Can you judge a book by it’s cover? Maybe or maybe not, but people for SURE judge a video by it’s thumbnail. If the very first thing a potential viewer sees is your thumbnail, it is your job to make sure that it is the very best it can be. Let’s dive into the essentials of creating the perfect thumbnail for YouTube!
YouTube Thumbnail Dimensions
To get started, you need to make sure that what you are designing fits in the specific dimensions for YouTube. As of right now, here is what you need to do:
· Have a resolution of 1280×720 px
· Make sure your image is saved in the approved format of: .jpg, .jpeg, .bmp, .png
· Image size should be under 2MB
· Have a ratio of 16:9
What to Put in the Thumbnail
Okay, tech stuff covered, let’s talk about what you need to be placing in the image. A good thumbnail covers three things at the same time:
· Shows what is in in the video
· Entices people to click
· Stays on your brand
You want to make sure that your video has an image that matches what the video is about. If you are reviewing a guitar make/model and have a thumbnail that shows off the latest Star Wars film, you are being untruthful about what the video is about! If you do this bait-and-switch thing on your video, sure, you may get more people to click on it, BUT you are hurting your channel in the long run because the more people click away from your video without watching it, tells the algorithm that no one wants to watch your content.
Where to Make YouTube Thumbnails
It’s no secret on this blog that I am a HUGE advocate for Canva. Their free website offers you templates for just about anything imaginable, including YouTube thumbnails. Of course, you always have the option to customize a template to match your theme, or, you can make one from scratch! Make sure to save the image in one of the accepted formats.
If you are a little more design savvy, someplace like Photoshop or Illustrator are great places to make a template of your own, save the template, and then use on your channel for each new video.
What to Include in Your YouTube Thumbnail
While there are no hard and fast rules for making a thumbnail, there are some things have have proven themselves over time to increase clicks.
1. Include a close up of a face, preferably making eye contact directly with the camera
Humans instinctively make eye contact. Making a thumbnail with eye contact will scientifically gain more eyes (heh) on your imagery.
2. Show strong emotions
Humans are also curious and if you can tap into an emotion, there is a higher probability that someone will click on your video to see what is actually happening. Happiness, anger, curiosity, and sadness are all common emotions on YouTube videos. It is the reason why tea videos are so popular!
3. Use bright backgrounds
The main page of YouTube is white, so making a color pop on the page will attract more eyes to your video.
While you don’t want to have a novel on your image, the use of 4 words or less can help people understand what the video is about. Make sure to use clear fonts (nothing difficult to read) and use a stroke to help the text stand out even more.
If you have a logo for your music or channel, you can and should always place it in the thumbnail so people know that this is a video from you. Place the logo either in the bottom left or the left hand side of the image so that time stamps or text from YouTube itself won’t impede your logo recognition.
When to Upload
Before you upload, it’s important to make sure that your music is safe and protected via copyright. It’s easier to copyright your music than you think! And just uploading it to YouTube does not grant you the same level of protection as if you registered it. For a step by step guide you can read my article here.
While a thumbnail can be changed anytime – Netflix uses this to their advantage of updating imagery to get you to click – I recommend that your first thumbnail be the one you love the most. When uploading a video to YouTube, upload your custom thumbnail at the same time.
And just like that you have your next YouTube thumbnail ready to go! Have you discovered any tips and tricks on your thumbnails? I’d love to hear what works and what hasn’t in the comments below!