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Making a YouTube video ‘thumbnail’ that gets noticed

We all know that photos make web content stand out. But here’s a curious thing. Go to an everyday YouTube video search – as many of your prospects will be doing – and scan down the results list. It’s the videos with text in their ‘thumbnails’ which draw attention to themselves. When you post a YouTube video, if you’re just using one of the random stills offered by the system as your thumbnail image, you’re missing a big opportunity.

What you should be doing is creating a customised thumbnail which will outshine the others on the page. Almost without exception, the best ones have text in them – and text which jumps out too. If you’re not a Photoshop wizard, you may be able to knock something up in Word or something else not quite designed for the task, but there are online tools which make it simple. Ones I’ve used and like include Canva and Adobe Spark. Another which I read about recently, and seems to do the job perfectly, is Fotojet. Whatever the case, you want to be providing an image which is 1280×720, preferably in .jpg or .png format.

Google’s official instructions on uploading a thumbnail to a video are here. You can go back and retrospectively improve your videos’ thumbnails; some companies even like to have a standard format which looks great when all their videos are displayed together.