Creating a YouTube channel and posting videos is not enough to gain an audience. And what if I tell you your thumbnail is the most crucial part of getting maximum clicks? Yes, it might sound too real to be true, but it all depends on your thumbnail. Not only does it have to be catchy, but it must also look the best. Now you must be wondering how to make the best thumbnail for YouTube, right?
This is where this guide comes to the rescue. In this guide, I'll answer everything about creating the best YouTube thumbnail that will boost your click through rates like never before. So let's dive into the tips and also learn a bit about the importance of thumbnails.
What Is A YouTube Thumbnail & What Is Its Purpose?
Thumbnail is the feature image or the first disclosing image you see when searching for any videos. For example, if you search for the best android phones under $3000, you'll see a list of videos appearing on your screen. But you only click on the video whose cover image looks appealing enough. Pro YouTubers add irresistible hooks to the image, making it tough for viewers to skip the video. And you must do the same.
YouTube itself gives you choices of frames from your uploaded video to choose as a thumbnail or preview image, but it won't do you any good. These freeze frames are not attention-grabbing, and there are chances that most viewers will pass by. The thumbnail is the first impression of your video that decides how many clicks your video will get.
The better the thumbnail, the more views your video gets. So it's worth spending some time on it. Now let's go ahead and see how you can make the best thumbnails for your YouTube videos that get millions of views.
Tips For Creating The Best Thumbnail For YouTube
Creating the best thumbnail needs experience and understanding how to put all the elements in the right manners. Following are some of tried and tested tips that will help you create the best thumbnails and boost your views like never before-
Decide The Still Image First
This is the first and most important part of creating a thumbnail. You have to put an eye-catching image that makes your YouTube video cover look great. But wait, I'm not talking about the fancy images you might have in your phone gallery. You cannot and should not make them your preview images because this is not how YouTube videos work. So how should you choose your still image?
YouTube will automatically choose some still images from your video, or you can export another still image while editing your video. At times you will need to add other elements related to your video, which will require you to remove the image's background.
There are different softwares that help you remove image backgrounds. I personally love using Erase.bg. This AI tool is extremely easy to use and removes the background of any object with a single click. And the best part is Erase.bg is completely free, making it a pocket-friendly option as well.
Use The Right Image Size
As the image is the most crucial factor that decides your click through rates, it has to be perfect from all dimensions. Therefore, the next important factor while creating the ideal YouTube thumbnail is the right image size. According to pro YouTubers, the right image dimension should be 1280 x 720 pixels, and the minimum width should be 640 pixels. Plus, a 16:9 aspect ratio is considered ideal. Also, you have to save the cover image in JPG, BMP, GIF, or PNG image formats with a minimum image size of 2MB.
New YouTubers make the mistake of keeping the image size too small. Even though the preview image appears small on the screen, you must remember that YouTube videos can be embedded hence having a larger size image is essential. A larger size image can be scaled down, but when a small image is scaled up, the quality drops. Your thumbnail should meet the requirement of each platform, TV screen, computer, or mobile screen.
Add A Title That Represents The Context
After you decide on your cover photo and remove the background, you need to add a title. The title should be a short 5 to 6 words line that sums up the video content. Or summarizes your video. The elements of creating the best thumbnail are interrelated, and one is incomplete without the other.
The image will give a professional appearance, but it won't explain what your video is about. Hence, adding a title text is a must. Now the question is, what should you write in your title? The title should give a glimpse of what your video will feature, but you must get creative with your writing.
If you are a consumer of YouTube videos, you're already familiar with click bait. Yes, you have to put that one interesting part of your video that will induce curiosity among viewers. Also, adding text is a must if you are making a series.
For instance, when you are making a series of travel vlogs, you must line up the videos with text headings, example part one, part two and so on. If your YouTube channel talks about your brand, I would also suggest you add the brand logo. This helps with self branding and creates a brand voice too.
Refrain From Creating Misleading Thumbnails
I have seen a lot of YouTubers creating misleading thumbnails just to get more views. However, that won't work in your favor in the long run. It's normal that newbies get carried away trying to get more traffic into their channel and therefore add misleading click baits. But if your audience doesn't find relevant content after clicking on your video, there are chances they won't fall for the same trick next time.
So only promise what you can deliver. Here is an example of a misleading thumbnail. If your thumbnail says, Top 5 Ways Of Earning Money Through YouTube, but in the video, you are talking about How To Edit YouTube Videos, that will be a misleading thumbnail.
Use The Right Font Style
You might be thinking, who cares about the font style? But trust me, viewers only click on those videos whose preview image has all elements right. Moreover, a consistent font style helps you represent your brand identity. You must choose an elegant, strong font style that you believe represents your content idea. Keep this font style consistent in all your thumbnail titles.
When you keep a consistent font style, it helps the viewers recognize your channel. Your font style should be clean and easy to read. Nobody likes to spend a lot of time just figuring out what the title is. Hence, the minimal yet standard design is what you should go for. To make your title appear better; you can bold or italicize it as well.
Find The Right Contrast
You have decided on the image, size, title, and font style; now it's time to create that perfect color contrast in your thumbnail. There are two types of color contrast- higher and lower contrast. A higher contrast image will have two colors that are very different from each other, like black and white. And a low contrast image will save two similar colors, for example, red and pink.
If you choose low-contrast colors, there is a high chance that the title text will get washed out, and your viewers won't be able to read them. Therefore, I recommend you pick complementary or highly contrasting colors. Picking such colors will make your thumbnail stand out. I have seen that videos that have colorful backgrounds tend to get more views than videos with light or white backgrounds.
Therefore, pick a vibrant or bright color, but of course, that should resonate with your brand identity or the content you are representing in your YouTube video. If you are picking a still image from the video itself, pick a bright, colorful one to grab viewers' attention quickly.
Pick A Relevant Image
Let's talk about which image you should pick. While I was talking about choosing your still image, you asked me to pick something that immediately excites your views to watch the video. But it does not mean that you can pick any image from your gallery and make it your thumbnail picture.
The image has to be relevant to what you are showing in your video. For instance, if you put a recipe video, you should not choose a photo with you sitting under a nice waterfall. Again if you think you don't have a picture with the right background, you can use Erase.bg to edit your background within seconds.
Also, keeping close-up pictures is better because it shows the elements nicely. If you are showing a recipe for chicken, you can keep a close-up picture of your ingredients as your thumbnail with the right title; voila, your video is ready to hit thousands of views.
For other types of videos, keeping an image with a face helps viewers identify with your content. Making eye contact with your views feels like you are directly talking with them. Eye contact not only creates curiosity but also helps your viewers empathize with your content.
The Rule Of Thirds
Well, what is now the rule of thirds? It means separating your image into nine equal parts using imaginary vertical and horizontal lines. And you should put the subject of your image in one of the four interesting points where both the lines meet. As a general rule, the main subject should cover two thirds of your thumbnail. The rule of thirds makes your thumbnail look more dynamic.
Keep Enough White Space Or Negative Space
Most YouTubers make their thumbnails look very cluttered. Viewers love to see a thumbnail that's well designed, is not filled with hundreds of elements, and shows the theme of the video clearly. Therefore, white space and negative space are essential in YouTube thumbnails.
The white space or the negative space is the free area around the elements in the preview image. You might want to add lots of elements, but remember, less is more. Keep is well proportioned with a clean look. It should look clean, classy, and aesthetically pleasing.
The next rule to create the best YouTube thumbnails is being consistent. The color contrast, font style, and size, type of elements you keep should be the same in all your YouTube videos. If you follow popular YouTubers, you'll see that they stick to a particular color and theme because it helps create a brand identity. To make your job easier, you can also use YouTube thumbnail makers.
There are several online thumbnail makers. These tools have a ready-made thumbnail template that you can use to make the most striking YouTube thumbnail. I would suggest you try a couple of thumbnails every time you make a YouTube video. See which one is going best with your video and choose the one.
Pro tip: Do some competitor research. See how people in your industry design their thumbnails and which videos get more views. Don't replicate their style; instead, create something unique that also beats your competitors' designs.
Those are my pro tips for creating the best thumbnail for YouTube. All the factors I mentioned are necessary, and one is incomplete without the other. So make sure you read each and every point to ensure your thumbnail gets you the most number of clicks in your videos.
Don't hesitate to experiment with designs and spend some time making the thumbnail, especially when you're a newbie. If you see YouTube as your career, spending time on each element, like filming, editing, and creating the thumbnail, is a must. Let me know which idea from this guide you found most useful, and stay tuned for more such guides!