A collective groan can be heard around the world as copy and content writers grapple with the arrival of ChatGPT and other AI technology – wondering if they will become as redundant as Betamax video players. Here’s our take on the situation.
The short answer is no. Don’t be worried. The more complicated answer is that you have to stay relevant as a copy and content writer, with an attitude of ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join em’. Just as other professions have changed over the years with the introduction of new technology, so writers should adapt and allow the technology to work for them, not replace them. Here’s a starting point. Install the ChatGPT extension for Chrome or Firefox.
What is ChatGPT?
It’s a language-producing software developed by OpenAI, to simulate human-like written text. Through years of development, it has a good understanding of a plethora of topics and can perform various natural language tasks, such as ‘chat bots’ in website chat boxes and helplines – which often go by human names to give them an even more ‘person-like’ customer experience.
ChatGPT is currently free for public use, as it’s still in its developmental phase. It’s currently the fasted growing App, faster than both TikTok and Instagram, with more than 100 million active users within two months of its launch. Swiss Bank UBS noted that, ‘In 20 years following the internet space, we cannot recall a faster ramp in a consumer internet app’. Instagram reached those numbers after two years, and TikTok in nine months.
Unlike many chatbots that are only programmed to respond to certain preset, site-relevant questions before paging you through to a real help-desk operator, ChatGPT can respond to complex questions and produce comprehensive, essay-length answers on virtually any topic. Fans of the ChatGPT are using it to generate resumés, articles, academic papers, lesson plans, and even programming and development software.
So if it’s so great, can ChatGPT take the place of copy and content writers, scriptwriters, and business writers?
For some tasks… maybe. But it still has its flaws and can’t take the place of a human mind.
AI currently can’t compete with the factual accuracy of your own research, nor the originality and creativity of your own writing. Clever writers may use it to their advantage, rather than swimming against the current, perhaps using it to write an outline, or for brainstorming ideas. The introduction of AI writing tools to the general marketplace will eliminate below-average writers who are working for $5 per 1000-word article on Fiverr. Why should a client pay a bland writer to create average content for them when they could use AI and do it themselves?
Will clients expect to charge you less now that the ‘bulk’ of your work can be written by ChatGPT?
Well, they shouldn’t. What should happen is that writers who are charging an hourly rate will be able to produce better quality articles by using ChatGPT to generate the body of their content, and then spending their billable time to fact-check and add flair to the article.
Even though ChatGPT gathers information from numerous sources across the web, that’s not to say that the information is accurate, unbiased, and not plagiarised. As importantly, it takes a skilled copy or content writer to write with their client’s brand voice or tone – this is not something that AI is yet capable of doing. Sure, you’ll get clients that say, ‘You need to start billing me less now that AI is doing your job for you’. That’s like telling a baker to charge less because they have an electric mixer and don’t have to whisk the eggs by hand – now, they have more time for intricate icing and decorating!
There’s no time like the present to upskill, improve your writing proficiency, develop a unique writing style, and take a writing course. Or, better yet, find a niche as a writer to grow your writing career.
About the Author
Rose-Anne Turner completed the Travel Writing Course at SA Writers College in 2008.
Since then, she’s worked as both a freelance writer, focusing on travel and lifestyle and a staff feature writer for the Samui Holiday Magazine when living in Thailand. She’s had articles published in both online and print media, including Explore Africa, Travel Ideas, Interval International, and Portugal Living, as well as inflight magazines The Holland Herald (KLM), Sawasdee (Thai Airways), and Morning Calm (Korean Air).
Rose-Anne now lives in Portugal, and aside from freelance writing, she also co-owns a TEFL (Teach English as a Foreign Language) training company, with branches in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, helping those with wanderlust and a love of the English language find a way to live and work abroad.