What Is YouTube Automation? The Ultimate 2024 Guide

youtube automation graphics

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.

Some freelancers and online course creators are even promoting it to YouTube newcomers as an avenue to get rich off the platform using faceless channels.  

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 YouTube channel. We’ll also take a look at some YouTube automation scams that have been floating around, and deep-diving into what AI YouTube automation is. 


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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 content 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 for viewers.

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 cureently some buzz about AI video editing, you’ll find that they’re simply unsuitable for creative video at the moment – though video editors do make use of 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 social media 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. This makes jumping into the short-form trend a bit daunting.

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. In that case, it’s more efficient 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 video content over 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, it’s essential to keep an eye on your videos’ performance and your ad revenue, as well as staying in tune with your audience via comments.

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

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 an app or browser extension. You can also write your own scripts, or hire someone to do it for you.

They can help you with tasks such as creating thumbnails, researching topics, and scheduling videos. Especially 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 and best 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. The whole thing is frequently part of a make money online fast scheme, as pushed by shady passive income gurus.

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 (that is, you won’t go to jail over it), it’s against YouTube policy and can get your channel terminated. After all, you’d be expecting the company to pay you for ads that no potential buyers ever sees.

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 (real) audience can disappear into thin air.

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.

Heads-Up: Avoid Low-Quality YouTube Automation and Get-Rich-Quick Schemes

While outsourcing parts of your video creation workflow to freelancers and companies is a great way of becoming more efficient as a creator, there are many online scams that abuse this type of YouTube automation. Most of them promise YouTube newcomers  to create faceless cash-cow channels for instant five-figure ad revenue. 

Online courses teach those who pay for them that they can outsource every part of video creation. These people pay ruthless freelancers between $30 and $100 to create mass-produced, low-quality videos.

Many of those merely paraphrase scripts from other channels. Some steal content outright, resulting in expensive lawsuits for channel owners. 

A recent New York Times investigation found that the vast majority of people who go in for this type of YouTube automation scam end up losing money. Of the people featured, most lost between $5,000 and $20,000. 

Screenshot of Dave Nick's YouTube channel promising quick returns. from YouTube automation.
Dave Nick, a proponent of YouTube automation who promises his students quick returns. A New York Times investigation found that many of them ended up losing money.

The bottom line? Avoid YouTube automation cash-cow channel scams.

As all successful, long-term creators will tell you, growing your YouTube channel is a marathon, not a sprint. To build your audience, you need to consistently put in work, and 

What is AI YouTube Automation?

Finally, there’s the question that’s inescapable going into 2024: How does artificial intelligence factor into it? 

AI YouTube automation has been another hot buzzword making the rounds. It means that people harness generative AI in different ways during the various automation processes described above. 

For example, we already mentioned that video editors may use AI tools to enhance creators’ footage. Similarly, a freelancer writing YouTube scripts during the automation process may use AI to generate an outline, or to proofread their script.  Or a channel manager can deploy an analytics AI to help make sense of the latest stats on the performance of a creator’s video. 

However, AI also often features prominently in the scams outlined above. While it’s a useful tool if handled properly, people promoting cash cow channel scams usually frame it as a one-stop solution to populating faceless YouTube channels. Have ChatGPT write a script, feed it to an AI video editor, upload the result and there you go – 1 million views. 

Needless to say, that’s not the case.

Audiences can tell when they’re watching soulless, AI-generated pablum content without any personal touch. And that’s reflected in microscopic view counts and a lack of revenue. It’s one of the prime reasons why faceless cash-cow channels typically fail

The take-away? While AI YouTube automation can be useful and time-saving  if the tools are being used by creators and professionals, it’s a waste of time and money when scammers use it to generate empty content. 

Conclusion: Harness YouTube Automation, Without Falling for Scams

In 2024, the term YouTube automation has several different meanings and many nuances.

Two of the common meanings of YouTube automation – using 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. 

Plus, it’s important to be circumspect about how you use YouTube automation, especially when it comes to AI. Unfortunately, there are many YouTube automation scams circulating online, often involving AI YouTube automation. They promise to create five-figure faceless cash-cow channels as a get-rich-quick scheme in return for an up-front investment. Needless to say, the vast majority of YouTube newcomers who opt for this type of offer end up losing money and facing copyright strikes. 

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

YouTube Automation Infographic

infographic youtube automation

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.

It depends. YouTube automation can mean using tools to automate your workflows, like uploading videos or doing research, as well as outsourcing tasks like video editing or thumbnail creation. That is totally legitimate. However, there are YouTube automation scams that promise to create five-figure, faceless, cash-cow channels as a get-rich-quick scheme. In the vast majority of cases, people who opt for this end up losing money. 

AI YouTube automation means that people use AI tools during different parts of the automation workflow. In some cases, this is totally legitimate – such as video editors using AI plugins to enhance creators’ footage, or script writers harnessing it to create an outline. However, many YouTube automation scams use AI as a one-stop solution, feeding AI-generated copy to AI video editors and uploading the results without any post-processing. Not only can this result in copyright strikes, it usually fails to generate any engagement or revenue. 

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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.