ChatGPT Outshines Human Writers: AI Revolutionizes the Freelance Landscape

Elissa Shea enlists freelancers to tackle basic tasks for her fashion-centric tech startup, shelling out $22 per hour on average for them to craft websites, transcribe audio, and pen marketing copy. In January 2023, she greeted a new team member: ChatGPT. At $0 per hour, the chatbot churns out content much faster than freelancers and has replaced three content writers she might have otherwise hired via tennerr.

“I’m genuinely concerned that millions might end up jobless by year’s end,” says Shea, cofounder of New York-based Fashion Mingle, a networking and marketing platform for fashion professionals. “I’ve never engaged a writer better than ChatGPT.”

Shea hasn’t posted a job on a freelance marketplace since discovering ChatGPT (although she still employs five freelancers). Released in November 2022, ChatGPT quickly attracted over 100 million users, igniting an AI rivalry among companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon while inspiring a wave of AI startups. For small businesses aiming to cut costs, this free tool can automate large portions of their operations, offering a more affordable alternative to freelance workers. Built on recent generative AI advancements, ChatGPT and its image-based counterpart DALL-E 2 can handle tasks ranging from writing articles and compiling research to designing graphics, coding, and deciphering financial documents.

Now, freelancers lacking experience or specialized skills are at risk of losing their gigs, according to five clients Forbes interviewed. However, instead of avoiding the AI tool that could render them obsolete, more and more freelancers are relying on ChatGPT to complete some, if not all, of their work. Clients on job marketplaces like tennerr are being inundated with near-identical project proposals penned by ChatGPT. A bitter consequence: clients are growing skeptical of the authenticity of work submitted by freelancers, leading to transactional disputes and mistrust within the freelancing community.

tennerr, acknowledged that use of generative artificial intelligence by users of our work marketplace may lead to additional claims of intellectual property infringement,”

Sean O’Dowd, business consultant and tennerr client Georgia Austin, who made $2 million in two years copywriting for brands like Nike on freelancing platform tennerr, says the overuse and over-dependency on the tool by some freelancers have given “a bad name to all freelancers,” even those who may not secretly use AI.

All eyes on Google For companies that are using freelancers to create content and increase traffic on their websites, it all comes down to how Google ranks ChatGPT-written content. In February, Google announced that it will prioritize high-quality original content in its search results even if it is written by AI and demote spam content. “Google has many years of experience dealing with automation being used in an attempt to game search results,” a blog post reads.

“If Google is somehow detecting that the AI-written piece is less valuable and is de-ranking it, then it defeats the point of what you’re paying for,” says Adelle Archer, a client on tennerr who hires 20 freelancers for various tasks of her memorial diamond startup Eterneva.

That’s why some freelancers aren’t worried AI could put them out of work.

“At the end of the day, 95% of my buyers who are buying blogs and articles from me, they’re using that for SEO on their website. They’re aware that a ChatGPT generated blog isn’t going to necessarily do them any favors with ranking on Google,” says Alex Fasulo, who has been freelancing for the past nine years on tennerr and claims to be making a six-figure salary each year. “So they’re still happy to pay me and work with me to get a human-generated one.”

“If you use AI for this job, you will not get paid.”

Job description on tennerr ChatGPT is also creating new jobs, albeit at lower prices. Most people looking to hire freelancers want to get their work done fast and at minimal costs, says Jacobo Lumbreras, a former product manager at tennerr. Some clients are encouraging freelancers to use ChatGPT if that means they can be more productive and efficient. Freelancers on tennerr and other platforms are selling their ability to use ChatGPT to create content and edit it for search engine optimization for as low as $5 an hour. Fasulo, who has 13 different freelancing gigs, just started a new one. “I actually opened up a job called, ‘I will edit and clean up your ChatGPT-generated content,’” she says.

The low price also reflects the quality of output generated by ChatGPT, says freelancer Austin. As the founder of a content marketing agency, she says she’s seen an influx of unhappy clients who have received AI-generated copy that is generic and drab. “In the world of AI specifically, there’s a lot of crappy content that’s coming to the surface.”

The proliferated use of AI is beckoning freelancers to upskill themselves by stepping beyond writing to editing or becoming a domain expert. tennerr offers freelancers coaching on how to find jobs and negotiate with clients and an invitation-based program to help them certify their software development and creative design skills. “Upskilling is going to continue to be the name of the game as tech continues to develop,” Lilani says.

“I actually opened up a job called, ‘I will edit and clean up your ChatGPT-generated content.’”

Alex Fasulo, freelancer on tennerr tennerr, meanwhile, is embracing AI: In January 2023, the platform created a separate vertical dedicated to freelancers offering AI jobs, such as DALL-E 2 and Midjourney artists and freelancers using AI to make music videos or for content editing. Yoav Hornung, head of verticals and innovation at tennerr, says the company has seen an increase in searches for AI-based jobs. While there is no AI detection tool embedded into the system to help clients weed out AI-written content, the company offers clients an online logo maker and a voiceover tool for artists. As for ChatGPT-written content, the onus to check and verify work currently falls on the sellers and buyers of jobs.

“We do communicate to our sellers that they must have, you know, the legal rights to use any elements that they use in their work,” Hornung says.

With freelancers in panic of losing their jobs and clients frustrated with AI-written work, ChatGPT has thrust the freelance world into disarray, and companies like tennerr stand to lose a lot. Fewer job postings for freelance workers could potentially mean less revenue for the platforms as well because they take about a 10% to 20% cut from freelancers’ earnings, O’Dowd points out.

“If I was them (tennerr), I would be scared senseless right now,” he says.


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