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One of my clients who recently started a travel-tour business in California hired me to write a Home page and an About Us page for a website that was still being designed. She herself sent about 500 words of copy to give me an idea of what she wanted and links to about 10 high-level sites from of travel services around the world to inspire me.
Knowing that she was a startup, I discounted my copywriting fee slightly to help her out. I wrote the copy and submitted my drafts. The client had minor revisions, which I took care of.
Then this morning, I received an email from her that included two versions of ChatGPT copy for her site that she said she is very happy with. She asked if I could “incorporate” the AI copy into my own.
Susan, I just don’t want to do this. I’ve already spent at least 8 hours on this project – including creating a positioning that only her company could fill – and don’t want to go back and forth on it yet again.
Below is my response to Laura. But before I send it I wanted to get your opinion. Do you think this is the right way to handle this situation, one which I’m sure will arise again and again in the future as ChatGPT becomes better known and also continues to improve.
At this point I think the best thing for you to do is to use ChatGPT. I’ve already invested my time and energy to write your copy. If you like the ChatGPT copy, then use it.
The copy is passable, and I’m sure it will do an adequate job for you. The only thing it doesn’t do is give a sense of who your team is and why they offer what others don’t. Developing a brand is all about the difference between you and the next guy. I feel that that’s the biggest contribution my copy makes and is what ChatGPT left out.
I don’t feel right about doctoring someone else’s copy – human or AI so I am not interested in incorporating the AI copy into my drafts or vice versa. I hope you understand. Of course, you don’t have to pay me the rest of my fee.
Thank you for your patience and understanding. I wish you the best of luck with your new travel agency and all of your endeavors.
And here’s my response to Cindy.
I’d like to offer you an alternative approach to consider. Why not see if there’s a simple paragraph or two, or perhaps certain sentences that you can incorporate into your existing drafts? Invest maybe 15-20 minutes, if that’s possible. Why do this? You get the full fee. You maintain a relationship with the client. With your approach, the relationship is over.
ChatGPT is here to stay. We are going to start seeing its influence. Like your situation, my clients have begun asking about ChatGPT’s relevance to their work. While some processes could become automated, the need for human creativity, originality and emotion in copy still exists.
Don’t be offended by your client’s request. It’s a legitimate ask on her part. I know you’re angry and frustrated. But keep in mind she didn’t back out of her contract with you or threaten to not pay for your copy. Going forward, it might be better to see how we can capitalize on using ChatGPT to improve and accelerate the work we do rather than rejecting it completely.
Our clients are going to continue to ask about it. We need to be able to show them that ChatGPT is a useful tool that can help us to achieve their goals, but you still need a copywriter, similar to how an accountant needs a calculator, but the calculator doesn’t replace the accountant.
We don’t know where OpenAi’s ChatGPT will eventually lead. And it’s not just copywriters who’s existence is threatened. ChatGPT can do things like write and debug code, answer questions and gather research. I think our best chance of survival as copywriters is to continue to point out our value to clients while also using the tool ourselves to help us increase productivity and do an even better job for our clients.