Having trouble enticing people to watch your live stream? Maybe your thumbnails aren’t attracting the right people! Learn how to make a thumbnail that attracts views from expert content creators.
The Importance of Video Thumbnails
Whether you’re making one for your next live broadcast or for a repurposed video, you need to have a thumbnail that will capture your target audience’s attention. Remember, your thumbnail is your live video’s first contact with potential viewers, so you need to make an impact with it.
But how will you be able to do this if you’re not a graphic designer? Fortunately, a lot of content creators have been sharing their experiences and ideas on how to create a thumbnail that works.
How do video creators design their thumbnails to get more views and accumulate them for weeks, months, and even years? Let’s take a look at how the experts come up with thumbnails for their videos.
Take Quality Photos of Yourself – K.M. Robinson
According to social media marketing strategist and best-selling author K.M. Robinson, adding a photo of yourself will make your video thumbnail more effective. But, you need to use a photo with the best possible quality.
To do that, use high-quality equipment such as a DSLR if you have one. If you don’t, you can also use your HD web camera or even your cellphone! Most phones take clear and highly defined photos.
Is it your first time taking photos of yourself for your thumbnails? Here are some tips on producing quality photos for your thumbnail from K.M.!
Adequate lighting improves photos by A LOT! And if you’re planning to use yourself as the main subject of the thumbnail then you should clearly be seen in the shot.
“All images should have good lighting. It’s best to take photos on a solid background so you can cut them out. If you chose not to cut them out, a solid background helps keep the focus on the subject—you.”
- Prepare several poses
As a live streamer, you will be producing several videos throughout your career. That means you’ll also be creating a ton of cover images for these broadcasts. To make your thumbnails more dynamic, take photos of yourself doing several poses.
Check out more of K.M.’s tips on how to pose for your video thumbnails in this video.
Show Your Humanity – Vanessa Lau
The 7-figure online business owner swears by creating awesome thumbnails in converting thousands of views for her YouTube channel. And one of her main tips? Show more humanity in your video cover photos
Based on her experience, videos with a cover image showing her actual face attracted more views compared to another one with a generic stock photo. This idea can also be applied to live streaming.
Business owners who are building their personal brand need to show their face on the images before popping up on camera. By doing this, you’re building your identity to your audience even before you click on the Go Live button. Even people who don’t watch your shows will be able to recognize you if you put your face on your cover image.
It also helps if you can show a wide range of emotions in your cover images to fit the topic of your show. Keep in mind the 6 main human emotions:
If you can, do a photoshoot of yourself showing these emotions for future use. Another way would be to snap a screenshot of yourself from other broadcasts.
Try making your own thumbnail with these emotions and add it to your next scheduled broadcast thumbnail!
Keep Text Simple – Vanessa Lau
Here’s another awesome tip from Vanessa Lau on how to make a thumbnail that effectively converts viewers: add text but keep it simple.
While aesthetics is an important part of creating a photo, you should also consider how the design will be used. For example, while script text looks amazing on a Pinterest board, it won’t translate as well on a video thumbnail.
Imagine coming across an upcoming live stream while using your phone. But when you checked, the title text is in a cursive font, making it hard to read through the screen of your phone. Would you be interested in something you can’t clearly read?
When adding text to your thumbnail, the font you use should be:
- Easy to read
Vanessa also suggests increasing the size of your font to make it more visible even through a small phone screen.
Fonts like Montserrat and Oswald work well on video thumbnails. If you want to stick to the basics, Verdana, Helvetica, and Sans-serif look clean and simple, too.
Thumbnails Should Not be an Afterthought – VidIQ
VidIQ which helps creators grow their audience analyzed thumbnails created by YouTube Hacker series creators Vy Qwaint and Chad Wild Clay to find out what led to their billions of views and millions of subscribers.
The video analysis and interview with the creators produced interesting outcomes, such as these image principles:
- Making thumbnails pop using colors
- Emphasizing image clarity and depth
- Creating a consistent imagery across all video thumbnails
But the principle that works best for creating thumbnails for live streaming is to make sure that thumbnails are not treated as an afterthought.
The photos you put up should tell the initial story of the video you want to produce. In the case of live broadcasts, your cover image should give your audience a clear idea of what you’re planning to discuss during the show.
If your target audience won’t understand your image, then you won’t be able to convert them into a viewer or customer.
Try testing out different images and styles, then monitor the engagement stats for each one to figure out which thumbnail churn out better results.
Use an Online Tool – Justin Brown
If you’re not a graphic designer and have no experience editing images, you don’t need to worry about creating thumbnails for your next live show. Justin Brown, co-founder of Primal Videos which teaches business owners to produce highly-engaged videos, suggests using online tools to create the thumbnail you want. And you don’t need to be a skilled designer to do that!
Online photo editing tools, like Canva, have free pre-set templates that you can customize to reflect your branding. This simple drag and drop web-based software allows you to cut down on editing time AND save money by doing your own graphics yourself instead of hiring a designer to do it for you.
Here’s Justin’s tutorial on how to use Canva to edit thumbnails for your video. It’s free to use with a paid option for more access to certain features and stock photos.
Aside from Canva, you can also use other online editing tools like:
- Design Wizard
Deliver on the Promise – Derral Eves
Click baiting is never a good thing when it comes to videos, whether pre-recorded uploads or live broadcasts. Teasing your audience is fine if you’re angling for a more emotional pull with your video thumbnail. But your image title and actual video should also properly coincide.
That’s why top YouTube marketing expert Derral Eves emphasized the importance of delivering the promise you hinted at on the thumbnail to your viewers. How you deliver your message to your audience establishes your credibility and will likely be the deciding factor if they’ll watch your other broadcasts in the future.
In line with this tip, it’s also important to tell your story through your thumbnails. This involves setting the tone with emotions on screen. For YouTube videos, the subject’s emotions should be clearly and boldly shown on the image. For live video thumbnails, showing human emotions plus a short text description of your topic will entice your audience to click on “Get Reminder” and tune in during the show.
Whether you’re looking to create a compelling cover image for your upcoming live stream or an engaging thumbnail for your repurposed video, these tips from experts who live and breathe in the social media marketing world will help you improve your editing skills. After all, it’s not just about possessing graphic design skills, you also need insiders’ information to gain more views and engagement.
Got your thumbnail ready for your next live? Go live with BeLive now and test it out!
Pam Amantiad is a Content Writer in BeLive’s Marketing Team. With a degree in Creative Writing, she has nearly a decade of experience in digital marketing, particularly in content creation as a copywriter and a freelance blog writer. Not contented with producing written outputs, she dove into the world of live video marketing in 2019 and hasn’t left since.