My phone rang, a dear friend and freelance writer had lost one of her long-term clients to AI. She was both apprehensive and heartbroken and in her words, ‘the impact of AI had hit home when she least expected’.
Digging deeper, this was a low-paying client and my friend had stuck because of the high-volume work that didn’t need high editing standards. It offered some false security.
All this left me wondering to what extent AI will impact freelance writing and how content writers can thrive amid heavy technological advancements.
So, fasten your seatbelts, and let’s delve right in!
What is AI (Artificial Intelligence)?
Before we answer the question ‘Will A.I. replace content writers?’ we need to be on the same page on what is AI.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is the use of computer programs to generate, analyze, and edit content. In the freelance writing industry, it is a content writing medium that uses machine learning and natural language processing algorithms to generate written content.
You’ll input a prompt to the AI (a process called prompt engineering) and you’ll get an output (responses). You can regenerate the responses until you get something that feels right and relevant.
Some of the writing tasks artificial intelligence can perform include:
- Research. Gathering information, data, and stats surrounding a topic and allowing you to brainstorm the topic within a short time.
- Writing. You can use AI to write marketing campaigns, social media posts, blog posts, news articles, or product descriptions.
- Editing: AI can edit content for grammar, spelling, and clarity. You can check for synonyms or restructure your content for better readability or personalization.
AI is a just aTool (Means to the End not the End)
Can you remember the last time you read a captivating novel? What did you like about it? I could guess – the flow, creativity, characters, humor, irony, and emotions, right?
Just a sweet balance in the most crucial aspects that captured your attention. Do you think that could be AI-generated? Certainly not!
1. AI is just a Tool, to Enhance the process
While AI has revolutionized many aspects of our lives, it’s important to remember that it’s just a tool.
Think of SEO tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, or Surfer SEO. You need to be an SEO expert to know when the suggested keyword density sounds unnatural or inhuman.
This is the same attitude you should have towards ChatGpt or Bard – tools to help you produce high-quality content efficiently. And without the input of a skilled writer, AI won’t cut it.
2. Limitations of AI-Generated Content
- Lacks Creativity
Among the major limitations of AI-generated content is its inability to replicate human creativity. AI learning models lack the imaginative thinking and emotional intelligence that human writers bring to their work.
Creativity allows unique perspectives, engaging narratives, captivating hooks, and thought-provoking ideas that resonate with the readers.
When creativity is missing the content feels flat and uncompelling and if it’s a marketing copy, this will negatively impact conversions and sales.
- Inability to Understand Nuances Aspects of Language
Most times, AI fails to understand and grasp the dynamics and intricacies of cultural references, the context, or subtle wordplay. Such content feels disconnected from human experience and robotic, turning off the readers.
Effective communication lies in conveying information while connecting with the audience on an emotional level, something that AI-generated content fails miserably.
- Plagiarism and Low-Quality content
AI, such as ChatGpt are language learning models that scour the internet to provide responses for the prompts. Sometimes, they will just paraphrase or rewrite the content.
Other times, they provide shallow answers or repetition in their responses. But this also depends on the quality of the prompt – Garbage In, Garbage Out. Since AI cannot think or adapt you’ll need to be specific and detailed to get the right or a better response.
3. Types of Content that Require Human Touch
This art form of writing is deeply rooted in human culture.
The ability to create a captivating narrative, develop relatable characters, and evoke emotions through words is a skill vested in human writers.
Since storytelling focuses on intuition, empathy, and a deep understanding of human interactions and experiences, it’s almost impossible for AI to replicate.
Comedy is a balance of timing, cultural references, and wordplay, and requires a deep understanding of the context and social dynamics.
It’s only human writers who can infuse humor into their content and adapt jokes for specific audiences to generate laughter through clever wordplay, irony, puns, or satire. AI fails in grasping the subtleties of humor and may produce irrelevant content, altogether.
- Persuasive Writing
Human writers excel at convincing an audience through opinion pieces, marketing copy, or persuasive writing. This requires a skill to weave logical arguments with an emotional appeal by understanding human psychology and anticipating counterarguments.
AI language models lack adaptability, making them incapable of applying these persuasive techniques.
It is in recognizing the limitations of AI-generated content and understanding the unique capabilities of human writers that we can embrace AI as a valuable tool that enhances content creation rather than a replacement for human intuition and creativity.
A Better Approach – Collaborating Human Writers with AI
AI and human writers can co-exist, and should coexist.
This means harnessing and utilizing AI capabilities in automating writing tasks such as creating an outline, gathering data, pulling out statistics, or generating ideas for complex tasks.
Using that as the skeleton, you can fine-tune the content to suit your audience, remove fluff, and check for plagiarism. You can also fact-check to ensure the data sources are credible and authoritative.
- AI – A Valuable Assistant
AI can help human writers in research, idea generation, and proofreading. With access to vast amounts of data and advanced algorithms, it can quickly analyze and synthesize information, providing writers with valuable insights and saving them time and effort.
During research, AI algorithms can comb through academic journals, extensive databases, and online sources to extract relevant information, expert opinions, and statistics.
This allows writers to focus on interpreting and analyzing the research, rather than spending hours searching for relevant data.
- Generating Ideas and Brainstorming
When experiencing writer’s block or unsure which angle to take, AI can offer suggestions, prompts, or even complete outlines.
This can spark your creativity and help you explore new perspectives to produce quality content that meets the searcher’s intent and enhances the reader’s experience.
- Editing and Proofreading
Think of Grammarly, an AI-powered tool that assists in proofreading and editing. It can identify grammar and spelling errors, suggest improvements in sentence structure, and highlight areas lacking clarity or coherence.
This collaborative editing process ensures that the final piece meets high-quality standards and readability.
- Content Optimization
You are writing for human readers but you also want to increase visibility on search engines. Instead of manually optimizing the content by guessing the right keyword density, LSI keywords, or the appropriate word count, why not delegate that to AI?
It will save you time, provide accurate results and scale your content optimization. Coupled with thorough keyword research, you can be sure of a higher visibility and better conversions.
Successful Illustrations of Human-AI Collaboration in Content Writing
The content writing industry has witnessed successful human-AI collaboration in content creation, editing and publishing. Here are a few examples
1. Heliograf – the Washington AI Journalist
The Washington Post implemented an AI-powered tool called Heliograf to automate the generation of news articles.
Heliograf used natural language generation algorithms to produce real-time updates on topics such as election results, sports events, and weather forecasts.
Rather than replacing human journalists, Heliograf enabled the newsroom to focus on more in-depth reporting while efficiently delivering breaking news.
2. Grammarly and ProWriting Aid
Is there a copywriter or freelance writer who hasn’t used Grammarly? I highly doubt it.
Grammarly and ProWritingAid have developed AI-based writing assistants that help writers improve their grammar, sentence structure, style, and clarity.
These tools analyze text and offer suggestions for improvement, empowering human writers to polish their work and enhance quality.
But you know how weird and unnatural some of these suggestions are! A reminder that AI has its shortcomings and human writers are still needed.
3. Content Marketing Agencies
Content marketing agencies have embraced AI to optimize their client acquisition and marketing strategies.
By leveraging AI analytics tools, they can analyze consumer data, identify trends, and tailor their content to target specific audience segments. This collaboration between AI-driven insights and human creativity enables brands to create engaging, personalized content that resonates with their customers.
AI and Human Writers – The Ultimate Combo
These examples demonstrate that AI and human writers can work together harmoniously, with AI serving as a valuable collaborator rather than a replacement.
The combined strengths of human intuition, creativity, and emotional intelligence, alongside AI’s computational power and data analysis capabilities, result in content that is impactful and efficient.
By fostering a collaborative mindset and embracing the possibilities that arise from human-AI partnerships, content creators can unlock new levels of innovation and productivity.
The future lies in a symbiotic relationship between humans and machines, where the unique qualities of human writers are amplified and augmented by AI’s transformative potential.
Evolution of Content Writing and How Writers can Thrive
I feared AI and when my students asked me what I thought about it, I wasn’t sure what I would say. All I knew was that AI wasn’t going to take our jobs and even with such interruptions, there were opportunities to grow and thrive.
That said, how is the content writing field changing?
1.The Need for Technical Competence
There’s growing demand for writers with technical expertise surrounding AI tools, platforms, and content generation algorithms.
It’s therefore important to understand the basics of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning to help you collaborate with AI systems.
2. Creativity and Uniqueness
The upsurge of AI has affected content creativity, uniqueness, and depth.
With AI taking on more repetitive and formulaic tasks, there is a need for great writers who can craft engaging narratives, evoke emotions, and develop unique ideas. Therefore, you should focus on cultivating creativity and delivering unique perspectives.
3. Expertise and Thought Leadership
Developing expertise in specific niches or industries can position writers as thought leaders. This means providing unique insights, analysis, and expert opinions, to establish yourself as a trusted source of information. This way, you don’t have to look for low-paying jobs or fear losing your gigs.
A pro tip: If you are a generalist it’s time to pick a freelance writing niche, have a high-quality and relevant portfolio and create a client avatar. Know who you are serving, their unique challenges, goals, and opportunities.
Something else, position yourself as an expert on social media platforms by sharing helpful, in depth and regular content. Be on top of the trending industry topics and news and don’t fear giving your thoughtful opinion.
It’s a matter of time before your inbound method pays off.
Will you Set Yourself Apart? Will you Prepare?
A.I is here to stay and it can only get better in producing content and automating the writing and editing process. How can you stand out and how can you prepare for the future?
- Embrace AI, learn as much as you can and look for unique opportunities
- Be an expert in a specific niche. Immerse yourself and have a quality portfolio
- Harness human capabilities such as storytelling, creativity and unique perspectives
- Adapt and diversify. Be learning daily and be flexible enough to survive the industry’s dynamics.
- Use AI to build your brand. Have your own business, grow it gradually and should AI take over writing, in the future, you won’t lose your income as you’ll utilize it to grow your brand. Win- win!
With that, I’m sure you’ll stand the test of time. Happy freelance writing!