, keeping the same aspect ratio.
Please don’t add a background photo with bad quality. Even on smaller screens, it can look bad. You want to use a good initial photo that doesn’t look pixelated.
Another thing is to avoid over-compressing your photo when exporting. You can use our guideline above, in the “Small File Size” section as a starting point.
It can’t be changed instantly
Make sure, when submitting your podcast, that your cover photo is good to go! After getting accepted and listed your image may be cached for a long time by podcast-listening apps.
What this basically means is that even if you change it, it may take a long time to propagate. Your subscribers can keep viewing the previous picture for days or even weeks.
That’s because of the distributed nature of podcasting, which has many positives and a few negatives, like this.
Don’t think about it with a generator
If you are using an online podcast generator, chances are it will take care of all these technical details for you. You won’t have to think about anything technical, and your photo will look good.
Alright. We learned anything there is about podcast cover artwork. Now it’s time to go ahead and generate the best one there can ever be for your podcast.
And when you do it, it’s time for recording some quality, audience-engaging content!