Last year I had a content writing gig with a marketing agency. It was my job to churn out 15-20 articles each month for the agency’s clients.
This agency relationship made up around 30% of my monthly income. I charged a fixed price per article, so no matter how long it took me to create, I was still paid the same amount.
December 2022 rolls around and I receive a message from the agency, ‘Hey have you heard of this thing called ChatGPT?’
‘Oh is it one of those AI writing things?’ I replied. ‘Yes!’ he said, ‘It’s amazing! I want to switch you to an hourly rate. With this you’ll be able to pump out 10 articles an hour!’
Ha, I thought to myself. Unlikely.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of anything that makes life quicker and easier – especially when it comes to work.
But I’d already tried platforms like Jasper and Copy.AI. And to be honest, I thought they were rubbish.
There was no way I could send what the AI produced to my clients.
Incorrect information, gibberish sentences, absolutely no personality in the tone…I figured AI wasn’t anything to be worried about for the foreseeable future.
Or so I thought.
‘Look you really need to try it…I’m telling you it’s amazing,’ the agency pressed.
‘Alright I’ll give it a go,’ I replied.
After creating a free account, I gave the machine it’s first prompt. Write 500 words on marketing strategies for e-commerce brands.
Damn, I thought to myself as I watched ChatGPT create well-articulated sentences in a matter of seconds.
It was unsettling, to say the least.
I went back to my client. ‘Okay, you’ve got me here, this platform is pretty dang good.’
What followed was best described as a mini-existential crisis. I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was whether this was going to spell the end of my career as a copywriter.
I also happened to be in the middle of writing my first book, a step-by-step business guide for aspiring copywriters.
Suddenly I wasn’t sure of the project at all. Was everything I had written now redundant? Am I giving out bad advice by publishing this? Should I cancel this project all together?
I decided to put it on pause while I figured out how much of an impact AI was going to have on my business.
Seven months in – how has ChatGPT affected my copywriting business?
While I have parted ways with the client mentioned earlier in this article (for non-AI related reasons), I won’t sugarcoat things and say I haven’t lost work because of ChatGPT.
The fact is, I have.
And while no-one has openly come out and said ‘Hey Rach, thanks for your service but we’re going with the machine…’ I’m 97% certain that is the case. These were long-term clients that were always very happy with my work.
Thankfully, those losses haven’t had much of an impact on my cash flow. Because, while some clients have stopped giving me work, others have started giving me double.
But I know that’s not the case for other copywriters. I’ve seen many voices online saying how quiet the market is right now. How they’re struggling to find work. Some are wondering if they should just throw in the towel and pivot into something else.
Because this tech is still so new, my feeling is that many businesses are having a crack with tools like ChatGPT right now. I mean what business doesn’t want to have bigger profit margins?
We’re in a massive exploration phase right now. Everything is up in the air, and the dust is yet to settle.
I don’t have a crystal ball, but my feeling is that things will pick up again for copywriters. As business owners begin to realise that what ChatGPT is producing sounds and looks like everyone else, people are going to get hungry for real voices again.
It’s not all doom and gloom
You know how once you’ve seen something, you can’t unsee it?
That’s what’s happening with AI. There’s no use sticking your head in the sand and pretending it’s not here to stay.
But I believe AI tools like ChatGPT are going to become our collaborators – not our replacements.
We can now produce high-quality work in half the time we used to. We no longer have to spend hours looking for credible sources of information for educational style content.
So if you’re a copywriter and you haven’t embraced AI yet, now’s the time to do so. Hitch yourself to the bandwagon or get left behind. And I don’t mean that glibly.
Our role is shifting – instead of starting with a blank page every day, we’re going to be editing what AI produces. We still need to understand the target market of our clients, their pain points and desires, we still need to know what elements should go into certain pieces of copy.
We need to think of programs like ChatGPT as our junior copywriters. We need to guide it, tell it where it’s going wrong, where it’s missing the mark.
The good news is, your average client doesn’t know the fundamentals of copywriting, or how to generate good results with AI. Our services will still be required.
A new era is beginning
As we begin to navigate the sea of change brought on by AI, it’s time to stop looking at it with fear and instead start using it as tool to enhance our creative capabilities.
Our role as writer is unlikely to ever become obsolete, but it certainly will be redefined.
Our understanding of the nuances of language, the intricacies of human psychology, and the art of crafting compelling narratives remains irreplaceable.
Instead of beginning with a blank canvas, we now step into the role of editors, guiding AI to better align with the unique voice and vision of our clients.
Guest Author: Rachael J. Low is a freelance copywriter and editor who works with a number of marketing agencies producing high-quality copywriting for their clients. You can find out more about her services at https://www.rachaeljlow.com
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