Did you know that thumbnails were not such a big deal a few years ago? Generally, if you think about it, you mostly looked at the title and just clicked if it was something you like.
Even Justin Bieber’s first videos looked poorly shot, and the thumbnail was nonexistent. So what happened to get us to this point? In short, the internet space has become more competitive these days. So much so, content creators are screaming for attention through their YouTube thumbnails.
That said, just because you are new or just starting on YouTube doesn’t mean you should have dull and boring thumbnails.
I’m happy to confirm that you’ve come to the right place if you need help kicking off your clickable and shareable thumbnails.
I can safely say, we have you covered with these seven tips for creating YouTube thumbnails.
But, first, let’s consider what a thumbnail is.
What is a YouTube Thumbnail Exactly?
Taken from the idea that it’s a preview of a video, the thumbnail of a picture or video is naturally the smaller sized version which will encapsulate what to expect over in that video.
It’s the first aspect your audience will notice when they’re on the homepage of YouTube.
Perhaps you accessed YouTube looking for a specific video only to find yourself three hours later looking at cat videos.
The allure of a YouTube thumbnail is that it keeps users on the platform, and YouTube loves that. However, if you wanted to generate leads through social media, there are plenty of on-site options for this as well. But remember, it all starts with the quality content provided through a social or video platform that kicks this whole process off.
Often when YouTube picks the thumbnail, they will only show a specific portion of the video they deem suitable. But you have the choice of uploading your well-crafted picture known as the thumbnail.
This item can be a picture you took, or even a well crafted professional photo that you edited in photoshop for maximum impact.
Ultimately, you want to make it as eye-catching as possible. The reality is the design of a thumbnail will pay off long term for your channel, business, and brand.
Why should you pay attention to creating excellent YouTube Thumbnails?
- Your thumbnail is usually the first thing your prospective customer will see other than your title, so it pays to make an excellent first impression.
- People’s attention spans are limited, so you pretty much have a second or two to grab their attention before they leave. When you have attractive, stimulating, or funny thumbnails, potential viewers are more likely to click and watch your video.
Thumbnails can give added authority to your brand, especially when you design all your thumbnails with a similar theme and style.
- Your thumbnail is a big part of the metadata of your YouTube video and used to determine the organic reach your post will get.
Now that you have insight into why your thumbnail needs to be eye-catching and engaging, let’s discuss a little talked about the fact about thumbnails—the characteristics of a good one.
The Characteristics of a Good YouTube Thumbnail
Please see the essential characteristics of an eye-catching YouTube thumbnail.
- It should be in the appropriate size
- A well-edited thumbnail is proven to do better on the platform
- Always uses an engaging, high-quality photo
- Consists of relevant text for context
- Has an easy to read font and style
- Follows your brand colors and theme
- Should have sufficient contrast
- Does not mislead or trick viewers
Understanding the characteristics of a good thumbnail helps you to move ahead and start looking at making your thumbnails click-worthy.
Tips for creating click-worthy thumbnails
Here are the seven tips to get it right, and increase the traffic to your videos.
1. Always have a vision for your thumbnail in mind when making videos
I cannot stress this enough. The number of times I see people put hours and hours of effort into their video, yet failing to create a professional thumbnail, is overwhelming. Do this while you are shooting and keep notes.
During outtakes of video creation, briefly engage with designers about your concept of the video and get on the same page about the thumbnail.
And if you’re creating the video all by yourself, I’ve included a few tools to note down your ideas while shooting your video:
Trello – this app is usually something you can use to track all of your plans for a project. It’s a good idea to create a particular project for your current YouTube video and include thumbnail as a required activity, and while you are there, add all the main ideas you have when shooting. Usually, the best ideas come to you when you’re making the video.
Evernote – This is another tool that helps you bring all project ideas together, yet it does have an interface that may be challenging to utilize. But once you get the hang of it, it’s super easy to keep all your video project ideas in there. You can also allow everyone to work on the project to access the notes and create suggestions.
Notes app – A straightforward method, but super valuable to ensure you track all your ideas while working on a video. The notes app may be simple but is quite powerful, allowing you to type long messages related to a project and jot everything down on the go for making good thumbnails.
Once you’ve used a tool to keep ideas going during the video shoot, it will make your editing process more straightforward, but you will also have so many ideas to make your YouTube thumbnails relevant and also stand out.
It’s a perfect idea to run the concept by a few people, as outside opinions can make a mediocre thumbnail into something mind-blowing.
Now, let’s move onto a well-known tip that is sure to have your audience clicking every new video you release.
2. Remember that size matters
As with most visual platforms, the size of the image impacts the quality that will be shown to potential viewers. The best news is that you can test your thumbnail at various size points using your browser.
These are a few specifications to follow when making your thumbnails.
Get the dimension right: You want first to ensure that your YouTube thumbnail is at the recommended sizes. That’s easy because it’s 1280 x 720 pixels. Simply input this into your editing software like Canva or Adobe Spark when creating a thumbnail.
Look at the file size: You should not exceed 2MB in file size for your thumbnail. You can right-click your image and get more details about it. It will tell you the exact size. Alternatively, if you do upload a file that is too large, YouTube will automatically reject it.
Choose the right formats: These are the only acceptable formats – JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG image formats. Ensure you always use these formats or have them converted. An image converter site should do the trick.
Usually, if your image does not have the right dimensions, you will end up having a poor quality thumbnail on YouTube.
For example, when YouTube shows a preview of your video, and you have it as a small thumbnail, it may work fine and look good. But when they show a bigger version of the video during a google search – it will pixelate, and nobody will want to click on the poor quality video.
We’ve covered pretty much everything related to the size of the thumbnail now, let’s move onto the actual image.
3. Choose a High-Quality Image
Do yourself a favor, and don’t underestimate the importance of high-quality images. Images high in quality will always attract viewers to your channel and to watch your video.
The aim should be to create curiosity for your potential clients, and your role is to educate, entertain, or amuse. These key things are essential to look for in a thumbnail.
Include a thumbnail with people, as it will perform better in search. You want to consider this as it adds to the storytelling feel of your channel. Take a moment to scroll through any of the most popular channels on YouTube, and you will quickly see this is how they are creating content that appeals to their audience.
Make sure that your image matches with the style and brand of your page so that it feels like a professional page and business.
A pro tip is to use the highest quality video setting on your smartphone, or invest in a DSLR camera and learn how to use it.
Also, consider touching up your photos with these free applications:
- Adobe Photoshop Express Editor
- Adobe Photoshop Lightroom CC
These are a few examples of top quality images used for thumbnails, and you can see how well they have done due to this. If you are running a WordPress site, you might also be familiar with image optimizer plugins that can also be used in a similar way.
Next, stay tuned because we have a good idea that will take your thumbnails to new heights.
4. Make your thumbnail outstanding.
You may not know this, but you are competing with 500 hours of video uploaded every minute. As YouTube gets more and more saturated, so too does the content load.
Knowing that users and viewers have many choices, always think about making your thumbnails unique.
So how do you stand out in this crowded place? Well, it’s easy; you have to be outstanding in every way.
But most importantly you should outsmart your competition, and here’s how you do it.
- Search for videos in your niche – you can do this using google or YouTube; both have built-in search precisely for this.
- Next, you want to look at the results they give and see which video comes up on the first page. These are your top results for your niche, and ultimately these channels are your competition.
- If the thumbnails look great and match the search query, then you may have tons of work to do to get yours up to scratch or better.
- If they don’t meet the search criteria and are of poor quality, then the good news is that you can set the standard for excellent thumbnails.
Making outstanding thumbnails is about understanding your ideal customer. You want to know what they react to and how to speak their language using thumbnails. Then you should go ahead and design that experience for them.
Here are a few things that will always be outstanding for most people:
- Cute and cuddly animals
- Something that makes people laugh
- Something grotesque or weird
- Something that you teach and that helps others improve in a specific area
5. Be consistent
We’re always hearing online entrepreneurs shout at us:” Be consistent,” but this advice is not for that. It’s actually for your brand.
You need to make sure that your thumbnails match your branding, and there is consistency throughout and in everything you do.
Consistency of brand is one of the critical factors that will ensure potential customers trust your brand. It is tacky to see unmatched colors and fonts on a page. It’s confusing for a new person to your channel.
Here’s a simple list of ideas to have a semblance of branding on your YouTube thumbnail.
- Choose your theme colors by using a color picker. You can go here. Then stick to only these colors when designing thumbnails until you become a more advanced designer.
- Use two types of fonts or less on your thumbnail, and ensure it’s a readable font. My recommendation is to use an Arial family font.
- Ensure that your website also matches the theme you chose for your thumbnails.
Consistency for any brand is difficult, but by applying simple steps to getting consistent, you can most likely get back on track.
6. Model other successful YouTube pages thumbnails
Many YouTube users think they can get away with stealing. That’s not going to cut it.
You have to get inspiration and best practices from good thumbnails and let it fuel the creation of your own.
Call this process modeling success. Use the following ideas to spark inspiration.
Go to well-liked YouTube pages in your niche once more and look out for the creators who have 10000 or more followers.
Check out their pages and look at the audience and the comments. Look at their thumbnails, and notice anything that stands out. You want to consider everything we discussed today and see how they execute their thumbnails so well.
If you cannot find great thumbnails in your niche, hop on over to other pages in other niches.
This research is an excellent idea because other YouTube trends may help your creative juices flow. You will undoubtedly find inspiration for a fresh new look and feel for your thumbnails.
Now that you’ve modeled these thumbnails feel free to test them out and see how your audience reacts.
7. Keep on testing
There are many ways to create breathtaking thumbnails, such as using programs like Adobe Spark or Canva to get the best results.
It sometimes happens that even when you put a lot of effort into your thumbnails, it seems that nobody is clicking. That means you are still in the testing phase, and that’s also more than fine.
You have to test hundreds of images before you start to find your groove and know what your audience likes. The best way to do A/B testing for your YouTube thumbnails is to use a certified tool called YouTube Buddy.
Here is how it works briefly:
- You must download the application from YouTube buddy, and it now becomes a tool that you can use to experiment with different thumbnails. You can check engagement, views, likes, and more metrics.
- Create two different video thumbnails. Upload onto two videos(with the same content), and TubeBuddy will send out your videos to an audience for testing. They send your videos to users that will engage appropriately with your video at a specific period of the day.
- You receive the results of the tracking process after 2-3 weeks, and you may then choose the next steps and publish the best thumbnail with your video.
In this way, you’ll get a good idea about your thumbnails performance before publishing your video. You will naturally have a keen sense of the appropriate thumbnails to use in the future.
It’s safe to say that being YouTube ready often proves to be time-consuming, tiring, and confusing.
As soon as you master one piece of the YouTube puzzle, you realize you have to learn about great thumbnails too. That is why we’ve given you our best advice wrapped in one packaged blog post.
If you apply these tips, you will slowly start to see results, but the real magic happens when you do it consistently.
When you serve your audience by showing them relevant, alluring and captivating thumbnails, that’s when you will start to see massive increases in your following.
We hope you loved reading this post on creating better thumbnails, and if you did, don’t forget to leave us a comment below!