Sign Up to Crafters Newsletter
for Free!

How To Make An Effective YouTube Thumbnail

Tristan Daine Zinampan
June 18, 2020

What’s one simple way to avoid having your content get lost among the millions of videos uploaded on YouTube? Stop underestimating the importance of an effective YouTube thumbnail.

Aside from the title, your thumbnail is what potential viewers immediately see. The picture you choose to upload could make or break your video in terms of click-through rates.

With the average attention span these days a mere 8 seconds, audiences will most likely scroll past even the most interesting and relevant content if the thumbnail is drab and boring.

Check out the ways to create eye-catching and click-worthy YouTube thumbnails below.

Check the specs

First things first: make sure your thumbnail has the specs YouTube recommends. You wouldn’t want a blurry, stretched-out picture. Your thumbnail should have a resolution of 1280 x 720, or a 16:9 aspect ratio. Cap it at a maximum size of 2MB. Make sure it’s in a JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG format.

Following the right specs will ensure that your thumbnail will look HD, even when it’s scaled up for an embedded video. You never know on which platform viewers will share your video, or where they’ll be viewing it, so it’s really best to be prepared and follow these guidelines.

Don’t settle for default

Highest-earning YouTube channel, Ryan's World, makes sure that every thumbnail is vibrant and has the channel logo.

YouTube automatically generates options for your thumbnails but if you want to stand out, settling for these and calling it a day won’t cut it.

Think of your thumbnails as Instagram posts—a curated feed on your YouTube page. You can choose to follow a specific “theme” based on your channel’s branding.

Take photographs or download a stock photo if you prefer, but you can still pick a frame from your video. Just don’t forget to customize your chosen thumbnail with text, borders, stickers, or your channel logo.

Add text for better context

The YouTube Creators channel utilizes text for more informative thumbnails.

Online audiences have notoriously short attention spans. Adding text to your thumbnail can catch their eye and help them immediately identify what your video offers.

Don’t overdo it with the copy, though. Keep your thumbnail from looking cluttered by adding only a few relevant keywords. Choose clean fonts in a larger size. Script fonts with too many curlicues may be hard to read, especially on smaller devices.

Use contrasting colors for your text overlay and background image. The point is to make the text readable, even at a glance.

Compose dynamic images

Wide angles can be harder to make out on smartphones. Go for close-up shots which tend to catch the eye more quickly.

For interesting thumbnails, follow the rule of thirds. Picture two equally spaced horizontal and vertical lines on your thumbnail, then place the focal point of the photo on one of the intersection points.

It depends on your channel’s branding, but bright, saturated colors can also help your thumbnail stand out.

Avoid clickbait

YouTube content creator Amy Landino adds her own touch to her thumbnails, making them more engaging.

One last check: does your thumbnail accurately convey what your video is all about? Clickbait content might work for a few videos but it can backfire on you afterwards. When your audience retention rate drops, YouTube might stop recommending your content.

There’s a way to engage your audience without misleading them—and that’s by creating genuinely instructive and interesting videos.

Did you find this article on how to make an effective YouTube thumbnail helpful?

Now that you've got these tips, you're all set to create stronger first impressions for your YouTube videos! Update your portfolio and show potential clients what you've got on the GetCraft Marketplace.

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6




  • Test
  • Test 2

  1. Test A
  2. Test B

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

How To Make An Effective YouTube Thumbnail

Tristan Daine Zinampan
June 18, 2020

You must be a premium member to view the full content

Sorry, but the rest of this article is for our Premium Members only. To gain access to this content and many more benefits, subscribe below!

How To Make An Effective YouTube Thumbnail

Tristan Daine Zinampan
This is some text inside of a div block.
June 18, 2020

Crafters Newsletter

Sign up to our weekly email to get:
Article Updates
Event Announcements
Webinar Announcements
Free Research

Weekly Creative Supply


In-depth creative articles

Get it for free

Premium subscription

US$ 10 / month

8+ Free creative webinar tickets per month
All past tutorials, panels & interview recordings
Bespoke industry research & guides
Exclusive brand offers & VIP Events
In-depth creative articles

Related articles

No items found.