This article has been published by Shashwat Kaushik.
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Hello wordsmiths! How’s your passion progressing? I hope it has not turned into a mundane 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job! Are you still able to exude creativity across all your content-writing projects, or do you feel your creativity is drying out? Are you still able to consistently generate compelling narratives with new ideas being created across your numerous but similar-sounding projects? Is your content expressive enough to keep your audience engaged until the end? Are you able to simultaneously generate quality and engaging content without any silly or major language-related errors? Most importantly, are you able to give quality time to your personal life by completing your day-to-day content-writing tasks within a reasonable time frame?
You truly deserve hearty congratulations if your answer to the above is ‘Yes’. However, as we all know, those ‘Yes’s have come with some reluctance and a lot of doubt. This is because content writing has now proven to be a demanding task, much more than those mundane, non-creative jobs that their doers perfect themselves within a short time and can complete with robot-like precision with the help of numerous tools and technologies available nowadays.
Well! As a member of the same tribe, I have endeavoured to collect some information on how to overcome these problems and thus make our lives more enjoyable. This article explores the help that artificial intelligence can provide to content writers of various genres and niches, along with the pitfalls of its usage. This should help in the judicious usage of the technology while maintaining originality, creativity, and efficiency at the same time.
Content writing, as we all know, involves the creation of reading material in written form for diverse publications of various genres, such as education material, textbooks, training material, story books, magazines, newspapers, marketing catalogues, advertisements, articles, etc. This is currently extended more to the virtual space in the form of articles, blogs, website content, product descriptions, and Search Engine optimisations for E-commerce sites, articles and information publishing for businesses, letters of various kinds meant for various purposes, marketing materials, advertisements, product brochures, images, podcasts, videos, unique content for readers on social media, etc. The aim is to communicate and engage the reader with the E-commerce or business in the virtual space of the internet.
Anyone can write. Is that right? There is a disagreement here. Our work is just not over if we add some words to a page. The words and their sequences should be so structured that they keep the reader engaged and give the impression that the reader enthusiastically responds to our call to action so that the idea or business moves forward.
Challenges faced by content writers
Going by the experiences of many content writers of different genres and niches, we can summarise some common challenges they face across the board. They are as follows:
In short, it implies running out of ideas. This is the first and biggest challenge faced by a content writer. Proofreading and fixing grammatical as well as technical errors are objective and mechanical tasks that can be done even if the doer is not in the frame of mind. However, creating new ideas and producing them on paper in an engaging manner can never be done when the writer is out of the zone. Writing is not a mechanical job. It needs a conducive mental framework as well as a suitable external environment for insights and concepts to be generated and impressively represented on paper to engage its readers. Working on various projects, even if they belong to the same niche, brings with it the challenge of knowing all the facts, which is nearly impossible for a single content writer. Even if the writer is equipped with full knowledge of the subject he or she is writing about, running out of ideas and/or new ways to represent it every time is a struggle. Constantly churning out new ideas on the same or similar topics is a very difficult and monotonous task. It is very tiring, too.
Readability and relevancy
This is another major roadblock that presents itself, especially to an overzealous writer. This implies straying away from the main subject, objective, and intent of the content. A content writer, in a burst of inspiration, can get carried away by his / her thoughts and ideas on various subtopics while writing content for the main topic in hand as required by the project or client. This adversely affects readability and renders the content irrelevant.
Adherence to deadlines
A content writer, sometimes, may have to stick to tight schedules where the time crunch and resultant tension may not help him/her to generate new ideas and concepts. This is what adversely affects the quality of the content’s core, and the output may, at the most, turn out to be average. This might become a major roadblock for the career of a content writer, especially in a nine-to-five highly competitive corporate atmosphere.
Often, a content writer is given work by a client who asks him/her to produce content only of a certain kind and within a certain limit. The scope for creativity is very limited, thus giving rise to frustration for a creative content writer.
Content writing is a talent and skill possessed by content writers that are nowadays being harnessed for monetization. However, the competition in this field has become extremely vigorous and the business world is bustling with content writers trying to outdo each other with words and underbidding for content writing projects. This makes it imperative for content writers to weave and build their own brand, nurture it, and create a unique space for themselves. This is a task of a very demanding nature, which a content writer will not be able to avoid if he/she wants to make a mark for themselves and survive in this domain.
Clients’ endless editing requests
During the content-creating journey, a content writer may mostly come across clients who change their course midway through or at the end of their project. They may need a change in the wording, paraphrasing, or even the structure or entire concept of the content itself, which can be a major deviation from the initial instructions that were given to the content writer. The most frustrating part is when the demand for change comes exactly when the content writer is right in the heart of his / her creativity and/or its representation or at the end of it. It can sometimes happen, even after the work has been submitted. Redoing the entire work is incredibly annoying and frustrating.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) in the digital world
The content of a business in the virtual world needs to be accessible to the concerned reader and thus the ranking of the business’s virtual site on the internet has become important. The factor that helps in this ranking is called SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), which draws on the most popular keywords used in the content of the website or E-commerce site of the business. It is therefore imperative for the content writer to keep this factor in mind and input appropriate and relevant keywords and phrases in his / her content so that the client’s page occupies the front pages of the browser. This can be said to be a measurement of the success of the business and, thus, of its virtual content and it establishes the credibility of the content writer. It is a challenge for the writer to maintain this credibility if he/she does not spare enough time to research the keywords used by competitors in the business content. This includes content for landing pages and calls to action too.
Artificial intelligence in context of content writing
Artificial intelligence (AI, in short) is, in simple terms, the output of content to its human users against a prompt by software termed artificial intelligence tools. The output here is based on a combination of data fed to the software tool by other platforms on the internet, which in turn are also updated by other human users themselves. These tools, with the help of pre-set algorithms, not only scan their input data and reproduce content in a manner and style that is relevant to the prompt provided by the content writers, but they also look like human-generated text.
AI writing tools are a boon for businesses that conduct content marketing. Virtual sites that constantly require users to feed and update blogs, posts, articles, landing pages, product descriptions, advertisements, videos, images, send bulk and regular emails for various purposes, etc. use AI for these tasks.
Content writing AI tools
There are many AI tools/software available on the internet that help generate the required and relevant content. Some are free to use, some are free to use up to a certain extent and some are fully paid.
Although there are numerous AI tools available for content creators, let us explore a few of them that are currently popular on the market.
The most popular AI for providing information, suggestions and content generation needed for various platforms, including email writing, ChatGPT (GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) was launched in November 2022 by the artificial intelligence research company OpenAI. This company was formed by the current richest person and businessman in the world, Mr. Elon Reeve Musk, along with Samuel Harris Altman, also known as Sam Altman – an American entrepreneur, investor, and programmer. He is also the current CEO of OpenAI. ChatGPT is equipped with real-time updated data (earlier, it was equipped with data valid until September 2021 only). OpenAI also has another application called DALL-E that helps in image creation based on the text input provided to it.
This is an AI content writer that provides SEO optimisation services for predictive analysis, head competitor analysis, keyword research, blog creation, etc. within a few minutes. It helps in customised step-by-step writing of blogs, Chatbot services, AI templates, etc.
Built on the ChatGPT model, Writesonic helps with easy and quick content creation, audio creation, image creation, and chatbot services. It provides services in more than 25 languages.
This AI offers features such as image generation, content creation in nine languages, posts-generation for social media, predefined writing styles, customised writing styles, adherence to word limits, simultaneous writing of multiple articles, etc. These services can be used in the real world for SEO optimisation, for multiple clients at the same time, for social media management, and for the creation of content in multiple languages, thus reaching a wider audience.
Earlier known as Conversion.ai, Jasper.ai combines the required content input and data from AI language and other third-party models such as OpenAI, Anthropic, and Cohere to produce one of the best quality content outputs. It also gives us templates that are in vogue and that work on varied platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, individual websites, etc. It asks for a sketch of our content with the required keywords and combines both to give readymade content to use on the platform.
This is another helpful AI tool that gives various types of content once it is provided with context and keyword inputs. It also helps with grammar and spelling corrections and can be used across multiple languages.
Writer.ai is a content-generating AI specifically used for businesses to help maintain the style and brand of the businesses in the text or content it generates for them.
Content at Scale
This is a high-quality content generator AI that allows 100 keywords to generate 100 articles for blogs and websites, with a limit of 2500 characters for each piece of content.
HubSpot’s Content Assistant
This AI provides Website Generator services by giving suggestions on the website content of various businesses, providing personalised website design and visual editing tools, and automating tasks that are repetitive and labor-intensive, for the website. It also provides the free content required to generate blogs and articles for various platforms, including social media.
This is an app specifically used to help check and correct grammar, spelling, word relevance, style, tone, and plagiarism.
Apart from the above, the tech giants Microsoft and Google also have their own AI content generators, viz., Bing.com and Google Bard, that provide excellent content and suggestions to the content writer for various tasks.
Usage of AI tools for content writing : pros and cons
As per the State of Marketing Study, the usage of AI by marketers has jumped from 29% in 2018 to 84% in 2020. As is evident all over, the usage of technology as a natural process of human evolution in industrial as well as non-industrial domains of human life has been increasing by leaps and bounds.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is currently a hot topic being discussed on various world forums, with the most recent summit on the same being held in London on November 1 and 2, 2023. Its relevance and dangers have been widely recognised by global leaders, technology executives, and scientists, and they have resolved to establish “a shared understanding of the opportunities and risks posed by frontier AI.” As AI usage becomes ubiquitous for faster and higher outputs, there are some positives and negatives that we need to ponder that would help in a responsible and judicial usage of AI in the real world
Pros of artificial intelligence
Addresses writer’s block and decision-making issues
As stated earlier, a content writer often faces blocks in the generation of creative ideas when he or she faces situations such as shorter deadlines to deliver, requirements for content in which the writer may not have sufficient knowledge, or the need to produce content in a new way on an often-repeated topic for various clients. The advantage of using artificial intelligence in these circumstances is that it provides factual information, scanned and processed from data from the virtual sites it has been given access to. Further, unlike human beings, it provides this information and suggestions in a very quick manner, without any emotions attached. Emotions in a human being lead to the time-consuming process of considering situations in both emotional and practical ways that, most of the time, might not be error–free. All these issues are avoided by using AI for the process. Thus, content writers can easily get suggestions such as catchy taglines or subject lines for their client’s brands and businesses, video podcasts, advertisements, etc. Further, AI not only provides content but also provides pre-developed templates to the writers if the latter want to write the content themselves but are unable to decide on the design or structure of the article being written. AI also enables the design of a customised template, provided it is given the right inputs.
It is only human to err. Fortunately, human beings themselves have developed technologies that help them mitigate the risks of error through AI tools. Human beings err due to limited intellectual capabilities, emotional disturbances, external environmental factors, etc. However, as AI is not affected by these factors, it can only process the already whetted data available on the internet and thus give us error-free outputs. Thus, paraphrasing, correction of grammatical and spelling errors, and sometimes relevancy of the text to the subject matter are also corrected or suggested by the AI.
Performs recurrent and repetitive tasks
Human beings, even the most efficient ones, have limited physical, mental, and intellectual capacities to perform any task in a day or for a given period. Repetitive tasks cannot be performed by them as efficiently as required. Even if they can perform these tasks, they would need to take breaks for the same due to tiredness, mood fluctuations, etc. However, AI, unlike humans, does not require breaks due to fatigue, nor does it have mood-related issues. It can continuously perform new or the same tasks without glitches or complaints. In the context of content writing, a writer may need to write on the same topic multiple times, and sometimes within a short period too. He/she can prod the AI to write the content more than once on a subject, and each time, the result will be different, thus enhancing productivity.
Digital assistance 24/7
An average employee can work only for around eight or nine hours a day and for around five days a week to maintain work-life balance. They cannot be available for work all 24 hours a day for all 7 days of the week. The reverse is true for machines called artificial intelligence. Nowadays, we can see customer services being provided by AI-based chatbots that handle multiple common queries and FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) of various companies around the clock. Similarly, content writers can also use AI on all days of the week for all the 24 hours available in the day for assistance in their writing.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) tasks/suggestions
As discussed earlier, business webpages invariably need to be high in ranking on browsers so that they appear on the first or maximum page of the browser, such as Google, Firefox, Microsoft Edge, and the like. Thus, good content must have all those keywords that a consumer is likely to type while searching for the product or service the business is dealing with. Once we prompt the AI with a feed of keywords that we need to have in our content, we get perfect content with those keywords as a result.
Cons of artificial intelligence
We have, until now, discussed the advantages of artificial intelligence for content writers. However, as is the case with everything in this world, there are many disadvantages when it comes to the use of artificial intelligence. Let us have a look at these disadvantages (in the context of content writing) below:
Absence of creativity and improvement
Artificial intelligence tools are machines that scan factual data fed by human beings on other virtual sites and process this data via algorithms that are again set by human beings themselves. Although the algorithms also contain programming that allows the AI tool to improve on the given data based on prompts provided by humans and subsequent work it produces, AI cannot create new and original content as it has no thinking power, unlike human beings, and can only use the algorithms and pre-existing data. Thus, its output has limitations and there is an absence of scope for improvement. Hence, AI cannot be used in cases where a human being needs to be judgmental based on ethics, morals, and human values.
Challenges to human touch and originality
AI is a challenge to originality and leads to a loss of creative thinking among its users. It leads to dangers of loss of intellectual property and uniqueness in writing across the board. This is because the same tool is used worldwide, and its users get output based on the same data and inputs. The usage of AI spoils the users’ vocabulary and grammar and makes them dependent on it. AI can also throw up imaginary facts or misinformation about well-known individuals, leading to chaos and character assassination.
The rapid increase in AI usage has given rise to fears of the loss of certain traditional jobs that were performed by human beings, such as the ones in those industries where content is very important. These fears exist in a few other industries too. Unexpected levels of automation, algorithms, and robots have taken over jobs once performed by hard-working individuals, and this has taken a toll on human employment along with the human dignity and pride associated with it. According to Tim Mudd, “competing against the output of a prompt” puts you at risk.
AI cannot help as a human network
AI is only a machine. An interaction with it is between a human and a machine, not between humans and machines. Hence, it does not help in networking, which is essential for a human society to thrive, as humans are social beings. Interactions between human beings lead to changes in opinions, behaviours, ethics, etc. In the world of content writing, socialising is important to keep in touch with changes in human society and behavior and this socialising feeds the content of stories that other humans can relate to. Thus, AI can never replace the ‘Human Touch’ needed for relatable ‘Human Stories’. Hence, many clients of content writing come up with the condition that no AI is to be used for the creation of content for their projects, as it lacks the human touch and influence that are needed to impress their readers.
Criminal usage of AI
As technology is now democratic and available to every individual on this planet, it is no surprise that, as in all other cases, AI tools are also being used by criminals for nefarious activities. Deepfake technology to produce revenge pornography, bulk and targeted phishing emails and texts purported towards emptying bank accounts of unsuspecting individuals and other financial crimes, impersonating automated voice interactions and services of legitimate businesses and institutions to elicit and mine information for future nefarious activities, and using ‘Brute Forcing’ in which many combinations of characters and symbols are tried to match passwords of various websites and portals of individuals are some criminal activities being helped by AI.
High-quality, fast, and top-notch content has been fueling the growth of the content writing business. Earlier, the originality and hard work of content writers were pillars of various businesses and industries. AI technology has now come to the aid of these content writers to leapfrog their impact in the future. However, as we see, we can have a healthy scepticism on the topic of AI replacing human writers to create impressive content. Facts may be thrown up by the AI. However, it is humans who play around with these facts, re-design them, and represent the subsequent content to the reader in a personally relatable form. This task is impossible for AI tools to perform. Just as society has gradually adjusted to all technologies in the past, such as computerization, mobiles, the internet, etc., and their benefits have now been widely acknowledged, AI is next in line in the technological-evolution process and should be seen as bringing real benefits to society. Proactively understanding how AI can benefit our work and lives, developing our unique approach to working with it, and validating AI results from other information sites can help us keep the negative effects of AI at bay and enrich our lives even further. In the context of content writing, AI tools are only assistants and can never swap places with humans in the entire content creation process.