Carla Marshall is the Head of Content Marketing at vidIQ. She has 10+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, and SEO. She was previously Editor in Chief at ReelSEO.com, and as a journalist and video marketer, she's covered news stories, creator journeys, and digital-first publishing initiatives across all the major online video platforms. She is YouTube Certified and a judge for the Shorty Awards, as well as the UK, US, Canadian, Global, and EU Search Awards.
How to Enable Custom Thumbnails On YouTube
The old saying that readers will often judge a book by its cover is true, and the same goes for viewers that judge videos by their thumbnails. So ensure that you have custom thumbnails enabled on your YouTube Channel so you can upload your own images to the viewer as they browse for something interesting or entertaining to watch.
How To Enable Custom Thumbnails on YouTube
When you are logged into YouTube, you should see your profile logo in the top right hand corner. Click this and then go to settings. From here you need to click on the view additional features link, which will then show you all the YouTube features that are available and whether or not you have access to them.
There are no views, subscribers, or watch time requirements to unlock custom thumbnails. All you need to do is verify your YouTube account. And you can do that from this very screen. Next to your profile logo and channel name at the top, you will find a blue verify button. Click that to start the process. To verify your YouTube account, Google will send you a verification code to a phone number either through an automated voice or text message, which you can choose on the screen. Do note so you can only verify two YouTube accounts per phone number, per year.
Once you put your phone number, click submit, and you should see this screen that asks you for that verification code. Whichever solution you decide to use, you should almost instantly get a ping on your phone in this example I requested a text message, which sent me the verification code. Now all you need to do is go back to your computer, input the six digit verification code, click submit and that will verify your account. Which instantly gives you access to adding custom thumbnails to your videos.
Why Custom Thumbnails on YouTube are Critical to Success
Now for a very quick demonstration on why custom thumbnails are so important. This video you see on screen is about how to download a thumbnail from YouTube. But the current thumbnail for this video that's been selected by YouTube automatically is a rather useless picture of myself that tells the viewer absolutely nothing. But with the help of a custom thumbnail, we can tell a much more colorful, intriguing, and direct visual story that might just earn this video an extra click.
Here's a very simple way to look at it. We increase the number of clicks we get on our videos, (this is called click through rates) by more than 100% simply by making better thumbnails. So remember, you can make a fantastic video, but if you can't get people through the door then it is a waste of time. Pay attention to that first impression.
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