I hate AI. I understand that’s probably not the right thing to say in the current climate, when we’re all supposed to be ecstatic about its time-saving capabilities and marvel at what it can achieve, but that’s the truth.
ChatGPT has been with us just over a year now, and in that time has fundamentally changed the role of many marketers. In terms of content writing, it has shifted the paradigm from building something from scratch to tinkering with the machine that now builds for you.
For some, this may be a relief, but for those of us who enjoyed the stitching together the puzzle pieces of what makes good content, delving into the creative process and finding the right words for the right client, it is somewhat troubling that we are now reduced to feeding the computer ideas and editing what it spits out. This is a simplification, I know, but it does somewhat leave you pondering whether you should retrain from the creative fields back into your first love of being a barista, only to find out that AI is coming for everything from coffee to content.
So, where does this leave the humble content/copywriter?
Many will have buried their heads in the sand and hoped AI would disappear, but now that Pandora’s box has been opened, there’s no putting back what came out of it. The fox is in the henhouse and it’s here to stay! However, for those of you still up on your Classics, hope also slithers out of that box and so, we – like the proverbial protagonist of said myth- must cling to that hope.
Finding Joy in Feeding the Machine: Creating Creative AI Prompts
Despite my suspicions that it may well be the death of art, I do have to concede that AI has definitely made my job easier. The ability to produce varied product descriptions at a rapid rate certainly eases the pain of hitting your head against a wall whilst trying to think of synonyms for the same products in a different colour (not that I think writing about products is an art form).
Creating engaging content with AI can be quite satisfying if you’re using it to research industry trends and popular topics, as it can reduce the slog of searching for what you need and you can instantly draw on what language and tone of voice (TOV) is being used by those searching for said topics. It can also help with optimisation by providing suggestions on structure and grammar (as well as keywords, although you’ll still need to do your own keyword research for that peace of mind).
However, when it comes to writing content, you still need to provide some creativity with what you input, and this is where a content or copywriter with experience will excel because of their experience of knowing exactly what they want. No longer necessarily creators, we must move into the realm of curation, finding a joy in content design more than creation. The puzzle pieces may have changed but the act of putting them together remains the same.
Developing Prompts for AI
AI can only work with what it is given. Whilst a talented and handsome content writer might be able to understand context clues, and have the imagination to expand on a point or concept through their own initiative, AI needs you to tell it to do that. This has both its pros and cons but, in developing a prompt, context is king!
Start with a Basic Question for the AI
Begin with the basic question or request, like “Write me a...” and then identify what more needs to be done from the answer. This way, you can see what’s missing and understand more of the context of what is needed from each prompt.
Think About the Goals You Want to Achieve from your AI Content
Understanding what you want to achieve from the content helps you write it, and subsequently, prompt it too. If it’s designed to sell to a specific market, tell the AI this. The more the tool knows, the better it can respond. This can become clunky and lead to writing more than the content requires, however, you can save prompts and edit them for different uses.
Refine Your AI Prompt Until You Get the Desired Results
Keep going back to prompts and answers and add to them until you get a desired result. Just because you’ve got an answer, doesn’t mean you can’t say “now add...” or “change X to Y” etc. Make sure you aren’t repeating yourself though as, if you use the same prompt twice then you’ll get the same or similar results. As such, you need to make sure your prompts are unique in order to get unique content.
Longform Content Generation with AI
One thing I have found particularly reassuring about AI is that it still can’t quite get the hang of longform content generation, and has a habit of completely rewriting your own words if you ask it to edit something. This means that the real meaty pieces of content can remain, largely, the domain of the physical writer. This is because AI can provide you with talking points but can’t form an opinion or provide personal insight into a subject.
Google seems to have acknowledged this with its latest E-E-A-T update where experience and expertise are now at the forefront of how it ranks content. As such, anything with more of a personal aspect to it is likely to perform better.
Certainly, you can get the structure and bare bones down quite easily with AI but it takes someone with skill and expertise to eke out something more in-depth and valuable to the reader. The joy of writing remains when you still have control over what your produce, and so being able to artfully elaborate on those initial offerings allows you to scratch that itch whilst still making the most of those tools at hand.
So, should I remain glum about the predicament that content/copywriters find themselves in. Well, it certainly seems that we are stepping into a brave new world and adapting to it will be no mean feat, but that watery glimmer of hope is there and those of us who can adapt and overcome will, ultimately, survive with their sense of self intact.