April 27, 2017

How To Make Your YouTube Thumbnails Stand Out

Filed under Grow Your Channel, Social Media

How to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out

If you are trying to grow a YouTube channel and succeed on the platform, you are playing a losing game if you aren’t optimising your YouTube thumbnails. But don’t worry because in this post we’ll show you how to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out from the crowd!

To survive on the heavily populated platform, you NEED your thumbnails to stand out.

There’s a really good ‘house’ analogy that can be applied to YouTube videos.

On the inside, your house may be the cleanest, most immaculate house on the street, fitted with an indoor waterslide and a chocolate fountain.

However, if on the outside your house looks terrible with a lawn that hasn’t been mowed in years and has garbage all over the front yard – no one is going to want to go inside.

So how can this analogy be applied to your YouTube channel?

 You might have a super awesome video that you spent hours editing and perfecting, but no one is going to click on it if it doesn’t have an equally awesome, eye-catching thumbnail.

On YouTube, over 300 hours of footage are uploaded every single minute so there’s definitely no shortage of content!

And with billions of videos to choose from, your goal is to convince someone scrolling through the site to click on your video.

But how? With an awesome thumbnail!

Let’s play a game.

You want to find a video about ‘how to make money on the internet’. First, you would enter that search term into the YouTube search bar. Once you do that, these 3 videos pop up.

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Now, which one are you going to click on?

A, B or C?

How to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out - Thumbnail Option AA

How to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out - Thumbnail Option BB

How to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out - Thumbnail Option CC

I think you already know the correct answer.

Usually, the first thing a viewer will see when they’re scrolling through YouTube is your thumbnail. In many cases, if your thumbnail looks terrible they won’t even read the title of your video, let alone click on it!

Did you know that a lot of YouTuber’s spend equally as much time, if not more on their thumbnails than they do on their actual video content? Since there’s little point in making an awesome video if you can’t get anyone to watch it.

A few tips to teach you how to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out.

Never use YouTube’s automated thumbnails!

You can’t upload a video to YouTube without a thumbnail. So if you don’t want to create a custom thumbnail, YouTube takes three still images from your video and lets you choose one of those for your thumbnail instead.

Now I will admit this is super easy and doesn’t take any effort at all, but 99 times of 100 the still images YouTube chooses are terrible and won’t attract any attention for your video.

Here are the three thumbnail options that YouTube chose for one of my videos.

YouTube's automated thumbnails options

Would you click on any of those? I sure know I wouldn’t! But what if I made my own custom thumbnail?

My custom YouTube thumbnail which stands out

Now that’s a video that I would click on!

Make it colourful

There’s a reason we have colour TV’s now and not the old black and white ones. People love colourful things! And bright colours tend to stand out more and are more likely catch people’s eye.

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Make it unique

Don’t just do what everyone else is doing. If you do, you won’t stand out!

In one of my most recent videos, my thumbnail took less than a minute to make. That’s because all it required was two words of text on a black background.

My unique custom YouTube thumbnail

It is the simplicity that makes it so effective.

So more does not always equal better. Be unique. Think outside the box. And most importantly, if you want to know how to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out…think like a viewer! What thumbnail would catch your attention and entice you to click on it?

I wouldn’t suggest doing something like this for all of your videos, but try and do something different. If you do that, your thumbnail WILL stand out.

What software do you need to make a good thumbnail?

For my YouTube thumbnails, I use Adobe Photoshop, which in my opinion is the best tool for creating high-quality thumbnails. However, it is expensive.

There are a lot of free tools out there that can get the job done such as Microsoft Paint and Gimp if Photoshop isn’t in your budget.

Another awesome program is TubeBuddy. TubeBuddy is a free Google Chrome browser plugin that also has paid options as well that have more tools.

TubeBuddy’s thumbnail creator tool is super quick and easy to use and will help your video stand out.

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I don’t personally use this tool for my thumbnails as Photoshop still gives me more flexibility. But if Photoshop is outside of your budget I would definitely recommend TubeBuddy.

Plus they have a lot more features that I do use outside of just creating thumbnails.

Bonus tip: Put a border around your thumbnails

Another thing you can do to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out is to put a border around them.

Put a border around your thumbnails

In this photo, my video is ranking second for the keyword ‘things I hate about the dentist’. However, you might notice that I’ve placed a blue border around my thumbnail, which makes it stand out a little bit more on the white background.

It can be super hard to get that number one spot in YouTube search, especially when you’re competing with much larger channels. But using this tip will help your YouTube thumbnail stand out from the crowd and increase your click through rate even though your video may not be number one in YouTube search.

So now you know why you need a great thumbnail, and how to make your YouTube thumbnails stand out from the rest. So go and do it and you’ll be seeing better results for your YouTube channel in no time!

G’Day! My name is Dylan, I’m 19 years old and I’m from Australia. I host the ‘Small YouTuber Podcast’ where I interview a new small YouTube creator every week to help them grow their channel! I also run a website dedicated to promoting small YouTubers over at

User Comments

  • 1 year ago Dylan Swain

    G'Day guys, I hope you enjoyed the post! If you have any questions at all leave them in the comments here and I'll try to help you out :)

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