How to Rock a Hot Cover Design on a Shoestring Budget

When you’re starting out as a new artist, you don’t have a big budget and a team of designers to make you look fantastic. But that doesn’t mean that your hard work needs to suffer with bad design. Here’s some tips on how you can rock a hot cover design on a shoestring budget and get your latest single flying!

A few things to consider when creating your cover design:

1) The cover sets the stage

The all-important cover sets the stage for all the other design work for your promotions. Think about this when choosing colors and fonts.

You’ll use this original inspiration to create a new Facebook cover, Twitter header, stickers, promotional items, and maybe even posters.

2) How will this look when it’s small?

Keep in mind that people will not always see the larger desktop version of your album cover but will see in on their smartphones, on iTunes and maybe on their Spotify playlists. Make sure that your essential elements are clear in a smaller version. Check your image in a smaller version to make sure that what you want to convey comes across.

Hopefully, they’ll see it in a jewel case with your autograph across the front. Dream big, right?

3) Permission for photos

When you’re creating your design, keep in mind that you need permission to use the photos. You don’t want any legal problems down the road. Choose photos that you can obtain the rights for or use your own photos to create something truly unique. You may have professional photos taken for your cover and you’ll need approval from the photographer to use them for cover art.

4) Crowdsource

Once you have a few cover options created, ask people what they think of your cover designs. It can help build buzz for your release as well as ensure that people like what you’ve created.

When in doubt, you can hire a professional but if you really can’t afford one at this time, give it a shot and get feedback from as many people as possible.

5) Your secret weapon

I’m going to share my secret for making cool graphics without PhotoShop: Canva! Jessica uses Canva for designs for social graphics and other things on her blog as well as using a professional designer. He uses Canva for some of Jessica’s designs as well. Once you have a bigger budget, you can work with a designer and collaborate on designs with easy to share links that you can both edit or to send for approval on designs.

Canva is a free cloud-based program that you can use to create your artwork. All the work you create is 100% yours and stays in your own private account until you decide to share them with the world. Stock photos within Canva are free or $1, if you see cross-hatches on the design and a ghosted Canva logo, this means that the image is $1. When you pay and download your completed design, the Canva logo and cross-hatches disappear in your published designs.

Using the fabulous Miss Sissy Northey as an example, here are a few different types of cover you can create in Canva using templates in the app. You can use the templates as a starting off point for your idea and then change every aspect of it with font changes, color changes, as well as using your own photos or stock photos from the site.

Sissy’s faux album title is Bark at the Moon or Bark with the Moon, she hasn’t fully decided yet. Here’s three different ways to create a cover using the same title but different styles and color palettes. I used different layouts but changed the fonts, colors and added my own photos.

This subtle cover focuses on Sissy’s beautiful photo and uses a monochromatic tone to highlight her beauty.

Bark with the Moon

This cover is more about the theme of the album and the tone reflects the moon in the design and color.


This shows a little of Sissy’s online sass and appeal using the @ mention in the title with her social media name as well. This could connect well with her existing online fans.

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I hope this gives you some inspiration for your cover designs and ideas to get your started!

Author: Jessica Northey

Everyone asks “what exactly do you do Jessica?” What some of my family members say, “she tweets for a living” is my favorite, but really the title that puts food on the table is “Social Media Influencer,” the definition sounds simple, someone who influences others through social media, but I consider myself a Citizen Journalist broadcasting and entertaining with news, thoughts, opinions, delivering information in my own unique way. Famous for my ‘sass wit and straight from the hip’ style I’ve always been called a “Social Media Pioneer” in the music industry. I’m also an On-Air/Online Broadcasting Host and Personality, Digital Media Strategist, Country and Music Blogger/Journalist as well as a Nationally recognized Speaker and Founder of Country Music Chat, News and Views Entertainment Website My favorite accomplishment is starting the largest Country Music Hashtag community in the world Country Music’s #CMChat. It all started with a hunch...back in the early 2000’s I would dial up the internet via AOL and join chat rooms whilst watching my favorite programs on TV. Loved watching Reality Shows with my Mom in Tucson, and blowing her mind with how I always knew who was going home on the Bachelor or Big Brother. Don’t think she ever caught on that I was talking to people via computer on the East Coast, where it had already aired. (We didn’t have the uber-spoiler Twitter or Facebook to ruin results and awards shows for us yet.) I’ve been taking over the internet, one tweet at a time and have accumulated over 3 Million followers/friends/fans across all my Social Media networks. Over the years I’ve been consistently ranked as an influential online personality and even named as a Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer. I was the first person Merle Haggard followed when he got on Twitter and spent the day with Garth Brooks at Twitter and Facebook when joined the social media world.

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  1. Canva; I've seen it mentioned a lot, think I'll test it out to see how it fairs up.

  2. Thanks again for this amazing guest post Peg Fitzpatrick! I love how you made Sissy a big star! 😀 😀

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