How to make custom thumbnails for YouTube – with free software

Custom Thumbnail

Three tools to attract clicks to your videos

YouTube gives you three tools to attract clicks:

  • Titles
  • Descriptions (specifically the first couple sentences)
  • Thumbnails

These three things must work together to convince potential viewers to start your video.  Luckily, YouTube allows you to create custom thumbnails (and not just select from three random frames they choose.)  Creating a custom thumbnail is a sure way to stand out from the “less-professional” videos on YouTube.

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How to get wrinkles out of your backdrop

Easy wrinkle removal
Got Wrinkles?

A crisp backdrop can add a level of professionalism to your videos – but not if it’s wrinkled. I tried ironing my muslin backdrops, but they are 6 feet x 9 feet and it’s tough to iron something that big on my ironing board.  Then I discovered a travel steamer – this quick, easy and cheap tool will make your backdrops look amazing in just minutes.

I found this video on how to remove wrinkles with a spray of warm water, but I just ended up with a wet wrinkled backdrop. Give it a try, it may work for you!

I purchased a hand travel steamer on Amazon and it is quick and easy! Just hold the steamer against the hanging fabric and run it up and down.

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Training with online video – interview with Team Treehouse

Online Video Training

Michael Poley from joins Subscriber Nation to talk about his experience with online video, specifically using it as a training resource for computer languages at

How did Michael start making online videos?

Michael doesn’t have a film degree – he has an English degree.  His first foray into film was making comedy videos with his friends, then transitioned to green screen and walk on videos.  He produced a weekly web show in Orlando, helped create Rails for Zombies, and moved to Treehouse four years ago.

Treehouse teaches using online video:

Treehouse is an online school that teaches web design and web development – specifically designed to get beginners from zero to job ready.  But they also have advanced content.

Why Treehouse uses video:

Computer science is an ever changing field where practitioners need to update their skills regularly.  For software training, video works exceptionally well and is very cost affordable.  Most of their videos use screencasting to show the coding being done on screen.

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Turn off YouTube Ads on your videos

Turn off YouTube Ads

YouTube advertising can be a great revenue stream – but it can also distract your potential customers.  If you are using YouTube to attract customers, and the number of views on your videos is relatively small, you may want to consider turning off the ads.

The downside of advertising:

Advertising is distracting.  It’s designed that way.  But if you are using YouTube to promote your business or idea, what’s the one thing you don’t want someone to feel when they click play on one of your videos?  Distracted!  Especially if that distraction is coming in the form of advertising for one of your competitors.  The only reason we should be turning on advertising is if we can make enough money to justify distracting our viewers.

Advertising on YouTube is so prevalent that most viewers expect it, so having it run on your videos would be the norm.  But do the math first and see if it’s worth the potential of distracting even one potential customer.

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Making your videos sound professional: sound dampening

Improve Sound Recording

Bad sound can ruin your videos.  Most people will watch a video with bad visuals, but great audio.  But the reverse is seldom true.  In this quick episode, I share how I’ve used sound dampening material in my recording studio to remove the “echo” from my online videos.

Eliminating Hollow Sound:

The first YouTube video I recorded in my home studio sounded a little “off.”  I couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong, but my wife said I sounded like I was inside a fish bowl.  I realize that the sound was bouncing off the floor and walls and back into the microphone.  A little DIY sound proofing greatly improved my audio.  You can see more about how I set up my home studio.

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