How to Design Killer Thumbnails That Get Views and Clicks

Hey, John Astrab here. 10 tips to create an awesome YouTube thumbnail that will get clicked. Stay tuned.

All right. Let’s jump right into it.

#1 Tip number one, make a different, shorter, more direct, more sensational message in your thumbnail than in your title.

I mean, it makes no sense to just completely repeat the title of your video in the text on your thumbnail. It doesn’t make any sense. It’s a waste of space. You want to have a slightly different aspect. You want to have a different message, more impactful, and more evocative. Your thumbnail is for impact. It’s for grabbing the eyeball. It’s for grabbing clicks.

This is great, I love Grant Cardone. “Don’t Ever Buy a Home,” is a great title and then “Housing Trap.” I mean, it’s a great word, it’s on an angle, and you see that word trap, and you’re like, “I don’t want to be in a trap. Let me find out what the hell’s going on.” So this is extremely well-done. Make the message different, don’t waste this beautiful real estate by just repeating your title.

#2 Tip number two, make it less than eight words, and make the words short.

Really, two, three, four, five words would be even more ideal. Use symbols and numbers whenever you get a chance. $75 a day, I mean, that just makes its point. An arrow, this thumbnail is okay if it was a girl’s face here on the beach would be even better. But even this, it’s just like, just don’t use that many words. It’s a waste.

#3 Tip number three, make sure your text is big enough to read on any device, especially mobile phone.

Google is putting emphasis on mobile, and so when you’re watching YouTube, you want the people to know what your video’s about by the thumbnail. So I did this one in about three minutes. It’s not a work of art, but it’s pretty good, actually, I think. And write killer YouTube titles, four words. Think killer is in all caps, it’s just a good … I mean, this should grab your attention, and it tells the person what the video’s about in four words that are easily legible on any device.

#4 Tip number four, be garish.

It’s okay on YouTube, especially. Be garish, use high contrast, and bright colors, use shapes. Do whatever you have to, to grab the user’s attention. It’ll stand out from all the other screen shot still frame pictures that most of the people use. So go ahead and be garish. It will get you clicked.

#5 Tip number five, use punctuation marks and symbols.

There’s my buddy, [inaudible 00:03:03], awesome guy. Shopify plus Facebook equals dollar signs. I mean, this is just … It’s more impactful, it takes up less space, and use exclamation points, question marks, they draw the eye. And like I said, using symbols and exclamation marks makes it more visual, okay, more visual than words. So use them whenever you can.

#6 Tip number six, put a face to it.


okay. Having a human face on your thumbnail will make it like … I don’t know what it was, like 10 times more likely to be clicked. Or, at least two or three times more likely. We’re still humans, we haven’t been replaced yet, and it helps if you’re cute like this person. But any face will do. Any face with an interesting expression will do. Don’t look bored. Just put either your face, or a cartoon face, or even a dog face would be fine. But a human face is the best. So make sure you put a face on your thumbnail.


#7 Tip number seven, add a play button image.

This famous YouTube symbol here just makes you … I mean, they designed it to … You just want to push it. You just want to click on it. So make a PNG image or download a PNG transparent image of that and just pop it on your video thumbnails whenever you get a chance. It makes them more clickable.

#8 Number eight, place keyword text or impact word on an angle.

Use angles for your text. Horizontal text is dead, and if you place your … Especially your key word, or an impact word, an evocative word, or whatever. I kind of like this. This whole thing is on kind of a curvy angle. It’s different, it catches your eye. I should have found an example that just had the keyword on an angle and it really makes a difference. It creates movement, it creates interest, it makes the thumbnail much more lively, and it draws your eye. So place your keyword text or impact word on an angle, preferably 45 degrees.

And speaking of movement, that brings us to tip number nine…

#9 Create movement within your thumbnail.

The classic painters were all about moving your eye around the canvas and we can be little Picasso’s here by doing the same thing. You want your eye to jump around. You don’t want it to settle in one spot. I mean, this is a great thumbnail. It’s got a lot of the elements that we just talked about.

The text is different from the title. It’s got this curvy arrow pointing to this donut. It’s got this guy’s image. I don’t know what this means, but still, your eye kind of goes here. Your eye kind of goes like this and it really makes it lively. And who is not going to click on something that says, “Pork floss donut?” So create movement with arrows, peoples’ eyeballs looking, and pointing fingers.

#10 Number 10, use famous brand logos.

Whenever you’re talking about anything that has a brand, use their logo. It may or not be in YouTube’s terms of service, but everybody does it. I don’t think anything is ever enforced. So it draws your eye. These companies have spent millions, and millions, and millions of dollars, crafting their logo, promoting their logos, protecting their logos. They work, they’ve been tested. So whenever you get a chance, whenever you’re talking about anything that has a familiar recognizable logo, slap it on your thumbnail. And this is great, it’s on an angle. Beautiful.

Well, there you have it. 10 awesome tips to make an awesome … It’s a lot of awesomeness flying around here, to make an awesome thumbnail. It will make you stand out. Use that thumbnail. I mean, it’s a gift from the YouTube Gods. Use it to get clicked. And most people don’t use it anywhere near to its effectiveness. So use those 10 tips.