How HubSpot’s Hustle Team Uses AI


If you’re not familiar with The Hustle, it’s a media entity known for its offbeat and irrelevant spin on current events (case in point: The corporate marriage of Pop Tarts and Crocs).

How The Hustle uses AI

Fans of The Hustle have struck content gold. They can subscribe to their daily newsletter, which now has more than 2 million subscribers. They can listen to their podcast or watch their YouTube videos. And if they still need something extra, they can click “follow” on one (or all) of their social media accounts.

It’s no secret that The Hustle is a content powerhouse, but with the emergence of AI, their workflow is starting to change.

Here, I spoke to the team at The Hustle to find out how they’re using AI to power their content.

Free Report: The State of Artificial Intelligence in 2023

How the Hustle team uses AI

Reuse of content on social networks.

The Hustle is all over social media, allowing them to reach an audience spanning every corner of the internet.

As Taryn Varricchioeditorial manager of The Hustle’s YouTube channel, says: “Not all YouTube viewers are dedicated TikTok users, and vice versa. By sharing different forms of our content, we can reach these audiences and extend the life of our long-form stories. ” she said.

Quote from Taryn Varricchio

However, adapting their content to different platforms can take time. This is where AI can help.

Varricchio uses AI to convert long-form content into YouTube short films. Using the tool vidyo.aiit enters the URL of the long-form video and the tool returns several clips of the video.

For example, the YouTube short film below is an excerpt from a longer seven-minute video on their YouTube channel. With the help of AI, Varricchio was able to maximize the mileage of the longest video and meet its audience in multiple locations.

Make room for more creative work.

“Fortunately, we believe that AI cannot yet surpass our creativity” Ben Berkleyeditor of The Hustle, told me.

After all, it’s hard to imagine an AI chatbot concocting headlines like How to BBQ in Space or algae-sinking robots tackle the climate crisis. While that may change in the future, for now, Berkeley and his team are dabbling in AI to make room for more creative work.

He told me: “We take it upon ourselves to experiment with all the tools at our disposal, from helping us distill complex concepts more effectively to creating new types of graphics that could accompany our stories , or simply to help us with administrative work.”.

Quote from Ben Berkley (1)

On The Hustle YouTube channel, Varricchio and his team use AI to streamline the research stage of content creation.

“As journalists, content creators, and video writers, our teams must constantly research, read articles and reports, and sift through online clutter to find reliable sources. AI can help us summarize research and highlight key points in articles and reports that might otherwise take hours to read,” she told me.

However, Varricchio emphasizes that AI does not remove the need to verify facts or confirm their sources. Even though this streamlines the research stage, it still has human guardrails to verify quality.

Experiment with AI as an alternative to stock images.

While most creative teams rely on stock photos, Ben HarmanusSenior Editorial Manager at HubSpot, is experimenting with AI-generated images for videos.

One of the biggest drawbacks of stock imaging is the complexity of fees and licensing agreements. For example, if you need to replace a copyrighted image in a YouTube video, you need to delete it, edit it, and then re-upload it. In the process, you lose all views, comments and likes from the original video.

“While we can easily exchange an image on a website, this is impossible for videos. AI is often a safer way to use images,” Harmanus told me.

Not only are AI-generated designs royalty-free, they are also fully customizable. Oscar EstradaMotion Designer at HubSpot, has also experimented with AI-generated images for this reason.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find an image that matches the mood or color palette I need,” he told me. “It’s helpful to have tools like Midjourney or Runway to visualize ideas and even replace stock images.”

In Estrada’s experience, AI doesn’t just tap into one’s creative potential; it also has obvious time-saving benefits.

“It helps me work on multiple projects simultaneously without having to waste time on the manual, repetitive parts of the process. In this way, I feel like it’s extremely valuable.”

Ultimately, tools like Runway AI could be lifesavers for teams who need content in no time, or a way to test new ideas or concepts with minimal time.

Take inspiration from YouTube titles.

“I like to ask HubGPT to help our team create engaging YouTube video titles,” Varricchio told me. To do this, she pastes video scripts into HubGPT and asks it for suggestions.

It’s worth noting that Varricchio doesn’t just copy and paste his answers. Instead, she uses it as a creative springboard.

“While I don’t use any titles verbatim, it helps inspire phrases or language for a video title that I hadn’t otherwise thought of,” she told me. “This can trigger reframing for a video or determine what other information might be more useful to prioritize in the name of a story.”

AI thus becomes a brainstorming partner, offering alternative angles and new perspectives. This type of collaboration is invaluable for content teams like The Hustle and can be used in a variety of ways: from creating YouTube headlines and blog ideas to social media copy and much more.

Above all, the Hustle team is still figuring things out.

When I asked Ben Berkley how his team was using AI, his response was refreshingly candid.

“It’s important that we are honest with ourselves and with our readers that we are still learning about AI like everyone else. We don’t yet know how it will fit into our jobs in the long term, but it won’t happen for lack of trying,” he told me.

I’m willing to bet this feeling is felt by many teams trying to navigate this new world of AI. Although AI is exciting, many teams feel compelled to build their entire operations around it.

However, Berkeley is adopting AI where it makes sense, and with a healthy dose of curiosity.

“We want The Hustle to be the best and that’s only possible with more time to devote to our own creativity. We hope AI will offer us a way to do that.”

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