Tips for “scroll-stopping” thumbnails.
If you want to establish a YouTube channel with a large following, a clickable thumbnail is essential. Functionally, it should give viewers a peek into what the video is about but not reveal everything. Build some curiosity or intrigue that only your video can satisfy, and the clicks will follow.
Put on your design hat.
Aside from an intro to the content of your video, your thumbnail should be a showcase of design elements that are eye-catching at a small scale, like high-contrast overlays of text or color. These are easy design elements to master, even for non-designers.
Make it unique to you.
Whether it’s a still from the video or a photo you took at your shoot, your thumbnail will seem more authentic if you use your own images, rather than stock photos. And don’t be afraid to get playful. “The big rule on thumbnails is there are no rules,” says Rodriguez.
Clicks are not the only thing important to the YouTube algorithm. Length of engagement is also crucial. Avoid putting misleading images in your thumbnail just for the clicks. Create an image that’s true to your content, and be sure to satisfy the viewer’s curiosity a few seconds into the video so they stick around. If you consistently give viewers what they came for, you can convert them into subscribers.
Do your research.
See what types of thumbnails other people in your same industry use, and decide whether you’d like to go with the flow or stand out with something different. Create a few different thumbnails and show them to your friends. See which ones they prefer.
Change it up.
You can change the thumbnail of your video even after it’s been posted. If a video hasn’t performed well, change the thumbnail to see if that helps with the click rate. Then keep an eye on the performance. You can change the thumbnail as many times as you want.
Create a template.
Make your own YouTube thumbnail templates, and it will be easy to batch out new ones. If you’ve found a few thumbnail designs that work well for your style of content, save the files to work from each time you need a new one.