Today, we’re talking about those essential show elements that everyone needs to establish their pod, video, or towncast. In many cases, these elements are crucial to getting your show approved and streaming on major platforms.
When you get all of these elements right, they can add up to become an extremely valuable resource in getting people to click on your show, tune in and keep coming back.
So let’s get into it!
Podcast cover art is one of those things that can really make a big difference on if someone listens or not.
Oftentimes, your cover art is going to be one of the first things that people see when they are browsing the podcast store, looking for their next listen. It’s that square logo that appears when you’re scrolling through shows, or when you have one playing on your favorite podcast platform.
First, let’s talk about the specific guidelines within which your cover art must meet:
Podcast cover art must fall within these guidelines:
- Minimum size of 1,400x1,400 px
- Maximum size of 3,000x3,000px
- Aspect ratio of 1:1 (in other words… a square)
- Maximum file size of 500kb
- File types of JPG or PNG
While it may be tempting to fill that square with as much excitement as possible - lots of clever wording and flashing imagery. It seems to be the case that the most popular shows opt for a less-wordy logo that instead go for the simple, the unique, and the memorable. Certainly make a point to emphasize your logo and your aesthetic, and of course, it’s usually good to feature your show title.
But try to find a perfect balance between simplicity and creativity.
In a way, your cover art is your show’s “logo”. Unless your show is based on an existing business or identity, then your cover art will be one of the major identifiers people have with it. So, when designing your logo, don’t be afraid to play around with different fonts, different color schemes. Get artistic. And let your own identity - as well as that of your content - shine through and be reflected in it.
Because remember: a lot of people are going to be scrolling through a bunch of shows, looking at the cover art, maybe reading the description. You certainly want your logo to pop, but you don’t want it to be too overbearing. It’s probably better to firmly establish the branding of your show (your logo, your show’s name, your color scheme) and strive to create something that personally encapsulates what you and your show are all about.
If your logo resonates with you, it will likely resonate with your potential listener as well. So, put some thought into it, don’t be afraid to revise or even restart. Your cover art is one of the most important tools you have in pulling in listeners. So try to make a great first impression.
Descriptions are exactly what they sound like! They describe what people can expect when they tune in.
Once that prospective listener has clicked on your show and wants to learn more - what are they going to see?
Some creators like to keep their show’s description short and sweet - tempting people in with minimal detail. Others write multiple paragraphs and go to great lengths in explaining what their show is all about. What you do with your show’s description is, of course, up to you.
But there are a few things to keep in mind.
As I said before, your show’s description should definitely give the reader a glimpse into what they can expect from your show. Unless they’ve already heard about the show, or maybe heard a teaser, they might not have much of an idea on what it’s about at all.
So, explanation is key - or at least, hinting at your subject matter and your overall style.
So take this opportunity to really hook the reader into becoming a listener.
If you’d like, take this opportunity to introduce yourself (and your co-hosts, if you have them). Why are you creating this show? What is your purpose? What sets you apart from everyone else?
Don’t shy away from what sets you and your show apart from all the rest. If anything, I would say lean into that. One of the great things about podcasting is the way that it allows you to take your one-of-a-kind voice & vision... and emphasize those things. It is truly an excellent modality for self-expression. And anyone can do it.
If you’re going to do the thing, do it your way!
As an added bonus, you may find that writing about your show in this way helps you to understand what it is you’re really trying to do with it.
Music/Other sonic elements
Most podcasts feature music. It’s one of those sonic identifiers that people can come to instantly recognize about your show. Usually, music is featured at the very beginning of your show - fading in as you start the episode. Then, at the end of the episode, the music may fade back in as the episode winds down.
And let’s not forget the trailer. Some people like to get creative with their trailers. If there’s co-hosts, they may write out a script in which they all get to introduces themselves and their show. I’ve heard some creators get really creative and write a piece of music that they perform a cappella! They put this right at the top of their trailer, before they even said a word! Whether this was a calculated decision or not, I’m quite sure that their creative - some might say risky - decision to start their trailer off that way hooked some people into listening to the show.
And really, that’s what all of this is about - hooking people into listening. Letting your true, authentic self shine through in the audio or video of your content. So take some time in thinking about your trailer - whether you decide to have one or not.
Normally, trailers are no shorter than 1 minute and no longer than 5 minutes. But some people take it one step further and create what is called an “episode 0” for their show. This is basically an extended trailer - an unofficial episode of their show that serves as more of an introduction than anything else.
What about videocasting?
Great question! If you’re going with a videocast, there are a few other elements to consider.
Chances are, if you’re creating a videocast in 2022 - at the time of this recording - you’re going to be publishing on YouTube. So, you’re going to want to create a YouTube channel. For this, you’ll still want your cover art, your description, and of course, your video content.
But you may also want to invest in a couple of variations on your cover art - namely, a YouTube banner and a watermark. For the watermark, it may just be as simple as shrinking your logo down and placing it over top of your video (in whichever corner you prefer). For the YouTube banner, that’s a little more specific, and so I’ll have the suggested dimensions for that in the show notes.
Personally, I usually get a graphic designer to create this stuff for me. They’re better at it, and I find that the money spent is well worth it when I consider the long-lasting usage I’ll get out of these assets.
You may also want to get a video editor to create an intro and outro splash screen for you to put at the beginning and end of your videos. Unless you can do this yourself, I recommend finding a good video editor. You can use freelance marketplaces like Fiverr or Upwork to find good editors. With some direction, they should be able to put this together for you at a relatively low price.
We’ll be going over videocasting more in-depth in a future episode.
Now, for a few more quick tips...
Do yourself a favor and learn a bit about SEO - that’s search engine optimization. Every text-based word that you put out there can have an effect on your ranking on search engines. So there is a game to be played in using certain words and phrases often in order to work your way up those ranks.
When you’re first starting out, this isn’t as important as developing systems, templates, and striving for consistency, but SEO is one of those modern-day skills that anyone can learn with relative ease. And if you’re starting a podcast and you’re going to be creating titles, writing show notes and blog posts, SEO can come in great handy right off the bat.
I’ll have some resources in the show notes for learning more about SEO and how to use it effectively.
Don’t forget to set up your social accounts!
No matter which way you look at it, social media and podcasting go hand in hand.
Do a bit of research. Take a look at some of your competition. Where are they most active? Where are they seeing the most engagement? Most Views? Likes? Shares?
What seems to work? What doesn’t?
If your show is wildly original and you’re focusing in on a hyper niche - good for you! That's awesome - but you may have trouble finding any competition at all. But use this to your advantage. If you’re honing in on that untapped hyper niche, then you may already know where to find the people you’re trying to reach. It might be the more popular platforms like Twitter and Instagram, but it may also be larger message board communities like Reddit or Pinterest.
Another quick tip: don’t use emojis in your titles! As tempting as it may be to use those smiley faces, try to refrain from it, at least when creating titles for your podcast. Long-story short - and skipping over a lot of technical jargon that we haven’t covered yet - using emojis or strange characters in your episode titles can confuse the RSS Feed and, in some cases, cause problems for your show’s publication.
Thanks for reading!