FREELANCING

September 22, 2022

Joy Youell

Joy Youell is an expert copywriter and content strategist.

Content AI is About to Make You Obsolete. Unless…

If, as a professional writer, you think content AI and copywriting tools have nothing to do with you: you’re not looking closely enough.

Over the last year, I spent about 10 months consulting for a major content AI system. I reviewed, edited, and noted more than a hundred thousand articles. I analyzed them and gave the dev team feedback to train the algorithm.

I can say with confidence: content AI can do more than you think it can. 

I would conservatively estimate that it will render the bottom 20% of copywriters (basic blog writers, basic SEO writers) obsolete within two years.

And it’s only getting better.

So, what do you do? Give up and let the machines take it?

Obviously not. Because writing is a craft. It doesn’t just require intelligence: it’s metacognitive. At least the excellent stuff is. And that’s where any copywriter who hopes to survive should focus.

Let’s talk it through.

Rather watch? Here:

Mythbusting Copy AI/Content AI Systems

First, the arrogant among us are dismissing content AI and copy AI outright:

This has nothing to do with me.

I can assure you, it does.

And if you’re bringing that level of arrogance into the craft, you probably aren’t as good as you think. But I digress.

A few things that working very closely training a content algorithm taught me:

It’s better at technical content than you are — Even the best technical copywriter in the world can’t touch the sheer volume of resources at the disposal of an algorithm. It’ll eat you for lunch. Going deeper into a field isn’t the answer.

It can rearrange existing ideas better than you can — Amateurs and novice copywriters start at this level: they rearrange existing ideas. They spin snippets and gather information, slightly reworking or reordering it to avoid plagiarism. I’m very not sorry that this era is about to shut down. You can’t hope to cover the amount of ideological ground or connect the same topical dots as AI.

It has a better vocabulary than you do — Wordsmithing will get you a ways. But you are up against an on-tap index of every vocabulary in the world when you go head to head with content AI. You won’t win. Regardless of what your Grammarly score says.

It can do tone — “But AI doesn’t sound human.” It’s getting there. And it will. We worked to use subset vocabulary (LSI & NLP stuff) to aggregate banks of keywords that reflect certain types of brand voices. It’s not even hard. Tone and brand voice won’t differentiate you against the machine.

So you may feel like you just got leveled down a little, but that’s a good thing. You need to be scrappy and really think about where you’re going to dig in to stay ahead.

Here’s what I suggest.

Sharpen Your Storytelling Skills

Writers should be storytellers, plain and simple. I was just talking to one of my writers about this: she’s writing a website for a dry cleaning company. Boring? Hardly!

Think about the possibilities:

  • Your kid has al lengthy illness, snuggly safe in their comforter… which then gets filthy
  • Your wedding dress danced the whole night long, full of echo memories you’ll cherish forever… and now it has champagne stains
  • Your firstborn graduates college, goes through interviews, and is wearing a new suit into their first day of their first job

What do clothes mean? What’s the story they tell? It’s so common and so ordinary and yet so beautifully human.

This is the difference between AI content throwing keywords on a page, an amalgam of meaningful yet boilerplate ideas, and what a professional writer can do.

Be Unexpected

So, the AI model I trained had this really creepy thing called hallucinates. They would find these shreds of code in the system that we couldn’t linguistically trace to origin content. APART FROM THAT wild and mildly unsettling dynamic, AI has a real hard time being unpredictable. 

But. 

Banana.

Steamroll.

Apple.

Nail polish.

Flizzerp.

Poooooooook.

We can.

We can say words that don’t exist that make them mean something because of context. We can jab. We can shimmy. We can turn on a dime.

This is an art form. Not well represented above, but you get the point, and it will build value into your copywriting skills.

Think Deeper

Deep work. Deep thought. This doesn’t just mean technical expertise. Some of the functionalities of AI and similar technologies are predicated on neural networking, which is cool, but think about it:

Everything in the world of these artificial intelligent applications is meant to replicate the human mind.

And we have the original.

The real thing.

The reference is US.

So, it stands to reason that we should be more capable. More nuanced. More attentive. More alliterative. Not that last one.

Writers who want to skim the surface and collect a check can, will, and should be replaced. It’s a poor representation of what writing should be. 

Writers who are willing to dive deep — to go into a little oxygen-deprived gray space, to tune into language patterns and the evolution of vocabulary, to play with words in the ether, to untangle dense ideas and make them simple, to let things go big and small and shapeshift — these are the writers who will see AI content and think, “meh, I can do better.” Because they can. Because they’re deep.

Artificial Intelligence for Content Doesn’t Get the Last Word

I love me some sci-fi. Big time. But the truth is, writers are stewards of human communication. Writers are the people who record what happens, who record what could never happen, who are brave enough to make permanent the hysteria and hilarity and wonder of the human experience.

AI content won’t get the last word. We will. So make it a good one.

Like soliloquy. 

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