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YouTube Tips Remember: The Thumbnail Is The First Thing Everyone Sees

Bravestarr | Team TB

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If you ever wondered just how important the thumbnail for your video is, always remember this one thing. The thumbnail is the first thing potential viewers see when searching. So if you want your video to be the video to go to in the search make that thumbnail pop, make it stand out, make it noticeable. Also, take into account the image is about the size of a smartwatch on a browser, it's even smaller on a smartphone. So make sure if you're adding text that the font style and size is legible and not too overwhelming that it distracts from the image. You wanna make sure the image conveys what the video is about as much as the title does. Also, remember certain colors are more attractive to the eyes so you wanna use colors that catch the viewers attention and can stand out better on YouTube's white UI or even in dark mode.

This is some of my best advice I can give:
  • Include your channel avatar on your thumbnail in a corner, not too big; this helps expose your brand making it easier to find your content in future searches
  • If you're gonna use borders on your thumbnail remember that while a white border looks nice on a dark mode YouTube it will make the image look smaller with dark mode off. Use colors that work well with both.
  • Consistency is key, stick with the same font style if you're gonna have text and try to create a template where your thumbnails have some similarities/consistency that help them stand out, another form of branding.
  • Use high-quality backgrounds, images, and cliparts, distorted images with a lot of pixelation will look unprofessional and can turn potential viewers off.

_2_how_to_create_a_thumbnail_YouTube.png
 

CoW mAn

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And remember that thumbnails are for strangers

When I do channel reviews and recommend some changes to thumbnails the creator will often say "my fans get it" and I'm like "these aren't for your fans, they're for your future fans who don't know you yet!"
 
OP
OP
Bravestarr | Team TB

Bravestarr | Team TB

Life ain't no Nintendo Game
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And remember that thumbnails are for strangers

When I do channel reviews and recommend some changes to thumbnails the creator will often say "my fans get it" and I'm like "these aren't for your fans, they're for your future fans who don't know you yet!"
Exactly, your fans don't need to search for your content if they know where to find it. Your goal is to attract new potential subscribers with the thumbnails.
 

Travel Interesante

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And remember that thumbnails are for strangers

When I do channel reviews and recommend some changes to thumbnails the creator will often say "my fans get it" and I'm like "these aren't for your fans, they're for your future fans who don't know you yet!"
This is so true and great advice. as well as what Brave Starr said and it has really helped us to keep that in mind on our latest videos. I think the idea of first designing a thumbnail for a cell phone, or at the very least keeping what it would like on a cell phone in mind is super important. Over 50% of my views are from people using a cell phone and I'm sure the statistic is the same for many.

If you are using Canva, you can set the image size to 10% and I think that is pretty close to the size it would appear on your cell phone.
 

Stanley | Team TB

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And remember that thumbnails are for strangers

When I do channel reviews and recommend some changes to thumbnails the creator will often say "my fans get it" and I'm like "these aren't for your fans, they're for your future fans who don't know you yet!"
Yes!!! I love this... so many are not perceptive of this aspect. When you start to view things from a more global perspective you will start to make better decisions regarding your work and THAT will make a HUGE impact on your channels performance!
 

Travel Interesante

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YouTube randomly picks a screen grab 3 times from your video for the thumbnail. If you want more creative freedom to add text and/or use a picture of your own you will need to use a program. Thankfully there are free programs that do a good job in allowing you to play with and edit photos to make your thumbnail. Canva is a good one that many use and there are a lot of useful tools even in the free version.
 

Ater

Very Well-Known Member
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I would like to add:
Make sure the thumbnail matches your content. If it's just clickbait people will often leave your videos in a few seconds giving the video a very bad audience retention and decreasing the chance of the video to be recommended to new people.
 

Beanie Draws

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The "saddest" part about thumbnails, is they don't play to your tastes. What we think is a bad messy thumbnail, might actually be a pretty decent thumbnail in terms of CTR. I've been trying to improve some of my old messy thumbs, but strangly what I thought was a cleaner more clickable thumb, performed worse in A/B tests. I may just do the tests again to get a second opinion. But yes, thumbnails are a far more complex equation. The video is nothing without them, but what is clickable, isn't always what you expect.

ab tests.PNG
 

WV Pet Project

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The "saddest" part about thumbnails, is they don't play to your tastes. What we think is a bad messy thumbnail, might actually be a pretty decent thumbnail in terms of CTR. I've been trying to improve some of my old messy thumbs, but strangly what I thought was a cleaner more clickable thumb, performed worse in A/B tests. I may just do the tests again to get a second opinion. But yes, thumbnails are a far more complex equation. The video is nothing without them, but what is clickable, isn't always what you expect.

View attachment 7508
Maybe your taste is changing, but your audience's isn't....I like the originals better on both of them!