Saturday, 23 April 2022

T is for Thumbnail #YouTube #AtoZChallenge

YouTube - What They Don't Tell You - T AtoZChallenge

YouTube - What They Don't Tell You
T is for Thumbnail

"Why would they have book covers if we aren't supposed to judge the book by them? It makes no sense." – Ingrid Weir

My AtoZ theme this year is my YouTube journey with my new fiction channel, and all that I have learned - plus some free fiction - scroll down to the embedded vid for that.

Thumbnails, contrary to popular belief are not just the annoying things on the ends of our thumbs that have a nasty habit of splitting in painful places. Thumbnails are what YouTube call the image everyone sees when they show your video before it is played. They are very important.

Well with one caveat – I'm honestly not sure how important they are on shorts (vids in portrait of less than 1 min), because YouTube keep messing with when they can and cannot be seen on shorts.

But let's pretend they are not completely screwing with our strategy and accept they will get it right in the end.

Image by Luisella Planeta Leoni LOVE PEACE 💛💙 from Pixabay 

Think of the thumbnail a bit like a book cover because it has the same job. Thumbnails are there to entice viewers to click on and watch our vids. Our vids will be judged by the thumbnails in searches or if someone just happens across our channel.

They should be:
  • Bright
  • Bold
  • Eye-catching
  • Have one or two, easily read, bold phrases.
  • Should have something to do with the video content (you would be surprised how many lie – but we're not a huge content farm, so we need to make sure not to piss off our viewers)
For long form YouTube vids, the thumbnail is what always shows. We choose our thumbnail in YouTube studio when editing the content, and that is what is always served up for people to see first.

Many people put themselves in their thumbnail, usually over acting to grab people's attention.

This is a thumbnail by Nerdecrafter – a successful YouTuber. That would be her alter-ego SaltyCrafter, who is salty about all things. It is bright, it poses a question, and it intrigues us.

I do not put myself in my thumbnails because my vids are fiction, so I try to use the book cover method and drag people in with something that reflects the content. I use images from the following sites to create my thumbnails:
All of these can be used free for commercial purposes, with no attribution required, but I always put a credit in the description, because I feel it's the right thing to do. Pixabay is really useful because people post art there that can be used as well as just photos.

Thumbnails & Shorts

Now to the fun part – shorts. When I first started uploading shorts, the thumbnail showed just like it does on longer videos, then they changed the shorts interface, and they don't always show up anymore. However, sometimes they do, and I have seen it flip back to showing everywhere a couple of times, so I keep making them.

Thumbnails for shorts should be composed differently than for longer videos anyway. Think of them like a portrait central focus, like you would see on a phone screen, with a landscape background that may or may not be seen.
Thumbnail for my vid "Fight Forever"

When I upload my shorts via my phone, once it has been accepted as a short (it takes the algorithm a little while to check it to make sure it fits the requirements), all I see is the middle third of my thumbnail. Hence, I put everything important in that section of the image.

When I see the thumbnail on the regular YouTube interface I can see the whole picture, so I still try to put something in that space.

However, at the moment, the only place I ever see my thumbnail is in playlists, like this example of my Horror Fiction Stories playlist.
Horror Fiction Playlist at Tales with Tasha

Everywhere else, I see a still of me taken from a random part of the vid that I have no control over at all. This following image is from my channel's front page.

This is extremely annoying.

I have no idea if it will stay like this now, or if they will change it again, but I wish they would make up their mind.


Thumbnails are there to be eye-catching and enticing. They are part of our brand and I would suggest finding something that works and sticking with it. I have missed vids from channels I subscribe to because they completely changed their thumbnail format before now.

There are many vids on YouTube that go into detail about how to compose thumbnails, I suggest watching some of them.

If you frequent YouTube, what attracts you to a video? If not, what attracts you to books or movie posters?

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About the AtoZ Challenge

The A to Z Challenge happens every April. Bloggers from all over the world come together to post every day in April, apart from Sundays, inspired by the letters of the alpha bet. A = April 1st etc. Some of us have themes, some of us don't. Click the image below for more info and links to other participants.
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Check Out My Fiction YouTube Channel

Tales with Tasha - YouTube

Each week we have a theme and so there will be something for all tastes.
  • 🎤Micro stories as YouTube Shorts Monday - Thursday - for fun quick viewing
  • 🕮A longer story every Friday - for story time, over coffee or before going to bed

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  1. Great overview of thumbnails - True they work just as book covers. Even on Insta and FB I think it asks to choose cover pic for an album or may be video ? Am not sure. Hope Youtube resolves the thumbnail issue u r facing with shorts :) Good luck

    Dropping by from a to z "The Pensive"

  2. As a graphic designer, I totally understand how important visuals can be on any platform. Still, for me, I am more attracted by content...and if it's relevant to me.

  3. While browsing youtube videos, thumbnaila do play a part in enticing the viewers ...some content makers I notice place some images that would trigger the curiosity of the users but is not part of the actual video ! Lots to learn from your post as always :)

    Jayashree writes

  4. It is kinda like a movie poster. Although with YouTube, I am usually more drawn to title or description, but then again I'm a writing-based person, rather than visual :D

    The Multicolored Diary

  5. Interesting! I've discovered thumbnails a while back when doing my book trailers and found them to make a real difference.

    Ronel visiting for the A-Z Challenge My Languishing TBR: T


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