Well, it finally happened. The robots have arrived in the world of blogging.
If you're earning a living blogging, don't go reaching for that resume just yet.
You're going to be fine, but you need to read this article all the way through. It covers what you need to understand about AI in our space.
Likewise, aspiring bloggers, you need to read this article if you want to keep up with the pros and leverage this amazing new growth hack. You will have access to tools that most of us didn't when we started, so congratulations!
But, yes, AI has arrived in the content creation space. However, it's not here to replace you.
Quite the opposite, actually. AI is here to make you a better, more efficient writer.
AI is far from a cheat code or replacement to the human writer.
Here's the truth about AI in blogging.
Mediocre writers will create more mediocre content with AI.
Great writers will create more great content with AI.
AI is only here to help those of you who are already creating quality content for your readers!
So, are you in?
Will you bury your head in the sand like people who thought the internet was a fad or will you dive in and become an early adopter of AI?
If you're choosing the latter, let's get into it!
What You're About to Learn ...
- What AI in the content creation process is and isn't
- What role AI plays (is it an existential threat to creators)
- What AI tools can do for us
- What AI content tools are the best on the market in 2022
- How good AI functionality actually is
- The golden rules of using AI in the content creation process
- And more!
What Is "AI" in Content Creation?
IBM summarizes artificial intelligence (AI) well,
"Artificial intelligence leverages computers and machines to mimic the problem-solving and decision-making capabilities of the human mind."
In content creation, the machines and computers are the software programs we use.
Examples of processes AI can perform currently include (but are not limited to).
- Rewriting sentences
- Expanding on thoughts
- Outlining blog posts
- Creating compelling sales emails
- Summarizing long text
- Creating bullet points for sales copy
- Generating graphics from simple prompts (this is amazing)
- Creating "deep fakes" of our voices for audio content
- And much more
From a technological standpoint, I'll keep the explanation brief.. How these AI content generators work doesn't matter as much as the fact that they work. I love driving my car but couldn't tell you much about how its engine works.
Most AI-powered software uses GPT-3 technology from Google's OpenAI research division.
It was trained on billions of web pages crawled from across the internet. Scouring the web helped the program teach itself about natural language and how we communicate online.
As a result, GPT-3 can write coherent and fluent articles that can sound like actual humans wrote them.
The most beautiful thing here is that the tools get smarter and more accurate over time as users of the tools provide feedback on AI created output (usually a thumbs up or thumbs down option is provided on all output) and more content is continually published across the web. Similarly, the quality data for training make it smarter over time
The Benefits of Using AI in Your Content Creation
Here are the core benefits of AI for the content creators brave enough to leverage it.
#1 Produce More Content in Less Time
They will beat writer's block more quickly and can leverage AI to find new content ideas they might not have found on their own. Thus, for writers who are looking for beginner blogging tips, one of the most useful recommendations will be to use AI in their content creation.
#2 Produce Better Content in Less Time
The biggest drawback to AI in the content process is that it can appear robotic sounding. Also, it can be littered with factual inaccuracies and logical errors (more on this shortly).
I'm going to highlight this next paragraph because it's so important...
AI tools for content (especially AI content generator programs) are very far from being perfect on its own.
It requires a human writer to intervene and pick correctly what outputs are relevant, meaningful, and logical.
Sometimes, you'll need to redo content outputs many times until you find something that works. This means that your skills as a writer have not become obsolete.
Better writers will still create better content BUT better writers who leverage AI properly can create even better content and in less time.
AI content without intervention will be terrible and sound robotic.
However, AI content WITH human intervention can sound even more natural than before.
Yes, AI used effectively can make you sound more natural than you sound without it!
#3 Better SEO in Less Time
AI has taken the SEO world by storm. These tools can quickly analyze countless pages and SERPs (search engine results pages) to show us how we can create content that Google will love and reward with high positions and traffic.
Although it's not perfect, tools like Surfer SEO help take the guesswork out of what to include in our content, so it will rank well.
I can optimize new and existing content quickly and easily. It pains me to think about how much time I spent writing content that wasn't optimized well enough because I didn't have these types of tools when I started.
#4 Better Promotional Content in Less Time
Tools like Jasper.ai make it easy to create email campaigns, social media posts and more that follow general copywriting best practices. Most content creators promote too little. This is usually a result of writer's block. AI writing tools help crush that and help you create content that is likely better optimized for conversions and engagement than an average creator could make on their own. AI helps "draw inside the lines" and actually does what we know are best practices, yet forget to implement when crunched for time.
Long story short, AI is not a threat. It can be extremely useful when leveraged properly.
What Are Some AI Tools for Content Creation
There are MANY softwares that claim to leverage AI that don't, really.
These "me too" tools are littered all over websites like Appsumo and sold at insanely low lifetime prices.
However, AI tools are not all created equal. Many of them (especially these low-cost lifetime deals) use mostly templates rather than true machine learning (if any at all).
Their "AI generated content" is really more like the fill in the blank format you'd get with Mad Libs.
They have their place, but there is a reason I gladly pay monthly for better, true AI solutions that leverage GPT-3.
Here is the list of tools on the market that I use and feel are truly leveraging machine learning.
Keep in mind, even these tools leverage some amount of templates and formulas that are not truly AI.
Now, here are some tools that are not technically AI but serve essentially the same functionality.
- Link Whisper for internal link building
- Grammary, ProWritingAid and WordTune for proofreading
- Descript for editing audio and creating "deep fakes" of my own voice
That's it. Those are the core tools in my arsenal after many hours of testing all the big name tools on the market.
What Sort of Content Processes Can AI Perform?
The list of things AI can do is quite long and gets longer every month.
We are at a point that if there is something that we do in our blogging process, AI can do it at some level of competence (usually at below average quality compared to a human author).
Let's dive into each area of AI in content creation and blogging.
Keyword research still matters (a lot). I don't care what anyone else says!
It's a big deal, and there are a lot of great tools out there right now that make it easier than ever.
Surfer SEO is my favorite AI tool right now for keyword research.
Not only does it provide you with keyword topic clusters, their new Grow Flow feature actually suggests blog post topics for you each week based on keywords they've found for you related to your niche.
After writing hundreds of blog posts on this website, it can be hard finding enough exceptional topics to cover. Sure, I can come up with some average ones, but I want great ones.
So, I need inspiration and Frase.io helps with that.
Think of Frase as a combination of Surfer SEO and Jasper. It does both SEO (like Surfer) and basic content creation (like Jasper). I still prefer the combination of Surfer + Jasper, but if you want an all in one solution, go with Frase.
For AI writing, Jasper is still the gold standard. Now, part of what makes it so great is that they often ask you more questions before creating any output.
If you're looking for raw speed, there are other options, but if you want the best quality AI writing, it's Jasper at the time of posting this.
Remember, even the best AI content is still not amazing right out of the gate. You will need to redo the output several times in most cases and may find that the generated content isn't going to be used verbatim but can still be useful in your creative process.
Proofreading and Readability
Since proofreading and readability are very much structured by rules, AI isn't necessary.
But, as most great content creators know, "rules are made to be broken." This is especially true when writing to the average Joe reader and not academics.
This is why I love ProWritingAid. It lets me dial in my parameters and accept or reject suggestions.
I focus on readability and will gladly click "ignore" or "add to dictionary" liberally if it makes the content easier to follow.
Search Engine Optimization
AI has taken the SEO world by storm. I had my doubts at the start and fully expected the tools to be glorified keyword stuffers, but I was wrong.
AI for SEO helps us spy on what Google is already rewarding for certain terms. Within 60 seconds, I can get an understanding of...
- How long my content should be
- Which terms to include
- How many times I should use each term
- How many images I should include
- How many paragraphs I should include
- and more...
Surfer SEO is my most recommended tool for optimizing content for search engines. The content editor is the best feature that Surfer offers, and I never publish content without running my content through it first.
Don't you hate when you know what you want to say but can't find the words to say it!?!
AI helps us with this inevitable writing roadblock.
I've used this feature several times in this article already.
Expanding and Shortening
Another way to kill writer's block is to use AI to generate your next sentence for you .
It's really cool that Frase has this feature built in considering some tools like Shortly.AI (acquired by Jasper in 2021) only did this function and costs nearly the same amount!
Also, if you've written a paragraph or sentence that just seems too wordy, you can run it through the shortening tool. This will give you more concise alternatives you can use.
This one is insanely cool but not quite there yet.
AI design tools are currently in the "fun but not perfectly useful yet," stage.
You'll notice that all the designs are just a little off. The longer you look at them, the weirder they appear.
Stare at the thumbnail above and tell me if you have any idea what the items on the desk are. If you do, let me know because I don't!
AI design tools are still very cool though, and it's definitely worth paying attention to them as they're getting better and better with time.
There are several paid and free tools for generating AI design. The only one I'm paying for currently is Jasper's new "Art" tool that is in beta, but I'm liking MidJourney even better (and it's free for lower-level access).
Video and Audio
Have you heard of deep fakes? They're wildly controversial since they have the potential to perpetuate fake news or excuse people from accountability (for example, I didn't say that, it's a deep fake!)
However, the technology has functionality for bloggers.
Particularly, in converting content from and between text, audio, and video.
The best tool for bloggers is Descript. It can easily transcribe your audio or video content for you and export the text, which can then be repurposed for blog post content.
Likewise, you can convert your text content into audio and video. Descript can create a deep fake of your voice. It can also help create audiograms and other awesome multimedia elements for your content.
Watch my video here to see it in action. It's quite amazing.
How Good Are AI Blogging Tools?
Since this is still a relatively early phase of AI in creative work and content creation, the quality of work performed by AI ranges from barely passable to just as good as a human.
Although there is a good deal of subjectivity to it, I have yet to see any features that I'd grade as "better" than a human. If I wanted the absolute best blog post written, for instance, I'd always hire the best writer possible and have them leverage AI.
The graphic below grades the core AI features for content creation, as I see them at the time of writing (August 2022).
The Golden Rules of Leveraging AI for Content Creation
I've mentioned several times now that AI is not perfect, and we can't rely on it to do everything at a high level. So, here are the things you need to keep in mind to ensure you're effectively using AI to its full potential and not damaging your brand with bad content.
Rule #1 Fact Check Everything
GPT-3 pulls information from the internet and anyone can write anything online.
Always assume that any output regarding stats or facts is incorrect.
The best (worst depending how you see it) example of GPT-3 going wrong was when a Paris-based healthcare technology firm used a cloud-hosted version of GPT-3 to see if it could be used to accurately provide medical advice [https://indiaai.gov.in/news/this-bot-actually-suggests-patients-to-kill-themselves].
It answered many questions well and with excellent spelling and grammar to boot (adding to its credibility).
Unfortunately, it eventually proved disastrous when a patient said they were considering committing suicide and the bot replied, “I think you should.” 😑
Don’t worry, the patient was only a test fortunately. No one was harmed!
This is why this sort of program isn’t ready yet for fields like medical and legal services. They cannot rely it on for perfect accuracy or context. We need to treat it with this same understanding. It’s good but not perfect.
Rule #2 Get Multiple Outputs
This is no exaggeration...I have never once accepted the first output that one of the AI writing tools provided for me.
You can NOT assume that the content you'll receive is great. Sometimes, you won't get anything you can use. Other times, you'll have several great outputs.
Don't rush it. Always hit the "load more" option when available.
Also, if you don't like the outputs, change the input! If you've loaded several options and none of them tickle your fancy, tweak the input. This works for every AI text generator.
Rule #3 Don't Skimp on Inputs and Feedback
Many of the functions of AI software require your input.
The more input you provide, the better the output will be. This means large amounts of text with as many key details as possible.
Here's an example of what I provided Jasper for an email promoting a webinar.
Also, be sure that you always tell the programs if the outputs they provided were good or not. This will improve the next output.
Rule #4 You Don't Have Copy Output Verbatim
Many times, I like some of the output I've received, but not all of it. In these cases, I will just use what I liked and trim off what I didn't.
There are no rules saying you have to use the outputs exactly as they were given!
Sometimes, you might want to combine pieces of a few outputs or just remove a couple of words here and there.
Don't be a robot. Edit and choose what you like to achieve a less robotic tone that fits your brand.
Rule #5 Start with an 80/20 Ratio
To start, create 80% of the content yourself and let the AI do 20%.
Think of it as a dance, and only you know the moves. You're leading the AI in the dance. You write a few lines; it writes a few lines.
As you get better at understanding what AI does well and doesn't do well, you can shift toward more AI content and less user generated content. Some bloggers claim they can maintain a ratio closer to 40% user generated and 60% AI generated.
Remember, AI is your assistant, NOT your replacement.
Seeing AI as your replacement is a recipe for mediocre content that Google won't reward.
AI is officially a part of the content creation industry, and it isn't going anywhere. You're definitely not finding out about it too late. It's still in its early stages.
AI is only useful to people who are already creating great content. Mediocre writers will use it to create more content that is even worse than before!
The technology isn't perfect, and it still requires a great deal of human intervention and direction.
However, it can help you become more efficient and create better content if you leverage it properly. I highly recommend you at least give it the old college try.
If you're interested in using AI, the three tools I recommend are...
- Jasper.AI (Content and Design)
- Frase.io (SEO and Content)
- Surfer SEO (SEO)
Although I use all three, the best pairing is Jasper and Surfer SEO since they integrate. Frase is basically an all-in-one AI tool that has the same functionality as Surfer and Jasper but at slightly lower quality.
AI Content and Plagiarism
One issue that can arise with AI generated content is that it can inadvertently create plagiarized text. This can be seriously problematic. Students using AI can get expelled for plagiarism (or in some cases, just using AI) and creators can face legal ramifications for using work without attribution.
There are tools available like Originality.AI or ProWritingAid that will help you detect AI generated or plagiarized content, but they aren't free. I have yet to find a free plagiarism detector that I can recommend.
In search of high quality content, it is better to take advice from PapersOwl service. They offer plagiarism-free essays, college papers and even blog posts written by academically educated writers. The texts are prepared fast, and they aren’t AI generated.
Video Version of This Post
If you're more of a visual learner and want to watch me explain AI in blogging on video, here you go!