YouTube is more than just a platform. It’s one of the biggest information and marketing platforms on the Internet. With thousands of videos uploaded every hour, all the noise makes standing out difficult. That’s why one of the best ways to gain those clicks is to optimise your YouTube thumbnail.
How to Make YouTube Thumbnails
YouTube can auto-generate thumbnails but it’s considered better to add your own. Videos with original thumbnails tend to perform better. The process for how to change youtube thumbnails is fairly easy:
- Start up YouTube (website or app) with your YouTube account logged in.
- Either add a video or click on your “Library” where your videos are.
- Tap More edit and then edit thumbnail.
- Here, you can either select the auto-generated thumbnail or click on Custom thumbnail.
- Pick an image from your collection and then tap Select (should be a JPG or PNG, ideally).
- Finally, tap save.
The standard YouTube thumbnail size for Photoshop is 1280 (wide) by 720 pixels (high), with a minimum width of 640 pixels. The ideal ratio is 16:9 which is also the most popular for thumbnails. Remember to keep the subject centred, especially since the YouTube rounded thumbnail format can erase the content on the edges.
Generally, thumbnails with faces perform better as the human brain is primed to recognise them. This is so widely known that, at this point, the YouTube thumbnail face has become a cliche on its own. However, this trend is also being criticised. Have a look at these images below and see the backlash or how it can be considered cliche:
While this may be effective, the trends may change over time and, judging by the fomenting backlash, the tide may turn on it soon. Use with caution.
YouTube Thumbnail Background Tips
Backgrounds provide a great opportunity to add some colour or other elements to your thumbnail. High-effort images often have high-contrast images superimposed over each other. This instantly catches the eye, particularly when it uses colours on the opposite end of the colour wheel (yellow vs blue or black vs white etc,). There are a number of places you can get backgrounds for YouTube thumbnails (iStock or Pixabay can be a good start).
YouTube Thumbnail Fonts
Every font style imparts a tone, so you should pick one that matches the tone of voice your video has. Some common ones include:
- Baba Neue
- Beauty and the Beast
Shorts also has a feature for adding thumbnails instead of the random video frame that viewers usually see. Uploading thumbnails for YouTube shorts can have slightly different specifications since you need to add the thumbnail in the video. Here’s what you need to do to set a YouTube shorts thumbnail:
- Upload a Short.
- Go to the details screen and tap the pencil icon on the top which will allow you to access more options.
- You will arrive at the frame selector and can choose the image.
- Tap Done.
- Fill out any other segments and click done.
If you’re wondering “why can’t I change the thumbnail on Youtube shorts?”, it’s because you need to add the image in the video.
Best & Worst Practices
Here are a few things to consider when making a YouTube thumbnail that will resonate with your audience.
The Line Between Clickable & Bad Clickbait
Youtube clickbait thumbnails require some cunning. Clickbait is often conflated with deceptive tactics but this isn’t always the case. However, if content creators deceive their audience they will get engagement but it won’t be as effective as getting likes. While both likes and dislikes boost videos, no reaction or exiting a video early demotes a video. Make sure the video behind the thumbnail lives up to the hook.
Clickbait youtube thumbnails will use controversy, current topics trends, and conflict. Keep an eye on trending topics or find content from across the web to understand what people are interested in.
Thumbnails give an indication of the tone of a video. If you’re being funny, it’s generally best to be colourful or bright. Serious tones can use classic, formal fonts and muted colours. If you end up misjudging the genre of your video, you might unintentionally make a funny YouTube thumbnail.
Use a YouTube Thumbnail Tester
You can A/B test your thumbnails and use websites that can analyse your thumbnails. You can use a website to test the YouTube thumbnail preview before you upload it to the video. Also, try to upload variants within YouTube to see which will work best over time.
Hopefully, all of these tips can help you make your next video a success.
Although, if you have a YouTube channel (or other socials) that you want to take to the next level, we can help with that. Check out our services page to learn more.