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How To Design Clickworthy YouTube Thumbnails

By Whitney DePaoli | Basic Photo EditingPhoto Editor Tutorials

If you haven’t already heard, YouTube has become a huge marketing tool you want in your toolbox. Video marketing has become more popular than ever, mostly because the internet is oversaturated with information and our attention spans as consumers are shorter than ever. Nowadays, consumers prefer to watch a short video on social media instead of clicking a link to read a lengthy press release (or blog post for that matter!). In fact, videos on social media get 1200% more shares and engagement than images and text combined!  

But this doesn’t mean that simply posting videos on YouTube will guarantee you shares or virality. With over a billion users, you still need to do a bit of work to stand out. In addition to creating quality videos, you’ll need a captivating thumbnail that viewers can’t help but click.

how to make youtube thumbnails that stand out

Don’t know the first thing about creating custom YouTube thumbnails? The good news is BeFunky's Photo Editor can help! If you’re serious about your YouTube channel for marketing your business, blog, or your own personal videos, we’ll show you the secrets to creating thumbnails that get your videos more clicks and shares. Let’s get started!

How To Make Your YouTube Thumbnail Stand Out

Your YouTube thumbnail is the equivalent of a book cover, and contrary to the age old saying (never judge a book by its cover), viewers will determine whether or not to click on your video based on its thumbnail. When potential subscribers are searching for a blanket term, such as “makeup tutorial,” the only way to stand out from competing videos upon first glance is to create a compelling thumbnail image. Instead of simply using a still shot from your video, it’s important to customize your YouTube video cover into a click-worthy masterpiece. Here’s what sets the grand YouTube thumbnails apart from the bland:

Use A Relevant Image

Whether you’re filming a tutorial or simply talking about a product, you’ll want to think of the key point you want to get across and use corresponding imagery. If it’s a tutorial, a photo of the end result will be loads better than a photo of the materials you use in the DIY. If you’re a travel blogger talking about your last 24 hours in France, use your best photo from the day. Consumers are highly visual (and short on the attention span spectrum), so getting your point across quickly is key when it comes to the image you use.  

best images to use in YouTube Thumbnails

When making your photo selection, keep in mind that close-up shots are best when it comes to YouTube thumbnails. This way, when it’s viewed in thumbnail format, your video content will be more quickly recognizable.

Add Text For Context

A great way to grab attention when it comes to YouTube thumbnail design is add text to photos. Including the title of your video or a few relevant keywords will ensure that your potential viewer knows exactly what the video is about, even before they read the given YouTube title.

how to add text to photos online in BeFunky

When adding text to photos, be sure to use a maximum of two different fonts and don’t go overboard on the amount of copy. It should be to-the-point and thoughtfully designed, never overshadowing the main image.

Incorporate Bright Colors

The brighter the colors, the easier it is for the eye to be drawn to them. Using a pop of color is a good way to stand out amongst competing videos, but too much color can also detract from the quality and have quite the opposite effect.

how to add text to YouTube thumbnails

When you’re thinking about color, whether adding a color block or colored text, be sure to stick to a balanced color palette. One or two bright colors should do (unless your video is about unicorns and rainbows, in which case, go crazy).

Follow The Size Requirements

You would think that designing a YouTube thumbnail would mean using a small template. On the contrary, YouTube recommends thumbnails to be 1280 x 720 pixels for the best quality. This is because when your thumbnail is clicked and opened in the full screen of a YouTube video player, it will be shown at full size. When shown as a thumbnail, your large photo will be crisp and clear, but anything smaller than the YouTube recommended size will look stretched and distorted when it’s shown at full size.  

YouTube thumbnail size requirements

Luckily, BeFunky’s Photo Editor makes it easy to achieve the ideal YouTube thumbnail size while giving you all the tools to create compelling covers for your videos. With all of these design tips in mind, we’ll show you how to do it all in the following section.  

How To Design An Engaging YouTube Thumbnail

Once you’ve got a captivating image you want to turn into a YouTube thumbnail, head to BeFunky’s Photo Editor, upload it, and get ready to turn it into something awesome!

The first thing you’ll want to do is create a perfectly-sized canvas for your thumbnail. In the Edit menu on the left, click on the Crop tool and type in the YouTube size requirements (1280 x 720) into the corresponding width and height boxes. The crop target will show which area of the photo will remain in the thumbnail.

If you want more of your photo inside the crop area, check the box for Lock Aspect Ratio. This will keep the crop ratio locked while you resize the crop target. Once you’ve got your desired area within the crop target, click the blue checkmark to confirm.

If your crop target was expanded beyond 1280 x 720 pixels, you’ll need to resize images accordingly. Click on the Resize tool in the Edit menu on the left and type the correct size requirements into the corresponding width and height boxes. Now you’ve got your YouTube thumbnail sized perfectly!

how to resize image for YouTube thumbnail

Now for the fun part: designing your YouTube thumbnail. A great way to add a pop of color (without going overboard!) is to use a graphic in your YouTube thumbnail. We’ve kept things simple in this thumbnail design by adding a square graphic from the Geometry category located in the Graphics tab (the heart symbol in the left menu). Using the blue circles around the graphic will allow you to resize and rotate it to your heart’s desire.

add graphics to photos in BeFunky

Whenever you add a graphic to your photo, a Graphic Properties toolbar appears, allowing you to change the color, opacity, and more! Using the Color Picker will help you choose a color to match anything on your photo and play around with different hues. Don’t forget to use the Intensity slider at the bottom to bump up the power of your chosen hue.

free graphics for photos online in BeFunky

Now you’re ready to add the final touches to your YouTube thumbnail with some compelling text! It’s as easy as clicking on the Text tab (the T icon) in the menu on the left and clicking the Add Text button. You’ll be presented with a textbox that you can click to type your desired copy into.

Notice that whenever you’re working with a textbox, you’ll see a Text Properties toolbar appear. This handy toolbar allows you to change the font, colors, opacity, and more, all in one place. When choosing fonts, remember to stick to a maximum of two and keep your copy simple (yet large enough to read in thumbnail form!).

add text to photos for YouTube thumbnail in BeFunky
Pro Tip:

Want to add multiple lines of text with the same font and size formatting? Click on any textbox and press the ‘D’ key on your keyboard to easily duplicate the formatting, then type a new line!

When you’re happy with your YouTube thumbnail design, click on the Save button at the top of the Photo Editor to save your thumbnail to your chosen destination.

how to design YouTube thumbnails in BeFunky

With your YouTube thumbnail ready to go, all that’s left to do is upload your video! We’ll show you some key pointers for uploading to YouTube next.

YouTube thumbnail designer by BeFunky

How To Upload Custom YouTube Thumbnails

If this is your very first time uploading a YouTube video, welcome to your first rodeo! Once you’ve signed up for your very own YouTube channel, it’s as easy as clicking the little ‘Upload’ icon at the top of your homepage. When you upload a video, YouTube will automatically select a few stills from your video to use as thumbnails, but instead of using their options you now have your very own custom YouTube thumbnail to use.

Click on the plus sign (+) in the YouTube thumbnail section of your upload screen and select your custom thumbnail. Don’t forget to fill in all of the other necessary information such as your video’s title, description, and tags. This will help get your video more views as people search for the associated terms.

how to make custom YouTube thumbnails in BeFunky

Now that you’ve uploaded your video with a custom YouTube thumbnail, make it a habit with the rest of the videos on your channel. Remember to keep your branding cohesive across your videos and the rest of your YouTube channel art. That way, your brand will become more recognizable as your viewership grows.

Voila! You’re on your way to YouTube stardom! Don’t forget about the little people (like us!) when you reach the top.

Photo Editing, Simplified.

Photo Editing. Simplified