Even after surviving decades in the business of copywriting and content marketing, I'm still nervous about whether I'll be able to support myself over the long haul. Now, with daily updates about AI and ChatGPT, I’m shaking in my boots more than everThat’s why I decided to attend “Special Briefing: Is AI About to Replace Human Writers?,” the recent webinar hosted by AWAI (American Writers & Artists Institute), which showcased the perspectives of some pretty heavy hitters in the field—including veteran direct response copywriter Bob Bly and Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger.
Before beginning the discussion, a definition of ChatGPT was provided that helped me: It’s a machine learning model that takes all the content of the internet, spots patterns, and gains training along the way so that it can predict what words might come next in a way that emulates human language. And it understands context now, something that it hasn’t been able to do until now. So, it can create solid content – especially short form content.
The consensus of these experts seemed to be that, while ChatGPT turns out copy that’s better than that produced by the worst human writers, it lacks many of the characteristics that good human writers bring to the party, including emotion, creativity, and tone. If you’re better than the average writer, they said, you’ll be better than ChatGPT.
So, what should human writers do now?
First, don’t worry that it will take your job. ChatGPT is not a threat. Now, at least. The threat is actually other copywriters who make the best use of AI to improve their productivity. So, if we become an expert in the space, we’ll be better able to beat other writers who are using the technology.
And, of course, we should continue to do what we can to increase our value, by learning other disciplines—from Facebook ads to graphic design. After all, the more tools we can bring to the party, the more valuable we are.
In short, it’s important to be flexible and embrace the technology, the same way we embraced the internet at the beginning.
Some ChatGPT use cases
ChatGPT can come in handy in a number of unexpected ways.
Brainstorming. By starting out with a prompt, it can help with ideation and brainstorming, so we’re not looking at a blank page. You might even find that it comes up with ideas that you would not come up with on your own. According to digital copywriting pioneer Nick Usborne, not all ideas are great, of course. It’s morelike brainstorming with a friend.
Research assistant. Bly has found that ChatGPT can be an efficient tool for research purposes (maybe even for translating to different languages).
Outlines and short copy. We can prompt it to create outlines or short copy that you can then move around and adjust to your style. Nick was able to use ChatGPT when he was working on producing an ebook. He gave the tool a headline, which then wrote a 400-word chapter; Nick was then able to go back with instructions and requests.
Separate the wheat from the chaff. In another experiment, he gave the tool a collection of testimonials and asked it give him the best of them. While it doesn’t replace his work, according to Nick, it can do what he can do much faster.
Interview prep. One interesting suggestion was using ChatGPT in preparing for an interview with an SME on a technical topic. Ask the application “What questions should I ask to learn more about …?”
Other things I learned
Editing is important. The copy that ChatGPT produces is very flat and needs a good editor to bring a human feel to it.
It's not very serious. OpenAI admits that ChatGPT is not ready to be relied on for anything important.
Fact checking is key. When relyibg on content from ChatGPT, assume it’s fake and find reputable sources.
It's not up to date. ChatGPT is not connected to the live internet; it doesn’t know Queen Elizabeth has died, for example.
B2B copywriting is safe right now. ChatGPT is incapable of developing content that sells or converts. And B2B copy that includes lots of detail and specific technical information isn’t within its purview, either so a B2B copywriter is a good thing to be.
Think of it as an additive. It'’s only as good as the input you provide.
If you're good, you're okay If you’re a better than average writer, you’ll be better than ChatGPT.
ChatGPT has zero emotional intelligence. So the copy it produces doesn’t provide the emotional connection that humans can.
It's flat. It doesn’t dig into the magical USP and doesn’t write about existing stuff in a fresh, compelling way.
It can't transition from an interview to copy. As writers, we produce content from interviewing experts. ChatGPT can’t replicate that.
So, I'm breathing a sigh of relief. You should, too.