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How to design enticing YouTube Thumbnails that get your videos watched

How to design enticing YouTube Thumbnails that get your videos watched

“One of the easiest ways to get more views on your videos is to have an appealing thumbnail image.”

(ref: Social Media Examiner)

Thoughtfully planned, designed and created YouTube thumbnails play a critical role in whether your videos are viewed or not. You can spend thousands of dollars creating amazing videos but if they go unwatched it’s wasted time, money and energy. You want your Thumbnails to be clickable and increase your click-through rate.


1. Make it relevant

Your thumbnail must be relevant to the content of your video that you want people to view. If it’s not relevant, not only will your viewers leave immediately, where according to YouTube the average ‘time on page’ is 3 seconds, your rankings will take a nose dive. Plus you may just get a ‘Thumbs Down’ which might not affect your ranking all that much but will certainly look bad for future viewers. The image used must re-enforce the content and message, convey the subject of the video and differentiate your brand from your competitors. The key here is to be authentic, real and to the point!


2. Create instant rapport with the right photo

“If the eyes are the window to the soul, including emotive eyes can lead viewers into the heart and soul of your video. The added emotion will pique the curiosity of viewers and make them want to see what caused the emotion in the video.”

(ref: ReelSEO)

Use a close-up photo of yourself, because as an Entrepreneur you want to build a meaningful connection with your audience, instantly. So show some emotion and if possible have some movement in your photograph. This is where a professionally created Headshot or Branding Portrait, created in a 16:9 aspect ratio, will rule supreme over trying to use a still image from the video. Remember to use a photo that is relevant to your content and that clearly describes what the video is all about.

Ensure that your styling is the same form your Thumbnail to your video, including your hair, make/up and clothing so that you are congruent in your appearance which will show consistency with the message you’re conveying.

Also, don’t be fooled into thinking you can just use a still from the video, for two reasons. Firstly, if you try this it requires many key elements to come together at the same time, such as the lighting, your expression, your hands being in the right place, your hair falling in the right way and your clothes sitting neatly and looking good. Plus the still image needs to be sharp as a tack so including emotion and movement just about rules out a still image from the video. The second reason is colour, or the lack thereof unless you’ve got loads of bright colours in your video and contrasty ones at that, and let’s face it most Entrepreneurs won’t have, then your thumbnails may look flat and won’t draw the eye to them which means fewer views.

3. Write a killer title that packs a punch!

Add a benefit-driven title, one line that gets your viewer wanting to click on the video. Be specific, not general and vague. Pose a specific question that aims to solve a particular problem not the world’s problems with one video. Use as fewer words as possible, there is no space for explanations.

Use a serif font (one with no ‘tails’ at the end of the characters like Arial, Helvetica and Verdana) and ensure it’s large enough to be read on any device, like a mobile phone. And again, using a few words means that the text can be larger.

Remember, you want the right people to watch your videos, all the way to the end, and then take action.


4. Design it right

You must keep the overall design eye-catching, with as few elements as possible and spaced out to give it a simple, impactful and uncluttered look. The easier it is to view and understand the faster your viewer will get the message and be clear about what you’re saying.

Colours play a vital role in attracting the viewer to your thumbnail. Use bright contrasty colours and a solid colour for the background and remember to keep the colours on-brand and not make it tacky and cheesy.

Adding a border will help to again increase the contrast of the overall design and including some branding elements like your logo, fonts and colours will differentiate it from the other videos.

Re-enforce your brand by creating a template (with the main image, text, branding elements and a border) and use it for all your thumbnails to be consistent and on-brand so the viewer instantly knows they’re your videos and can find them amongst all the others.

Thumbnail specs for YouTube (1) and PODCasts (2)

(1) Aspect ratio 16:9,
Size 1290×720 pixels (min. width 640 pixels),
File formats: JPG, GIF, BMP, PNG,
Resolution: 72dpi

(2) Aspect ratio 1:1
Size 1400×1400 pixels
File formats: JPG and PNG
Resolution: 72dpi

In summary

Your thumbnails need to be relevant, create rapport with the right photo, be snappy with your words and designed to look on-brand.

Check out these great examples from our clients …

YouTube Thumbnails

PODCast Thumbnails

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Download our FREE Personal Branding Accelerator Checklist:

55 Ways To SUPERCHARGE Your Personal Branding

Discover the 5 BRANDING CHANNELS you can promote yourself and raise your profile PLUS the 55 different practical and brand building ways that you can use your photos to build your best brand ever!


1. YouTube: Video Thumbnails https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/72431?hl=en Published: no date provided by source/author

2. Fullscreen: TIPS FOR A PERFECT YOUTUBE THUMBNAIL http://www.fullscreen.com/2014/06/17/tips-perfect-youtube-thumbnail/ Published:17 June 2014

3. Social Media Examiner: How to Create Custom YouTube Thumbnails http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/youtube-custom-thumbnail/ Published: 6 Nov 2012

4. MiniMatters: A Custom YouTube Thumbnail Will Make Your Videos Pop https://www.minimatters.com/need-know-youtube-thumbnails/ Published: no date provided by source/author

5. Reelseo: 6 Killer Tips to Make Your Custom Thumbnails Pop http://www.reelseo.com/custom-thumbnails-best-practice/ Published: 14 Oct 2015

6. The Audacity To PODcast: How to make great podcast cover art http://theaudacitytopodcast.com/how-to-make-great-podcast-cover-art-tap191/ Published: 22 Sep 2014

How to best use your photos in emails campaigns

How to best use your photos in emails campaigns

How to best use your photos in emails campaigns

so they build your brand as an authority

“… when used correctly, images can be a powerful tool to engage subscribers and get them to respond to your emails.”

(ref: Aweber)

“Images and visuals are absolutely a critical part of marketing your product or service. To send an email with no images would be both a branding and conversion error.” as stated in an article from Comm100. But how much text do you use, what photos are required, where are they placed, how many do you need? The answers to these and many other questions can be the reasons why your best emails have a low open and click through rates.
Research shows that 50% of emails sent have their images disabled/blocked by the email client of the recipient, eg. Outlook, Gmail, etc, (ref: Comm100). The best way to combat this is to cleverly use both images and text in your emails that maximize your open rate and deliver your content quickly. But you need to know what works and what doesn’t, so here’s our list of DO’s and DONT’s plus our tips on implementing them as well.

“Don’t use outdated images or inconsistent creative. The look and feel of your email marketing campaigns should be consistent with all other online touchpoints, starting with your website. Cohesiveness is king.”

(ref: YFS Magazine)


  • DO include text and images at the top, but leave the very top 5 lines for text only, make the text compelling in order to engage your readers, if you include an image here and it’s disabled/blocked there may be an unsightly empty space and you’ll miss out on making an impactful first impression plus any images or links will appear as an HTML code in the subject line and header of the email.
  • DO use the ALT text and the Title text, that’s part of every image, and make it meaningful with a call to action (CTA) because if an image is disabled/blocked this is all the reader will see.
  • DO add a caption under each contextually important image to further explain your point.
  • DO make all your images ‘clickable’ so the reader can be directed to your website or social media, where ever you want the reader to go to next. And remember to include a text link as well so this covers the scenario of the images being displayed/blocked. This also allows you to measure how your readers respond to each image with the stats from your email marketing software.
  • DO use images of smiling people because this creates an emotional and personal connection with your reader. Remember to connect with people’s hearts and minds and not their wallet!
  • DO use a ratio of 30/70 for your images/text for the overall space in your email. This is a balanced view and ensures you have enough visual content for the reader and if the images are disabled/blocked then the text should be able to convey your message, at least in a written form, to the reader.
  • DO use images when they add to your story/content/message because they help to convey your point faster, explain your concept easier or tell a story emotively. And remember never to use photos as a filler or for a splash of color, every element in your email must be present in order to support the Call To Action.
  • DO limit the use of images in the top 2 inches of your email, a thin header image can be used if sized to no more than 600px wide x 75px high.
  • DO place larger photos below the ‘fold’ to avoid big empty areas where the image goes in case the images are disabled/blocked.


  • DON’T use image based emails, where the whole email is one image. Remember, it’s an email, not a printed piece of marketing collateral like a flyer or brochure and some email clients will see this as a spam email and block you.
  • DON’T overuse images in an email, remember the 30/70 rule for images/text.
  • DON’T include links and important messages in the image/graphic in case they are disabled/blocked. If you want or need to include important messages and links in your images also include them in the text, so your messages aren’t lost.
  • DON’T use outdated or inconsistent imagery, fresh is best in what you eat and that you present to your reader. Make sure your photos are relevant, show variety. The same old Headshot used on everything you present to your audience will get tired very quickly. Keep your photos on-brand and consistent with other imagery across your marketing.
  • DON’T use a background image in your emails as this might not be displayed properly on all email clients and will look undesirable, hence damaging your brand plus distracting from your message.
  • ADVANCED TIP: DON’T include any images in the top 5 lines. This area will be taken as the start of your email (the subject line and header) so include relevant content that will entice the reader to click on your email and open it. It’s preferable not to include any images or links (for viewing the email on a web browser), place them further down into your email. Links to images and web browsers can be presented as HTML code in the minimized email list views and look awful to the reader and says that this is a typical newsletter so keep the subject line and header area clear of images and links.
  • ADVANCED TIP: DON’T embed large images, the fewer images that are embedded in your email the better. Use a link to the image using an HTML line of code (see below). This will reduce the chances of your emails being blocked and reduce the overall file size of your email. Both are factors in getting your emails through to the recipient’s inbox.


  1. Header images (that are placed at the top of your email) should be no bigger than 600 pixels wide x 75 pixels high.
  2. Other images should be no more than 600 pixels wide.
  3. The file types that are recommended are: JPG or GIF. PNG files can be used but are typically 2 or 3 times larger than a JPG file which unnecessarily increases the file size of your email.
  4. Image resolution should be set to 72dpi not 300dpi. Personally, I’ve found that 150dpi is a good balance between high-quality sharp images vs their file size.
  5. ‘Clickable’ images need a url associated with them so that the reader can click on them and be directed to a website, landing page, etc. Enter the full url with the http://www in front of your website. Simply using ikonimages.com.au is not sufficient, instead use http://wwwikonimages.com.au so you include the full url. And then, test your email to ensure all the links are working properly, the last thing you want to happen when your reader opens your email is to have them click on a link which goes nowhere or to the wrong page.

In summary:

There are several key DO’s and DONT’s and specific ways to implement them in order to balance the use of text and images and to cater for the 50/50 split between emails that your readers see, with the images presented immediately and those that need to click to allow them to be seen.

Here’s how our Email Campaigns now look when you take the above DOs and DON’Ts into consideration. Specifically, note that there are no images at the top of the page which leaves only pure content to be presented to the reader no matter how minimized their inbox view is or how expanded it is. Also, the main image is hosted on this website and is also clickable and the link goes back to this very blog post.

Now, this is what the recipient sees when they have the images in emails disabled/blocked. See how little information the recipient has to go on? The ATL and Title text doesn’t clearly communicate what the images are about. Using Infusionsoft – Display Images!, BLOG and SamBennett4_EC.jpg isn’t engaging and enticing to the reader. In fact, there is no good reason to continue reading this email, unless you were expecting to see it or you simply open everything from this sender.

Also, note the two questions MSOutlook Outline (the email client used in this example) asks relating tho the images. The reader already clicked on your email to view it and now has to again be actively involved in allowing the images to be displayed. This is another blocker in getting your emails read and actioned.

Here is what this email looks like when I click the link to see the images. The purpose and title of the whole email is in the image and not included in the text: “Get More Productive In 15 Minutes A Day …” plus there’s a FREE COUSE! But all this is hidden from the recipient if the images aren’t displayed.
Here’s a great example from MadMex, see how they’ve placed the content which is all text and no images right at the top of the email and the large image placed further down.
Now, this is what it looks like when the images are disabled/blocked from the minimal view displayed in MS Outlook Online and then when the email is opened. In both cases the reader is presented with the best content straight away, there’s no HTML code of links and images that are blocked, they get straight into it to maximize their chance of the enticing the reader to open their emails.
Here’s some examples from our clients on how they’ve used their photographs in their email campaigns. The main takeaways here are:
  1. Great use of their Branding Portraits, if we do say so ourselves, which are engaging and show emotion that connects with the reader and they aren’t the same ones all the time as variety is important. All are used fresh and up to date photos.
  2. There’s no distracting background wallpaper type images. the emails are clean and easy to read.
  3. The images are ‘clickable’ and take the reader back to the specific landing page.
  4. The messages in the images are also presented in the text including text links so both options are covered.
  5. The 30/70 rule for images/text is well observed, so they look balanced (although no all of each email has been presented in this article) and so there isn’t an over use of images.

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How to best use your photographs on your Business Cards

How to best use your photographs on your Business Cards

“I have my photo on my business card because I’m in a relationship building business and I want to be memorable.”

(Forbes article)

You’ve all been there before, you get back to your office after a networking session, with a bunch of cards. Now, who’s who again? Oh, the dilemma! What’s easier to remember, someone’s logo, company name or photo?

A professional photo, on your business card, is the best way to stand out from everyone else, promote you and your brand and allow the recipient to remember you long after you met them. After all, networking is about establishing relationships and then continuing the conversation afterwards.

“People do business with those they know, like and trust. If they can remember you, that’s the first step.”

(Forbes article)

13 TOP TIPS to make the photos on your Business Cards memorable:

1. Make the photo BIG, a Head and Shoulders cropped photo is preferred to a 1/2 cropped photo. Avoid 3/4 or Full-length photos unless you need to show your body, like a Personal Trainer, Actor or Model.


2. Minimise accessories, only use those that you typically wear in front of your Target Market.


3. Do not include props unless they are very relevant and clearly obvious as to what they are and why they are there. The Headshot on my Business Card includes a camera and since I’m promoting myself as a photographer it makes sense.


4. Dress as you do in front of your Target Market, not to impress, but to be your authentic self. Wear the right clothes that match your brand. If you’re not sure what your brand is, then, hire an Image Consultant.


5. Your expression needs to be your true self and, for most Entrepreneurs, show you as professional, friendly and approachable.


6. Show your personality, x10. An image doesn’t move, so your energy must continue to flow and effect the viewer for every moment they are looking at it.


7. Do not include other people just yourself, no spouse, no kids or pets.


8. Your photo must be positioned so that you are ‘facing’ into the card where you have your information, as this draws the viewer’s eye to it and not away from it.

9. You’re after a professional Headshot not a glamour shot, remember what you’re selling here! It should be taken by a professional photographer specialising in branding, because they will design your photo to match your brand and business goals and off course know exactly how to make you look awesome!


10. Do not present your business card with an outdated photo, this will reflect on your brand and set the wrong perception in people’s mind about you, it must match your current look and style.


11. It’s a good idea to match the type of photo on your Business Card with your Social Media profile photo so they are visually aligned.


12. Make the photo on your Business Card big enough to be clearly seen and have an impact, not a little thumbnail or postage stamp size in the corner. This is your opportunity to make a statement and stand out!


13. If you’re using a standard sized card (90mm x 55mm) place your photo on the front of the card with minimal information like your name and title plus the problem you solve, the results you offer or your tagline. All your contact details can go on the back, if the recipient is interested in what they see, on the front of the card and want to get in contact with you, they’ll turn the card over. If you’re not using a standard sized card like myself (square and opening like a book) then place it on the inside so it’s a reveal to your recipient, like a pleasant surprise.


The photo on your Business Card needs to be
‘On-Brand’, position you as a professional and be memorable long after you’ve handed them out.

Examples of Business Cards from our clients.

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3.7.1. Forbes: Make Your Business Card Stand Out
17 AUG 2010

No date provided by author/source

3.7.3 Shepa Learning Company: Business Card Tip – Should you use your photo?
1 MAR 2013

3.7.4 AllBCards: What Real Estate Agents Have Taught Us About Business Cards
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How to use your photos on your PROFILE HEADSHOTS

How to use your photos on your PROFILE HEADSHOTS


Read our 11-top tips to help you get started.

“In 40 milliseconds, we’re able to draw conclusions about people based on a photo.”

(ref: BufferSocial)

Yes, there is an art and science to creating the perfect Headshot for your profile photos. Whether they be for your Facebook, Linkedin or other Social Media sites, your website’s About Us page or for your email signatures you’ll need to make sure they are remarkable.
Because in as little as 40 milliseconds people will judge you based on your profile photos before they even get to read your bio or written profile. But do not despair, for we have the perfect formula so you are able to create the perfect profile photos.

Follow these 11 tips to create profile photos that will attract the right prospects, make you look credible and position you as an influencer.

1. Know your ‘brand look’ and style.

Do you know what your ‘look’ is? What colors work for you, make you stand out and get noticed? What style of clothes best reflects your brand? Think of this as your ‘uniform’ that you go to when dressing for your business meetings. If you are unsure of what works best for you, we recommend that you engage the professional services of an Image Consultant. And discuss this with your photographer during your planning session as it’s paramount that you have it worked out before your photo shoot and are fully prepared.

2. What’s the right expression? 

For most people, it will be a smile showing your teeth. Think friendly approachable, competent and successful.  If you don’t normally smile or you prefer your teeth not be shown then go with lips closed with a slight smile or smirk. Remember that either way your goal is to look likable, professional and influential. It’s a good idea to practice in front of the mirror, this might be a little confronting but great practice to know your expressions.

3. What’s the best composition and cropping?

Include your head and shoulders, up to about mid-chest height, unless you add in something of interest, like an obvious prop, or get in closer for impact. Position yourself slightly off centre and to the left which adds to the ‘look and feel’ that you’re facing into the content of the page. And you should be facing into the light so your face is bright and clear without any harsh shadows.

4. How to pose? 

Standing will give you the best posture and help you look slimmer and more confident. Your body (from your shoulders down) should be facing towards the right of the photo at about 30 degrees to the camera and hence into the page and not front on like a passport photo. 
Your face and eyes should be facing straight into to the camera, head forward stretching your neck, like an emu, and slightly down to create a defined jawline which will highlight your face. 
Eyes, now this is a tricky one, should be ‘squinshed’ (a phrase coined by the great Headshot Photographer: Peter Hurley) this is where you slightly bring up your bottom eyelids, not squinting your eyes, as this will create a more powerful and commanding look. However, this may not be the best idea if you have small eyes, so practice in the mirror to see the results.

5. What to wear? 

My answer to this question is always, it must be on-brand for you, reflect your personality and your style. So always be true to your brand and ensure your photographer designs the look that will compliment this. Generally speaking darker clothes (eg. mid-dark colored jacket and a lighter shirt/top) with a clean light colored background works best. The profile photo is meant to show you so keep it simple and direct.

6. Accessories

Only wear the items you normally would wear in front of your Target Market or at the first contact with your clients. This way what people see in your photos will translate into reality.
If you wear glasses for at least 50% of the time in front of your clients, not if you are using them for reading, then you should wear them in your profile photos. And watch for glare and color cast created from the lenses of your glasses and compensate by slightly tilting your head until they are minimised or eliminated. Your photographer will be able to guide you on how to achieve this.

7. Should you include props or logos?

Generally speaking, this is a no-no unless the prop is very clear as to what it is, specific to your industry and it adds to your message and branding. Several of my profile photos include one of my cameras, it’s an obvious item to everyone, it’s large enough to be clearly seen and adds to the message that I’m a professional photographer. To add some oomph, you can include some logos of the media outlets you’ve been featured in, but only a few, make sure they are well known to your target market and ensure your profile photos are taken leaving space for the logos to be added in later.

8. Hair, what to keep and what not to

Get your hair cut at least 1 week before your photo shoot so that it doesn’t look too sharp and freshly cut. If you colour your hair do that as well at the same time. 
Make sure you have groomed your facial hairs, eyebrows, nose hairs, ears hair and neck hair. You’ll look and feel so much better when you’re viewing the photos during your photo shoot without having to imagine what you would look like with no nose hairs or bushy eyebrows once they have been photoshopped out.

9. How many profile photos should you have?

The minimum number here is 3. Three different profile photos that are all on brand and are your style. Make sure your photographer gives them to you in colour and B&W so you can change them every 2 months so they last for a full year. This will avoid ‘banner blindness’ which is what happens to 86% of the population when people see the same thing over and over again in the same place online. Your photos have an expiration date, no more than 1-2 years, depending on how many you have and how often you use them. We’ve created a Photo-Decision matrix which is part of our Personal Branding Guide that will help you determine when it’s time to get new photos, you can access it here. So, establish a good relationship with your photographer and get them updated regularly to keep your content fresh, up to date and relevant.

10Specifications of your photos

FORMAT: Square (get your photographer to crop your photos into squares as they will know how to do it in a way that maintains your brand and message).

FILE TYPE: JPG or PNG is best for use online uses (not BMP, TIFF or PSD).

SIZE: Width and height, 500 pixels x 500 pixels (square), as this is the current size recommended for Linkedin plus it still looks great on other Social Media sites. On Facebook we go for 1200 pixels x 1200 pixels sized photos to maximise the screen size. Bigger is better when you want to make an impact and get the attention of your viewer.

COLOUR: Color or B&W: get both for variety

 and change your profile photo on a regular basis, say once every three months. And, if your photographer has their own signature look, get that as well.

11. What to avoid?

They have their place, for sure, but not as your profile photos. They can easily look cheap and unprofessional which will damage your brand.

Looking too sexy, like a criminal, bored or overly excited. Perception is everything, so the safest bet is to look friendly approachable and like someone who can be trusted.

Ladies and gentleman, please, no bare shoulders. For example, ladies wearing off the shoulder tops and guys actually being topless, as you may appear to be naked (since it’s a head and shoulders photo). This might attract the ‘wrong’ type of inquiries, and no one needs that.

Adding fancy graphics on top of your photos in an attempt to make you look more ‘funky’, ‘hip’ and ‘cool’. This is a relationship building opportunity not the time for creative expression.

Thinner clothes are better than bulky ones, so no thick jackets or coats, bulky scarfs and chunky jewellery covering your neck, unless of course, that’s part of your brand and style and that’s what you wear every day.

Hats, caps, bandanas, fascinators (you’d be surprised), unless you always wear them as part of your brand.

Clothes with large prints, abstract colours and loud logos are a big no-no. Remember who’s brand your build here, yours not someone else’s.

In summary:
Your Profile Photos need to be on-brand with your styling, posed in a specific way so you look appealing and attractive to your audience and that you have several photos for maximum variety and cut-through.

And here are some examples of the Branding Headshots we’ve created for our client and how they are being used on Social Media like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

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BufferSocial: The research and science behind finding your best profile picture
25 Mar 2015

GraphBaron: Banner Blindness – Causes and Solutions

No date provided