If you haven’t heard of ChatGPT yet, don’t worry. It’s coming for you! Meh, heh, heh.
Seriously, that was my first reaction when I started using it. Its ability to understand and generate human-like text is uncanny. The first time I had it crank out some copy, I thought, “Welp, maybe I could go back to waiting tables…”
ChatGPT is an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI, designed to generate human-like text based on input. It has been trained on a massive dataset of diverse texts, allowing it to answer questions, write coherent paragraphs and converse on various topics.
After my first fearful reaction, I had a zen moment in which the words, “If you can’t beat them join them.” Popped into my head. That freed me to see the manifold possibilities. Now I see that – assuming it remains available and I can afford it when they start charging – it will become a major tool for much of my work, including research, organization, and content creation.
In this article, I will be sharing my experience as a writer and publisher, and how I’ve utilized ChatGPT’s powerful language processing capabilities to enhance my work and streamline my research process. Specifically, I’ll talk about how I use it to write product buyer’s guides for my niche websites.
Research with ChatGPT
The first thing that really stood out for me was how helpful it can be for research. Let’s say we are writing a buyer’s guide about apples. First, you want to know about the various varieties of apples. Just type into ChatGPT bar the question, “What are the most popular varieties of apples?”
When I just did this, here is what it produced:
- Red Delicious
- Granny Smith
- Golden Delicious
That seems like a good start. I could have done a Google search with the same prompt and found out the same info, but Chat GPT produces a list quickly and I didn’t have to sort through featured snippets and search results to find this list. The other big advantage is now I’m in a conversation with Chat GPT, so can continue on.
Next, I give it this prompt: “Write a sentence or two about these varieties and why people like them.” Here’s what it produces:
Red Delicious apples are sweet, juicy, and crisp and are great for eating as a snack.
Gala apples are sweet and crunchy and are popular for their snack quality and versatility in cooking.
Granny Smith apples are tart and crisp and are often used for baking and cooking due to their balance of sweet and tart flavors.
Golden Delicious apples are sweet and soft, making them great for eating as a snack, cooking and baking.
Honeycrisp apples are known for their sweet and juicy flavor and satisfying crunch.
Braeburn apples have a balanced sweet-tart flavor, making them great for eating raw or cooking.
Rome apples are firm and tart, making them ideal for cooking and baking, especially for making pies and sauces.
Fujian apples are crisp and juicy, with a slightly sweet flavor and are commonly used in baking and cooking.
Jonathan apples are a sweet-tart variety with a crisp texture, making them great for eating raw and cooking.
Empire apples are a sweet-tart variety with a firm texture, making them good for eating raw and cooking, especially in salads and sauces.
Pretty good, right? Now, this information came from the 2021 data set that was provided to Chat GPT, so if any of the information was time sensitive, it might not be captured accurately here. But apple varieties don’t change much, so I’d be pretty comfortable that this information is accurate – though with any AI generate content, I would want to fact-check it.
Now that I had this list, I’d start doing some research online on the various apples and probably go buy some of the varieties to try and take photos of. I’d also see if there were other important varieties that weren’t covered. Where I wasn’t able to try the apples myself, I’d do online research on what other people have to say about them.
I might also do some more research using ChatGPT on each variety For instance, I might ask: “I’ve heard people don’t like red delicious apples because they lack flavor. Tell me more about that.” Here’s what Chat GPT responded with:
Red Delicious apples have a reputation for being bland and lacking flavor because they are often picked before they are fully ripe and mature. This can result in a texture that is tough and dry, and a flavor that is lacking in complexity. In recent years, growers have worked to improve the quality of Red Delicious apples by allowing them to fully mature before picking and by developing new, more flavorful varieties. However, these efforts have yet to completely change the public’s perception of the Red Delicious apple, and many people still view it as a less desirable variety compared to other, more flavorful options.
Interesting. I’d do a bit of snooping online to confirm this, and if I had a lot of time maybe even talk with an expert. But this gives me some good fodder for a pros-and-cons section on this apple.
In fact, I could use this info as a prompt to go ahead and created a first stab at a pros and cons list by prompting, “Use this information as a start for a pros and cons list for Red Delicious Apples. Put it in bullet point format.” Here’s the result:
Pros of Red Delicious Apples:
- Sweet and juicy
- Crisp texture
- Good for eating as a snack
Cons of Red Delicious Apples:
- Often picked before fully ripe, resulting in tough and dry texture
- Lacks flavor and complexity compared to other varieties
- Public perception as a less desirable variety compared to others.
Another thing that is very helpful with buyers guides is using ChatGPT to write a section on how to choose the product in question. Continuing on the apple theme, I’ll prompt it with, “What are the criteria that someone should look for when choosing an apple?”
When choosing an apple, consider the following criteria:
- Ripeness: Choose apples that are firm and have a consistent color, avoiding those with bruises or soft spots.
- Flavor: Apples come in a range of sweet to tart flavors, so choose one that matches your personal taste preference.
- Purpose: Different apples are better suited for different purposes, such as snacking, cooking, or baking.
- Season: Some apple varieties are only available during certain times of the year, so check for seasonal availability if you have a specific variety in mind.
- Appearance: Apples should have a bright and shiny skin, with a smooth and unblemished surface.
- Origin: Some apples are grown using more environmentally friendly methods, so consider choosing locally grown or organic apples if that is important to you.
Amazing! Again, I would go through these to make sure they are accurate and to add my own ideas, particularly if I happen to have a lot of knowledge in this area – I don’t in the case of apples.
The last thing I’ll mention is that ChatGPT can be really helpful when trying to put a lot of bland technical detail into prose. This is something that is often laborious when writing about the features of a product. Apples aren’t a great demonstration hear, so instead I’ll focus on a different kind of apple, the iPhone 14.
I went to the iPhone 14 official page on the Apple website, and highlighted and copied a bunch of technical information from the technical specification page. Just a big mess of words and numbers really, and then pasted it into the ChatGPT prompt. I actually meant to give it some guidance on writing about it but forgot and hit enter too soon. Still, hears what ChatGPT produced:
The information you provided appears to describe the features and specifications of the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Plus models. These models have a ceramic shield front and a glass back with an aluminum design, available in Midnight, Purple, Starlight, (PRODUCT)RED, and Blue colors. They have a capacity of 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB and have a width, height, and depth of 2.82 inches by 5.78 inches by 0.31 inch (iPhone 14) or 3.07 inches by 6.33 inches by 0.31 inch (iPhone 14 Plus) and weigh 6.07 ounces (172 grams) or 7.16 ounces (203 grams), respectively.
The iPhone 14 and 14 Plus both feature a Super Retina XDR display with HDR and True Tone, and both are water, splash, and dust resistant with a rated IP68. They both have a A15 Bionic chip and a dual-camera system with various photography features and modes.
See how that would take much of the pain out of gathering and writing up all of these technical details about a product. Again, I’d need to fact-check it and augment it with my own thoughts and style, but the bones are there.
As you can see, ChatGPT can really speed up your workflow on producing buyer guides for online publications such as niche sites and authority sites. And it’s just the tip of the digital iceberg. There are some caveats of course. You have to check the facts – AI is notorious for sounding definitive while spewing completely untrue garbage (though I’d argue that this is much less of a problem with ChatGPT).
Also, there has been a lot of talk about how Google may penalize sites that use AI content. Personally, I think it will target sites that produce “bad” AI content – thin, bland, and inaccurate content – and that if you do the high-level thinking and polishing to produce quality content, it will be appreciated by readers and, thus, by search engines.
It will be interested to see how competitive things get when lots of talented people get up and running with these tools. And I’m very curious to see how much they will charge for them.
Fun fact: the hero image on this page was created using OpenAI’s image creation tool, DALLE 2