Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a mainstay in the headlines recently, driven mainly by OpenAI’s launch of ChatGPT late last year.
There’s good reason for all this buzz: The capabilities of ChatGPT are stunning. I have tested different AI writing tools in the past, and none of them streamlined my work. ChatGPT is different.
And it’s got many writers concerned about their job security. The fear is that AI tools will replace human writers, leading to a loss of jobs and opportunities.
But is this fear well-founded? Will ChatGPT replace human writers? No, on the contrary, writers that learn how to use ChatGPT and other AI writing tools to develop an advantage.
In this blog post, I’ll share three key points on AI related to human beings who make money freelance writing, including specifics on how writers can leverage AI to make their futures brighter.
Key Point No. 1: AI is a Tool Like Anything Else
It’s essential to understand that AI writing tools like ChatGPT are not a replacement for human writers. Instead, they are just tools writers can use to enhance their writing process. This analogy keeps coming to mind: just like a racecar is a tool drivers use to navigate racecourses, ChatGPT is a tool writers can use to accelerate the writing process.
Now, imagine you’re sitting behind the wheel of Lewis Hamilton’s F1 car. Could you win the race because you’re driving a top-of-the-line car? Of course not! To win the race, you must have the skills and experience necessary to navigate the twists and turns of the track.
Similarly, while AI writing tools like ChatGPT can streamline your writing process, they require a writer’s knowledge, experience, and skills. As a result, ChatGPT and other AI tools can only be used to their maximum potential, with a writer providing high-quality inputs.
Here are some specific ways that you can use ChatGPT as part of your writing process:
1. Generate Topics
One of the significant benefits of AI writing tools like ChatGPT is their ability to generate ideas for blog posts and other types of content. With AI, writers can tap into a vast knowledge and information database to help them brainstorm new ideas and perspectives.
As a writer, I can’t tell you how often the ideation process grows stale. This is especially true when you write in a niche. AI can help you break the brainstorming doldrums to develop new topics. Here’s how it works …
AI writing tools like ChatGPT use NLP (or natural language processing) algorithms to consume and analyze large amounts of text data, including books, articles, and web content. I had a chance to work with an API provider, and through that experience I discovered just how amazing NLP can be. Analyzing data inputs, AI tools can use NLP to generate new ideas and concepts related to the writer’s specific topic or niche.
For example, suppose you’re a writer who specializes in ecommerce. In that case, you can use ChatGPT to generate new ideas for blog posts, like “How Dropshipping Will Evolve in the Future,” “Creating an Amazon-Like Experience With Fast, Free Shipping,” or “10 Ways to Streamline the Returns Process.”
AI writing tools can help writers identify new angles and perspectives on familiar topics. Analyzing existing content on a specific topic allows the tool to generate fresh ideas and unique angles that writers may have yet to consider.
2. Create Outlines
I often struggle with what I think of as “outline discipline.” I know I should create an outline before I start writing, but I sometimes jump into the writing without making one. AI tools like ChatGPT can easily create outlines for your content before you start writing.
AI writing tools analyze the writer’s input and generate an outline that breaks down the content into manageable sections. This helps writers organize their ideas and ensures the content follows a logical structure. With an outline, writers can focus on fleshing out their ideas without worrying about the piece’s overall structure.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a blog post on the benefits of meditation. With the help of ChatGPT, you can input your topic and target audience, and the tool can generate an outline that includes sections such as “What is Meditation?,” “The Science Behind Meditation,” and “How to Start a Meditation Practice.” (ChatGPT is excellent for this, but I also like using SurferSEO for search-friendly outline creation.)
AI writing tools can also help writers create outlines for longer pieces of content, such as ebooks or whitepapers. By breaking down the content into sections and sub-sections, writers can ensure that the piece is well-organized and easy to read. In addition, a solid outline for longer content makes the project feel more approachable and less overwhelming. For example, it’s easier to approach a white paper that includes six chunks of 500ish words — rather than approaching a 3,000-word white paper as a whole.
In addition to helping writers create outlines, AI tools can also provide suggestions for content that can be included in each section. This can be incredibly helpful for writers struggling with writer’s block or needing inspiration. But, of course, it happens to all of us. And that could be another use case for AI in writing: Breaking through writer’s block.
3. Conduct Rapid Research
AI tools like ChatGPT can be a game-changer for writers who must research before starting their writing process. With a simple mouse click, you create a portal to a wealth of information on a given topic, including articles, blog posts, academic papers, and more. This can save writers hours that would otherwise be spent scouring the web for relevant sources.
In addition to speed and efficiency, AI tools like ChatGPT can also help readers find reliable sources of information. The tool can analyze the credibility of different sources and provide recommendations based on the writer’s input. This can be especially helpful for writers unfamiliar with a particular topic and needing guidance on where to start their research.
Furthermore, AI tools can help readers stay up-to-date on current events and trends. By analyzing news sources and social media trends, the tool can provide insights into what topics are currently popular or trending. This can help writers stay on top of emerging trends and write timely and relevant content.
4. Clean Up a Messy First Draft
Polishing a messy first draft is one of the more intensive tasks in the writing process — at least, it is for me. Fortunately, AI tools like ChatGPT can be incredibly helpful in cleaning up a first draft and making other adjustments that improve the content.
Typos and other errors are among the most common issues in a first draft. AI tools can scan the content and identify errors like punctuation issues, misspellings, bad grammar, etc. This can save writers time and ensure the content is error-free and polished.
Another way that AI tools can help writers improve their content is by providing suggestions for better word choices and sentence structure. By analyzing the content, the tool can identify areas where the writing could be improved and provide recommendations for making the content more engaging and effective.
AI tools can also help writers improve the overall structure and flow of the content. By analyzing the content’s organization and readability, the tool can suggest changes to allow the content to flow more smoothly and ensure that the ideas are presented logically and efficiently.
AI tools can also help writers optimize their content for SEO. By analyzing the content’s structure and keyword usage, the tool can identify areas where the content could be improved to rank higher in search engine results pages — also known as SERPs.
5. Knock Out Menial Tasks
While AI tools like ChatGPT can be helpful in many aspects of writing, they work particularly well for menial writing tasks like product descriptions, press releases, boilerplates, transactional emails, and similar content. These writing tasks often involve repetitive language and require a formulaic approach, making them ideal for automation.
Using AI tools, freelance writers can quickly and efficiently generate this content for clients. This can free up time and mental energy for writers to focus on higher-priority projects that require more critical thinking and creativity.
For example, let’s say a freelance writer receives a request from a client for a set of product descriptions. While these descriptions are essential to the client, they may require a lower level of creativity or critical thinking than other types of writing. Using an AI tool like ChatGPT, the writer can quickly and efficiently generate product descriptions, freeing up time for more complex projects.
Using AI tools for menial writing tasks can also help freelance writers be more productive and efficient. By automating repetitive tasks, writers can complete more work in less time and take on more clients without sacrificing the quality of their work.
And that’s an important, big-picture point to make: AI frees up time writers can use to sign on new clients, do more work, or mentally refresh so that the quality of their work remains high.
Key Point No. 2: Your Unique Experience and Knowledge are Differentiators
As AI writing tools become more prevalent, experience and knowledge will become increasingly important for freelance writers. While AI can generate high-quality content, it’s only as good as the inputs provided by the writer. This means writers with more experience and knowledge in a specific topic can create better inputs, leading to much better copy.
For example, a writer is creating content for a personal finance company. While an AI tool can generate content on the topic, a writer with experience and knowledge in the personal finance space can provide more nuanced insights and understand the subtleties of the topic. This can lead to more engaging and insightful content that resonates with the target audience.
For the reasons described above, AI tools heighten the importance of having a freelance writing niche. Having a niche you work within daily is a great way to develop the experience and knowledge that can serve as your differentiators. In addition, by focusing on a specific area, writers can become experts in their field, which helps any writer create and maintain a competitive advantage.
For example, suppose a writer specializes in writing about sustainable living. In that case, they can become an expert in the topic and provide valuable insights and information that AI tools may not be able to generate. We’re talking about details and insights that have yet to be described online. This expertise can be invaluable to clients and help writers build a reputation as an authority in their niche.
Key Point No. 3: Be Proactive By Expanding Beyond Just Writing
The prevalence of AI writing tools should inspire freelance writers to do more than write. While writing is an essential aspect of content creation, writers can branch into many other areas of the content universe, including SEO, marketing automation, content strategy, and more.
As AI writing tools become more sophisticated, some freelance clients may mistakenly believe they can replace human writers with AI alone. However, writers offering more than just writing skills will stand out as stronger alternatives to AI.
For example, writers who can offer expertise in SEO can help clients optimize their content for search engines, increasing traffic and engagement. Those with experience in marketing automation can help clients streamline their marketing processes and improve customer engagement. And writers who understand content strategy can help clients develop content plans that align with their business goals and target audience.
By branching out into these areas, writers can position themselves as valuable partners to clients rather than mere content creators. This helps writers differentiate themselves from AI writing tools and demonstrate their value to clients.
How I Use AI in My Work
Incorporating AI into your writing process can streamline the content creation process and help you produce high-quality content efficiently. How does it work? There are different approaches for different writers, but here’s my 5-step process for including AI in the writing process:
- Start with an idea and create an outline in Grammarly: Begin your writing process by developing an idea for your content. Once you have your idea, create an outline in Grammarly, which can help you organize your thoughts and ensure your content flows logically.
- Give ChatGPT prompts to write each section of the content: Use an AI writing tool like ChatGPT to generate content for each section of your outline. By providing prompts to the tool, you can generate content quickly and efficiently, saving you time and mental energy.
- Accept all of Grammarly’s suggestions: Once you’ve generated your content, run it through Grammarly to identify errors and make suggestions for improvement. Accept the tool’s recommendations to ensure your content is error-free and polished. Not all of Grammarly’s suggestions will be on point, but it’s better to accept them all and make needed adjustments in Step 4 below.
- Read through for style and correctness: After accepting all of Grammarly’s suggestions, read through your content to ensure consistency in style and correctness. This is a critical step in ensuring your content is engaging and easy to read. This step is also when you can adjust any wonky suggestions that Grammarly throws your way. (And that’s no knock on Grammarly. It’s a great third-party platform, but you have to keep it in check.)
- Paste your copy into SurferSEO for optimization: Finally, paste your copy into SurferSEO, an AI-powered content optimization tool, to optimize your content for SEO. The tool can help you identify keywords to target and suggest improvements to help your content climb in the search rankings.
That’s my process. Other content writers might have different tech stacks, or other content writers might think of better ways to do it that align with their writing approaches and styles. Feel free to riff on my 5-step process to find something that accelerates your work.
How are You Using AI?
Our questions once more: Will ChatGPT replace human writers? No, not in its current state anyway. ChatGPT is not capable of well-structured, good writing — the type of writing required to achieve ambitious content goals.
But tools like ChatGPT, Grammarly, and SurferSEO can be incredibly helpful in streamlining the writing process and producing high-quality content efficiently. By incorporating AI into your writing process, you can save time, reduce errors, and create engaging content that resonates with your target audience.
I’d love to hear how you use AI to streamline your writing process. Do you use AI to generate ideas? Or to clean up a messy first draft? Whatever your approach, comment below to let us know, or reach out via the contact form.