Good morning Reader,
ChatGPT can't write for sh*t. That's not a secret. If you ask if (or basically any AI writing tool) to write a blog post, it will crank out very bad content that no real human will like reading.
However, I've used ChatGPT for tons of non-writing things. It saves me a ton of time and makes my job a little easier.
Here are the five non-writing applications I love using ChatGPT for:
1. Title optimization
I use ConvertKit as my email provider, which has a really neat A/B subject line tester. This helps me with my content strategy -- I usually send my best ideas to you in email format first and use that to test out which title is best.
Then, about a week later, I publish that on my website and my article with the winning title.
Would it surprise you to learn that I used ChatGPT to come up with the second title option?
I am not a great title person -- I always have to run them by my friends and family, so it is a relief to use ChatGPT for it instead. I may not love what it comes up with all the time, but at least they give me a place to start.
2. Coding tables in Squarespace
I love to put tables in my articles! I think they make articles easier, more digestible, and more valuable for readers. The problem is that Squarespace, my website provider, likes writers to use HTML to code their tables. It doesn't have a native table feature.
You know who knows HTML? Not me.
So I discovered that ChatGPT can easily come up with the HTML needed to craft a table. Not only that but it's incredibly simple to do. Just write a table in Google docs or sheets, paste it into ChatGPT, and ask it to reformat it into HTML.
And better -- you can tweak it with just a few adjustments
Naysayers may claim this is stealing work from programmers. But here's the thing -- I'd never pay a developer to code a single HTML table in my article. I would pay one to design my website, but not for a one-off job like this. So all this means is that I have a new functionality to offer my readers.
Here's the ChatGPT-coded table:
3. Summarizing long articles
Especially for my job writing bylines, sometimes I have to read really long articles. And sometimes, especially in the beginning stages of research or writing, I prefer to outsource that to ChatGPT. Later I'll go back and carefully read the whole thing, but at the start it's good to get a quick grasp on the salient details.
For example, I'm currently working on an article about the best backends for React. Pretty complex topic. Luckily I can get a quick start on understanding it by asking ChatGPT to summarize a few of the most popular articles on the subject.
The main thing to keep in mind is that on the free version of ChatGPT, it can't access the internet, so you'll need to copy-paste the article. Plus, ChatGPT can only read up to about 2,000 words.
If the article is longer than 2,000 words, you can either:
- Just paste it in parts;
- Pay for ChatGPT Plus for $20/month; or
- Paste the link into Bard, which is internet-connected and can read web pages.
I have a gig ghostwriting bylines for a PR company that deals with a lot of techy companies -- NFTs, Crypto, IT, health tech, fintech, and so on. A lot of times, I will simply not have the relevant industry knowledge to insert useful, relevant examples to help liven up my article. And clients don't always have the time to hop on a call and give me a list of examples or anecdotes.
Normally, I would try to find something on Reddit or another forum. But with half of Reddit dark right now thanks to protests over Reddit jacking up their API prices, it's harder to find those. Instead, I ask ChatGPT for examples.
This still needs to be checked, of course. I've written about what happens when you just blindly trust anything ChatGPT says in an industry you're not familiar with. But again, it provides a decent starting point.
5. Editing checklist
Last but not least, I like to use ChatGPT to look over my work. Now, you can't just say, "Hey, ChatGPT, make this better." But you can ask for specific things.
I use ChatGPT to look for:
- Passive voice usage. "Please find instances of passive voice in this article."
- Tone. "Is this article informative, friendly, and casual? If not, how would you address those?"
- Flow. "Does this article flow from one point to the next?"
- An overall check. "Pretend you are a professional editor at a large publication. A writer just submitted this article. [Copy-paste article.] What feedback would you give based on standard best practices for technical writers?"
Overall, the main things you should keep in mind when using ChatGPT:
- It can't produce creative long-form text. Don't try. It's a waste of your time.
- It CAN be useful to remove a lot of the drudge work you do in your day-to-day.
- More specific is better. "Critique this." is bad. "Critique this like you're an editor at X magazine" is better. "You are a professional editor at X magazine. You are critiquing this article for tone, style, and typos. What five things would you recommend?" is best.
- Always, always double-check ChatGPT-generated facts, studies, examples, and theories. Use it as a starting point, but know it can't be trusted to create anything reliable.
- Have fun! It's a new technology with a lot of potential for exploration. Research interesting prompts. See if you can jailbreak it and get it to instruct you on how to make napalm (I jest).
Have you come up with any interesting use cases not listed here? Let me know and hit that reply button!