Adapting to AI: 17 Tips to Future-Proof Your Writing Career

Ryan Mahoney
February 22, 2023

17 Ways Writers Can Compete With ChatGPT and Generative AI

With the rising popularity of artificial intelligence, creators are starting to feel like Sarah Connor versus the Terminator.

Between the increasing velocity of chatbot adoption, the confusion about AI’s capacity for quality, and the fear and uncertainty stemming from economic decline—writers are between a rock and a hard place.

Now that outperforming AI is a new standard in writing, there’s no question some jobs are at risk. Even though AI is clearly useful in its current iteration, human writers can capitalize on the pain points that exist.

Are you a creator who worries about competing with bots? Leverage the following tips to future-proof your writing career!

1. Be concise

Become a copy-cutting expert. Communicate clearly and express yourself concisely. Keep paragraphs short and sweet.

Remove words that don’t improve a sentence. Replace multiple vague words with powerful and specific ones. Avoid filler language and leave out needless first-person commentary. Be mindful of overlapping ideas.

Bot output is unapologetically verbose and repetitive. Practicing concision gives human writers an edge over chatty large language models.

2. Become excellent editors and proofreaders

Submit the most polished draft possible.

While typos are sometimes inevitable, it’s wise to practice diligent editing and proofreading. Focus on improving readability, style, clarity, and including citations. Fix grammar, punctuation, spelling, and formatting mistakes. Remember to avoid echoes and use stronger synonyms than good, best, and great. Write articles using active voice to increase readability and make your sentences easy to comprehend. Use the Hemingway editor for coping with passive voice, some instances may be acceptable.

The free version of Grammarly is adequate for obvious issues with correctness. The website is superior to the browser extension. We still have to check the suggestions are valid.

Listen to the draft with a text-to-speech reader and flag sections that need improvement along the way. After making your final adjustments, run your story through the review process again for good measure.

Try to predict revisions for recurring work—especially for the same client. Make yourself a checklist of things that have come up in the past. Avoid repeating the same issues to save editors time.

3. Be incredibly accurate and use recent sources

AI can’t check itself before it wrecks itself—kind of like when Bard fumbled and Google’s shares stumbled. It’s famously incorrect while conveying incredible confidence. This has inevitably increased the demand for fact-checking human writers.

Make sure everything is provable and cite credible outlets. The Census, Statista, and Forbes are high-authority sources, but expert quotes from Twitter and YouTube are also effective. Only pull from the most recent data available. 

Use a hyperlink citation where you mention examples that aren’t common knowledge. Make it straightforward to see where numbers or quotes came from. Don’t make an editor jump through hoops to authenticate a reference.

Since people must confirm the validity of bot output, humans have the upper hand in accuracy. Fact-check everything.

4. Stay relevant in your writing

Content is king, but not without relevancy.

Consider the scope of involvement a brand or business has with a given topic and connect the dots accordingly. Keep the subject matter in sync with the client’s wheelhouse.

Take time to research topics and ensure the content aligns with key concepts. The last thing we want is to see feedback that says, “This doesn’t apply to our situation or sector.” Always refer to the overarching audience and theme.

Chatbots have a history of conflating talking points to a fault. Writers must stay well-informed to identify things that are out of place and avoid making the same mistakes as AI.

5. Know your audience

Everyone appreciates an astute idiom, but some can be offensive.

Read the room and write thoughtfully for the intended reader persona. Use relevant industry jargon mindfully so you don’t end up with egg on your face

Generative AI excels at tailoring its messaging to specific audiences, so people really can’t afford to drop the ball.

6. Demonstrate critical thinking

Give a fresh perspective, understand the unique selling propositions, and avoid competitors.

Don’t just copy the last decent metaphor you read on the subject, try to bring something new to the table or improve on an existing idea. Analyze the topic and offer unique and easy-to-process ways of illustrating your point.

Explore several viewpoints to remain unbias, be rational in your critique, and foster a healthy degree of skepticism. Underscore how the reader benefits from the knowledge.

Think about any risks with the tone, messaging, and political correctness. Consider ways you may be inadvertently promoting rivals.

Critical thinking is a defining skill that sets people apart from machines—it’s a quality unmatched by AI—and the reason AI is human-dependent.

7. Collaborate with experts

Set yourself apart by collaborating with industry leaders and influencers.

Use public relations platforms like HARO and Muck Rack to collect fresh insight from authorities in the space. Better yet, reach out directly and conduct interviews yourself.

People would rather talk to other people than engage with a bot. Likewise, readers and search engines appreciate quotes from professionals in the field.

Writers who practice exceptional networking and interviewing skills have a competitive advantage over AI. 

8. Develop trust through human connections

Form a human connection that robots can’t match. 

Consistency and reliability build trust. Being dependable and assertive goes a long way.

Complete tasks by or before deadlines. Communicate vacation days well in advance. Be proactive about delays and give an abundance of notice. Ask questions about assignments when they’re first assigned instead of right before they’re due. 

Even though people may trust computers more than humans, generative AI is still improving its not-so-accurate reputation. While the time-to-edit artificial content should improve with updates, robots won’t be able to satisfy our innate desire for human-to-human contact.

Establish a healthy chain of communication with the editors you write for so they’re more personally invested in the professional relationship.

9. Be selective with clients and contracts

Even though the writing industry is trending towards automation, some situations require manually created articles. 

Some companies are concerned about employees sharing confidential data with chatbots through the internet. Find jobs working on “secure projects” in sectors that can’t risk compliance by entering private information on external third-party platforms.

Agencies that specialize in content creation are worthwhile considerations. Look for white-hat SEO marketing firms that produce human-written articles. 

Seek out writing positions with companies focusing on quality. Target fields with policies requiring human-drafted copy. 

10. Become a proficient data journalist

Learn how to use numbers to tell a story. Offer the first glimpse of new data or a fresh and meaningful way of conceptualizing statistics.

Google’s Data Journalism lessons are a fantastic way to strengthen your ability to analyze and interpret data with Google Trends.

Search engines and journalists have to get their intel from somewhere. Publish articles for journalists looking for comprehensible figures. Become the source shown when someone needs answers that come from data analysis. Establish your spot in the circle of reporting.

Since bots lack the creativity to independently manifest new thoughts, this is another field where writers have a strategic advantage.

11. Be an expert in your field

If there’s a sector you are particularly passionate about, you can build author authority by publishing projects within the industry.

Contribute relevant content to reputable sites. Take advantage of opportunities to display an author bio that communicates your background, relevant experience, and accomplishments. Establish an online presence across other related websites as well as on social media.

Humans can become influencers, but AI can’t. Marketing yourself as a well-known contributor in the spaces you’re targeting increases the value of your personal brand. When you form a healthy reputation for your name, you can attribute more value to your content.

12. Become a thought leader for hire

Executives need talented ghostwriters who can express their values, exhibit expertise, shine a light on problems, and communicate solutions. 

There are plenty of leaders with tons of valuable experiences and ideas that are just waiting to be drafted. They’re simply too busy to write and need professional assistance putting ink to paper.

Now that technology has made it easier to pump out mediocre drafts, thought leadership pieces stand out in an ocean of lackluster stories.

Bear in mind, chatbots are thought repeaters, not thought leaders.

13. Write with an unforgettable personality

You don’t have to be the best or smartest writer to succeed. People love reading clever content, especially when it resonates with them on a personal level.

Be creative, insightful, and sincere. Pay attention to how your writing might sound in someone’s head and make it fun to read. Be humble, practice humility, and share real-life experiences when it’s appropriate. Write confidently and avoid indecisive language.

Embrace your personality and make your work something your audience will look forward to. Use your own unique style. 

14. Enhance your articles with relevant images

Including pictures that complement the draft is a prominent way to enhance an article.

Adding free stock images from sites like Unsplash or Pexels is an illustrious way to improve an article. Creating headers using free online apps like Canva is simple and spiffy. Graphs, charts, and screenshots make outstanding visual aids. 

Focus on high-quality images. Make pictures relevant to the content. Ensure everything fits the same theme. Be mindful of how color influences emotions and align pictures with the tone of the article.

The images function as landmarks that keep people from getting lost in longer stories. They also capture short attention spans while giving readers a break from the text.

Even though there is AI that makes images, chatbots aren’t creating or inserting relevant pictures within the generative text. The takeaway here is to make articles more attractive with fabulous imagery—because it’s something the robots don’t do. 

15. Learn and practice white hat SEO

Content and SEO are inextricably linked. Write for humans first, then optimize for search.

Create content that’s useful and answers questions people are asking. Focus on making copy helpful and relevant to ensure we’re satisfying Google’s appetite for E-E-A-T content.

Make sure articles are well-organized with headings in a hierarchical structure. Write captivating meta descriptions with a compelling call-to-action and target keywords. Use descriptive anchor text and avoid links with vague words like link, site, here, blog, post, page, thread, this article, etc. Make the title interesting. 

Learning white hat SEO will expand your career opportunities and cut down the time editors spend optimizing content. As a bonus, it helps your work perform better in search results. 

16. Build a convincing and diverse portfolio

Strong samples are surefire ways to stand out. Focus on quality over quantity.

Prepare writing examples for the audiences you favor writing for. Ensure they communicate your unique voice and are well-edited. Highlight pieces that feature your voice and critical or creative thinking. Organize your top work in a way that’s effortless to navigate. 

Diversify your scope of work. Offer your expertise in creating copy for ads, case studies, ebooks, infographics, social media posts, newsletters, email outreach, e-commerce product pages, and scripts for videos, commercials, and podcasts.

Spread the word about your latest publications on various channels. Share your work through social networks like LinkedIn, Reddit, and Facebook. Garnering engagement from other professionals in the sector further validates the quality of your content.

17. Become adept with AI writing tools

Level the playing field and learn how to use AI to your advantage. Know what you’re up against and make it work for you.

Offset bottlenecks in your workflow by using chatbots to streamline ideation and reduce inefficiencies in your writing process. Use intelligent prompt chaining and clear instructions to improve the usefulness of artificial output.

Perhaps the most important thing is to understand the limitations. Even after the initial learning curve of incorporating AI into your routine, the output isn’t useful without scrutiny. It requires more fact-checking and proofing than quality human-generated content.

The main idea is to write better copy than generative AI is capable of creating. More specifically, prevent editors from wasting time revising stories. You don’t want them resorting to other writers, or worse, creating something better using chatbots instead.

The human advantage: Creativity, critical thinking, personality

While writers can optimize workflows with AI, it’s not an easy button for drafting competent articles. The truth is bots aren’t able to replace writers because they require a human in the loop.

The public perception of AI’s threshold for creating quality content is grossly inflated. Furthermore, there’s a widespread lack of understanding about how long it takes to vet botted copy.

The real risk to writing careers comes from the misconceptions decision-makers share about AI’s abilities. While the tools are formidable, they lead to unrealistic expectations by stakeholders who think we can “just use ChatGPT” but don’t know otherwise.

People can compete by taking advantage of AI’s strengths and exploiting its weaknesses. Be astonishingly accurate and practice impeccable proofreading. Broaden your skillset and develop reliable reputations with editors to cultivate ongoing demand for yourself. 

Ultimately, writers must find ways to showcase their creativity, personality, and critical thinking skills to give themselves a fighting chance.

As the Terminator movies taught us, humans will prevail, but not without a challenge—and a little help from AI.

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Ryan Mahoney

As Perfect Search Media’s Content Marketing Manager, Ryan Mahoney brings over 10 years of marketing and management experience to the table. He leads the content department and is the in-house editor. When he takes off his SEO cap, he enjoys art, antiques, live music, spending time in nature, and visiting family and friends.

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