If there’s one thing people say about me—whether as a compliment or, well, not as a compliment—it’s that I’m often direct. So, here’s my direct answer: yes, a content writing company can use AI writing tools. Of course, the answer isn’t that simple. But my goal here isn’t to just take a stance on this entire debate; it’s to also show you how I use these tools at my company so you can incorporate them into your own writing processes.
What Are AI Writing Tools?
Artificial intelligence—AI—is a computer that can learn, but only via what it’s been taught. Although what we’ve seen these days is very impressive, we’re a long ways away from computers with human intelligence. Using AI for writing can range from a consistency checker, like PerfectIt, to asking an AI to write a full novel for you.
(Novel-writing programs, by the way, have been around for at least two decades. I don’t have a link to prove that you, but I remember seeing ads for them at the backs of literary magazines when I lived in Germany, when I was in my 20s.)
Phoebe, one of my writers, and I, tested out a few AI writing tools that promised to write complete blog posts for us. One tool couldn’t even come up with 600 words on tech writers. Plus, every time we asked it to start over, it kept insisting on writing about how much money tech writers earn. It gave us useful content like this gem:
If you’re looking for a career as a writer, there’s no better place to start than with a website that covers technology. Websites that cover technology tend to attract readers who are interested in learning more about the latest trends in technology.
What can we say? Mind blowing.
(Just needed to prove my age with that idiomatic usage.)
Asking AI to Write About My Company
With the latest craze around ChatGPT, I couldn’t resist. I’d heard it was amazing at writing About Us content, so I visited the site and asked it to write about Lori Straus Communications. The tool is still in its infancy, combining standard texts it has ingested from across the web. Let me show you.
Here’s its first attempt at About Us copy:
Lori Straus Communications is a boutique public relations and communications firm based in [city/state]. Founded by [founder’s name], our team is dedicated to providing personalized and effective communication strategies for our clients.
We specialize in [services offered], and have worked with a diverse range of clients in [industries/sectors]. Our team brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to every project, and we pride ourselves on our ability to craft and execute customized communication plans that drive results.
In addition to our core services, we also offer [additional services] to help our clients achieve their communication goals.
At Lori Straus Communications, we are committed to building strong relationships with our clients and being a trusted partner in their success. If you are interested in learning more about how we can help your business or organization, don’t hesitate to reach out. We would be happy to discuss your communication needs and how we can help you achieve your goals.
I sound like almost every other small communications company out there. Anyone who’s in business knows that you need a USP, a unique selling proposition. Plus, the only part of public relations I offer is press releases for regular clients.
The marketer in me would immediately ask, “What’s effective about your communication strategies? How do you define ‘strong relationships’?” These are words I rarely use in marketing copy without having concrete examples immediately nearby, and my clients know that.
At least “high-quality” wasn’t in there, one of my pet peeves.
I hit “regenerate” and got this:
Lori Straus Communications is a [type of business/service] company founded by [Founder’s name]. Our team is dedicated to helping [what the business does] and we have a passion for [something the business is passionate about].
We have been in business for [length of time] and have worked with a diverse range of clients, including [examples of clients]. Our team is made up of skilled professionals with a wide range of expertise, including [skills and expertise of team members].
At Lori Straus Communications, we believe in [core values/beliefs of the company]. This drives everything we do, from the way we work with clients to the way we approach projects. We are committed to delivering high-quality work and going above and beyond to meet the needs of our clients.
Thank you for considering Lori Straus Communications for your [type of service needed]. We would love the opportunity to work with you and help your business/organization succeed. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or to discuss your project further.
Words you’ll rarely see me use when I write these days include “dedicated,” “committed to,” and “passion” because they’re so overused they’ve become unbelievable.
Oh. And there’s “high-quality.”
When clients decide to hire a company like mine, they want original content. Nothing in either sample is original. For someone who hates writing and needs something clean, fine, those samples would do. But they won’t help your company stand out.
AI for Writing Blogs
When you use AI for writing blog posts, you risk creating fluff. You saw that paragraph on tech writers earlier.
It doesn’t take long to pick up that something is fluff. Readers will leave immediately, increasing your bounce rate and affecting your SEO score with Google.
If using AI tools entices you because you believe they can help you create content without spending money on a writer, you’ll still need to write. So, instead, use AI tools and writing routines suitable for your personality to help you get your writing done.
“But You’re a Writer: I’m Not! I Can’t Just Write at the Drop of a Hat!”
That may sound like it on the surface, but ask yourself this: why is this blog for a company that’s existed over a year, owned by a writer who’s been working professionally for a decade, so sparse, when the owner has written hundreds of thousands of words for clients and published 11 novels totalling about another 600,000 words?
Even I have my psychological blocks. I can write a blog post of about 800 words—from concept to research using reliable sources to proofreading—in about two hours on a topic I know very little about, yet when I’m an expert, that same process can take weeks.
It’s that simple and yet that hard.
For many people, the inability to write is driven by a psychological block. It happens to professional writers, too.
(Of course, if your writing difficulties stem from a neurological condition, that’s a different story, and one I’m not qualified to help with.)
Although I don’t know what’s holding you back from writing your own content, I can at least help you with a writing routine that includes appropriate uses of AI writing tools that support your voice and truly help you create strong content.
A Blog Writing Routine That Safely Uses Artificial Intelligence for Writing
I need a very structured system, so I separate my writing steps and will usually do them on different days, or at least at different times in one day. If you like the though of using use technology to help you, as I do, here’s one way to bring in AI. (I don’t list all the tech I use just to stay on point. I’ll do that in a later blog post.)
- Brainstorm and, if needed, do SEO research. Although SEO research is a topic for another day, it’s part of brainstorming for me because it brings up different ideas.
- Conduct any necessary research. I may need to alternate between Steps 1 and 2, depending on the length of the piece.
- Outline my piece and know my point. The level of detail depends on the length and topic of the article. Writing 1,200 words about a person requires much more planning than writing 600 words about the best five ice cream parlours in town. I may need to do a little more research at this point to fill any gaps.
- Write my draft without stopping to worry about details. This gets everything onto paper, where I can deal with problems like fuzzy ideas, factual errors, etc. It’s hard to deal with things in my head.
- If I haven’t taken a break yet, this is the spot to do it. Editing is easier with fresh eyes.
- Edit for structure and factual errors. The biggest mistake I see in amateur writers is that they write chronologically: “At 8 a.m., this happened. Then this happened at 10:30. Then we had lunch as everyone got laid off.” When you’ve buried the most interesting event—getting laid off—you risk losing your reader before they reach it. That’s called “burying the lede.” So, when you edit for structure, see if you’ve buried the lede. If you have, move it to the beginning, then ensure everything else still makes sense.
Now it’s time to pull out the AI writing tools.
- Edit for grammar and syntax (that your sentences make sense). I use ProWritingAid for this. It’s a fantastic tool that helps you see everything from words you use too often to passive voice to grammatical errors. You don’t have to fix everything it flags, but it flags them for you so you can decide what you want to do.
- Edit for typos and consistency. This is where you look for form and from. ProWritingAid finds most of these, but I prefer PerfectIt’s interface for some of these errors. It lists all the errors, and you can either fix all at once or one by one. It also interfaces with The Chicago Manual of Style if you have a paid subscription.
My only word of caution: ensure you know why your AI writing tools are giving you advice. Just because an app says you should improve something doesn’t mean you should. If you accept all suggestions, your writing will still sound stilted. And, quite frankly, sometimes they flag something, I accept the fix, and then the fix gets flagged. Guess what the recommendation is? To change it back to what it was.
You still need to be in control of your writing. Remember that.
Will AI Take Over Writing?
We have predictive text now with Google and Word. I turned mine off because it distracted me. But not everyone loves writing for a myriad of reasons, from simply not interested to having any number of disabilities. Dictation is certainly improving, so hopefully some will find use in that.
Although AI has improved by leaps in bounds, and I do use it for many translation projects, I think it’s a long time before it takes over writing. People lament we’re all beginning to think alike because of social media, yet how many of us watched the same 28 channels growing up? Listened to the same handful of radio stations? Selected from the same dozen cereals? I thought it was all grrrreeaattt!!!
Every generation connects over common experiences. But our immediate environments, our genetic makeups, our interests, the languages we speak, and how we process all of it still make us unique. AI can’t replace that.
But there are already many AI tools for writing because, like many endeavours, writing has onerous aspects to it. I once realized that I love the verb “to know.” Even used it 25 times in one chapter. Would you really want to read a chapter that used the same verb 25 times? Thanks to AI, I cleaned that chapter up before sending it to my human editor, who improved my writing even more.
AI writing tools have their place in a content writing company. Never be afraid to ask how they’re being used on the content you’re having created. If you don’t have the budget to hire a content writing company, experiment with these tools, but don’t be fooled into thinking that they can write complete blog posts for you. I use AI writing tools to support my writing, not do it for me. You can use them for those same purposes, too.