6 ways to make your content stand out in the AI writing wave
The recent rise in AI-generated content has some writers worried about their job security. I get spooked about the situation myself—but I try to remember that we, as humans, still beat AI at much of what gives good content its impact.
I talked with a bunch of other writers and content marketers about how they make their content stand out—and what separates humans from bots—and here’s what they had to share.
1. Show your human side
While AI is good at writing general ideas about a topic, it doesn’t have the emotions, experiences, and connections we have. Use your experience as a human to add empathy, personal stories, and opinions to your writing.
“AI writing tools lack empathy. Even if you use different prompts to get them to do that, it won’t still be like a human showing they understand the pain point of another person,” says Chuks Chukwuemeka, a blogger and SEO writer. “So, I show that I understand where the audience is coming from and the challenges they have probably faced in the past.”
You can see this practice of relating to the reader through their pain point in Buffer’s blog post on the potential TikTok ban. It emphasizes the difficulty of dealing with the problem at hand while offering solutions to help.
Freelance copywriter Angela Nacpil likes to use a variety of tactics to stand out from AI writing, including sharing personal stories. “Be relatable and build a connection. Instead of relying solely on data and statistics, try to incorporate personal stories and anecdotes that help establish a connection with your readers. By tapping into the emotional side of your audience, you can create content that they can truly relate to,” she advises.
The writers at Zapier use this approach a lot to add a human touch to content. One of my favorite examples of this is when Justin Pot asked the pets at Zapier for their advice on being a good coworker. Its lighthearted premise led the way to some genuinely good insights on taking care of yourself and your loved ones as you work.
On his blog, Grow With Ward, Ward van Gasteren shares opinions and gut-feeling advice to make his content less generic. For example, he shared his personal opinion on using revenue as a north-star metric in his blog post on the subject.
“I’ve noticed that people don’t search to find, but they search to make a decision. So, helping them make a decision by giving them advice and opinions from experience really is much more valuable than AI is doing,” Ward says.
2. Analyze your human writing for “AI speak”
Even though you’re not an AI, any repetitive and robotic language you use can be flagged as AI content in detection technology. Content writer Aleksandra Jovičić learned this the hard way when she ran her HARO pitches through ZeroGPT and AI Content Detector. “I expected to get a few sentences that sound generic, but this tool detected AI in almost 60% of my pitches. That felt like a slap in the face! It made me question my writing skills and whether my writing sounds robotic and repetitive,” she tells me.
So, she turned this situation into an advantage by using the tools to cut “AI speak” out of her writing. She says, “[I] started using these tools to make my writing better. I go back to my content and reiterate everything that sounds robotic, then pop it into the tools and rewrite every single sentence that is marked as AI.”
The pitch she sent me was her first shot at this new technique, and you can see how it appeared in these tools below.
She uses this process for writing blog posts, too, such as for this article on repurposing HARO pitches.
Run your writing through AI detection tools to see where you stand. If you see yourself getting a high AI score often, revise your content with these tools for more dynamic writing.
3. Tap into legitimate expertise
AI writes like it knows what it’s doing, but in many cases, it doesn’t. For example, it’ll often cite academic papers that don’t exist in a phenomenon known as an AI hallucination.
First-hand or second-hand knowledge from experts on your subject will blow AI’s authority out of the water. You can add expertise to your writing by being an expert yourself or reaching out to people who know their stuff.
At altLINE Sobanco, Gates Little’s content writers cover subjects related to finances—a topic that you need to get right the first time. So, Gates hires actual financial professionals for the highest accuracy possible, plus the nuance and originality that come with knowing the ins and outs of a subject.
“I think standing out from AI-generated content all boils down to having content written by legitimate experts. You can tell when content has been repurposed or is just paraphrasing existing online articles, and most AI writing tools base their answers on that existing content,” Gates explains.
SEO blogs like the Ahrefs blog take this approach often, too, since the SEO space requires so much hands-on knowledge. Does Going Viral Help With SEO? Not Really shows how an expert answers pressing industry questions himself.
If you aren’t an expert on the subject you want to write about, you can also reach out to people who do have expertise using HARO or a similar platform. For instance, while I have a good grasp of content writing principles, I wanted to bring in new expertise on this subject, so I reached out to writers and content marketers for this blog post.
Freelance content writer Kayla Voigt shares a creative way you can integrate other voices into your content. “I’m a big fan of content journalism—treating a piece of content as if you’re a reporter for a consumer tech publication and interviewing third-party experts about a given topic. The more human expertise and authority you add into a piece, the more it will stand out.”
She shared this piece from Dell featuring a researcher’s work on drone technology that mimics bird flight patterns. Note how it reads like a feature you’d see in a newspaper more than it does a blog post. You can see more examples of this technique in this blog post on brand journalism.
4. Demonstrate the “how”
AI can cover the “what” of a topic, but it’s not great at demonstrating the “how” because it can’t explain something from multiple angles the way humans can. While it can guess how humans do things using the information it was trained on, it can’t use a tool itself to show you how to do something. As a human, you have the ability to get hands-on with what you’re writing about and use that experience to explain it to the reader.
Harshala Chavan, the founder of Merrative, also writes in the no-code development and process automation niches. She tells me, “My blog needs step-by-step screenshots of product use cases, reports on how the automation solution improved the life of the user, and an explanation of hacks that I figured out.” Harshala backs up the processes she explains with quotes from YouTube tutorials, webinars, research papers, and podcast episodes.
“Without this, my content would be completely useless—something that would hurt my authority in front of CXOs (who are my target audience). You can’t have a tutorial or process description without showcasing “how” I did it. And that is what differentiates my content—because AI cannot override on no-code tools or data to produce a response,” she says.
Zapier specializes in knowledge through experience, as you can see in app roundups like this one that evaluates appointment schedulers. These blog posts share app impressions much better than an AI can because they come from first-hand use.
You can also reap the benefits of human-to-human explanation in your content language. Step-by-step bullet points and screenshots go a long way in creating instructive content that’s easy to follow. Clearscope uses both in this helpful blog post on updating your website content.
5. Base your content on original research
AI can’t perform original research on a topic, but you sure can. Run a survey or use shareable internal data to add original insights to your content.
“[I]f we create something that an AI is easily able to replicate, we simply choose not to go forward with it,” says Michael Maximoff, co-founder and managing partner at Belkins. “Instead, we base our content on heavy research, internal data, and deduction capabilities unavailable to AI. As a result, our content and its message are entirely unique and backed by our own experience. Because of this approach, it is very easy for end users to see that the content was produced by real people rather than AI, and they can do whatever they like with that information.”
One of the easiest ways to integrate original research into your content is to create a report. Zapier does this all the time with benchmark reports like this one on the ROI of marketing automation.
6. Use the EXTRA framework
Content frameworks make it easier to apply best practices because they’re so repeatable. At the content marketing agency Contentika, strategists use the EXTRA framework to stand out from AI. This approach touches on many of the points you learned from this blog post so far.
Contentika’s marketing director, Isreal Oyarinde, walked me through each letter of the framework:
Emotion: As you learned earlier, emotion goes a long way in differentiating your content from AI. “By incorporating emotional elements into our writing, such as humor, empathy, or even just a relatable tone, we create content that resonates with our audience on a deeper level.”
eXpertise: “While AI can generate content quickly and efficiently, it lacks the insights that come from years of experience in a particular field.” So, Isreal adds expert insights, real-life examples, and other tidbits of knowledge backed up by human experience.
Trends: AI datasets can’t catch on to what’s trending in a certain industry, so capitalizing on current trends gives you a leg up.
Rich media: Isreal dedicates a framework letter to rich media like images and video because they increase content shareability and engagement. “By presenting information and data in these formats, we can help our audience better understand complex concepts and make informed decisions based on the data.”
Attention-grabbing headline: This last letter is one of the most important. “No matter how much work we put in a blog post, if the headline is poorly constructed, then it’s possible that only a few people will get to read it.”
You can see the EXTRA framework in action in this Contentika blog post on books for marketers.
Ride the AI wave
While it can be scary to see AI take over content, think of it instead as an opportunity to embrace what makes good content great. As AI pushes us to go the extra mile in our writing, we’ll remember the payoff that comes with giving your content the TLC it deserves.
Amid the sea of AI-generated blog posts, it’ll become easier than ever to stand out by giving your content a human touch. Just breathe, and remember why you write in the first place.