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Since the emergence of ChatGPT and similar tools, people have turned to AI for an abundance of writing projects. From coming up with taglines to writing emails, there are unquestionable marketing applications for such tools, yet, in my experience, they are not the go-to in some critical spheres, including website branding copy.
My principal problem with AI content is that it’s missing that “pop,” aka the human factor. Sure, what it produces might give you a starting point, but you’ll likely still need to jazz things up quite a bit.
A website is a chance to put your best foot forward with potential clients and customers. Those people have a wealth of choices in their purchase decisions, so you can’t afford to be generic: Communicating a unique value proposition (what makes you different from the competition) is critical. If a potential customer reads the same general style of material on five websites for businesses in your field, the only differentiating factors become price and experience. In such a case, you’ll be able to position yourself more effectively with human-written copy.
Here’s an example: I provided both ChatGPT and a copywriter friend of mine with the same background information about me and asked them to write an “about” page.
“About” page: AI version
“Laura Briggs is an accomplished freelance writer who has defied the odds and found success in a field she never thought was possible for her. Before becoming a freelance writer, Laura was a full-time teacher with no prior writing experience. Her journey highlights the power of hard work, persistence, and following one’s passion.
“Laura’s journey in the freelance writing industry began with a simple Google search. In 2012, curious about the possibility of earning money as a writer, Laura began researching freelance writing. She soon discovered various freelance job boards where she could offer her writing services. Despite her challenges with writing at first, Laura remained committed to improving her craft. She spent hours reading about the different aspects of freelance writing, and worked hard to hone her writing skills. It wasn’t easy, but her perseverance paid off. She is even a TEDx speaker expert.
“Through her dedication and hard work, Laura began to gain a solid reputation as a freelance writer. She landed high-paying clients, and before she knew it, Laura was making a six-figure income as a remote freelance writer. Today, she is recognized as one of the leading freelance writers in the industry.
“Laura’s success story is inspiring, but what sets her apart is that she has chosen to pay it forward. She now teaches people how to start their own freelance businesses, sharing the tips and tricks that helped her achieve success. Her mission is to help others achieve the same level of success that she has, and to remove the fear and uncertainty that often comes with starting a freelance business.
“Laura’s ability to go from a teacher with no writing experience to a successful freelance writer serves as a reminder that it is never too late to follow one’s passion. Laura’s journey has taught her that no matter what background or experience we may have, we are all capable of achieving our dreams with hard work, persistence, and a willingness to learn.
In conclusion, Laura Briggs is an inspiring success story in the world of freelance writing. Her story highlights the incredible power of perseverance and dedication. Laura has created a name for herself in the industry, and now she is using her success to help others achieve their goals. Her willingness to share her experiences with others has made her an invaluable resource for anyone looking to start a freelance business. As a former teacher, Laura is well-equipped to help others learn and achieve their full potential. She is not only an exceptional writer and leader but also a living example of a true mentor.”
At first glance, this content isn’t bad, per se, but it’s generic. It doesn’t really inform people how I can help them, other than that I have experience. It’s valuable for readers to know that I’ve been at the freelance game for some time, sure, but there’s not much about how my method of teaching truly does them any good.
And there are several sections I’d strike entirely: One is, “She is not only an exceptional writer and leader but also a living example of a true mentor.” There’s no proof of what would make me “a living example of a true mentor,” unless those words were said by one of my students. What makes me a leader? Why would readers care if I’m an “exceptional writer?” What good does that do them? Also, the use of “living example” is strange in the context of the word “mentor,” which usually implies a give-and-take relationship. It’s awkward to say that about yourself, especially when there are no proof statements in the surrounding copy. Bottom line: This sentence both reads poorly and says a lot without saying anything.
“About” page: copywriter version
Here’s what professional writer Liz Wilcox came up with, which wound up on my site:
From middle school teacher to 6-figure freelancer in just one year
“In short, I’m a teacher, writer, wife, pet mom of 6, freelancer, and speaker. I’m an entrepreneur and freelance coach who’s learned how to make a living in this new digital workplace doing things I like and am good at. Over the years, I’ve been able to work with some awesome small businesses, brands and companies and have even had the honor to speak on the TEDx stage three times.
“My favorite thing about my work is helping other freelancers in their journey take the next right step and build a profitable business with clients they love to serve. However, like many, I took the traditional path. I went to college. Got my grad degree. Did the noble thing and went into teaching. After a year of trying to make the classroom work for me, I realized it just wouldn’t. I simply could not live my life working so hard for so little.
Armed with nothing but:
- A comment from a professor way back when that I should write for a living
- My desire to change
- A few core skills
I began life as a freelancer. Within a year, I had made $100k. It was like a dream come true! And I owed it all to:
• Learning my target market and speaking to them specifically
• Building a pitch and follow-up plan that converted hundreds of leads into clients
• Adjusting my mindset and systems for six-figure scaling
And now I want to show you how to do it, too.”
Liz’s copy jumps off the page. It connects me with my reader rather than just going on and on the way the AI version does.
Yes, people want to know that you have experience in your field and what drove you to start the business. But what’s so interesting about both of those is that they can be so personal, and that’s the zing missing from a lot of AI-generated content. Liz draws a connection between my own story and a common concern among new freelancers (feeling like they need a professional degree to get started.) She also writes about what strategies I leveraged that will help others get to their goals faster, too.
She even fits in content about failures in my past career that may resonate with others, who often struggle in their full-time roles and feel the call of entrepreneurship. The AI version is accurate, but it just doesn’t hit home, as it’s more focused on me and less on why my story matters to someone deciding if they should buy my book, hire me as their coach or just spend another second on my website.
So, when it comes to your site, it’s far better to invest time writing the copy yourself or hiring a qualified copywriter to do it. Liz captured the essence of humanity in her writing because she’s both a human (of course) and a freelancer. She put herself in the shoes of readers to come up with something that would strongly connect with them, all while giving a little backstory on my own journey.
Laura Briggs’s book, Content is King: The Complete Guide to Website Writing That Sells, will be released in April 2023 from Entrepreneur Press.