These days, one of the most powerful content marketing tools you can use is video. It's an even better tool if you can showcase several of them on your YouTube page. Once you start showcasing your content on your channel, you'll want to create custom thumbnails to make each one stand out. You can also use them to create some uniformity and give your channel some eye-pleasing organization.
Anytime you upload a video to YouTube, it will create a set of stills to serve as your thumbnail. This is the image people see before clicking on the content. Once you've verified your account, you'll see a Custom Thumbnail option in the upload/edit page.
There are several free graphic design programs out there, but I like to create YouTube Custom Thumbnails on Canva. They give you some really nice templates that allow you to quickly produce an engaging image. You can choose one and easily swap out images or adjust the text. You can also choose a blank format and build one from scratch.
You can see some of the ones I've created on my YouTube Page.
I'm a big fan of podcast hosting services like Blubrry, Libsyn, Buzzsprout and others like them. I am less of a fan of posting podcast episodes on Soundcloud and YouTube. To me, if you even consider these options, you need a great reason. Even then, I'd ask you to think twice.
Granted, it's easy and cheap to post your episodes on Soundcloud. However, you miss out on the analytics and other services that full service hosts can provide you. I also don't tend to see Soundcloud podcasts with huge followings, and I have to wonder how challenging it is to grow it. This is going to be especially challenging if it's one of the only places you can get the show (versus iTunes, Stitcher Radio, etc).
Also, there are constant rumors about shutdowns and acquisitions of Soundcloud. If that happens, who knows what changes could take place. How will it affect your show, the distribution or even the ownership of the content?
As for YouTube, if you have your audio podcast posted there and on iTunes...I'd like to know why. I would think the ideal scenario is to grow subscribers on iTunes. If that is true, putting the exact same show on YouTube is splitting that audience up. Some get it on iTunes...others hit YouTube. How do you quantify those stats? At least if you're using a hosting service like Libsyn, your feed can be sent to several podcast hubs and they all get those downloads counted.
Obviously, if you do a video podcast, that's different. Although, I have reservations there as well. If the "video" podcast is just a visual of you recording audio...I don't get why someone would actually WATCH it all at one time. What's engaging about that? A lot of people don't have that kind of attention span, and I think many people are inclined to just minimize it and listen. If that's the case...why have it on a video service at all.
Plus, you really don't see video podcasts frequently hitting the top podcast lists on iTunes.
Now, I'm not saying these services are totally useless when it comes to your podcast. I just don't think you need to post full episodes on them. Instead, post interview clips or memorable moments from your show. Tag the end of the audio file with a pitch to GET MORE at your podcast website.
On YouTube, you can do even more. If you upload a cut from the show that features a specific topic, you can keyword the title and description for people to find it. Plus, you can post links to your website and/or where to subscribe to the show.
So, instead of giving up everything, make YouTube and Soundcloud a place where you feature the BEST of your show, and and tool that can entice people to get your full episodes. It makes a lot more sense while also being a lot less risky and counter-productive.