How To Create, Design And Use Custom Thumbnails On YouTube

YouTube ThumbnailsI recently noticed through my video manager on YouTube that my collection of uploaded videos was growing. The Smart Income Detective Blog has only been live for 6 months, so I was super proud to see the collection growing. However, what I wasn’t proud about was the presentation of my videos on my Youtube Channel, and on my blog.

So I set out to find out how I could have custom thumbnails on my videos, and figured it couldn’t be that hard – if a 15 year old with a channel about Call Of Duty Videogames can have custom thumbnails, then I thought there was no reason at all why I shouldn’t – and furthermore – no reason why you shouldn’t either.

There are a couple of different ways, and it is up to you dependant on where you are primarily displaying your YouTube Videos.

First, What Is A Custom Thumbnail?

A custom thumbnail is simply an image that is used when the video is not playing (Scroll to the video below to see an example of what i am talking about). Every Youtube video has a thumbnail, but not every thumbnail is custom – i.e an image of your choosing. You may have noticed that if you are not a YouTube Partner, and you upload a video, youTube only give you 3 options to choose from when choosing your thumbnail.

Below, are a couple of options to enable you to display thumbnails of your choice at the beginning of your videos.

Custom Thumbnails on YouTube

The only way to get yourself custom thumbnails on your YouTube channel itself is to become a YouTube Partner.

To become a YouTube Partner, you must have an account in good standing, like below:

youtube thumbnails

I am a YouTube Partner not for monetization of my videos, but for the thumbnails. The nice thing about the partnership is that you only actually have to have monetization (adverts) enabled on one video to enable you to use thumbnails. This is how I have my account set up – as I say, I am not interested in having adverts on my videos, and furthermore, nor are my readers/viewers, as most of my videos are of the ‘how-to’ variety or reviews of products and services. The last thing you, my reader wants, is an unrelated advert popping up and ruining the viewing experience.

If you haven’t already, I strongly encourage you to visit the YouTube Partners page to find out more.

However I do realise not everyone is eligible. If you don’t want to become a partner, or are not eligible for the program, and you just want custom thumbnails on videos you have embedded on your blog post from YouTube, then the next section will help you out.

Why Are My Thumbnails Not Showing On My Videos?

This one caught me out, and I thought I had done something wrong. When you select your custom thumbnail, firstly, ensure you save the changes. Secondly, it takes anywhere between minutes to hours for the custom thumbnail to actually show on your video – just sit it out and wait if it doesn’t appear immediately.

How I Create My Own Custom Thumbnails

I have said it before and I will say it again; Apart from very basic editing using the likes of GIMP and Photoshop, I just do not want to invest the time or effort in learning how to use either of these pieces of image software. I have looked into it, and the learning curve is just far too steep for me. I guess it is fine if you are required to use it on a daily basis or you already have the skills, but if you have no prior experience of these programs, then I strongly urge you not to bother with them – they will end up taking up hours and hours of your time (As I found out when I was trying to edit a header for my membership site. After 4 hours, I threw in the towel, vowing never to touch such programs apart from using them for the very basics).

I have prepared this quick video below, which shows how I have designed and created my own thumbnails for all my videos:

As you can see, the actual creation is done by using some very easy and simple drag and drop software. This is a godsend for people like me, because it is true out of the box operability – meaning I installed it, and I started using it – no manuals or tutorials required. It comes highly recommended by me, and you can check it out by going here:

With the logo creator, I have my thumbnails saved as a template. Anytime I create a new video, I just go in and edit the title part of the image, which takes 5 seconds, save it and then upload it as a thumbnail on the relevant video.

I think good visual presentation is important, especially when you are trying to portray a professional image for your brand and website. Without the thumbnails showing on my Youtube channel, as well as them not showing on videos I have embedded on the blog, it gave a very unprofessional feel and a very ‘messy’ feel to everything. Now, I just feel everything is cleaned up and the videos I have on my YouTube Channel and on my blog are presented neatly and professionally.

All the best,

Richard Martin

Sign Up & Grab The Report!
$10-$15 a pop? Yep, sign up the Smart Income Detective Newsletter and I'll send you a VIP report showing you how to $10-$15 a go for 15 minutes work.

Just enter your name and email address below, and click the button, and it's YOURS...


  1. Great videos on Optimize Press 2 (which I just purchased). I’m going to purchase Logo Creator early next month through your affiliate (since I learned it through you). Again thanks for being such a wonderful teacher.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge