Be unique: How to use specific podcast episode artwork (Template)

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Since most of my podcast episodes include guests I’m a fan of using specific podcast episode artwork (aka podcast thumbnails)  for each show, but it’s a decision each podcast needs to make on its own.

There are basically two lines of thinking when it comes to podcast episode artwork:

  • Use the same podcast cover art for each episode.
  • Use specific podcast episode art for each episode.

Theoretically, the first option is easier and involves fewer tasks because you’re just using the same image over and over. You don’t even have to upload it for each episode as most hosting services will just pull the one that’s already in there.

The second option could take a little bit more work but not horribly because you could just use a template. Of course, if you use your guests’ pictures you always have to chase down those pictures. Years ago that meant we would have to ask for an image. Today, I typically just grab their LinkedIn picture, which usually takes seconds.

Examples of podcast thumbnails artwork

The possibly easiest and most consistent example is to have the same image which in my case looks like this:

Business Storytelling Podcast cover art

The personalized version with a picture of myself and my guest looks like this:

Business Storytelling Podcast cover art with Fiona Walsh

Personally, I do think the personalized podcast episode artwork does add a nice touch and listeners skimming through episodes can easily see who a specific episode’s guest is. Even if they don’t recognize the guest through the picture it’s still a nice visual cue.

If you livestream your podcast, you can also update the YouTube podcast thumbnail. Plus, YouTube now distributes podcasts proper.

How networks display episode art

Of course, all these different podcast networks have their own ways of displaying podcast episode artwork. Even if you choose to update the images for each episode would they even display on the different networks? That’s worth finding out.

On Spotify, once you start listening to a show it shows up like this on your list. If there’s no specific episode art it just shows a few lines of transcript in the back. The image with a guest of myself look much nicer behind the main podcast cover. You can now also upload your video version to Spotify.

Podcast art Spotify

Amazon Music: it also shows up nicely and works.

TuneIn: it doesn’t make a difference.

On Google Podcasts it does not update.

Apple is rolling out podcast episode artwork in 2023. 

The biggest negative might be if you change episode art. Because then you have a mix of the different images in your feed. When I changed a couple times, here’s how that looked. Of course, you can go back and update all episodes with the new artwork as well.

YouTube Music doesn’t show episode art of any kind and just picks the still frame that was picked on the actual YouTube channel version.

I also use the specific episode artwork to create audiograms so even if not all networks use the episode-specific image, it’s still worth creating, in my opinion. Plus, it’s created in moments with a template.

How to create episode-specific images

You can get help from a designer to create a template that you can update going forward. 

I just use the same template in Canva and then swap out the images and the name of the guest. Use frames to make sure it looks the same every time. From your image, click on “elements,” then scroll down to add the frame look you want for the pictures.

From there, you can simply snap the guest’s picture into the frame.

In Spotify for Podcasters it gives me the option to add episode-specific images. I upload it there and schedule my episode.

How to decide which strategy to use

It just gives each episode a personal feel, which I think is good because each episode, even though it’s part of a podcast, does have a personal topic and guest.

Even though some podcast networks don’t show a different image I think it’s a worthwhile strategy. And of course, if you are following the Going Live podcast model you can use the same art on your livestreams and your podcast.

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