When you break down a thumbnail to its simplest parts there are two:
– The Thumbnail Photo
– The Thumbnail Text
– How to make them
#2 of the Title, Thumbnail, Keywords Trifecta!!
First, let's start with: what is a thumbnail?: A thumbnail is a small picture you see on a page or channel.
They are the only sneak peek into the video before someone watches it!
Let's start with the photo:
There are two options for a photo on your thumbnail:
– Still shot from your video
– The photo you’ve taken that is relevant to the video content
a. Still shot: Watch your video looking for a GREAT still shot.
Wait! What qualifies as a “great still shot”?
Well, let me tell you!
Emotion. You want your face to show some sort of emotion, ANYTHING, excited, serious, explaining something, worried or whatever makes sense for your video and tell a bit of a story
It can even be posed.
I mean when you’re done filming your video you literally pose or take still shots of yourself for a thumbnail. I rarely do this because I make 501 faces in 2 seconds so I always have something I can use but I totally have and it works great!
After analyzing at my top viewed videos, I have found I’ll get the most clicks on photos where you can clearly see my face where I am smiling or look warm and inviting.
This makes sense for my channel, it might not make the most sense for yours.
** Oh yeah, and if you're using a mac you can get the still shot by pressing (Command, Shift and 4) and dragging to screenshot.
b. Photo: If you’ve taken a banger (good photo) of an epic view, walking down a cobblestone street, kayaking with dolphins, or any epic photo relevant to your video make it your thumbnail!
Choose a photo that tells a little story before they even watch the video.
Keep reading for examples
Example Roy's Peak 3am Hike:
This first thumbnail is a screenshot from the video.
My face says this 3AM HIKE was gruesome and a viewer might assume I'll be telling a pretty animated story.
The second “banger” is the result of the 3 AM HIKE! They will both attract viewers, so how do you choose? There is no right or wrong answer.
Which photo fits your personality and which fits the kind of viewer you want to attract?
So what the heck do you write on your thumbnails?!
KEEP. IT. SIMPLE.
Less is more on the thumbnail, you can say more in the title, but the thumbnail should be short and sweet. You may even have a few different size text/highlights. In this Mexico thumbnail “5″ “stay safe” and “Mexico” jump out right away. and the text is big and easy to read.
PRO TIP: When the video is viewed on YouTube there will be a small timestamp square on the bottom right.
Avoid putting text here so it doesn't get covered
For example The Burning Man video, no problem.
These two? No good:
3. How do you make a thumbnail?
The website that I use to edit my thumbnails is Canva.com
A quick video to show you how is at the bottom after you've ready though 🙂
– Canva: You’ll need to start by creating a free account. This is great because it saves all of your work!
After you log in:
1. Search “YouTube Thumbnail” click and lets get started!
2. Click “Uploads” on the left menu” then drop the photo in or upload the photo.
3. Once it's loaded drag it over onto the thumbnail you’re creating. Now just play around with everything!
The features that I use most
Filter: Click on the photo that you want to edit, click “filter” at the top of the page. Then “adjust” to edit the photos to look good, sometimes the filters just dont work. Try and keep a similar theme for your thumbnails.
Text: Here I usually just start with “add heading” and then change EVERYTHING.
The font (which I keep a consistent 3-5 fonts for the majority of my thumbnails).
Color, so that it contrasts the photo and also size.
Typically it's good to have BIG text for the main keywords “MEXICO” and then a smaller “what you need to now” for supporting text
Elements: Select Elements > shapes > pick one of the shapes. The squares are used best behind the text to help it stand out a bit more if the photo is a bit busy (see white square below under “how to travel long term seriously”).
You can make the white square transparent with the transparent feature that looks like this:
Arrange: Maybe when you put the square on the photo is was on top of the text. To move it back fine “arrange” and send it forward or back.
This should get you through making at least one thumbnail. Play with it more!!
If you're a visual learner I zipped through it real quick here:
***IMPORTANT FINAL NOTES:
First, Title each thumbnail using your keywords for the video. We will cover this again in the KEYWORDS chapter 😉
Second, Before you download your thumbnail from Canva.com, zoom out so you can see what it looks like as a thumbnail!
The easiest way to do this on a Mac is Command – to zoom out. Command – to see if you can still read the text with little to no problem. If you can GREAT, Command + will zoom you back out and you can download it.
Chapter 3 Homework:
Create a Canva account and start playing around with making thumbnails!