Content Production

Video thumbnails: why they matter, and how to get more views [+ examples]

We explain the oversized impact thumbnails have on viewer stats, share some solid examples, and reveal 8 common mistakes to avoid when uploading yours
January 13, 2021
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Jamie Beach

You know what people love to click on? Video thumbnails – those little images on your Strydal teacher profile that tell people there’s an on-demand video to watch.

Maybe it’s the YouTube effect, but a good thumbnail can dramatically increase the popularity of a given video, by hundreds or even thousands of views.

That’s why in this article we’ll look at what makes a “good” video thumbnail, as well as some examples, and the kind of viewing figures they can generate for you on Strydal.

We’ll also look at the theory behind why thumbnails are so important, and cover some classic mistakes to avoid. Read on!

>>14 inspiring teachers using Strydal<<
>>How to create your Strydal profile<<
>>Quick-start guide to Strydal<<

Why thumbnails matter (a lot)

Joana Duarte's video-on-demand library has lots of visual appeal

Video thumbnails have an outsized impact on whether or not someone clicks on one of your videos. They’re the “sell”, and if they don’t appeal to visitors then it’s very unlikely that your video will get views.

To take an analogy from the publishing world, newspaper and magazine editors spend a lot of time crafting the best possible headlines, because they know from experience that they’re a huge factor in whether a story gets read or not.

A video thumbnail is no different: visitors to your Strydal profile will decide in the blink of an eye whether or not they want to watch one of your videos, based largely on the thumbnail it has.

Some examples of “good” video thumbnails

So now that we know why video thumbnails are so important for generating views, what does a “good” thumbnail look like?

Here are three strong examples from teachers on Strydal, generating thousands of video views:

Vic Henze

Vic teaches dance classes on Strydal, and clearly has a good eye for visual appeal. We recommend checking out her profile (link below)to see what we mean.

The video thumbnail above achieves visual interest in a number of ways: it’s shot in an attractive courtyard, there’s drama in the pose she's showing, and camera focus is placed effectively on her.

>>See Vic’s profile<<

Joana Duarte

This Portuguese actress has been teaching yoga on Strydal for a while now. In the above video, she combines a high-quality image with a clear class title and a sought-after teaching style.

The images are sharp (no pixelated, blurry pics here), with excellent composition, color balance and plenty of visual interest (yoga on a rock at the beach!).

The lesson is a manageable 31mins long, and it’s clear what the benefit is of completing this workout. Bravo.

>>See Joana’s profile<<

Annika Isterling

As one of our most successful teachers on Strydal, it’s no surprise that Annika has an attractive and well put-together profile.

In the above video, she combines a simple, striking yoga pose with no visual clutter or unnecessary decoration. The image is of a high quality, and conveys what the video is about. 

The title gives a clear indication of who this video is for and the key benefit, and at 15mins it can be done before breakfast. Top work!

>>See Annika’s profile<<

How to add an appealing video thumbnail

Video upload page on Strydal

To upload the thumbnail, go to the video upload screen within your teacher profile. Once you’ve added your video (very important!), head to the bottom of the page – see screenshot.

As the instructions indicate, the recommended size is 1200x700 pixels (you can check this in your image info, try right-clicking the file on your computer). If you don’t provide a thumbnail then one will be extracted automatically from the video.

To crop the image you choose to the desired size and ratio, there are a number of free tools online. Try Canva or Fotor.

If you wish to overlay some words onto your thumbnail, then please do so sparingly! Don’t cram lots of words into the image.

Likewise, choose a font that works well with the one we use for indicating video title and length, and make sure they’re big enough to read. Both free tools above (Canva and Fotor) can do this.

8 video thumbnail mistakes to avoid

So now that we know why video thumbnails are so important, and what they look like at their best, let’s explore some typical mistakes to avoid:

Repetitive: all video thumbnails are the same

First on the list is a big ‘no-no’: making all your thumbnails the same. This doesn’t “sell” your videos nearly as effectively as a carefully-chosen thumbnail that’s specific to the video.

So whether you grab still shots from your video (good) or shoot them separately with a high-quality camera (better), make sure that they’re interesting and unique.

Pixelated, blurry images

These days all smartphones feature advanced cameras and can take incredibly high-resolution images. And if you use a dedicated DSLR (or similar) then the quality gets even better.

So there’s really no excuse for using pixelated, blurry images for your video thumbnails. Make sure that they’re at least 1200x700 pixels in size (you can check this in the image file info).

Improperly focused equipment

Make sure that your camera is focused correctly: this is simple to do, and looks terrible otherwise! A poorly-focused image is off-putting for anyone.

If you’re shooting the image on your own, use a camera tripod and aim the camera at your workout space. Place an object (for example a chair) where you plan to teach, then manually focus your camera on the object.

>>Our complete guide to filming and creating videos<<

Sloppy image composition

By composition we mean the careful arrangement and balance of elements (including empty space) to enhance focus and visual appeal.

Where does the viewer’s eye naturally land on an image? Are important details being cropped or obscured? Check out this guide to composition for lots more pointers.

Distractions and visual clutter

Next on the list are visual distractions. When you’re teaching from home then it’s hard to achieve that “studio” look, but the clutter and debris really needs to be out of frame.

So before creating your video thumbnail, look at your filming space and ask yourself if it’s as clean and attractive as you can make it! A white wall, empty training space, necessary equipment and one or two decorations at the most.

Poor exposure & color balance settings

While you might not have pro-quality lighting equipment on hand, you can certainly adjust your camera’s exposure and color balance settings. Failing to do so can have disastrous results.

These will be explained in the user manual and can make all the difference on whether an image is appealing or not.

>>Explained: the gear you need to teach online with Strydal<<

Confusing, lacks clarity

When in doubt, keep it simple: we recommend making it crystal clear in your thumbnails what a video will show. An arty, abstract look can be effective, but is much more likely to confuse visitors.

So if it’s a yoga workout then show a yoga pose; if it’s a dance class then show a featured dance routine; and if it’s a HIIT class then don’t use a meditation pose (or vice versa!).

Too long = doesn’t get watched

If your video is over 30 minutes then you need to ask yourself: does it really need to be this long? The video length is clearly visible on our thumbnails in the top right corner, and is a key factor in whether people choose to watch it.

Of course, if you’re doing a full-body strength workout for advanced lifters (for example) then it needs to be this long. But an accessible yoga workout for beginners probably doesn’t. And our video view stats reflect that most people seem to enjoy watching videos under 30mins.

Summary

We hope you found this guide helpful! As you hopefully realize by now, there is an art to creating an effective video thumbnail that people want to click on. 

We’ve tried to help by clearly indicating the length and type of video in every thumbnail, but the rest is up to you…

>>14 inspiring teachers using Strydal<<
>>How to create your Strydal profile<<
>>Quick-start guide to Strydal<<

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