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You've probably heard the expression "Don't judge a book by its cover" thousands of times. However, in this digital age, it is increasingly hard to follow this advice. With the overwhelming amounts of information around, we regularly judge the content we are surrounded with precisely by its cover — the thumbnail.
This is especially true when it comes to videos on YouTube since the thumbnail is the first thing we notice. Statistics speak for themselves: 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have a custom thumbnail! Thumbnails give us a sneak peek into what the video is going to be about, and essentially decide whether we will pass by or give the video a chance. Just take a look at the video thumbnails below. Which one's more informative and enticing? Exactly — the custom one!
Many creators overlook the importance of a thumbnail. The good news is, you can change the thumbnail of your video anytime, giving a fresh look to the video, no matter how old it is. There are two ways you can add a thumbnail to your video:
Let's take a look at each option separately.
Setting the thumbnail of your video is one of the essential features on YouTube. Every time you add a video or edit an existing one, by default, YouTube suggests three thumbnail options you can choose from. Each option is a frame from your video. To see how you can use these options, follow the steps below.
After you sign in to your YouTube account, navigate to YouTube Studio from the drop-down menu on the right.
Access the video settings from the “Videos” section in the navigation menu on the left. Here, you can access the whole list of videos on your channel.
Hover over the video, the thumbnail of which you want to change. As you do this, a set of editing tools will appear. To access the editor, click on the pencil icon.
Another way you can access the editor is by going to “Your Channel” from the same drop-down menu. From here, select the video you want to edit.
When the video opens, click on the “Edit Video” button under it to go to the editor.
Once you are in the editor, scroll down to the thumbnail section to access the suggested scenes. Click on the suggestion you like most, and once you are done, hit the save button in the upper-right corner.
Your thumbnail will be changed. However, note that the thumbnails suggested by YouTube are not of very high quality, as they were generated during the motion. If possible, opt to use custom thumbnails. Or, if you don’t want to create a custom one, take a screenshot from the video and upload it yourself, to ensure better quality. And this brings us to our next point.
If you don’t like any of the thumbnails suggested by YouTube, or want your video thumbnail more information about your video, or include your channel logo, you can upload a custom thumbnail. Note, however, that this feature is available only for verified channels. We will talk about how you can verify your account later in the article.
To upload a custom thumbnail, access the editor the same way as above. From the thumbnail section, instead of choosing the suggested scenes, go with “Upload Thumbnail.”
Make sure to have your thumbnail prepared. The file should be less than two MB. The resolution recommended by YouTube is 1280 x 720 pixels. This will ensure the best possible look and help you avoid black borders around your thumbnail. What comes to the file types, YouTube accepts .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG formats.
Once you upload the thumbnail, make sure to save your changes.
As mentioned earlier, you can upload a custom thumbnail only to a verified channel. This is only one of the many benefits of verifying your channel. Other benefits of channel verification include channel monetization, uploading videos longer than 15 minutes, and many more.
Luckily, the process of verifying your channel is quite simple and will take you no more than several minutes. Let’s take a look at how it can be done.
After you sign in to your account, access YouTube Studio. From there, access the settings of your account.
In the Settings, choose “Channel” and then click on “Feature Eligibility.” Default features will be available. However, to be able to upload a custom thumbnail, we need to enable the verified features.
Expand the “Features that Require Phone Verification” and click on “Verify Phone Number.”
From the page that opens, choose the country you are located in. Select how you want to receive the verification code — with an automated call or via text, then type in your phone number without the country code and hit submit.
You will receive a text or call with a 6-digit verification code in several seconds. Type in and submit the code to verify your account.
If you’ve followed the steps correctly and entered the correct code, your channel will be verified.
You can double-check this from the channel settings again. If you see the green checkmark in front of “Verify Phone Number,” that means you are all set.
The verified features will be available instantly, and you can head back to the editor to add your custom thumbnail. To make the best out of the Custom Thumbnail function, have a look at our article, where we discuss tips to create a clickable YouTube thumbnail.
And there you have it — a shiny new thumbnail that can change the entire look of your video! YouTube has made the process of uploading a new thumbnail as simple as possible. Hopefully, this will encourage you to put that extra step and create and upload your custom thumbnail.
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