Should I use Fiverr for My Podcast Cover Art?
I've been putting off writing this article for a couple of reasons. You may have already guess that this isn't exactly going to be a ringing endorsement of Fiverr and as a reformed pessimist, I try to avoid putting more negativity out there. There's also the issue of there being a conflict of interests involved. I mean, of course someone who designs podcast cover art is going to try to convince you not to go somewhere else to get cover art for cheaper. So why would you listen to me? I've finally gotten over those hangups thanks to two important realizations.
First, I am not competing with Fiverr. Fiverr is targeting an entirely different set of customers than I am. If Fiverr is McDonalds, I am striving to be more like those guys you see on Chef's Table. If someone wants to get a cover designed for their podcast for only five dollars, they were never going to be my client anyway.
There's still the issue of writing a negative post on my site. In the past I've talked a lot about how professional designers need to be willing to have hard conversations with their clients. Part of our job is being honest with the client, even when it's difficult. We are obligated to push back when our clients want something that is not in the best interest of their brand.
I realized that if I'm going to run a blog I need to apply that same principle to my writing. I need to be honest with my readers even if it's not comfortable. So, while people may not like what I have to say; I need to say it because I genuinely believe that it is in their best interest. I want your podcast to succeed so I'm not going to shy away from telling you what I think is the best way to make that happen. So let's get to it.
Should I use Fiverr for my podcast cover art?
If podcasting is purely a fun hobby for you, Fiverr may be worth considering. There's not much money at risk. If you end up with a bad design, it's just a hobby, no big deal right? Well...maybe.
Fiverr is notorious for copyright infringement
If you use Fiverr, prepare to wade through some ugly designs, low-quality files, and ripoffs to get to something useable. Many service providers even show other peoples' work in their portfolio to attract unsuspecting customers. Check out this article on Medium where the writer went "under cover" to put Fiverr to the test. A few of the logos that were submitted were actually surprisingly well-done. Unfortunately, after a little digging it became clear that the designs were blatant rip-offs of other peoples' work. In fact, over half of the logos that the author received were rip-offs.
Even if you unknowingly use a stolen design, you could be held responsible for copyright infringement. According to AIGA, "Any person or entity involved in the unauthorized use of a copyrighted work, from the initial copying through publication and distribution, is liable for infringement." They provide a real-world example of a photographer who sued an ad agency AND the agency's client (that would be you in this case) for using a photograph without permission. Hmmm... maybe I was wrong about there not being much risk getting your designs from Fiverr.
If, after reading this post, you still feel that Fiverr is the way to go, please use caution. It may be unlikely that you would actually get in any real trouble for a stolen design, but it's definitely something to be mindful about.
The Cost of Bad Cover Art
I'm not going to sit here and tell you that it's impossible to get good cover art on Fiverr. I'm sure there are designers on Fiverr who do great work and just aren't aware of their true value allowing you to get a great product at a severe discount. But consider the negative impact a poor cover design could have if you don't find that needle in the haystack.
An unprofessional visual representation of your podcast WILL effect peoples' opinion of your show and result in fewer new listeners. Think of the opportunity cost, each person who sees your cover art is a potential listener. If they don't give your show a try because your cover art doesn't draw them in, you'll never get the chance to turn them into loyal listeners. You will never get another shot with most of these people.
Cover Art Matters
I know this won't come as a surprise to you, but you need an audience to support yourself as a podcaster. Your cover art should be an asset that helps build your audience and represents your brand in a positive light. Cover art can be a powerful tool. Instead of just slapping together the cheapest solution you can find, take advantage of this opportunity to attract the right audience.
If you are serious about making your podcast succeed and especially if you want to make money with your podcast, I advise making a serious investment in your cover art by hiring a professional graphic designer.
What Fiverr Doesn't Give You
"If I don't like it, I won't use it." Ah, but that's the problem, people who design at places like Fiverr are intentionally designing to satisfy you and quickly move on to their next job; they have to in order make any money at the prices they charge. They aren't concerned with your target audience, the people who actually matter.
I've talked before about how you're opinion of your cover art isn't actually what matters. You want your podcast cover to attract an audience, regardless of how well it suites your personal preferences. A designer on Fiverr isn't going to tell you if your concept is cliche; they'll just polish it up to fit your tastes and get paid. A professional designer who is being fairly compensated for his or her time is concerned about making your business a success. They will have the hard conversations and give push back if it is in the best interest of your project. That is simply not something you're going to get for five dollars.
The Difference in Hiring a Professional
Think about what you're asking. You want someone with valuable skills and experience to produce the cornerstone of you podcast's visual identity...for five dollars. Even if you were to find a talented, hardworking designer on Fiverr, how much time do you think they are going to be able to put into your design? Probably about five dollars worth, right? If they put even an hour into your cover, that's already well below minimum wage. No wonder Fiverr has become a breeding ground for rip-off artists; it doesn't allow time for research or creative thinking.
Don't you want the designer that you hire to put the same kind of thought and care into your project that you do into producing your show? Don't you want unbiased, professional guidance to help your podcast succeed? Then you should hire a professional.
Commit to Excellence
It ultimately comes down to this question: "Are you serious about your podcast?" Do you care about putting out an excellent product? Do you care about growing your audience and achieving long-term success? Then put your money where your mouth is.
Making a podcast can be cheap and easy. It's one of the great things about podcasting, there's a very low barrier to entry. But if you're serious about podcasting, you need to be willing to invest in your show. You need to invest money in good equipment. You need to invest time into creating great content. And you need to invest in your cover art. That is how you stand out from the crowd and ultimately make your podcast a success.
Let's go back to the food analogy. Sure McDonalds has it's place, but everyone know that it's really just not good for you in the long run. Fast food may satisfy your hunger, but deep down you know you'll regret eating it. So don't do that to your body and don't do that to your brand. If you're serious about making your podcast a success, you need to commit to investing in your cover art.