Before someone clicks to play your video, they’re probably going to spend a few nanoseconds looking at the thumbnail for the video that appears on YouTube or embedded on a website. The thumbnail is a quick snapshot preview of the video. In those few nanoseconds, you’ve got to capture a potential viewer’s interest with that single thumbnail image. No pressure.
After you upload a video, YouTube will give you the choice of three thumbnail options pulled automatically from various points in your video. But YouTube also lets you upload your own thumbnail, and I would definitely recommend it, because you can pick the most interesting moment from the video to use as your thumbnail, or even create a whole separate image that isn’t in the video.
According to YouTube:
Your custom thumbnail image should be as large as possible, as the image will also be used as the preview image in the embedded player. We recommend your custom thumbnails:
- Have a resolution of 1280×720 (with minimum width of 640 pixels).
- Be uploaded in image formats such as .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
- Remain under the 2MB limit.
- Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s the most used in YouTube players and previews.
Once you’ve created a great thumbnail image, check out the video above to see how you can upload it to YouTube along with your video.