As a web publisher, I've always focused on scaling content production. During 2022, we published a high volume of new articles across our websites — upwards of a thousand new items in a typical month. We employed a team of more than 100 writers and editors to accomplish this gargantuan task. Fast-forward to the middle of 2023, and we now achieve the same publication numbers but with a team of only ten content creators.
We do this through harnessing the power of AI. We were early adopters of fully transitioning to AI-assisted content. And we did that without lowering our editorial standards.
Scaling your content strategy is always challenging. Even without considering AI, there's always been a tightrope between quantity and quality. Tip the balance, and you either can't keep up with demand or lose the trust of your audience. Bringing AI into the equation meant we could speed up production significantly.
Principle 3: Reducing production time
Before AI, a single article would take about five hours to write. Now, with a robust first draft in place, it takes our trained content specialists between one and two hours to generate the finished text. And while our process is more costly than producing one-click AI content, we don't sacrifice quality.
This AI-assisted approach allowed us to maintain high output and quality while reducing costs. Furthermore, we keep looking for ways to improve our initial prompts and the quality enhancement process. Through this continuous improvement, we can further reduce the cost per article and scale production even more.
When you save time and maintain quality, it's a win-win for everyone. Your team, business and, most importantly, readers benefit. With the right strategies, content creators can leverage AI to enhance rather than replace human creativity and judgment.
But what about the quality? Our main challenge was to create workflows and processes that would allow us to scale AI-assisted content production while maintaining the same quality as before. To achieve this delicate balance of quantity and quality while using AI, we created a new system based on three key principles.
Principle 1: Human-AI collaboration
You may have noticed that I mentioned neither writers nor editors when describing our current team. We no longer use those terms in our team. Instead, we now call the people who create our content "AI Wranglers." These people are not writers; they're AI-human collaboration experts. Using prompting strategies and AI tools, our content creators can develop a first draft quickly and then work on improving on that.
Depending on the type of article, our content creators may use a writing tool or work directly with an AI such as ChatGPT. When using ChatGPT directly, they follow a structured creation process that includes prompts that:
Start by asking the AI to give an overview of the topic. The content creator may need to provide some background context if the AI needs help getting up to speed.
Give the AI clear instructions on the tone and style, such as "aim for a conversational tone and keep the writing at eighth-grade level."
Have the AI suggest an outline it thinks would work best.
Then, go section by section, collaborating with the AI to put together the full draft.
The structured prompting helps our content creators speed up the process and quickly develop a first draft.
Principle 2: Quality enhancement processes
Some websites publish what is known in our industry as "one-click content." As the name implies, these articles are created using AI-based tools to generate an article in a single iteration. These articles are typically published immediately with no additional steps.
There's no denying that one-click AI content allows for extremely fast content production scaling. Moreover, this type of content goes way beyond the old-school "content spinners." In many cases, today's AI content tools — especially those employing the GPT-4 API — create coherent and sometimes even insightful content. And, of course, this hands-off approach significantly lowers the production cost.
However, our experience has shown us that relying on one-click content often leads to subpar articles in more ways than one. While the AI can produce amazing output, that content still needs to be refined by capable humans. It's the only way to reliably and consistently produce results that meet our publication standards. That's why the AI is only used to develop a first draft.
The AI gives us a head start, but our human content creators take the content to the finish line.
Our quality enhancement process includes three layers: Fact-checking, reducing fluff and adjusting the article to make sure it aligns with the reader's needs.
Verifying that the generated article does indeed "deliver the goods" is the content creator's first concern. They ensure the topic is fully covered and that the reader's questions have been answered in full.
Fact-checking is another pillar of our process. While constantly improving, AI systems can still occasionally produce inaccurate information. Our content creators thoroughly fact-check the article to make sure numbers, dates, locations, names, and any other factual information is valid. They also link back to authoritative sources to reference important facts.
Last but not least, the content creators improve the writing style. They often clean up redundant words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs to ensure the article is succinct and, therefore, more helpful.
In a way, you could say that our content creators are editors who specialize in working with a highly prolific writer. That writer may be silicone-based, but it certainly is not without flaws. Competent editors are needed in order to take this writer's work to the next level.
About Anne Moss
Anne Moss is the Founder & CEO of Moss Digital Publishing, a Florida-based web publishing company with a portfolio of more than 20 websites and over 4 million monthly visitors. An industry leader in leveraging AI for content creation, she blogs about her web publishing journey at Yeys.com.