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How to Make a YouTube Thumbnail that works

Making money off and getting views on YouTube is now easier than ever for new YouTubers. Nowadays, anybody can make a fun video whether it’s about music, sports, cooking, or whatever else, and very likely earn a few bucks on it. However, the first step to getting plenty of views on a YouTube video of yours is creating a good, eye-catching thumbnail.

To make a thumbnail, a YouTube user must choose an image that captures the idea of their video. This image should give viewers a good idea of what to expect from watching the video they have just clicked on. Once it has been edited to the YouTuber’s liking, the thumbnail is ready for publishing.

Sure, it sounds easy, but creating a thumbnail for a YouTube video can be somewhat difficult, especially if your goal is to garner as many viewers as possible. There’s a bit more to this process than you might think, and if you want to know more about it, then read on! Hopefully, these tips will give you a good idea of where to start with your thumbnails.

Creating a Thumbnail: The Mechanical Process

Before anything else, we should discuss the actual process of creating a thumbnail to avoid any confusion on the subject. First, you’ll want to log into the YouTube studio where you should be able to view all your content and channel details. There will be a content button on the left side of your screen. Click into that.

Under content, you should be able to see everything you have created for your channel. You can select any of your uploaded content. If you’d like to change a particular video’s thumbnail, simply select it and choose an auto-generated thumbnail or something else you have on hand.

If you want to create a new thumbnail for a new video, you’re going to have to download whatever image you’re going to want as the face of your new video. Once you have uploaded the video, there should be a series of options, one of which is upload thumbnail. Select that option and upload the image of your choice. You can then save the video and thumbnail together.

Once you have finished uploading everything, you can hover your mouse over the thumbnail and select more (the three dots). This will allow you to edit the thumbnail to your liking and make it look exactly the way you want it to. Once you have finished the editing process, make sure you save all the changes you make.

If you have made changes to the thumbnails of your previously existing videos, keep in mind that it might take a little while for all of the changes to take effect. So, don’t panic if you check out your channel page and nothing has changed. It just might take a day or two for everything to update. Just make sure you haven’t forgotten to save your changes!

If you need a way to edit your thumbnails, there are plenty of free applications and programs that you can choose from. Adobe offers a program as does Canva. These are two popular ones that are used by plenty of YouTubers out there. Give them and a few others a try and see what you like to work with the best.

What Should My Thumbnails Capture?

At this point, you should know better how to work the mechanics of creating thumbnails. Now it’s time to move on to something just as if not more important: the ideas and thoughts surrounding your thumbnails. Anybody can put a picture over their videos with no problem but what counts is the image you choose and the way you portray it.

The very first thing you should do before anything else is take the idea of your video and thumbnail into consideration. If you cannot look at the thumbnail and be able to formulate at least one sentence worth of an idea, it’s not going to do you any favors in the views department because people won’t know what to think of it. That might even be pegged as false advertising.

Make certain the thumbnail you choose aligns well with the whole idea you’re trying to capture with your video. You want to give the viewers exactly what they’re expecting to see. You don’t want to turn videos into clickbait but you also need to make the thumbnail appealing enough that people want to see what you have to offer.

You’ll want to take into account the kind of visuals you’re using with your thumbnails. A lot of people think that a thumbnail has to be pretty or artistic to draw attention but the truth is, it doesn’t necessarily. What you do want is to be bold. Bold colors and large, eye-popping text are two great ways to catch the attention of your viewers. Utilize bright colors and aesthetically pleasing ones and you’re certain to get plenty of views on a video.

Be very careful with your visuals! The image(s) you choose to display as your thumbnail should create curiosity and not confusion among all of your viewers. You want to create enough intrigue to the point where they’re curious and want to see more. However, you should still have an image that’s clear enough that they can make sense of it. Viewers still want to have some idea of what they can expect.

One good idea is to include some faces in your thumbnail. This won’t always work, of course, depending on what the video topic is; sometimes you simply can’t put a face on the thumbnail and keep it relevant. However, practicing putting, for example, your own face in a thumbnail is a great way to convey the type of emotions and vibes you want people to get from your video.

Your face can do so much in a thumbnail. It can convey emotions, demonstrate reactions, and maybe give viewers a better idea of what they can expect from this video. You may have to experiment with these things just a little, but the power of the face is totally real and it works!

Things to Avoid When Creating a Thumbnail

So a thumbnail is just a picture and there’s nothing you could do to drive viewers away, is there? Unfortunately, there are things you can do that won’t necessarily drive viewers away, but it won’t make them want to look at your video anymore either. Here are a couple of things you might want to avoid when you’re making thumbnails for your videos.

First, avoid repeating the title of the video on the thumbnail. This may not drive viewers away, but it might turn people off to them slightly. Repeating the exact title of the video on the thumbnail is nothing more than wasted real estate that could be used for something else that could draw viewers in. Avoid repeating the title and you should be fine.

Avoiding confusion should be a number 1 priority as far as thumbnails are concerned. You want to intrigue your audience to the point where they’re curious enough to watch your video. You do not, however, want to put up an image that is going to confuse them and possibly even turn itself into clickbait. This is something that should be avoided at all costs.

You should also try not to use stock photos. While not all viewers are going to catch on or care about this, using stock photos signals to a lot of people that you don’t care enough about this video to give it some real original content or work on the thumbnail at all. Making a thumbnail original and unique is a huge part of attracting viewers. If anything, stock photos give off vibes of complete lack of originality and you don’t want to convey that.

Be careful and don’t use graphic or offensive images. Yes, everyone’s sense of what is appropriate varies widely. However, YouTube has set some standards for the platform that, if disobeyed, can get a user banned faster than you can say thumbnail. So, be judicious and discerning with the graphics you use. You don’t want your channel to get taken down!

As demonstrated earlier, it’s fine if you want to include a face (or your face) in a thumbnail. However, the biggest mistake you could make when using a face is to mislead the viewers as far as emotion goes. You don’t want a video with a sad story in it to be announced with a happy or excited expression. People do not like being misled about this so be careful how you use your emotions.

Finally, you should be careful with how you use text in your thumbnails. If you want to use a few words to help with the overall effect of the thumbnail, go ahead because it works. However, too much text can quickly grow old and bore the viewer. They came here to watch a video, not read a novel! Just make sure you’re using text artistically and sparingly, and you won’t have a problem.

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