While employees have job descriptions that limit their responsibilities, self-employed people often have many different hats to wear. Hiring 1099 contractors can help and is more affordable than paying full-time workers, but it’s still not cheap.
Fortunately, there’s now a third option to consider: giving some of your hats to artificial intelligence (AI). That may have sounded like something out of a science fiction novel ten years ago, but not anymore. AI is here, and it’s taking the world by storm.
Let’s explore what you should know about today’s AI tools to incorporate them into your workflows and maximize efficiency.
Artificial intelligence has fascinated our society for the better part of a century, so it still feels like a technology reserved for the future. We usually depict it next to flying cars, robots, and space travel, like Rosey from The Jetsons or R2-D2 from Star Wars.
But in reality, AI has been among us for decades. The computer program Deep Blue defeated Garry Kasparov, the reigning world chess champion at the time, in 1997 – nearly 30 years ago.
We don't consider these programs AI programs because of their relatively limited functionality. Deep Blue can't file a self-employed tax form, and our tax tools are lousy at chess. That all changed with the release of ChatGPT in November 2022
Today, you can't log onto Twitter or open a news app without seeing headlines about AI. Some compare it to nuclear weapons and warn of the end times, while others cheer on a utopia brought about by robot overlords, but absolutely everyone is talking about it.
The most notable news is that ChatGPT made a large language model (LLM) readily available to the average consumer. LLMs are a form of generative AI trained on books, articles, and websites on the internet to simulate intelligent human conversation.
The latest versions have impressive academic accomplishments that demonstrate their abilities. For example, ChatGPT-4 scored in the 90th percentile on the Uniform Bar Exam and the 75th percentile on the Medical Knowledge Self-Assessment Program.
As you can imagine, such a capable tool could disrupt many industries, especially those that revolve heavily around knowledge-based work. Applied at scale, it could revolutionize the labor market and redefine the role of human workers in our society.
Did you know? 43% of workers expect their jobs to change significantly in the next five years due to AI disruptions, and 24% are worried it will soon make their job obsolete.
It’ll be some years before we find out who’s right, but we already know one thing: Freelancers who incorporate AI into their businesses early can gain a significant competitive advantage.
ChatGPT is a potentially game-changing tool, but it has limitations. Arguably the most significant is that its answers aren’t always reliable. It generally can’t check the accuracy of its responses.
In fact, ChatGPT is notorious for its “hallucinations,” in which it says things that sound plausible but are entirely fictional. These happen because of its fundamental nature as a program designed to recognize language patterns and supply gratifying responses. It’s not a thinking being.
For example, you could ask ChatGPT when humanity first set foot on Mars, and it may confidently reply that the Mars One mission took place in March 2025, during which brave astronauts established a colony on the planet’s surface.
These hallucinations occur often enough that you must be diligent about fact-checking AI responses. For high-stakes matters, such as advice on allowable tax deductions, it’s still essential that you consult a legitimate expert.
The other primary concern with using ChatGPT is a privacy issue. It continually captures the data you provide during conversations to improve its model and capabilities.
If you discuss confidential information, that significantly increases your risk of a data breach. At the very least, you’re sharing information with OpenAI, ChatGPT’s owner. Even if you trust them, malicious third parties could steal your data from them.
In addition, ChatGPT itself can inadvertently reveal the secrets you share with it to other users. There are safeguards against this, but no technology is perfect, and we’ve already seen these kinds of data breaches.
As an example of a worst-case scenario, you could ask ChatGPT to help you workshop your business idea to perfection, only for it to share your plan with another user who asks it for a clever way to make money.
The idea of a computer that can compete with the human mind is more than a little scary but also exciting. We don’t have an AI that can match or exceed a human in all situations, but ChatGPT can do so in many that freelancers face regularly.
If you can harness their capabilities, your business stands to benefit significantly. Let’s look at some of the most practical ways you can use ChatGPT in your daily routine to improve your business, no matter your industry.
One of the best ways to use ChatGPT is as a brainstorming partner, especially for solitary freelancers. Because it excels at rapidly generating large amounts of text, you can overcome quality issues with sheer volume.
For example, say you’re a real estate agent and need a catchy headline for a property listing, so you ask ChatGPT to give you 20 options. Even if you only like a couple, you can request that it generate 20 more similar to your favorites and repeat the process until you have what you need.
"I'm preparing a persuasive argument for a court case. Can you help me brainstorm legal strategies and supporting evidence to strengthen my case?"
"I'm organizing a charity event for animal welfare. Please generate ideas for fun activities that will attract participants and help me raise more money."
"I'm writing a science fiction novel and need help brainstorming futuristic technology ideas for the story. Can you give me some cool concepts?"
ChatGPT can't fact-check its answers, but it can still be an invaluable research tool. Its most significant advantage over other resources is the unparalleled convenience of its interface, which is almost indistinguishable from chatting with a human being.
That means you can get personalized responses that are impossible to replicate without consulting an expert. Not only can your questions be as specific as you want, but you can also have it rephrase or clarify any confusing points in their responses.
For example, suppose you’re a delivery driver, and your car breaks down, but you don’t have the funds to hire an auto mechanic. Rather than hoping there’s a guide to your specific issue and vehicle online, you can describe the situation in detail to ChatGPT.
You can then request that it help you diagnose the problem and give you a step-by-step guide to fixing it. If any instructions are unclear or difficult to implement, you can ask it to explain that aspect further until you figure out how to resolve your issue.
"I'm writing an article about the impact of social media on mental health in teenagers. Can you find recent studies and expert opinions on the subject?"
"I'm a graphic designer looking to specialize in logos for tech startups. Can you help me research the popular design trends in my target market?
"I'm creating a business plan for a mobile pet grooming service. Can you research the demand in my target area and help me set my prices?”
ChatGPT is still ineffective at generating cohesive content beyond a certain length, but it’s plenty good at writing up to a half dozen paragraphs at a time. That’s more than enough to automate many of your daily writing tasks, such as:
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For example, imagine you’re a construction contractor who recently completed a project, but your client is past due on their invoice. You’ve already followed up once and are struggling to find a way to phrase your next email without showing frustration.
Instead of staring at a blank email draft for ten minutes, you can explain the situation to ChatGPT and have it write the message. You can tell it which details you want to include, what tone of voice to use, and how long you want it to be.
"Create a funny Instagram caption for a travel photo in Santorini, Greece, highlighting the landscapes and cultural experiences."
"Draft a cold email persuading homeowners to buy my solar panels. Highlight the long-term cost savings, environmental benefits, and government incentives."
"Write a product description for my natural skincare product. Highlight its organic ingredients, cruelty-free certification, and benefits for different skin types."
ChatGPT is pretty good at writing things from scratch, but its ability to manipulate and refine existing content is on another level. Having them improve and expand your writing capabilities is one of its most readily applicable functions.
Here are a few of the most practical things you can ask them to do with the text you provide:
Edit: Not only can ChatGPT easily fix spelling and grammar mistakes, but it can also do things like edit for clarity, conciseness, and consistency.
Rewrite: ChatGPT can analyze your content and produce a new version with a different tone, style, or perspective.
Paraphrase: ChatGPT can consolidate vast amounts of text into a more readily digestible length while preserving its key points.
Let’s look at another example. This time, say you’re a writer who’s recently written a chapter for your latest novel. However, your draft is rough, so you share it with ChatGPT.
Instead of editing the content yourself, you can ask the AI tool to correct typos and mistakes in your text and eliminate repetitive paragraphs. You can also ask it to give you constructive criticism to keep in mind for your next chapter.
"Proofread and edit my blog post about organic gardening, focusing on enhancing its clarity, coherence, and impact."
"Rewrite this product description for an e-commerce website, making it more compelling and persuasive to attract potential buyers."
"Paraphrase this scientific research paper into simplified language for a general audience, without compromising the key findings and concepts."
Though not specifically designed for it, ChatGPT can help you with coding in many of the same ways it can help you with writing. After all, coding is essentially writing in a programming language.
As a result, you can use it to generate code from scratch, complete unfinished scripts, and troubleshoot issues. You may need some understanding of coding languages to be effective, but you can provide your prompts in plain English.
That’s obviously beneficial for self-employed people who code regularly as part of their business, such as freelance software developers. However, it can also benefit non-programmers who want to use code to create a simple website, such as a hairstylist who'd like to display their portfolio online.
"I'm making an app to track fitness goals. Help me design the code structure for a feature that calculates calorie intake based on user input.”
"Develop a Python script that scrapes customer reviews from a popular e-commerce website and extracts sentiment analysis scores for each review.”
"I need help troubleshooting a CSS issue on my website where the layout is rendering incorrectly on mobile devices. Can you identify and fix the problem?"
AI tools have had a meteoric rise, with ChatGPT reaching one million users only five days after its launch in November 2022. In comparison, Instagram took two and a half months to hit that milestone, and Spotify five.
These technologies aren't going anywhere. They'll only get more powerful and more deeply entrenched in our society. Start looking for ways to leverage them in your business now so you can ride the wave to greater success as they develop and their impact unfolds.
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only.
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