Working With AI Writing Tools

An AI generated image with a purple background and indecipherable text from to illustrate AI writing tools.

There has been a lot of hubbub recently about artificial intelligence (AI), OpenAI, Bard, Chat GPT, and the overall looming specter of computers writing 10th-grade English essays. After working with AI writing tools (Jasper) for a few months, I’m not too terribly worried about AI tools pulling the rug out from under me — although I did buy a ticket for the billion-dollar Mega Millions lottery to hedge my bets.

My guess is most of the furor is coming from people who have heard someone tell a story about someone they know who used it to write defense department contracts or pass the bar exam. The people that actually use AI for content writing, however, understand that these AI writing assistants actually require a lot of assistance!

I will only speak to what I’ve experienced: content writing for websites, newsletters, and other digital marketing copy stuff. I know AI writing tools on the market also help with script writing, schema markup, and other backend code that can save SEO folks and coders a lot of time. But even there, there’s still a lot of input, cleanup, and virtual hand-holding involved.

How Do AI Writing Tools Work?

AI content generators can kick out a lot of decent content, such as product descriptions, social media posts, blog outlines, and many other short-form pieces. Mostly because these pieces aren’t terribly in-depth, and surface-scratching is all that’s needed. Long-form content like blogs, service pages, and other evergreen content needs more research and cultivation.

According to, AI content writers “work by generating text through natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG) methods. This form of content generation is beneficial in supplying enterprise data, customizing material to user behavior, and delivering personalized product descriptions.”

So what the hell does that mean? Like Conjunction Junction, AI strings together phrases and clauses that have been used together elsewhere and with some frequency. But it probably won’t do it in such a way that makes you think of beloved Saturday morning cartoons that taught you about grammar, numbers, and U.S. history.

But is that important? And does it mean anything to search engines? When AI automates content, you can be sure that it will write optimized content for the Googles and the Bings and the Yahoos of the world. Plug in primary and recommended keywords, and a few beeps-and-a-boops later, you have 400 words of SEO-friendly bloggy goodness.

But when it comes to writing for humans, it’s still hit or miss.

AI Writing Tools: If They Only Had a Heart

An ai-generated image of surreal-looking dog and cat on grass to illustrate AI writing tools.This is another thing that I’ve noticed while using an AI writer: Sometimes they’re just too highfalutin for their own good. Because they haven’t been programmed to understand nuance — which can often be lost on humans as well — the content they produce can be kind of dry or formal.

You may be able to give it markers such as tone (informative, friendly) and audience (homeowners, rocket scientists), but it’s still going to try to put words together that make the most sense. Analogies, similes, idioms, and the like are often missing from AI content because the term “raining like cats and dogs” won’t make a lot of sense to AI.

Here are a few examples of AI-generated content I tasked Jasper to write for the lead of this blog. I told it to “write about how people are freaking out over AI-generated content” with a snarky and glib attitude.

With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, people are worried that they’ll soon be replaced by AI content generators. Don’t sweat it; robots can be really bad at writing. Just take a look at how robotic some “robot-generated” articles sound — no matter how advanced the technology gets, it still won’t be able to replicate human creativity any time soon! So relax and have faith in your own writing skills; there’s no need to worry about getting replaced by robots just yet.

With AI-generated content becoming more and more mainstream — from viral Twitter posts to computer-generated music — it’s no wonder people are freaking out about it. But the reality is that AI content hasn’t completely taken over, yet; for now, it’s just an ingredient to be added to the already existing range of digital media we consume. In fact, when used in moderation, it can actually benefit us by opening up new areas of creativity and fresh perspectives we wouldn’t have otherwise had access to. So before we go panicking about living in a sci-fi dystopia full of artificial replicas of ourselves, let’s take a step back and recognize how AI content can enrich our lives.

Not bad, really. There’s some cleaning and a few tweaks that need to be worked out. This is what AI came up with I asked it to directly improve my opening paragraph:

AI has been getting everyone in a tizzy lately, but after spending some quality time with my robot pal Jasper I’m starting to relax and accept our new robotic overlords. So basically it’s fine for them to take over the world … as long as they don’t write better essays than me! Of course, just in case those robots do overthrow us all the day before tomorrow — you know — just being prepared — I dropped $2 on that Mega Million ticket too.

Much more glibby to be sure, but it was working with content that had already been completed. And it didn’t even make up nonsensical words! And why do the sentences need to be so long? And so many semicolons! Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but AI seems to overcorrect one way or the other.

AI Truthiness

This brings us to the biggest issue with using AI-assisted tools to create content: facts. The internet, as you may know, is full of truthiness, alternative facts, and falsehoods. And while AI can be programmed to filter much of that out, it can have issues parsing even factual information.

With so much information presented in so many different ways, AI can strip away key words or phrases when trying to return appropriate content — or just make stuff up on the fly. These are known as hallucinations, described here on Wikipedia:

In natural language processing, a hallucination is often defined as “generated content that is nonsensical or unfaithful to the provided source content.” Errors in encoding and decoding between text and representations can cause hallucinations. AI training to produce diverse responses can also lead to hallucination.

There are also cases where the general population is trying to dupe the AI writing tools by feeding them incorrect information. But AI, at this point, can’t tell the difference between a lie and a truth, only how the words fit together in context. A lesson Google learned when unveiling Bard, their AI chatbot.

(Interestingly enough, Google first tried to root out AI-generated content in their SEO optimization guidelines. But that was a year ago, so, you know, ancient history.)

While you may not have $10 billion to lose, nobody wants to lose nearly 10% of their worth — as Google did — in a matter of days. Using AI writing tools to write a service page for your website without first double-checking the content could have unintended consequences.

Are AI Writing Tools Right For You?

An AI-generated image trying to show a king at a typewriter and desk to illustrate AI writing tools.I’m contractually obligated to say content is king at least once when I write a blog, so here it is. While I’m not here to hand over the keys of the kingdom to artificial intelligence just yet, it can certainly be helpful. Like a squire or a knight or even a jarl, it can be extremely useful with background information or with providing prompts when writer’s block makes an appearance.

More and more AI writing platforms are dotting the digital marketing landscape, offering free plans to get their hooks into you. Before starting any free trial, make sure you’re set up to get the most out of it. Think about what you need to write about, devise a content plan, and develop your tone or voice.

Then have at it! Have it write several pieces of differing lengths, audiences, and uses. Learn how input changes are reflected in the output and if you can get it close enough for your uses — with the necessary reviews and editing, of course. Then set it free into the wilds of the internet and see how it fares.

Really take the time to work on your content and how you want it to reflect your business. Use as much of that free trial as possible to really see what it can do for you. You’ll have to take the time to think about your audience, their wants, and their questions to see if the content satisfies those needs.

Unfortunately, it can take months to see if that content actually does what it’s supposed to do: bring traffic to your site, develop leads, and deliver conversions. But after a week or so of really putting AI writing tools to the test, you should have an idea if it works for you or not.

As I said before, we use content generators at Webfor, but only as a way to augment what we’ve already written, provide ideas to research, or construct a writing outline. And we always clarify and verify what has been produced; it’s just too untrustworthy at this point to let it go without review.

(The images on this page were generated using When comparing the two, AI-generated images have a ways to go before reaching the same level of competence as AI-generated content, I would say.)