Video Editing

How to create a YouTube thumbnail that actually gets clicks

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Are you looking to increase viewers on the YouTube video you’ve made with so much love and effort? A quick fix could be creating YouTube thumbnails that are click-through rates? Look no further. 

Top-performing videos on YouTube all have one thing in common—a unique YouTube thumbnail that stands out to viewers when they’re endlessly scrolling.

Whether you’re a new content creator or small business owner, success on YouTube is important. Good video marketing can mean a huge boost to your business, a supplementary income, or even a full-blown career.

With almost 5 billion videos watched on YouTube every day, your video uploads need to catch people’s attention straight away with a custom thumbnail. The YouTube thumbnail preview is your first chance to engage users. 

Your video content could be trend page-worthy, but without an intriguing thumbnail, viewers might not click it. And without clicks, YouTube’s algorithm will decide your videos aren’t relevant and stop recommending them to other users. 

So how do you supercharge your YouTube click-through rate? Let’s discuss how to make it impossible for your audience to not click on your YouTube videos and how to add custom thumbnails to your YouTube video uploads. 

Eye-catching thumbnails can boost click-through rates

Finishing a YouTube video edit is a great feeling, but it’s even more satisfying when viewers actually click on your video and enjoy watching it. With YouTube being a visual platform where people come to watch videos, viewers will look for a YouTube thumbnail before they even read the title. Immediate engagement is key when it comes to YouTube success. 

With over 100 billion hours watched on YouTube in 2020, less than 10% of small businesses are making use of YouTube. YouTube is visited more than any other website except Google itself, so engaging and fun thumbnails could bring more traffic to your brand than you think.

But it’s not enough to create a great video and hope for the best. Creators and small businesses might find it challenging to stand out in the flooded stream of endless YouTube content, but a YouTube thumbnail acts as the face of your video and can drive more clicks.

If the viewer likes the look of your YouTube thumbnail, they’re most likely to click on the video as they’re intrigued and want to know more. The more people who click on the video, the more views you will receive. When your video receives consecutive views, it’s got potential to appear in other viewers’ recommended videos or on the trending page. 

Crafting an attention-grabbing thumbnail is well worth the extra time. After all, 90% of the top-performing videos on YouTube feature custom thumbnails, so yours should too.

Eye-catching thumbnails can boost click-through rates

YouTube thumbnail styles

Creators can either customize their own YouTube thumbnails by using a YouTube thumbnail maker or simply select a pre-made thumbnail in YouTube Studio. 

YouTube thumbnail selected from the video

When uploading a YouTube video via YouTube Studio, a thumbnail option appears for creators to select a still from the video. This is an easy and time-effective way to create a YouTube thumbnail, but it’s not so enticing for viewers. 

YouTube Studio automatically randomly generates thumbnails for you to select. They’re rarely interesting and often blurry, catch your face in an awkward look or slice off half of your head. You can choose your own still by scrolling through your YouTube video in full-screen mode, pause a frame and take a screenshot. 

YouTube thumbnail selected from the video example

YouTube thumbnail creator

Alternatively, you can create your own custom YouTube thumbnail using a YouTube thumbnail generator instead. This option is more creative and allows YouTubers to add flair, branding, background colors, on-screen text, and alter how images are framed and sized. 

Naturally, humans are visual learners, so catching their attention first up with a powerful thumbnail is a good indicator they will click on the video. Your thumbnail is a way to start communicating with your audience before the video even starts. 

YouTube thumbnail creator

YouTube thumbnail recommendations

When creating your own custom YouTube thumbnails, there are a few requirements to keep in mind. 

1. YouTube thumbnail dimensions

YouTube thumbnails must be the right dimensions or else creators risk their text, or even heads being cropped. YouTube thumbnail images must be 1280 x 720 pixels, high-quality under 2MB limit, and rich in color. Remember your thumbnail for YouTube should look good when it is displayed as the same size as the video player. 

1. YouTube thumbnail dimensions

Source: YouTube Help

2. YouTube thumbnail text guidelines

Don’t rely on images alone to entice viewers to click on your YouTube video. Add text to your YouTube thumbnail to let users know why it’s worth watching. The text could be your video title if it’s catchy, or it could be a short CTA or question. 

The text on your YouTube thumbnail should summarise the core idea of your video and let viewers know what to expect. In this example, notice that the YouTube thumbnail text is different from the video title. It’s short, snappy, and hooks the viewers wanting to know more. Use a font and color that is easy to read, with a maximum of 6 words in total. 

Once you have chosen your desired font and color, try to keep the same theme running for all of your future YouTube thumbnails. By doing this, it will make your videos more recognizable, and build viewer loyalty over time. 

YouTube thumbnail text guidelines

It’s also a good idea to add text to your video itself so people can get a feel for it during the preview autoplay, which has no sound.

3. YouTube thumbnail branding

Your YouTube thumbnails should all have a consecutive theme, but shouldn’t look identical to each other. We recommend keeping your branding consistent, as discussed above, with the same color scheme, fonts, and graphics. 

The popular YouTube channel Good Mythical Morning is a great example of consistent branding. Notice how their thumbnails are all unique but share themes in common, expressive faces, large white font, colorful images, and often brand logos. 

YouTube thumbnail branding

4. Create an honest thumbnail for YouTube

Clickbait is tempting, but if your thumbnail leaves viewers feeling misled, that will hurt your reputation on YouTube. If viewers start watching your videos and then quickly click away, YouTube’s algorithm will notice. Make sure your content delivers what you promise in your YouTube thumbnail. 

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How to add your customized YouTube thumbnail to YouTube

Once you have created a thumbnail for YouTube, it’s time to add it to your new video. Let’s walk through a step-by-step guide on how to add your YouTube thumbnail to a YouTube video. 

Step 1. Log in and create a new video with YouTube Studio

Head over to YouTube Studio and log in to your account. If you primarily use YouTube on your phone or tablet, download the YouTube Studio app for Android or for iPhone to edit thumbnails using your device.

To start a new video upload, click on the camera icon. A drop-down menu will appear. Click on Upload video. 

Step 1. Log in and create a new video with YouTube Studio

Step 2. Upload your YouTube video

Next, drag and drop your YouTube video or select a video to upload from your computer files.

Step 2. Upload your YouTube video

Step 3. Add your customized YouTube thumbnail

Under the Thumbnail section, click on Upload thumbnail.

Step 3. Add your customized YouTube thumbnail

Select your YouTube thumbnail that you have previously saved to your files. Click Open once selected.

YouTube thumbnail - step 4 censored

Your YouTube thumbnail will now appear in the Thumbnail section of YouTube Studio. Make sure your new YouTube thumbnail is selected before clicking next. 

Your YouTube thumbnail will now appear in the Thumbnail section of YouTube Studio

Frequently asked questions about YouTube thumbnails

What makes a good YouTube thumbnail? 

A good YouTube thumbnail immediately grabs people’s attention and persuades them to watch the video. If you include all of the above tips and stick to the YouTube thumbnail guidelines, you should be able to create a good thumbnail. 

What makes a YouTube thumbnail too busy?

Sometimes less is more when it comes to YouTube thumbnails. You don’t want to overwhelm your subscribers or viewers with too much information. Aim for clean, readable fonts, use matching brand colors, and accurately reflect the content that is on your channel. 

Do I have to be good at Photoshop to create YouTube thumbnails?

No. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced video and image editor, creating engaging YouTube thumbnails isn’t hard. Simple and free tools like Fotor, PicMonkey, and VSCO are easy-to-use YouTube thumbnail makers.

If you need help designing custom YouTube thumbnails, you can also use any on-demand graphic design service to make your channel creatives while you can focus on recording videos for your subscribers.

Create an engaging thumbnail for YouTube today

Adding a fun YouTube thumbnail to your next YouTube video might just be the push your content needs to be recognized. Using a YouTube thumbnail generator is an effective and fast way to stay relevant and trending on YouTube. 

Want to add special effects, captions and directly upload your finished video to YouTube right your video editor? Easily edit your next YouTube video with Clipchamp’s drag-and-drop online video editor

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