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Using ChatGPT for blog posts

A ChatGPT-produced article for an affiliate site.

Last week, a friend who has no relation to media or tech texted me to ask if I’d taken a look at ChatGPT. I’d seen the name online, but didn’t dig deep, as I was busy at work, had a few social engagements around the holidays, and was starting a new exercise program.

Fast forward a week and I’m experimenting with ChatGPT’s ability to do baseline writing for a project I’ve had on the backburner.

Per its website, the tool’s creators built “a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way. The dialogue format makes it possible for ChatGPT to answer followup questions, admit its mistakes, challenge incorrect premises, and reject inappropriate requests. ChatGPT is a sibling model to InstructGPT, which is trained to follow an instruction in a prompt and provide a detailed response.”

The editor and pedant in me will highlight that “a model called ChatGPT which interacts in a conversational way” is grammatically incorrect; that sentence needs either a comma after “which” or to swap in “that” for “which.” Not sure if this is a victory for human editors, however, as in all likelihood a human working on the project wrote that, not the bot.

My friend also sent me two TikTok’s he’d watched about ChatGPT that can get just about anyone excited.

I was intrigued. I tried to sign up to use ChatGPT earlier this week, but was informed by the OpenAI site that it was at capacity. When I checked back on Dec. 16, I was able to create an account and get going.

Using ChatGPT for an affiliate site

I primarily work in affiliate marketing and have bought a few domains over the last couple years to park them for projects I plan to work on at some point. The thing is, I’m busy enough in my day job that I never want to write anything for these sites; the idea behind them is to find a niche, do keyword research on the topic, buy a domain, produce around 20 articles on that topic, and let it marinate on Google for a few months to rise in SERP.

Of course, that necessitates writing thousands of words. After a day of developing content strategy and problem-solving how to optimize affiliate articles, writing is usually the last thing I’m thinking about. And at this point, I haven’t had the desire to outsource the work to sites like Fiverr; you get what you pay for in the written word. I didn’t want to spend a boatload of money on these projects or pay cheap hacks to write them; I suspect some writers use bots to write copy anyway.

But, in the immortal words of my father, “You can’t beat free.” ChatGPT is free to me (for now), so I figured why not test its abilities to produce articles for an affiliate site? If they’re passable—not every freelance writer’s work is!—I can clean them up and link to the appropriate places to polish the articles and create a functioning SEO project.

How good is ChatGPT text?

Happiness is a function of expectations; mine were low coming into ChatGPT. Along with the TikToks I watched, I read a few articles outlining the tool’s ability to emulate natural language.

Again, some freelancers can hardly emulate natural language, so really, anything semi-literate was going to be successful. Here’s another screenshot of my first foray into the tool.

I told ChatGPT to write me an 800-word article on UK plugs and UK voltage and what converters tourists may need. The results were cogent enough, if unexciting. I pasted the text into a Google doc for posterity, then plugged it into a readability test online.

How readable is ChatGPT text?

Assuming the readability test is accurate, based on seven readability formulas, that site graded the ChatGPT text at:

  • Grade Level: 11
  • Reading Level: Standard / average.
  • Age of Reader: 15-17 yrs. old (Tenth to Eleventh graders)

That’s right in line with where you’d want text to fall: According to Readable, right between The New York Times (grade 14.5, or college) and Buzzfeed (eighth grade).

Throughout my career, I’ve aimed to sound smart without sounding haughty, despite what this blog post may suggest. The important thing here, though, is that the text appears to be readable and thorough.

As a first step in producing articles for this website I’ve cooked up, ChatGPT may be able to solve the production problem at minimal cost. Well, at minimal cost to me; I’m certain the developers and investors in OpenAI spent plenty of time and money to build a machine capable of writing better than half the freelancer writers I’ve ever employed.

That’s saying something.

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