The Biggest Thumbnail Mistakes Creators Make And How To Avoid Them

Thumbnails help viewers make split-second decisions about which videos to watch. If a thumbnail catches a viewer’s eye, then they’ll click play. However, a lot of creators make similar mistakes when it comes to their video thumbnails, which can decrease the number of views their videos get.

Here are the biggest thumbnail mistakes creators make and how to avoid them.

Your thumbnails are just video frames.

Whenever you upload a new video, YouTube gives you a few thumbnails to choose from. These options are automatically generated from the video. These frames make for easy thumbnails, but they aren’t very interesting or eye-catching. Using these automatically selected thumbnails was a practice popular during YouTube’s early days. However, viewers expect more original thumbnails today.

Solution: Create a custom thumbnail.

Think of your thumbnail as a movie poster for your video. If a movie poster was just a frame from the film, then it wouldn’t catch your attention. These advertisements are custom designed in order to be effective. Likewise, you should create custom thumbnails. You can easily design one yourself with a picture-editing software or one of the many free thumbnail-designing sites and apps. Then, follow the tutorial below to upload it alongside your video.

Your thumbnails are too boring.

When it comes to designing custom thumbnails, maybe you tend to play it safe. You might prefer muted or pastel colors and natural facial expressions. Perhaps your thumbnails could be considered straightforward, but your view count is going down. Your click-through rate is probably much lower than your impression rate.

Solution: Be bold and expressive.

A viewer’s home page offers them an endless stream of videos to choose from. In order to stand out, your thumbnails need to take risks. If you want to grab a viewer’s attention, choose bold colors and facial expressions. When used carefully, exaggeration is a handy tool for getting viewers to click on your videos, but be mindful of clikcbait.

Your thumbnails are too busy.

While bold thumbnails are fantastic for attracting viewers’ attention, it’s still possible to have too much of a good thing. If you’re trying to pack a lot of different elements into your thumbnail design, then viewers won’t know where to look. Worse, the thumbnail could be so jam-packed that your viewers can’t even read the text or see the images clearly.

Solution: Choose two or three eye-catching elements to focus on.

When creating your thumbnail, keep your design simple. Select no more than three bold elements to focus on. For example, you might include a line of text with an obscured image, or you might use bold colors and an expressive reaction. Because your design only utilizes a few eye-catching elements, you’ll be able to make them bigger, which will also help catch viewers’ attention.

All of your thumbnails look the same.

You may think that following the same template for all your video tutorials helps maintain your channel’s brand. However, your viewers likely think differently. Your audience doesn’t want to see the same video over and over, so why would they want to see the same thumbnail again and again? If all of your thumbnails look formulaic, then viewers might assume your videos are formulaic, too.

Solution: Experiment with different styles.

Step out of your creative comfort zone and start experimenting with different kinds of thumbnails. Look at examples from popular creators and high-ranking videos within your niche. Try incorporating elements you haven’t used before or changing up your color scheme.

A thumbnail serves to catch a potential viewer’s attention, making them want to click on your video. Certain thumbnail practices can actually turn viewers away, but these mistakes can easily be addressed. Create custom thumbnails that strike the proper balance between simple and striking.

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Kristen Harris enjoys listening to a wide range of music, from Taylor Swift to, on occasion, Celtic instrumental. She also spends her time writing, reading, and baking.

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