Creating Titles and Thumbnails for YouTube

by | Apr 23, 2020

This is part two of our YouTube series. Read part one if you missed it. In this four-part series, we’re discussing the why and how of YouTube. If you don’t have a channel or are just looking for ways to get more out of YouTube, this series is for YOU.


This seems like an obvious one but there are a lot of well-made videos that don’t get seen because the titles are lacking. They’re either too short, inaccurate or nondescript.

There are three rules here:

  1. Stay away from jargon

  2. Don’t overhype your video with a clickbait title

  3. Be as descriptive as possible

Instead of “Benefits of Clinical Trials”, try “Benefits of Participating in a Clinical Trial for PTSD.”

Note: YouTube cuts off titles in search results if longer than 60 characters so be concise.


Every YouTube video has a thumbnail. Many people don’t realize they can create the thumbnail, instead of using the one YouTube selects for you. A thumbnail is usually the first thing viewers see.

According to YouTube, 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. (Source)

What makes a good thumbnail? One that’s enticing, compelling and vibrant. While there aren’t exact rules on what needs to be featured on a thumbnail consider adding:

  • Text like the title of your video

  • Clipart or a background to stand out

  • Color contrast between the title and background (bright text with a dark background or vice versa)

One thing to keep in mind with thumbnails is to make sure it matches your organization’s voice. If your nonprofit is bright and sunny, avoid using dark thumbnails and somber titles.

Write this down: Thumbnails need to be 1280 x 720 pixels (16:9 ratio) as a .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.

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