If you look at all of the top YouTubers, you’ll see that their thumbnails are not just random screenshots chosen by YouTube. These people put great effort into their thumbnail photo, and for good reason.
Imagine you’re at a bookstore, and all you can use to choose to buy are the title and book cover. Suddenly those titles and covers become a lot more important, don’t they? Your YouTube thumbnail is exactly that. It has one chance to draw people in while they’re scrolling by. If you leave it up to chance, it’s unlikely that YouTube will choose a great photo for you. It’s up to you to make your thumbnail great! Luckily, there’s an easy process to do it.
Making Your YouTube Thumbnail Photo
Before we get started, I use two websites to help me: Clipping Magic and Canva. Clipping Magic is not free, but it’s like $3 or $4 a month, so if you make one YouTube video a week, it’s a dollar for each one. Not bad! You can use it for other things too so it might be worth it to try it out. This is not an affiliate post, so I’m not trying to sell you on anything. You can also use Photoshop or any other site to remove background from your images. Canva has a free or paid version, and I use the free version. Cool? Let’s get started!
Tweet me and let me know you’re working on it when you start!I'm making an awesome YouTube thumbnail right now! Click To Tweet
1). Take a Photo From Your Video
What I like to do is a couple of quick poses at the end of each video. This gives me an option of what to choose. You don’t have to do this, but it’s a lot faster and easier than scanning your whole video, hoping to find a good pose. Take a screenshot of the pose (on a Mac, it’s Shift-Command-3, on a PC it’s Ctrl-Print Screen).
2). Crop and Cut Out the Photo
Before going to Clipping Magic, I like to crop the photo to remove everything else that was in the screenshot. You want a quality image so the bigger you upload the photo, the better. Chop it down to just enough of what you need, then upload it to Clipping Magic (or whatever software you’re using). If you’re using Clipping Magic, you’ll take the green plus sign and highlight what you want to keep in the photo. Then you’ll take the red minus sign and erase everything around it. You’ll get a vector image to save to your computer.
3). Upload the Photo to Canva
First, can we talk about how amazing Canva is? I use it for literally everything and I definitely plan on upgrading to a paid account at some point. Among its many features, Canva has pre-made settings for different social media platforms. Find the one that says “YouTube Thumbnail” and click it. You’ll then upload your new photo.
4). Design Your Thumbnail
This is where the fun begins! You can make any kind of background you want here. Canva has so many free photos, backgrounds, fonts, colors, anything you can imagine to create an eye-catching thumbnail. I won’t go into too much detail here because it’s a matter of taste for everyone, but play around with it and I’m sure you’ll become as obsessed with it as I am.
5). Download and Upload
Once you’re happy with your photo, download it and name it something that will help your YouTube SEO. Make sure it’s relevant to you and your video so people can find it! I talked about this in my last post, but uploading a photo called “Untitled_1” is not helpful to your channel! When you upload your YouTube video, you’ll see a section called “Custom Thumbnail.” Upload it there and you’re good to go!
If you prefer to watch a video tutorial, here is a video I made explaining the process:
I hope this helps you create an awesome thumbnail! Drop me a comment and let me know what you thought, and also a link to the video and I’ll check it out!