Whenever you’re scrolling through your homepage on YouTube, you’re inundated with a seemingly endless stream of videos to watch. However, you don’t have all the time in the world, so you make your decisions based on which videos look the most interesting. One of the deciding factors is a video’s thumbnail.
As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The right thumbnail can influence a potential viewer to pick your video over the other options in their subscription feeds. Specifically, these kinds of thumbnails can help you get more views.
Pique viewers’ curiosity to earn their clicks.
Humans are naturally curious. Curiosity compels people to do a lot of things, from downloading new apps to discovering new planets. They’re driven to investigate things that capture their interest, including YouTube videos.
NASA engineer-turned-YouTuber Mark Rober has mastered the art of making thumbnails that pique viewers’ curiosity. His thumbnails leave viewers asking questions with bold images and short lines of text. Each one highlights the climax of the story the video tells.
For example, this video shows the process of designing and building a giant trampoline. Mark and his friends also drop other things leading up to the car. However, because the car is the grand finale, it’s showcased on the thumbnail. Viewers will be compelled to watch till the end so they can see what they saw on the thumbnail.
Make a connection through close-ups.
With your thumbnail, you only have a few seconds to get a potential viewer’s attention. A complicated or busy image isn’t going to catch their eye, no matter how aesthetically pleasing it may be. However, close-ups of both faces and objects can capture a potential viewer’s attention almost immediately.
The team behind Good Mythical Morning has built an entertainment empire through this kind of thumbnail. Across their variety of channels, they utilize close-up shots of the talents’ exaggerated expressions in almost every thumbnail. Their thumbnails often include enlarged close-ups of objects from their videos as well.
Look at the thumbnail below. Host Rhett McLaughlin is looking directly at the viewers. His shocked expression tells them the video will be interesting. Since the video prominently features sugar, his face is framed by enlarged pictures of sugar cubes. Viewers may wonder what maple sugar tastes like or how it differs from cane sugar. All of these factors work together to make the viewers want to click play.
Show them what they’re missing with action shots.
Movement is another great way to grab the attention of a potential viewer. It pulls the viewer right into the middle of the story, making them wonder how the creator got there and what’s going to happen next. The best way to show movement is through an action shot.
An action shot doesn’t have to look like something out of an action movie. Longtime creator Jenna Marbles uses action shots from the middle of her craft projects as thumbnails. Rather than use illustrations or obscure the end results, she uses her thumbnails to showcase exactly where each video is headed.
For example, for the video below, other creators may have blurred out the bubble wand Jenna created with her hair in order to leave viewers guessing. Alternatively, they might have used a shot of Jenna holding a giant bubble wand. However, by showing an image of exactly what she did in the video, Jenna’s viewers clicked play knowing they weren’t being click baited.
A strong thumbnail can attract a ton of viewers to your next upload. Utilize close-ups, action shots, and viewers’ natural sense of curiosity to improve your video thumbnails.
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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.