How to Make the Perfect YouTube Thumbnail

How to Make the Perfect YouTube Thumbnail

As a YouTuber, one of the easiest ways to boost your views is to create great thumbnails. This is because YouTube routinely shows your video to users on its platform, and whether or not they click on your video largely depends on your Thumbnail. In most cases, your thumbnail is the first, and only, impression that your video makes to potential viewers.

Therefore, when you make your thumbnails more attractive, you will have more people viewing your videos because of the resultant higher click-through rates. 

And given the fact that a video’s click through rate is a metric that the YouTube algorithm considers when determining its ranking position and whether to suggest it, figuring out how to make eye-catching and relevant YouTube thumbnails is one of the most effective ways through which a content creator can guarantee success on the platform. 


Here are tips that will come in handy in helping you to make the perfect YouTube thumbnail.


Use the right dimensions

Sticking to the recommended dimensions is important as it gives your video the best chance of occupying as much YouTube real estate as possible. 

A thumbnail that is too small could end up having ugly black bars. One whose dimensions are off the recommended ratio could end up getting cropped, leading to an unprofessional-looking thumbnail with part of its information missing. 

And since YouTube videos get some of their views from being embedded, using smaller thumbnails can lead to poor quality when it is scaled up.

When creating your thumbnail, make sure that it has a 16:9 aspect ratio, a minimum width of 640 pixels. Size-wise, sticking with the recommended 1280×720 pixels, is prudent. 

And since YouTube will not allow you to upload a thumbnail whose size is more than 2MB, keeping the size below this is something that you should keep in mind.

Use high quality pics 

High quality pics with strong visuals make for attractive thumbnails. Therefore, before you even begin to create the thumbnail, you should look for great pictures. These pictures should be able to give better context to your video. 

They should also be bright, or at least attention grabbing. And since photos with human faces tend to perform better, if you have the option, always go for one that features a human face.

As a general rule, you should avoid using frame-freeze pics as your thumbnail because they tend to be lower quality. What is advisable is to take a separate picture and then edit it to improve its attractiveness. 

You can also purchase stock photos from popular stock photography websites. Some websites like unsplash and pixabay also have great photos that they offer for free and they can thus serve as a reliable source of high quality images.

When using a stock photo, it is always advisable that you edit, or at least enhance its appearance, in order to ensure that it stands out. You may have to play with its brightness and contrast settings. 

You may even have to completely change the image’s background by replacing it with a solid color. And if you don’t have any editing skills, you can always seek help from a YouTube agency ; )

Use text 

A good high quality photo is rarely enough to provide all the context that is necessary to pique a potential viewer’s curiosity. This is where inserting text in your thumbnails comes in handy.

When using text, make sure that it is relevant to your video and that it conveys what one should expect. However, when doing so, you should take care not to use too much text as this will only make your thumbnail seem crowded. 

Keep in mind that the image, and text, will be scaled down and so using as little text as possible will offer the best chance of it being useful to the potential viewer.

The other thing that you should keep in mind is to use contrasting colors for your text. For example, if your video is dark, using bright colors for your text is recommended. 

This is because it is what will give it the best chance to stand out in a crowded sea of thumbnails. This, in addition to including numbers in cases where you are creating a content series, will be useful for your potential subscribers.

Since what matters most when it comes to text is its visibility, you should also pay attention to the type of font that you use. Font that is clear and easily readable like League Gothic is ideal, while script fonts are generally a bad idea.

Use a branded YouTube thumbnail

A good thumbnail should do two things at the same time: get new viewers to click on your videos and also keep existing viewers watching more of your content. Using branded thumbnails is the best way to achieve the second goal.

All it entails is to simply stick to using a consistent style and aesthetic feel when coming up with your thumbnails. This means using the same font, graphics and color schemes in every thumbnail that you create for your YouTube channel. It can even involve inserting your logo at the bottom or top of every thumbnail.

When you are consistent when it comes to your thumbnails, it makes it easier for people who already enjoy your content to find and click on it. 

This leads to higher views and better engagement metrics for your channel. And since the YouTube algorithm prioritizes engagement when determining rankings and recommendations, this is something that will go a long way towards growing the reach of your channel.


Keep it honest and accurate 

The perfect youTube thumbnail grabs curiosity, but it does not mislead. While it is possible to get a high view count from using clickbait thumbnails, using this strategy tends to backfire in the long run. 

This is because it will eventually erode your audience’s trust. Furthermore, people who end up falling for the clickbait will be disappointed with your content, something that will then lead to negative metrics. 

This includes heavy downvotes and higher bounce rates. With time, this will hurt your channel — the opposite result from what a perfect thumbnail seeks to achieve.

When creating your thumbnail, it is important to ensure that it only provides context for what is to be expected. While this doesn’t mean that you should reveal everything, you should also take care not to overpromise. 

You can make the audience curious by asking a question, teasing a narrative, or simply being straightforward when offering a solution to a problem. As a general rule, if you can’t meet the expectation that you are creating, then you are likely using clickbait.


Research and test

Even after following all the best practices as far as thumbnail creation is concerned, you really won’t know which thumbnail will be perfect for your channel until you actually measure its performance. 

As a result, when you are building your channel, it is always advisable that you create multiple thumbnails for your videos,and then test them out to see whether they will improve your click through rates. 

Discarding the low performing ones, and sticking with the high performing ones, while also making consistent tweaks, is therefore a great way of zeroing down to the perfect thumbnail for your video.

You can also get clues as to what will work by performing a search for your search term and then looking at the results. Noting the different graphics and general aesthetics of the thumbnails will give you an idea of what works for YouTubers in your niche. 

It may also give you a clue on which colors or graphics to use in order to differentiate your thumbnail from the other thumbnails.

Choose a good photo-editing platform

Making the perfect YouTube thumbnail can be as simple as choosing a great photo-editing platform. Why? Because most platforms have ready-made thumbnails that have been created by expert graphic designers. 

These templates typically comply with all the best practices as far as YouTube thumbnail-making is concerned. 

These platforms tend to also have data analysts and research experts that can do a deep dive on what works on YouTube. 

The combination of the graphic design and data analysis expertise that they employ when coming up with these templates, is usually enough to enable them to come up with high-performing YouTube templates.

Therefore, choosing an eye-catching template from their catalogue and customizing it, is an effective shortcut when it comes to creating the perfect YouTube thumbnail. 

Use a YouTube Agency

If you don’t have the time to dig through your YouTube analytics to figure out which thumbnails work for your channel, and if you don’t have the time or skills to create and edit your thumbnails, using a YouTube Editing Service is recommended. 

These services typically have teams of experts dedicated towards ensuring that they come up with high-performing and brandable thumbnails, and so outsourcing this part of your content creator duties will really up your thumbnail game. And given the results that such a move typically yields, this is an option that is usually worth every penny!

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