7 ways copywriters can compete against AI tools like ChatGPT

Whatever you might think about the capabilities of AI, the threat is real.

And as we looked at in a recent article, copywriters are losing work to generative AI software.

Assuming you want to continue your career as a commercial writer, here are a few approaches you can take to future-proof your career:

  1. Build your copywriting expertise, so you’re an expert at selling with words, rather than a general wordsmith
  2. Develop deep knowledge, so no AI can rival your understanding of your specialist niche
  3. Become known for your distinctive voice. AI-generated text is notoriously bland and stilted. You can rival this by injecting personality, humour or idiosyncrasy into your work.
  4. Offer connected services, so your clients can come to you to achieve their advertising or marketing goals
  5. Declare your rejection of AI tools, so clients know you’re not passing off AI content as your own work.
  6. Change your job title, so clients understand that you’re not just a writer that can be replaced by a predictive chat bot.
  7. Become an AI expert, so clients know they get the best of both worlds from you. AKA “if you can’t beat them, recruit them”.

Okay, now let’s look at these in a little more detail.

1: Build your copywriting expertise

ChatGPT et al can write stuff. Generative AI can produce ‘articles’ that are basically re-spun mash-ups of existing material.

ChatGPT is not an expert copywriter, armed with dozens of copywriting tactics, deep marketing knowledge, and a library of advertising techniques. ChatGPT can write passable content. You can write copy that sells.

If you are currently more of a content writer than a copywriter, consider bolstering your copywriting knowledge and focusing on your ability to drive sales.

In a Washington Post article on job losses stemming from ChatGPT, they write: “Those who write marketing and social media content are in the first wave of people being replaced with tools such as chatbots, which are seemingly able to produce plausible alternatives to their work.”

2: Develop deep knowledge of a niche

ChatGPT is a generalist. It was trained on the open web. Its knowledge is never fully up-to-date.

If you specialise in a specific niche (e.g. finance, technology, fashion) then you can offer clients a higher quality of material than ChatGPT.

3: Become known for your distinctive voice (or give a voice to brands)

In a noisy world, brands need a voice that stands out.

As a copywriter, one of your greatest strengths is your ability to give brands a voice that resonates with their audience, and helps them be heard above the crowd.

You can either be a copywriter who has their own distinctive voice (I’m thinking Dave Harland, Bizzy Coy, Lianna Patch) or you become a copywriter who gives brands their own distinctive voices.

4: Offer connected services

For most clients, the words aren’t enough.

Most of our clients and employers want results.

They want the end product that our words deliver.

Usually, that means clicks, orders, sales, subscribers, traffic.

How can you head upstream to find the clients before they even think about words?

For example, if your main business is writing marketing emails, you might want to expand this into a complete email marketing offering, including strategy, creation, management and reporting.

As a blog writer, you might also share articles online, review web analytics, and build evolving marketing campaigns.

You can do the same for Google Ads, direct mail and many other copywriting formats.

Of course this might require additional training and/or investment, but it could be a way to safeguard your career.

Freelance copywriter Emily Hanley found that clients were only happy to pay human writers that offered a more complete service. Speaking to Business Insider she said: “Clients were simply unwilling to pay for copywriting any longer unless that writer could also provide email management and a funnel-building system, most likely because of the newfound popularity of ChatGPT. ”

5: Declare your rejection of AI tools

Separate yourself from AI.

Clients are concerned that their human writers are secretly using AI. Clients don’t want to pay for a person and get the bot. Make it clear to your clients and employers that, if you use AI at all, it is for specific elements of the copywriting process, rather than the finished product. (our upcoming CopyCode will include a stipulation about the use of AI).

According to a recent Forbes article, job ads on Upwork now include pleas for humanity over automation: “I do not want ChatGPT or AI spun content.” and “If you use AI for this job, you will not get paid”.

6: Change your job title

Content writers (and even copywriters) may be under threat from generative AI, but commercial writers in more complex roles are a little more protected.

This is because the more complex roles, which require more strategy, more specialist knowledge and more training, are harder to replicate with AI. Also, those collaborative roles which depend on team work and stakeholder engagement are also less able to be replicated by predictive text bots.

For example:

  • advertising creatives
  • content strategists
  • ux writers
  • content designers

7: Become an AI expert

If separating yourself from AI isn’t a viable option (for whatever reason) you could take the opposite approach and become an authority on using AI to get things done. Or perhaps you work with AI to accelerate your output.

Instead of resisting the riding tide of AI, you could surf the wave and offer to support the companies curious about its potential. You could be the guide who helps clients use AI tools effectively, without losing the human touch.

ProCopywriters has hosted a couple of workshops on using AI, which are now available in your video library.

And at CopyCon in 2024 we’re exploring AI on the main stage (Tajha Myer: The Power of AI Tools as a Content Designer), as part of an Extra Session, and in a separate training day: Using AI to Improve Your Copywriting.

What do you think?

Has AI disrupted your career?

Do you see AI as a colleague or a competitor?

Are you taking action to protect your copywriting career from AI?


Cover photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash

What do you think?

Your email will not be published. ProCopywriters members: log in before commenting so your comment links to your profile.

Become a member

Join ProCopywriters

Connect with peers, develop your skills and extend your reach on our blog.

Become a member
Learn online

Online workshops

Every month we get an expert, an author or a professional trainer to deliver a one-hour presentation on copywriting, marketing or digital media.

Browse events