ChatGPT is the new conversational AI chatbot that has taken the world by storm. It’s an incredible tool for many industries, but especially for creators. I’m excited to introduce you to ChatGPT, open your mind to the possibilities of how you can use ChatGPT as a creator, and share some of my best tips for getting the most out of the tool.
Let’s dig in.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is an application built on top of a powerful Artificial Intelligence (AI) model that is capable of understanding and generating text. It was created by OpenAI and released in late November 2022. I’m going to cover how to use ChatGPT directly. I’m also excited to see access to ChatGPT pop up in other software tools and applications, including Microsoft Bing, Microsoft Edge, and Skype. Regardless of where you use ChatGPT, the info in this guide will be useful. I encourage you to test it out, but you’ll quickly see that ChatGPT isn’t a replacement for the creative work we do – it’s just a very useful tool to improve and streamline content creation. I’ll get into some of the major limitations at the end of this guide.
Start using ChatGPT by going to chat.openai.com and creating an account.
Understanding how ChatGPT works
Now, I’m going to get a little bit nerdy here, because I think understanding how ChatGPT works at a high level will help you get better results and give you more ideas on how it can be used.
I already mentioned that ChatGPT is powered by an AI model which can understand and generate text. It does this by looking at lots of text examples, like articles or stories, and learning patterns for how words and sentences are put together.
When we want ChatGPT to create new text, we give it a starting point called a "prompt." The prompt is a short phrase or sentence that tells the AI what to write about. For example, if we want the model to write a story, we can give it a prompt like "Once upon a time in a faraway land..."
Then, ChatGPT will start predicting word by word what is most likely to come next.
It’s important to know that ChatGPT isn’t “thinking,” and that there are real limitations and challenges to using AI tools like ChatGPT, which I’ll cover toward the end of this guide.
The key to ChatGPT? Good prompts
Since ChatGPT is simply predicting the next words in the sentence based on the words you give it, the "prompt" or words you provide matter a lot.
There’s a popular saying in computer science: Garbage in, garbage out. Meaning that if you put unhelpful or non-specific information in, you’re likely to get equally unhelpful and non-specific information out. This is a very helpful mindset to have when using ChatGPT.
Because this technology is so new, the strategy for what makes a good prompt is evolving. I recommend trying to mimic prompts that have worked well for others. I’ll share some of my favorites for content creation below, but I recommend you continue to experiment and develop new prompts that work for your unique creative process and style.
How ChatGPT can help content creators
The sky's the limit on ways to use ChatGPT. I’ve personally used it for a wide range of tasks, from helping with my everyday creator work to drafting a science fiction novel plot for fun. While I didn’t use ChatGPT to draft an outline for this article, I definitely could have. Here are 6 ways I use ChatGPT on a regular basis, with sample prompts for each.
1: Researching different points of view
When I create content, I do a significant amount of research and try to think about different perspectives and points of view. ChatGPT can be an amazing resource in helping to do that. You can ask it to argue the opposite of your perspective, elaborate on some reasons why your point might not be true, or even rephrase your perspective for different audiences.
For example, let’s see if ChatGPT can help us understand critical questions about cookies by giving it this prompt: I think chocolate chip cookies are the best, but some people don’t like them. Can you tell me why?
2: Brainstorming content outlines
Once you have the key points of your content in mind, you can use ChatGPT to help with structuring and brainstorming content outlines. I’ve found this to be one of the best uses for ChatGPT because it acts like an editor, giving you direction and structure for your ideas.
Let’s say that you’ve been asked to write a blog post about raising monarch butterflies. You want the post to be detailed, specific, and aimed toward a more niche audience. To accomplish this goal, you might use a prompt like this: You’re an entymologist. Can you write an outline for a blog post about raiding monarch butterflies?
Experiment with how you word your prompts. Sometimes prompting with a “role-playing” framing can help ChatGPT give better responses. An example of this is starting with “You are an XYZ” like I have below!
3: Summarizing content
Another way that you can use ChatGPT to help with the research and planning phase of creating is by asking ChatGPT to summarize long blog posts, books, or transcripts of videos.
In my experience, ChatGPT is particularly good at summarizing. To get ChatGPT to summarize for you, you can simply say “Please summarize the blog post below in paragraphs covering the key concepts: ” and include the blog post. (You don’t need to say please, but it just sounds nicer).
You can also ask ChatGPT to summarize things, like ideas or the plots of novels and television shows you might have missed. For example, if you’re curious about a television show but don’t want to invest hours watching it, you can ask ChatGPT something like: Can you summarize the plot of [X]?
4: Drafting content
I see ChatGPT as being an incredible resource for the planning and researching tasks required in the creation process. But ChatGPT can also be used to write full content drafts such as blog posts, social media captions, video scripts, emails, and more.
ChatGPT can help reduce the intimidation of a blank screen by giving you a good starting point, if you give it an idea of what you need to write. For example, let’s say you’re an assistant and your boss has asked you to compose an email for an out-of-office message. You know that your boss has a good sense of humor, so you want the message to be playful as well as informative.
You might use a prompt like this: Act as a virtual assistant. Your boss is about to be out of the office for a trip to the Bahamas. Write an OOO email for your boss that is lighthearted and concise with a witty subject line. Give instructions about who to contact instead.
If you are going to use ChatGPT to draft content, it’s best to get as specific as possible with your prompt, including potentially sharing an outline or writing style specifications in your prompt. It’s also best to treat this as a draft, not the end product. Taking a draft by ChatGPT and improving it can help you get a great result.
5: Repurposing content
While ChatGPT technically can draft content, I have found it’s even more useful in repurposing content that I’ve created across different channels. For example, taking a TikTok script that I’ve recorded and rewriting it to be an effective LinkedIn post.
Here’s an example ChatGPT prompt you could use to help repurpose content:
6: Writing proposals for projects
Last but not least is one way that I use ChatGPT to help in my work the most - and that’s creating proposals and documents for various projects. Generally, I find that ChatGPT is very helpful in giving me a starting point for internal processes or ad hoc tasks.
In the example below, I asked ChatGPT to write a proposal for a short pottery course. As you can see, it did a pretty good job and now I have a starting point for refining the proposal. This feels much better than starting from a completely blank page!
A few bonus tips to help you get the most out of ChatGPT
I hope you feel inspired by the use cases I shared. In this final section, I want to cover some additional tips to help you feel confident using ChatGPT to its fullest.
Organize your work by “thread”
Conversations are organized by threads in ChatGPT. You can create a new thread by clicking “New Chat” in the top left-hand corner.
Give feedback and request refinements
One way to get better results from ChatGPT after you get an initial answer is to give it feedback. For example, if you ask it to write a proposal but the proposal feels too casual and you need it to be more professional, you can tell ChatGPT that by saying. “Please rewrite in a more professional format.”
In the example below, I started by asking ChatGPT for a paragraph explaining color theory. It did a great job, but I wanted the text to be more playful, friendly, and engaging so I requested those refinements.
If you don’t like a response, select Regenerate response and it will try again.
Remember that ChatGPT can make things up
As I covered above, ChatGPT is not thinking and answering your questions. Instead, it is understanding the words you’ve put in, your prompt, and generating the words that are most likely to come next.
This unfortunately means that ChatGPT can sometimes hallucinate or make up information simply because it seemed likely to be true, not because it was true.
ChatGPT also has a knowledge cutoff in 2021, which means that it can’t provide information or generate using context on events that happened more recently. So it’s not currently reliable for content about current events.
I highly recommend you fact-check and review any text that is generated by ChatGPT. The output from ChatGPT is a great starting point for your work, but should not be used as a replacement or fully trusted tool when it comes to factual information.
At least, not yet.
What will you create first?
I hope this overview has left you inspired to see how ChatGPT and AI more generally can help you in your creative process. It’s an incredible tool that we now have at our disposal and can help us continue reaching new heights as creators. I can’t wait to see how you use it!