Getting Started With Podcasts: Creating cover art and editing tags

Getting Started With Podcasts: Creating cover art and editing tags

Podcasts are quickly becoming a popular storytelling medium that you can use to spread ideas and get your message online. In this series of posts, I’ll detail everything that you’ll need to know as you get started in the world of podcasting. These posts tend to be a bit granular in providing guidance for you as you create and launch your podcast. My hope is to give you all of the steps and processes you’ll need along the way.

Our first post focused on understanding, subscribing, and listening to podcasts. The second post discussed identifying the purpose, audience, and format of your content. The third post unpacked the process of finding talent, content, great audio, and your voice. The fourth post discussed the elements of recording your podcast. The fifth post discussed editing your podcast…and whether you need to edit it in the first place.

In this post we’ll discuss a very important step in the process…and that is building your cover art, and adding ID3 tags to your podcast. It might not seem like it, but we’re getting very close to you releasing your podcast online.

At this point you should have your podcast recorded and edited. I would advise you to have two or three episodes already recorded and ready for the next step. It’ll make it easier when you work through the next couple of steps if you have a couple episodes to work with.

Creating title art for your podcast

Before you upload and share your podcast, you’ll want to consider your artwork for your series…or individual episodes. If/when you submit your podcast to iTunes or elsewhere, you’ll need to include artwork for your content.

I use Canva to create art work for most/all of my online content. Canva makes it super simple to create high-quality media and share it online. It’s easy to use Canva for free to create and share content. It also includes several pieces that you can pay a nominal amount to create content. I use the “social media” format to create my album art. The social media dimensions are normally 800 x 800 pixels.

iTunes typically sets the specifications for podcasts and content that are expected as you upload your podcast. Currently, they will expect that your podcast art is a minimum of 1400 x 1400 pixels, or a maximum of 3000 x 3000 pixels. You’ll need to upload the image as a JPEG or PNG.

You can see the image I use for my podcast below. I’m still unsure about the choice of colors and font in the graphic. I used Canva to make several prototypes and shared them with colleagues to help pick the best one. This was the top selection…even though I still tweak it from time to time.
4q4 podcast cover art
You’ll need to think about branding, and keeping continuity across other aspects of your digital identity. If you already have any kind of branding in place (imagery, colors, fonts, etc.), reuse these in your podcast artwork. This will unify the different outlets of your brand.
You also need to remember that your audience will view the content across multiple screen sizes. I recommend using big, legible text and use a minimal amount of words. Big bold images, and design elements that contrast with each other help to make it easy to read it across devices.

Editing the ID3 tags

One of the last things you’ll need to take care of before uploading and sharing your podcast is to edit the ID3 tags that are buried in your MP3 track. An ID3 tag is embedded, descriptive data about the MP3 track within the file itself. The ID3 tags include the following information:

  • Track title – The title of the podcast episode
  • Cover art – Upload the art you just created)
  • Artist – Who recorded the podcast
  • Album – The name of the podcast series
  • Track – The episode number (if applicable)
  • Year – The year the podcast was published
  • Genre – The type of track…podcast in this instance
  • Comment – General comments, info, and tags
  • Copyright – The copyright notice of the content. Hopefully it’s a Creative Commons license 🙂
  • WWW – Add a link to the website address for this episode or podcast

Many times podcasters forget to edit the ID3 tags on their episodes and the end result is a mess that makes you look less than professional. You’ll want to take the time and make sure you enter content to the ID3 tags, but be sure to keep it brief and concise. Most times it will be a computer or podcatcher reading the ID3 tags.

How to edit ID3 tags

Typically I use iTunes to edit the ID3 tags in a podcast file. However, there are several great alternatives that you might want to check out.
To prepare for this step, you’ll need the individual episodes of your podcast and the cover art for your podcast saved at a minimum resolution of 1400 X 1400. I leave these on my desktop to make it easier to keep track of everything. I typically save a backup copy of everything in Google Drive or Dropbox.
The process I’m detailing below is using iTunes on a Mac. Open the file for your first episode in iTunes. iTunes will import the file and immediately begin playing it.
Identify the track that is playing in iTunes and control-click (or click the three horizontal dots) to select the option for “Get Info.”
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At the next screen, you’ll start entering the info for the tags of the MP3 file. I typically start with the “Options” tab. From there, select “Podcast” as the media kind. The reason for this is that the options and tabs will change once you identify this as a podcast.
Song_Info
I leave the rest of the settings alone and move on to the “Artwork” tab. At the artwork tab you’ll select and upload the cover art that you created in Canva and have waiting on your desktop.
Song_Info_and_iTunes_and_Auphonic_Blog__How_to_Podcast_for_Free
The last step is to select the “Details” tab and enter the remainder of your tags. For the “song name” I enter the title for that podcast episode. Enter your name for the “artist”. The “album” is the name of your podcast. You don’t need to, but I enter my name for the “album artist” as well. “Composer” and “grouping” I leave blank…but I select podcast again for the “genre.” The last thing that I add is the year I created the podcast.
Song_Info_and_iTunes_and_Auphonic_Blog__How_to_Podcast_for_Free_1
When you click the “OK” button, it will save your file using the new tags you’ve just entered. It will also save the file in a new location on your computer. You’ll need to move in iTunes from “Music” to “Podcasts.” From there, you can select “My Podcasts” to see what you’ve created…and subscribed to in iTunes. At this point, I find the new version of the file by hitting control-click on the file and selecting “Show in Finder.” The three dots will only allow you to play or delete the episode. Control-click on the file and find it in the Finder. From there I copy/paste the file to my Desktop (which I’ll later delete) and Google Drive/Dropbox to archive it.
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At this point you will have entered all of the information needed for the ID3 tags in your podcast episodes. Once again, the ID3 tags are important because it’s the information the computer will read as you upload your podcast episodes, it’ll show up as podcatchers try to search for your content. You should be concise, and only include the information needed to separate out your podcast from others, and other episodes.
Finally, this is super important as your audience begins listening to your content on their devices. You don’t want to look unprofessional when your episode doesn’t play correctly, displays incorrect textual information, or doesn’t include cover art. It takes a little time, but it’s worth it in the end.

Next steps

At this stage, you should have a couple episodes of your podcast recorded, edited, and the tags are cleaned up. I recommend having a copy of these individual podcast episodes on your desktop as you move to the next stage. You should also be sure to save backups of your episodes.
In the next post we’ll detail how and where to host your episodes to share with your audience.
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Also published on Medium.

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