Your Video Isn’t Done Until You Choose a Custom Thumbnail
December 12, 2013
Josh Davidsburg

YouTube logo. For custom thumbnail blogpost. You wouldn’t print an article without a headline and you wouldn’t play a TV news package without an anchor intro.

So why would you publish a video without a proper thumbnail?

The effort you put in reporting, shooting and editing your video won’t mean anything if people don’t watch it. Writing a video title and description will help draw viewers, but you need to put just as much effort into the thumbnail.

For those who don’t know, a thumbnail is the photo displayed on a video before a viewer hits play. You have to make it a post-production priority, because it could be the reason your viewer decides to watch.

Both YouTube and Vimeo automatically choose a thumbnail for you, but both services now allow you to upload your own.

I’ve read a couple of blogs comparing thumbnails to movie posters, and the same principles apply:

— Your thumbnail should tell a story and tease the viewer into wanting more.

— Focus on faces because that’s where the emotion lies.

— I usually add text as well, but viewers will not be able to read it if the thumbnail is small.

Here’s an example of a good thumbnail from Vice on YouTube:

The child’s eyes and action make me want to click play, and the shot is well composed.

This is not a good example:

It’s not composed well. There’s no human emotion to entice a viewer to press play. It’s just a tree.

For more on how to choose a good thumbnail, check out this post at



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