CopySmiths Founder at AI Writing Tools

For Katrina McKinnon, AI-powered writing tools are only as good as the operators that prompt them. And the best “emergency engineers” will be liberal arts people, storytellers, not mathematicians.

McKinnon founded CopySmiths, a blogging agency, three years ago. He and I spoke for the first time shortly after that launch, long before the advent of AI tools. We recently caught up, this time addressing writers for hire in the ChatGPT world.

Audio of our entire conversation is embedded below. Transcript edited for length and clarity.

Eric Bandholz. What do you do.

Katrina McKinnon. I am the founder of CopySmiths. We are an Australian based blogging agency for eCommerce stores. The company is three years old.

We work with writers all over the world, mostly in Kenya. They are very willing and hungry to work. Unfortunately, unemployment in Kenya is very high.

Bandholz. Are Artificial Intelligence Tools Impacting Your Business?

McKinnon: Just months ago, I was wary of AI. We’ve never used AI tools like Jasper or Frase. We used Surfer SEO once, but it left a footprint and created an expectation that content is easy.

Now we make all the content, but we use AI for ideas. We can direct it to, for example, “Give me an outline of how to clean a fountain.” It will do very well, although there are small details that he does not understand.

Another good use is a complex product description. We have a customer that sells headlamps and head torches for the mining industry. If you’re going into a quarry, an explosive environment, you don’t want your head torch to catch fire. ChatGPT is brilliant at revealing all the details. You can post product information on ChatGPT and it will spit back within seconds. “This has three batteries. The light lasts 24 hours.”

I don’t see ChatGPT becoming a search engine. It’s more of a discovery and exploration tool. We don’t use it to create blog copy because it doesn’t go into the depth needed to demonstrate authority on a topic. We use it to summarize and study.

It’s good for creating spreadsheets. You can direct it. “Make a chart comparing these vitamins and the effects on my skin, hair, or general well-being and tell me the milligram dosage.” It can create quite complex tables with many different relationships in the data.

However, the facts are wrong 80% of the time. So it requires extensive human supervision.

Bandholz. Can Google distinguish between AI and human-written articles?

McKinnon: Yes! Recently a Google employee on Twitter that AI content is acceptable in the right scenarios. So you won’t post a ChatGPT review, but of course you can use a simple FAQ, like how to replace batteries.

ChatGPT is one of many tools for writing AI., for example, is a mix of Google search and Bing chat that acts as a search engine that pinpoints sources.

Google search is broken. Its results are full of low-quality Forbes articles. Yesterday I spoke with a merchant who paid a Forbes writer to feature the company’s shoes in an article. So it’s pay to play. It’s not a practice I’m interested in.

Let’s hope Google evolves from a boring, stupid search engine.

I’m excited about the upcoming need for AI operators, which I call rapid engineers. Many marketers are quantitative and mathematical. They run pay-per-click, “data-driven” campaigns. That’s how they grow e-commerce revenues.

In rapid engineering, it is storytellers—liberal arts majors and communicators—who will control language models because they naturally think creatively with words. Over the next few years, we will see linguistically creative founders build huge businesses.

Bandholz. Where can our audience follow you?

McKinnon: Visit I have a Facebook group called Outstanding Freelance Writers in Africa. You can find me on LinkedIn.

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