So you’ve decided to start a podcast! You start by researching a quality microphone, what hosting to use, what the title should be and you find the perfect co-host! You’re ready to record your first episode but realize you need to create the cover art before you launch the podcast on Apple Podcasts. You could create something simple on Canva, use a platform like Anchor and boom, you’re recording right away.
Do you think that’s how your favorite podcaster did it?
If you are feeling motivated and want to take advantage of that time, you can certainly record your first few episodes, but there are a few important steps you can’t skip if you want your podcast to be successful long term.
Your cover art IS your brand. It’s the first thing that people see before they ever listen to your podcast. There are over 660,000 podcasts in circulation, which means listeners have options. If your podcast doesn’t stand out, your potential listeners will move to the next option.
Here are a few tips to make sure your podcast cover art stands out:
1. Clearly, show the title/subject
Before people see the title of your show, they will see your cover art. Your cover art should clearly display the title/subject of your podcast. If your podcast is about yourself, clearly display your picture and name. If you are promoting your business, make sure to include your logo. Starting a podcast around your hobby? Utilize the likeness and branding of that hobby to entice fans to click on your show and not your competitors.
2. Make sure it stands out
When scrolling through the podcast directory on your phone, the podcast cover art is going to be small. For that reason, your cover art should be vibrant and stand out in a crowd. This doesn’t necessarily mean you must use bright/vibrant colors, but it does mean you should eliminate wasted space on your cover and the title should be easily visible.
3. Size it correctly for directories
Podcast directories are the best place for people to find your podcast, but they do have some rules and guidelines. iTunes requires the cover art between 1400 X 1400 pixels and 3000 X 3000 pixels. Make sure your image is high quality, which will not only help you attract more listeners but will also give your podcast a better opportunity to hit the New & Noteworthy charts on Apple Podcasts.
4. Avoid gimmick fonts
You want your podcast to stand out, but you don’t want it to be “noisy.” Avoid using texts that will distract potential listeners or thin text that is difficult to read when the images appear (much smaller) in the directories. Use your imagery, color scheme, and fonts effectively, but don’t get too “cute.”
How can you find a designer that will create awesome cover art?
If you have $200 to spend, you can have up to 30 concepts created by professional graphic designers at 99designs.com. If your budget is slightly smaller, you can find a great graphic designer on a freelance site like Upwork or Fiverr that will create a design for under $50.
If your cover art is the gatekeeper for your podcast, then your introduction is your receptionist. The introduction engages listeners right away and tells them what they will be hearing and who they will be hearing it from. A podcast introduction should typically run 30-45 seconds and should include the name of your podcast, the hosts name, what the podcast is about and any other information you want to tell your audience before the start of your episode. Consumers have short attention spans, and while many podcasters elect to jump directly into the content, most professional podcasts opt for some sort of lead in with music to engage and excite the listeners prior to beginning the episode.
On the other hand, the outro should be treated as a call to action for your listeners that made it to the end of the episode. These are typically your biggest fans and advocates, so this is a perfect time to thank them, but also ask them to help continue to grow the shows social credibility. Listeners will not leave ratings, reviews or shares unless you ASK. Your outro is a great place to ask for their feedback via ratings, reviews, and shares. While ratings and reviews won’t help you rank in iTunes, it will help your podcast gain social credibility, leading to more listeners. Other information you can include in the outro include your website, a teaser for next weeks show or another call to action.
Where Can I find voiceover talent?
There is certainly no shortage of voiceover talent in the marketplace. As audio has emerged, so has the need for high-quality voiceover professionals. A few resources where you can find voiceover talent for your show include Voice 123, VoiceBunny, UpWork, Voices.com, Fiverr, Voiver and Audio Bag.
Adding in music is an exciting way to start your show, especially if you struggle with creating initial energy yourself. There is a reason that radio hosts use music intros to signal a return from a break or start of the show. Music creates energy and excitement for whatever follows, but you must do it the right (and legal) way. Before you start blasting your favorite Tom Petty song to hype up your show, make sure you understand copyright laws. You first need royalty rights and unless you are Joe Rogan, I don’t think Tom Petty is in the budget. Consider finding an alternative that is free or very affordable (Under $20).
Where can I find royalty free music?
There are plenty of resources to find royalty free music. If you want to hustle, you should first start by messaging your favorite rising artist to see if they would allow you to use their music. Many artists are looking for exposure however they can get it and if you ask the right way, many artists would allow you to use theirs for your podcast intro. If you are looking to go the quick and easy route, consider: Beat Suite, AudioBlocks, AudioJungle, Opuzz or NEO Sounds.
The small details when starting your podcast are the ones that often go overlooked. These are the details that welcome and introduce people to your show before they ever hear a word you say. Skipping your cover art, intros and music are like opening a storefront and forgetting to put a sign out front. Sure, some people will find you, but you want to give yourself every opportunity to be found and you want to keep the customers inside as long as possible. Your cover art will get them in the store and your intro/music will keep them shopping.
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