What Is YouTube Automation? The Ultimate 2023 Guide

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YouTube automation is a term that has been buzzing around for months. Most creators have heard of it. Some hail it as a time-saving, income-generating whiz strategy. 

But what does it actually mean? 

YouTube automation, while a trendy term, isn’t a well-defined one. So, if you’ve come across conflicting information, you’re not alone.

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the three meanings of YouTube automation – and how using these tools and services can help (or harm) your channel.


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YouTube Automation as Outsourcing Video Creation

First off, one of the meanings of YouTube automation is simply outsourcing parts of your video creation process

This means you hand different types of tasks, such as (vertical) video editing, thumbnail creation, or channel management off to freelancers or specialized companies.

Overall, this type of YouTube automation can be hugely helpful in growing your channel – as well as improving your mental health

Many creators are teetering on the brink of burnout. Consequently, their creativity and productivity suffers.

Automating certain tasks by handing them off to others can remedy this situation. It’ll help you step up your content quality and quantity and boost your channel’s growth. 

Here’s a quick overview of the four most common tasks you can automate this way.

First, there’s regular video editing – turning the footage you shot on your camera or phone into a coherent and captivating clip. 

Video editing is also one of the most time-consuming parts of the video creation process. On average, editing one minute of finished video takes about an hour. And that’s if you’re a well-versed editor, familiar with the software you’re using. 

If you want to produce larger numbers of videos, or add more complex effects, automating video editing is a logical first step. While there’s some buzz about AI video editing ongoing, you’ll find that they’re simply unsuitable for creative video at the moment – though video editors do make use of some specialized AI tools in their software.

Don’t know where to start? Check out our articles on how to hire a YouTube video editor and the best video editing services and freelancers.

A second type of tasks you can outsource is vertical video editing. This means editing videos for vertical formats and platforms such as YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and TikTok

Especially if you’ve filmed your footage in landscape rather than portrait mode, this can be tricky and time-consuming. 

If you’re thinking of automating this video creation step, here’s our article on the best vertical video editing services.

A third commonly automated video creation process is thumbnail creation

Having custom thumbnails is a crucial benefit on YouTube. In fact, statistics show that 90% of the most successful videos on the platform have personalized thumbnails. 

If you’re not a professional, though, crafting an attention-grabbing, must-click thumbnail can take you ages. Better to automate this process by outsourcing it to graphic designers or thumbnail creation services.

4. Channel Management

Finally, one more process that’s often part of YouTube automation is channel management. That includes everything from uploading videos, adding descriptions and chapters, selecting the right tags, tracking analytics, and answering comments.

The more content you have on your channel – or channels – the more time this part of being a YouTuber swallows up. However, keeping an eye on your videos’ performance and staying in tune with your audience via comments is essential.

That’s why many YouTubers automate channel management by handing it off to freelancers or specialized services

outsourcing business management: financial and legal

From Scheduling to SEO – Using Tools to Automate Workflows

A second meaning of YouTube automation refers to special tools designed to speed up your workflows. These tools are usually cloud-based and often come as apps or browser extensions. 

They can help you with tasks such as creating thumbnails, researching topics, and scheduling videosEspecially if you are handling high volumes of content on your channel, these tools can be invaluable. 

Just imagine having hundreds of videos – then deciding to change the thumbnails on all of them. Human thumbnail artists are usually a better choice, but they won’t be able to create that many overnight. 

Two of the most popular YouTube automation tools are VidIQ and TubeBuddy, and we’ll briefly introduce them now.

VidIQ is designed to help you automate workflows in analytics, SEO, and digital marketing. It can save you time by delivering reports on aspects such as your channel’s performance, trending content in your niche, and competitor strategies. Plus, it automatically suggests keywords to optimize your video descriptions and tags with.

vidiq in action
VidIQ shows you a lot of stats for all your videos - and on all your competitors', too.

TubeBuddy is a similar type of tool – it helps you check out competitors’ performance and guarantees smooth workflows on your own channel. 

For example, it can automatically publish your content as native Facebook videos, find the best time to publish new content depending on your target audience, and generate GIFs.

tubebuddy in action
TubeBuddy can give you keyword insights and SEO tips directly on the video page.
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The Dark Side: Using Automation to Fake Engagement on YouTube

The third and final meaning of YouTube automation is on the dark side. And no, there are no cookies here… 

Some people use the term for tools that help you fake audience engagement by buying likes, shares, or subscribers. They might also try and rack up watch hours.

The reasoning behind it is this: The more engagement a video has, the more likely it is to be recommended by YouTube’s algorithm, or clicked on by people who stumble across it. 

Imagine you’re looking for a video on stretches to help with back pain. One of the results has 73k views. Another only has 612. Which one would you click on? (By the way, this is also why many beginner channels opt to hide subscribers until they have a decent number.)

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That’s why plenty of services offer shares, likes, views and subscribers for sale. They often claim that artificially boosting initial engagement can help you build a real audience.

So should you buy YouTube views in this type of automation to grow your channel?

The short answer is: Nope.

While buying engagement isn’t technically illegal, it’s against YouTube policy and can get your channel terminated:

youtube fake engagement policy

Some people argue that it depends where you buy engagement from – some companies use bots that will throw up all kinds of red flags for YouTube’s algorithm, while others pay real people to engage with your content. 

But in any case, it’s best to steer well clear of this kind of YouTube “automation”. If YouTube discovers that you’re trying to cheat its algorithm, your channel and your existing audience can disappear into thin air.

The Bottom Line

The term YouTube automation has several different meanings

Two of them – using workflow automation tools for smoother workflows, or outsourcing parts of your content creation process – are totally aboveboard. They can support you in keeping up good YouTube habits.

The third – artificially boosting channel engagement – is not. While it’s not illegal, you run the risk of being flagged by the platform and penalized. 

Overall, though, employing the legitimate kinds of YouTube automation can help your channel thrive. Optimizing your workflows and freeing up your time, it’ll boost growth and improve your own mental health.

No. Not only is it against the community guidelines and may get you flagged and penalized, you’ll also get a lot more bang for the buck if you invest in your content instead.

YouTube automation can refer to tools that take tedious workflows of your hands, or also to outsourcing some of your video production process. Both of these serve you valuable time and nerves. Some also apply the term to services that sell likes and subscribers.

It’s worth thinking about. Tools to automate simple but time-consuming tasks free up time and mental space, as does delegating some of your content creation. Steer clear of automated engagement, though – it’s just not worth it.

Indirectly, yes. You’ll get more time to produce more and better content, which is great for organic growth. Be careful what you pay for, though – some “growth automation” services simply sell fake engagement.

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What's a Reformat?

A Vertical Reformat is a highlight or teaser video designed for vertical platforms like TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts. It’s an Add-on to a Video Order.

For example, if you want a horizontal video for YouTube and a 60 second vertical version for Instagram Reels then you’ll add 1 Vertical Reformat Add-on to your Video Order.

Vertical Reformats are cheaper than vertical videos by themselves because we’ve already edited the horizontal video so we’re not starting from scratch.

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