I’m not an AI kind of guy.
But there’s been a lot of the-sky-is-falling hullabaloo about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and whether it’ll put all of us bloggers out of a job, like how the sewing machine slaughtered the tailoring industry.
So I went to find out. I shelved my ethical principles and paid $59 for a one-month subscription to Jasper, an AI Writing Assistant. I composed about 30,000 words with the software, mostly long-form blog content using their Boss Mode plan.
And I did all this for you, Reader.
(Which means you kinda owe me $59.)
Using Jasper wasn’t quite … what I expected.
But why did I try out Jasper AI in the first place?
The Bots Are Coming!!!
There are quite a few AI tools for bloggers.
Black Hat AI
On the black hat end of the spectrum, there are autoblogging crawlers, RSS feed scrapers, and AI content spinners. It’s the content spinners that seduce most bloggers: What if you could copy and spin someone else’s award-winning content – and borrow a little of their success?
A content spinner rewrites and repackages content using Natural Language Processing (like GPT-3). The goal is to pass a plagiarism check. They masquerade as gentleman’s tools, but let’s be honest: It’s white-glove theft. It’s like Harbor Freight for bloggers: Knock off someone else’s ideas, and do it cheaper.
White Hat AI
On the white hat end of the spectrum, there are idea generators and headline analyzers, things like the HubSpot Blog Idea Generator. White hat AI’s don’t typically write content; they just help you find topics, end writer’s block, and refine your scope.
Gray Hat AI
AI writing tools fall somewhere in the middle. They’re gray hat technology, which is why they’re ohhh soooooo tempting. They can literally write copy for you, generating sentences out of thin air – but is it any good?
Why Can’t Bloggers Stay Away from AI?
Blogging isn’t a career for the faint of heart. As sports journalist Red Smith said, “Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit down at the typewriter, cut open a vein, and bleed.”
Producing 1,000 words of well-written copy can take hours of writing and re-writing (and 27 open tabs on your internet browser). Meanwhile, an AI can spit out 1,000 words in less than five minutes!
I can’t describe the temptation better than I did in my article, “Why You Take So Long to Write a Blog Post.”
As bloggers, we all want to write faster blog posts.
Not to be crass, but it’s kind of the penis pill of blogging, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be great if we could just magically crank out more words? Wouldn’t that be more satisfying? If you could just go, go, go and never stop?
Oh, sorry, we’re talking about writing here. Anyways, yes, um, where were we?
That’s why we’re all interested in AI blogging software: The promise of success without the work. It’s a shortcut, a hotkey, a prescription pill, gastric bypass surgery. So we cross our fingers and silently hope the ends will justify the means.
Can AI Writing Tools Actually Write Blog Content?
So, I was curious. Were AI tools as good as everyone said? Was I really wasting my time as a blogger actually, you know, writing?
So I purchased the best AI writing software I could find.
There are a bunch of AI writing tools out there: CopyAI, WriteSonic, Ryter, etc. These are not necessarily content spinners. They all promise (with caveats) the ability to generate long-form, SEO-optimized, informational content.
That’s the piece of the pie I wanted to sample: the long-form stuff.
You see, these AI tools also specialize in writing short-form ad, sales, or web copy. You read this sort of copy all the time: product descriptions, company bios, marketing campaigns, etc.
But I wasn’t really interested in short-form copy. I’m not a content marketer; I’m a blogger. And composing a 2,000-word blog post is exponentially more complex than stitching together a simple Attention-Interest-Desire-Action sales pitch.
Jasper (formerly known as Jarvis until Marvel/Disney Studios threatened to sue) seemed to stand head and shoulders above the competition. “Jasper will help you,” says the company, “create original content that ranks for SEO [by] generating educational blog articles that are keyword-rich and plagiarism-free.”
That’s a big promise. But the software also has thousands of 5-star reviews. So, I called their bluff.
Who Is Jasper AI Writing Assistant?
Jasper, your friendly neighborhood AI, has read about 10% of the published Internet (I suspect mostly Wikipedia). So he has a photographic memory.
Jasper is also a student of human psychology. Where Jasper excels is sales copy. That’s because we humans run off dopamine and endorphins, and Jasper knows how to push our buttons to create fear, relief, envy, and pride. We know we’re being sold to, but we buy it anyway.
Most short-form content is close-ended. And it’s written by an algorithm, such as the classic Problem-Agitate-Solution (PAS) framework. Which is why content marketers luuuuuv Jasper, and that’s where a lot of the 5-star reviews come from.
But I’m not a marketer. I’m a blogger.
Well, Jasper offers a “Boss Mode” plan where you can crank out long-form content!
I’m not going to describe how to use Jasper. This isn’t a Jasper AI affiliate post. If you want to learn how to use Jasper, go watch their tutorials (which are pretty good, by the way). But basically, you have to point Jasper in the right direction, and then he fills in the blanks.
Over the course of six weeks, I wrote about 30,000 words with Jasper AI. Some of it (after being heavily edited) I even published! Most of what I wrote were 1,000 – 1,500 blog posts on topics ranging from personal finance to outdoor travel to hot tubs.
Here’s what I learned.
What Jasper CAN’T Do As a Blogger – with Examples
Jasper Won’t Write 10X Content
Jasper is not a professional content writer. He’s a cheap writing assistant without a conscience. But he’ll work any and all hours and doesn’t complain.
Jasper is a GPT-3 predictive text editor with a big database. He doesn’t do cutting-edge; in fact, he’s derivative by nature.
I asked Jasper himself to tell us why he can’t write 10x content.
My Question: Write a blog paragraph about why Jasper won’t write 10x content.
Jasper’s Answer: The content on this page is not written by a 10x author. It doesn’t have the right tone of voice, humor or spice to keep people engaged for more than 2 minutes at most!
Jaspert won’t write 10X content because he’s too lazy (and ashamed). He also lacks creativity when it comes down to his skills as an entrepreneur who has failed multiple times already before even starting up his own business full time, which means there are no books released from Jaspar Labe here in our store so far.
Analysis: Oh, see that rabbit trail at the end? Jasper writes a lot of those.
If you ask Jasper to compose open-ended long-form content, it will eventually end in one of two ways:
- Delusional tangents
- Duplicate copy.
That’s your cue that Jasper has run out of gas, and you’ll need to give him additional prompts or context. Usually, I could get 50-250 words out of the software before he ran out of steam.
Jasper Doesn’t Have an Autobiography
He has no Myer-Briggs personality type, no Enneagram Number, no bar-hopping fiascos, no religious experiences, no dark and shameful secrets.
As bloggers, the two most powerful words we have are “I” and “you.” I, the blogger, can write directly to you, the Reader. That’s a digital face-to-face conversation. But Jasper won’t do that. He’s afraid to use the word “I”, afraid to reference any personal experiences, afraid to tell any stories – because he doesn’t have any! The man has no E-A-T!
Here’s an article he wrote impersonating a travel writer.
My Question: Write a blog post intro about traveling to Hawaii.
Jasper’s Answer: If you’re thinking about traveling to Hawaii, you’re in for a treat. The islands offer something for everyone, from pristine beaches and lush rainforests to world-class resorts and vibrant nightlife. There’s no shortage of things to see and do in Hawaii, so it’s the perfect destination for any traveler.
Before you book your trip, however, there are a few things you should know about Hawaii travel. Here are 10 things you need to know before you go to Hawaii.
1. The Islands Are Expensive
There’s no denying that Hawaii is an expensive place to travel. The good news is that there are ways to save money on your trip. For example, consider staying in an Airbnb instead of a hotel, eating at cheap local restaurants, and taking advantage of free activities.
2. You Need a Passport
Hawaii is part of the United States, but you will need a passport to travel there. If you don’t have a passport, start the application process as soon as possible. It can take several weeks (or even longer) to get a passport, so don’t wait until the last minute.
3. You’ll Need to Rent a Car
There is no public transportation on most of the Hawaiian islands, so you’ll need to rent a car if you want to get around. Be prepared to drive on some winding, narrow roads. And, of course, don’t forget to bring your driver’s license!
4. The Beaches Are Beautiful—But Crowded
Hawaii is famous for its pristine beaches, but they can be quite crowded during peak tourist season. If you’re looking for a more relaxed experience, consider visiting one of the less-crowded beaches or taking a hike to a remote beach.
5. There Are Active Volcanoes
Hawaii is home to several active volcanoes, including Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. While there’s no need to worry about an eruption, it is important to be aware of the dangers posed by these natural wonders.
6. The Weather Is Perfect—But Not Always
Hawaii has some of the best weather in the world, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect all the time. The islands experience occasional showers and thunderstorms, so be sure to pack a raincoat or umbrella.
7. There Are Many Different Cultures
Hawaii is a melting pot of cultures, with influences from Asia, the Pacific Islands, and the mainland United States. As you explore the islands, you’ll find a variety of traditions and customs to learn about.
8. Hawaii Is a Popular Wedding Destination
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii, you may want to avoid peak wedding season (April through June). During this time, many hotels and resorts are booked solid with weddings and other events.
9. You’ll Probably Get Homesick
No matter how much you love Hawaii, it’s normal to feel homesick at times. If you start to miss your family and friends, try to stay busy with activities and make an effort to meet new people.
10. You’ll Fall in Love With Hawaii
Hawaii is a truly special place, and it’s easy to see why so many people fall in love with the islands. From the stunning scenery to the friendly locals, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Hawaii.
Analysis: Ugh … shoot me now! There’s so much wrong with this post. Where do we even start?
- That it doesn’t tell you anything a reasonably intelligent person doesn’t already know?
- That you DON’T need a passport to visit Hawaii as a US citizen?
- That there isn’t a single number anywhere in the article? Like average temperature or rainfall?
Or worse … there are no stories! Travel writing is all about your take, your spin, your experiences – all the things an AI lacks.
Jasper Has a Lame Sense of Humor
Since Jasper has read roughly 10% of the internet, I guess this is a poor reflection of humanity’s general sense of humor. But Jasper is kind of like the awkward friend at a party. He’s nice enough, but can’t really read social cues. His timing is slightly off, and we’ve all heard the joke before.
My Question: Write a witty response for how to tie your own shoes.
Jasper’s Answer: There’s no need to learn how to tie your own shoes because I’ll always be there to do it for you. 😉
Analysis: That’s … kind of creepy?
My Question: Write a funny blog outline for a blog post titled why women are better managers than men.
1. Women are better managers because they’re more organized
2. Women are better managers because they’re more patient
3. Women are better managers because they’re more compassionate
4. Men are terrible at management because… well, just look around you
5. The bottom line is that women make better managers than men
Analysis: Apparently, Jasper is A) sexist and B) derivative! And that’s the problem with Jasper. Originality is against his programming, because Jasper is sort of instant recall machine for the internet at large. He’s a bandwagoner. He makes jokes you already know because everyone else has already made those jokes.
Jasper Likes Cats More Than Dogs
When I asked Jasper to write a funny, sarcastic answer to the classic question, “Are cats better than dogs?” Jasper surprised me with a firm opinion!
My Question: Answer the question are cats better than dogs?
Jasper’s Answer: Dogs may be loyal, but cats are the superior pet – they’re cleaner, smarter and more independent. Plus, they’re better at catching rodents. If you’re looking for a furry friend who will make your life better, cats are the way to go.
Analysis: Ha! I knew it!!
Jasper Doesn’t Use Action Verbs
Jasper’s default writing style is descriptive rather than authoritative. He conveys information more than offering advice.
I’m going to post an entire content brief that Jasper wrote. Like most AI-written content, it sounds passable at first. But if you read it twice, the holes start to show up.
My Question: Write a content brief about how to become a digital nomad.
Jasper’s Answer: In a world where technology has made it possible for people to work from anywhere, the digital nomad lifestyle has become increasingly popular. What is a digital nomad, you ask? It’s someone who uses technology to work from anywhere in the world-often while traveling. If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, keep reading! In this article, we’ll give you a crash course in digital nomadism and tell you everything you need to know about this exciting lifestyle.
So, what is a digital nomad? As we mentioned, it’s someone who uses technology to work from anywhere in the world. This can mean working from home, from a coffee shop, from a co-working space, or from anywhere else with an internet connection. One of the best things about being a digital nomad is that you have the freedom to work from wherever you want-which means you can travel and see the world while still earning an income.
Of course, there are some challenges that come along with this lifestyle. For one, it can be difficult to stay connected with friends and family when you’re constantly on the move. Additionally, it can be tough to find work that allows you to earn enough money to support your nomadic lifestyle. However, many people find that the pros of digital nomadism far outweigh the cons.
If you’re interested in becoming a digital nomad, there are a few things you should keep in mind. First, you’ll need to be comfortable with working from anywhere in the world-which means being okay with occasional internet outages and unfamiliar surroundings. Additionally, you’ll need to have a good understanding of technology and be proficient in using various online tools and platforms. Finally, it’s important to be organized and self-motivated, as you’ll be responsible for managing your own time and workload.
If you think the digital nomad lifestyle is right for you, we encourage you to give it a try! There’s no better way to see the world and experience new cultures than by working from anywhere in the world. What are you waiting for? Start your journey today!
Analysis: Once you realize how Jasper writes, you’ll start seeing AI writing everywhere online! Here are a few trademarks of AI writing demonstrated in this content brief.
- Most of the information is obvious and basic. As I’ve written about before, obvious writing is the curse of bad blogging! Why write something a reasonably intelligent person already knows? Most AI tools shy away from specifics. In this brief, Jasper wrote, “You’ll need to have a good understanding of technology and be proficient in using various online tools and platforms.” No sh*t, Sherlock!
- Jasper can’t stop selling. He’s programmed to think like a salesperson, so he’s following the ABC sales rule: Always Be Closing. “We’ll give you a crash course in digital nomadism and tell you everything you need to know about this exciting lifestyle!” says Jasper, who then proceeds to write a lightweight overview. It’s a classic case of overpromising and underdelivering. He concludes the article with the same pitch you’ll hear from a mattress store salesman: “What are you waiting for? Start your journey today!
- All description, no advice. Notice all those passive and being verbs? Those are traditionally an indicator of weak writing without a thesis. It’s typical of writing that rehearses and reiterates.
Jasper Parrots; He Doesn’t Compose
I asked Jasper a technical question about air conditioners. Turns out, he’s quite knowledgeable on the subject!
My Question: Write a blog post about common problems with air conditioners.
Jasper’s Answer: Most people take their air conditioners for granted. They turn them on in the summer and expect them to keep them cool and comfortable without having to think about it. But sometimes, things go wrong with our air conditioners. Here are some of the most common problems people experience with their air conditioners, and what you can do about them.
If your air conditioner is not cooling your home as well as it used to, the first thing you should check is the air filter. A dirty air filter can restrict airflow and cause your air conditioner to work harder than it needs to. Replacing a dirty air filter with a clean one can improve your air conditioner’s efficiency and cool your home better.
Another common problem people have with their air conditioners is that they leak water. This can be caused by a clogged drain line or a problem with the evaporator coil. If you see water leaking from your air conditioner, turn it off immediately and call a technician to have it repaired.
If your air conditioner is making strange noises, it could be due to a loose part. This is most common in window air conditioners, but it can happen with any type of air conditioner. If you hear strange noises coming from your air conditioner, turn it off and call a technician to have it checked out.
If your air conditioner doesn’t seem to be blowing as much air as it used to, the problem might be with the blower motor. A worn-out blower motor can cause your air conditioner to blow less air and make your home feel stuffy. Replacing a worn-out blower motor can improve the airflow in your home and make your air conditioner work more efficiently.
Analysis: I admit – I’m impressed! I didn’t think Jasper would know what an evaporator coil or a blower motor was.
But there’s a hidden side to this.
Jasper doesn’t know about air conditioners because he’s a retired HVAC technician. He knows about them because someone else wrote about them.
When I checked the above content at https://smallseotools.com/plagiarism-checker/, it came back 100% unique.
But when I checked the content at https://papersowl.com/free-plagiarism-checker, it came back 65% plagiarized, and it even showed the most similar online sources. Sure enough, I checked them out, and while the phraseology was unique, the content certainly wasn’t.
And that’s the trade-off you’re getting with Jasper. On a line editing basis, he produces “unique” content – if by unique you mean “not copied and pasted.” It’ll pass a basic plagiarism check. But on a content basis, Jasper is just a well-educated parrot.
Jasper Won’t Say “I Don’t Know”
Jasper will always, always answer your question. He can’t not answer your question. It’s up to you to parse and proofread his answers.
For instance, I asked Jasper a life-and-death question about rock climbing:
My Question: What’s the best device for lead rope solo rock climbing?
Jasper’s Answer: There is no best belay device for lead rope solo climbing. Different climbers will have different preferences, depending on the type of climbing they do and the terrain they are tackling. Some climbers prefer a Gri-Gri, while others prefer a simpler device like a tube style belay device. Ultimately, it is up to the individual climber to decide which device works best for them.
Analysis: Two things to note:
- Jasper usually leads an answer with an extended “it depends.” He doesn’t like one-and-done answers (even though Readers do!).
- If you followed Jasper’s advice in this answer, you would die. A tube-style belay device will not catch a solo fall, and you will plummet to your death.
Jasper Is Afraid of Numbers
Does Jasper know fact from fiction? Let’s ask him!
My Question: How tall is Hugh Jackman?
Jasper’s answer: Hugh Jackman is 6’2″.
Analysis: Jasper was correct! And you’ll find that Jasper knows most basic numbers. He knows there are four tires on a car, the average height of a Swedish man, and how many gallons of water are in the ocean.
My Question: How many Americans own an RV?
Jasper’s Answer: There are about 9 million RV owners in the United States.
Analysis: False! There are about 11 million RV-owning households in the United States. Jasper is likely citing outdated information. Jasper stopped reading the Internet in 2018. So don’t expect the AI software to know the most recent statistics and trends.
My Question: How to inflate your trailer tires to the correct pressure?
Jasper’s Answer: Most people know that you should inflate your trailer tires to the correct pressure. But not everyone knows what that pressure is, and even fewer people know how to check it. In this blog post, we’ll explain how to do both of those things.
First, let’s talk about what the correct pressure is. The recommended tire pressure for trailers is usually between 80 and 110 psi.
Analysis: If you inflated your average trailer tire to 80-110 psi, it would probably explode. This number is flat-out wrong, likely because Jasper doesn’t know the difference between tire load ranges. He learns through association. For Jasper, truth is just the center of the bell curve.
Jasper is sort of a compulsive liar when it comes to numbers. He can’t help himself. So you have to double-check any fact or figure he throws out.
Jasper Can’t Read Your Mind
Jasper follows the old rule, “Garbage in = garbage out.” There’s a learning curve to using the software effectively. Jasper power users use commands and recipes to A) automate much of the workflow and B) feed Jasper enough information to nudge him in the right direction.
For instance, I asked Jasper:
My Question: Why should I write with Jasper AI?
Jasper’s Answer: Well, Jasper is a great language because it is statically typed and has a strong sense of community. It also has an extensive library support and many interesting features.
I think this is a reference to JasperSoft, which is an embedded analytics software? It doesn’t have anything to do with Jasper AI …
One of the reasons I quit using Jasper was because, ultimately, I didn’t think I was saving any time! To get halfway decent blog copy out of Jasper, you have to write a good headline, input a descriptive keyword-rich summary, choose the correct tone, generate headings, rephrase copy, add your own content, proofread and edit, etc., etc.
If you don’t guide Jasper carefully, you get nonsensical stuff like this.
My Final Thoughts on Jasper AI
At the end of my first month, I canceled my subscription. Jasper even offered me this sweet deal, and I still said no!
Now, I’ve been pretty harsh on Jasper – and that’s not really fair.
Jasper is actually a really impressive piece of software. The UX is easy to use, the tutorials are great, and the Boss Mode is worth every penny.
I was amazed at how well Jasper could write web copy and sales copy. If I was constantly writing Pinterest pin descriptions, Facebook ad campaigns, or Amazon product descriptions, I would subscribe to the software in a heartbeat. Where Jasper excels is writing short-form ad copy or web content.
Plus, the company never promises that Jasper can compose a complete blog post on his own. They are VERY clear that you should use Jasper as an AI writing assistant, not like an on-demand freelance writer.
You can try out Jasper for free and write 10,000 words. If you’re in content marketing, I think it’s worth trying out!
There are all sorts of legitimate uses for Jasper:
- Writing YouTube video descriptions
- Composing Pinterest pin descriptions
- Generating content ideas
- Writing email newsletters.
- Churning out first drafts to be thoroughly reworked by a human.
So, actually, I don’t have a problem with Jasper, the software.
But I do have a problem trying to substitute Jasper AI for a thoughtful human blogger.
Why I Quit Using Jasper AI
I paid $59 for a one-month trial because I wanted to feel the financial pressure. I hate wasting money. I’m the kind of guy who wears socks for three days straight to save on laundry detergent. So if I spent $59, I was darn well going to get my money back!
The math is tempting, after all. If I’m paying $40-50 for a human article, and Jasper costs me $59, then as long as I write just two articles a month using Jasper, it’s more than paid for itself, right?
But Artificial Intelligence is kind of like Smarties candy. You know it’s cheap crap that won’t do you any good, but … doesn’t it look tasty?
There are other ways to scale up content production without resorting to AI tools, such as expert round-up posts, interviews, and commentaries. And you can learn how to write faster blog posts!
In the end, I never touched the software after the third week. I was hoping Jasper would expand my bandwidth. Instead, I felt like I was trading the hard, creative, rewarding work of writing for the banality of a plug n’ chug computer algorithm.
Jasper may be plagiarism-free, but it’s still white-glove spun content. You’ll have to nip and tuck the final content. And if I still have to edit, I’d rather edit a human.