Do you realize that your title and thumbnail could literally make or break your video? It doesn’t matter how incredible your content is, the story you told, or the fancy video editing you’ve done. All that work will go to waste if the title and thumbnail fail to do their job.

We aren’t trying to scare you here. But we know how much effort you are putting into your videos and we hate to see them being left unviewed due to having bad titles and thumbnails. But don’t worry, we are going to tell you how to change that.

Creator Spotlight

But first, I want to introduce you to Kristie Ennis. She is a physical therapist who got started on YouTube because of her desire to help people with their physical struggles. She saw how she was helping individuals in her office and knew she could help so many more people by posting these same exercises online. But her real motivation was to give others hope when they feel physically helpless. After working with us, she really grew in her ability to use storytelling to help spread her message and change more lives.

The Frustration

We work with creators of all sizes and virtually EVERYONE hates creating titles and thumbnails. (So if this is you, know that you aren’t alone.) It takes time and energy and it doesn’t always feel like there is a pay off.

But when people are creating quality content and no one sees it, creators wonder, “What’s the point? Why keep doing the work? Maybe I’m just not cut out for YouTube.” When in all reality, sometimes the problem isn’t the content but just the title and thumbnail! If people never click in, they’ll never know how good your content is!

What NOT to Do

Now, there’s a good chance we are going to mention something in this section that you always do and you are going to be resistant to changing it. We get it. You have been doing it this way and sometimes it works great! Why change it and mess it up? But I want to challenge you: Don’t be lazy. If anything is going to be worth the additional effort, it’s your title and thumbnail.

Save it for Last

Titles and thumbnails are often the afterthought. Your brain is completely spent on all the content and so you create something quick while the video is uploading. Do. Not. Do. This!

Your hook begins with your title and thumbnail. This is the first thing that is going to hook your viewer’s attention, even before they see your actual hook in the video. So ask yourself, if I saw this title and thumbnail on the homepage, would I click on it?

If you want to see what it will look like, go to and see what it will look like all over YouTube. But do this FIRST, so that it feeds directly into your hook and not something disjointed.

Rely too much on ChatGPT

ChatGPT can be a very good tool to help come up with ideas for content or titles. It can be very helpful to get yourself started, but please do not just take what it spits out and run with it. Grab the title it gives you and then come up with 5 of your own based on the one it gave you.

Also, creators often fail to give it details instructions. Go into great detail about who your target audience is before asking for content ideas. The more specific you can be, the more valuable the responses will be. You can also ask it to restate your title 5 different ways with more passion or with more emotion. See if that helps give you the words that you are looking for.

You can also use ChatGPT for your thumbnails. Ask it to tell a “visual story” of whatever your title or your idea is. This again will give you a good jumping off point to start sparking ideas of your own.

Remember, you are crafting ideas for people not robots. So don’t expect a robot to be able to accomplish this on its own.

Keyword Stuff

No matter how many times we talk about this, people continue to try to cram keywords into their titles to try to get it surfaced more often. YouTube does not care how many times you mention a word in your title. It will not surface it more times… I promise.

Create a Super Crazy Long Titles

On this same idea, we see a lot of loooonnnng titles out there as well. An example of this would be “Ember Coffee Mug Review 2.0|The Best Coffee Mug that Will Change your Life Forever” – The last part of that title is a great title! But no one is going to even see it because it will be truncated and just the boring unnecessary part will be shown. 50/55 characters or less is a good goal to have when creating titles.

Use a Screenshot Instead of Making a Thumbnail

You might have gotten a great screenshot that you can edit and create into a great thumbnail. But I wouldn’t rely on doing this every time. Don’t be lazy and just grab something from the video. Make the PERFECT thumbnail. Don’t settle for just making an easy thumbnail.

What TO Do

Plan Ahead

Thinking of your title and thumbnail before you even start filming is a game changer. It is going to allow your title and thumbnail to seamlessly incorporate into your hook and into the full video itself. And coming up with multiple ideas is ok too. It doesn’t have to be set in stone. But having ideas ahead of time and not saving it for last is going to really get the juices flowing and allow you to really create the best possible video.

Use the Language of your Target Audience

Try not to speak above your audience, but instead, think like your audience. This is going to catch their attention more. A beginner may not understand that they need to add this super specific muffler to their car, but they do understand that it’s really loud. Focus on why they need this video, not just what the video is about.

Try a Negative Title when Appropriate

For whatever reason, people are drawn more to the negative. Now, I wouldn’t do this with every video, but try to mix it in. Instead of only focusing on the solution, focus on the viewer avoiding the consequence.

Title for Intrigue

Try to create a mystery or a question in their mind. Make them so curious that they have to click in to see what you are going to say.

Contrast for Thumbnails

Many people use YouTube in “Dark Mode” because it is easier on their eyes. So take this into consideration when you are creating your thumbnails. You may think a dark background on a thumbnail will pop, but in all reality, when dark mode is on it just blends in.

Pretend there is no Title

Next time you are coming up with a title and thumbnail, pretend there are no titles on YouTube at all. How would you get across what your video is about using just visuals? What is the visual that your audience is looking for? This is a great place to highlight the reward or the end result that your viewer is looking for.

Clear Focal Point

Have only 3 to 4 elements in your thumbnail, max. Draw all the attention to the key thing instead of having many elements all pulling the viewers attention in different directions. Using the “rule of thirds” is also incredibly helpful as well.

The title and the thumbnail are the doorway to your content. If the door is unappealing, people aren’t going to open it. Take the time and create the best possible entry point for your content. Your effort will pay off.

Power Tip

Once a creator sets their video visibility, they can no longer go back to check the video’s processing status. But now, on desktop, creators will be able to hover over the video quality badged (sd, hd, 4k) and see how much time is left until they are fully processed. This will potentially relieve a lot of frustration around the question of, “Is it done yet???”