Not long after ChatGPT launched, I watched author Jordan B. Peterson on TikTok discuss what a remarkable tool it is.
Peterson had written a book called 12 Rules for Life, and he said that he asked ChatGPT to “write me an essay that’s a 13th rule … written in a style that combines the King James Bible with the Tao Te Ching. … It wrote it in about 3 seconds… and it wasn’t obvious to me… that I didn’t write it.”’
A bold claim. If he was impressed by artificial intelligence’s literary prowess, perhaps I should take note. I headed to ChatGPT and typed.
“What is the meaning of life?”
It gave me a vague answer, but it was well written, impeccably punctuated and, notably, absent of the telltale weirdness that usually comes with a computer algorithm. It was lightning fast too.
I tried a few more queries only to get some fourth-rate copywriting, then I wrote it off as a cute novelty and forgot all about it for six months.
Will ChatGPT do my homework or annihilate humanity?
But we can’t forget about ChatGPT, can we? OpenAI, the company that developed ChatGPT, reported having attracted one million users just five days from its launch, something that took Instagram 2½ months. As of August 2023, ChatGPT had more than 180 million users and boasted over 1.5 billion monthly visits.
At the same time, we’re bombarded with warnings that artificial intelligence (AI) is dangerous and needs to be avoided. However, ChatGPT is a chatbot, and unless you envision an army of Terminator-philosophers debating us into extinction, I wouldn’t worry about this AI.
Let’s leave ethical investigations for another article. I wanted to know whether AI could be useful in business.
What’s a chatbot? I’m not a tech writer, so I’ll give you the lay version: It’s a computer program that’s been fed all the information on the internet that you can “talk” to (by typing) and get helpful answers.
I started out knowing ChatGPT can do your writing for you: college essays, computer code, a thank-you note to your babysitter. But many late-night TikTok videos later, I noticed people using it in increasingly creative ways. Human ingenuity isn’t obsolete, after all.
For example, “Create a 30-day social media calendar and captions for five posts per day. Include prompts that I can plug into Midjourney [another AI] to create the images for these posts.”
And, voilà! You have 150 Instagram posts that would normally take a human team days to create.
I started to wonder—could a non-tech solopreneur like me use AI to grow my business coaching practice? There was only one way to find out. I challenged myself to get my hands dirty with these tools for 30 days and report back.
A non-tech guy’s experiments with ChatGPT in business
An MIT study reports that using ChatGPT for work tasks can reduce time to completion by as much as 40%. I wanted to experience that increase in efficiency, so I set some goals. For 30 days, I would use AI to:
- Create a new lead magnet for my website
- Write 10 Instagram stories
- Write 10 blog posts
- Create a complete sales funnel for the Costa Rica retreat I’m launching
My hope was that by using ChatGPT as a rough-draft generator, I could save myself hundreds of hours and scale my one-person business without paying a fortune to freelancers.
Experiment #1: Hey ChatGPT, write me a lead magnet!
A lead magnet is something valuable that you exchange for a prospect’s contact information, so you can market to them. It’s commonly a checklist, guide, e-book, quiz or webinar. The lead magnet on my website was three years old and showing its age, so I started there. First, I upgraded to ChatGPT 4, the smarter $20-per-month version.
I asked it to write me a one-page checklist and gave it plenty of detail about me, my business and ideal client because I know that the quality of the output depends on what you feed it. After a few frustrating attempts, I had the copy I wanted. I sent this to a graphic designer on Fiverr and set it up as a pop-up download on my website.
So, how did it perform compared to its meticulously crafted, yet aging, predecessor? In the last 30 days, the new pop-up had a 0.8% conversion rate compared to 1.92% for old faithful. Not encouraging.
In ChatGPT’s defense, my website traffic is probably not high enough to make statistically sound conclusions. Time will tell.
Experiment #2: Write 10 Instagram story captions
Any tool that can save me hours per week would be priceless. But was I willing to put AI’s words in my mouth? On video? On the internet? As a literary snob, I found this uncomfortable. But for the experiment, I was willing to temporarily check my ego.
I asked for captions that would generate engagement and turn followers into clients. And I added “please” as a hedge against that Terminator scenario. What it produced was not at all in line with my voice, but sounded more like a high-school cheerleader: “Ready to make a real impact in your industry and feel immense pride in your business? It’s time to shine!” It even added a rainbow emoji for good measure.
Well, anything for the experiment, right? I pasted this copy on top of some videos of me doing random things.
Two of these Instagram stories became my most popular in the last 30 days. Was that because of AI’s hypnotizing copywriting or the thirst trap of me shirtless on the beach? I have a biased answer here, so we’ll call this highly unscientific experiment inconclusive, but encouraging.
Experiment #3: Write 10 blog posts
I like to think I have a great work ethic, but I’ll admit I only created three posts. It takes a while to see a payoff from blogging—if ever—and as a perfectionist, I can spend hours editing. I was uncomfortable publishing AI’s work under my name, so I didn’t. I also included a disclaimer that ChatGPT did the first draft.
What all those excuses really mean is that I procrastinated. Still, publishing three articles in a month is above my normal batting average.
Did these three blog posts attract readers to my website? Combined, they generated… wait for it… 64 views (sad face). It was a massive flop, but there was a silver lining.
In the process of teaching myself to use ChatGPT for business, I learned much more about search engine optimization (SEO). I found a tool called NeuronWriter, where you can plug in the text of your article and get an SEO score before you publish—along with word-by-word recommendations for how to improve the article to increase your rankings in Google Search.
Again, SEO blogging is a long-term strategy, and if I had a full-time staff person using AI to pump out blog content, I can see how powerful these tools could be when used together.
Experiment #4: Build an entire sales funnel
Halfway through my 30-day experiment, my wife and I decided to collaborate on a new project. We’re organizing a seven-day life transformation retreat in Costa Rica in January, something so huge and exciting that I may need prescription drugs. But enthusiasm only carries you so far, and eventually, it was time to write the sales page, so I called on ChatGPT.
After the lackluster results with the previous experiments, I realized I needed to learn how to use my tools more effectively. I joined a four-hour webinar about AI run by a large marketing agency that seemed to know how to speak AI. They taught specific prompts for ChatGPT to get exactly what I wanted, including:
- How I could feed it my best writing to create a style guide so everything going forward sounds like me
- Why I should start by asking for an overall marketing strategy before I ask for individual components
- How to ask different questions to get ChatGPT’s best work, e.g., “Act as a master direct response copywriter conducting product and market research… ”
I also learned how to get around the software’s word count limits by simply asking it to wait until I say “next” before tackling the next piece in the strategy.
I crafted a series of queries and cleared my entire day to mess around. After only two hours, I had the copy for a squeeze page, a 12-page sales page, 20 social media posts, 11 marketing emails and ad copy. And it all sounded like me! If your jaw isn’t on the floor yet, know that work like this would likely take a marketing team two weeks and cost thousands of dollars. Compare this to two hours and $20.
Are you starting to see the potential yet?
The sales copy has gone to a freelance web designer and we’ll review it together before we start selling. Again, time will tell, but I’m extremely optimistic and grateful to have found a tool that is exponentially boosting my productivity like two or three full-time employees would.
Should entrepreneurs bother learning how to use ChatGPT for business?
Only you can decide whether AI fits into your business strategy. If you work with your hands, maybe not. If you’re a programmer, you’d better learn this new skill set or risk being replaced—much of the code being written today is produced with help from A.I.
One caveat: If you expect to simply offload tasks to AI, you’ll be disappointed. “Hey ChatGPT, write me a blog post” will produce vanilla garbage. Learning how to ask it to write a blog post the way you want can create a masterpiece.
Your results will be better if you use this as another tool in your kit and take the time to learn how to use ChatGPT for business effectively.
I’ll continue wielding my new tools through practical application. I’m treating AI as a helper, not as a replacement for my own effort. Here’s how I plan to use it:
- As a rough draft and idea generator for blog posts, sales pages and social media copy
- As my video editor for creating short-form content with Vidyo.ai
- As a researcher for new product and business ideas
- As my graphic designer for creating original images from text with Canva
I’ve also discovered ChatGPT plug-ins that give it new superpowers:
- Expedia, for finding the best flights
- Bramework, for SEO analysis of all my webpage copy
- Zapier, for connecting ChatGPT to my other apps
- Image Editor, for doing simple image work without Photoshop
- Meme Generator, for when I get tired of real work
You might be resistant to integrating AI with your business, and that’s the beauty of human free will.
But rather than be the last horse-and-buggy driver in a Tesla world, why not experiment with some promising new tools before you write them off?
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