Can we all agree that the last few years have been a little extra? From pandemics, recessions, and social unrest, to the explosion of AI, we’re operating in a time of extreme and fast-moving change.
Change, especially the unexpected and fast-moving kind, can tap into our feelings of vulnerability and insecurity (of which there are already plenty in entrepreneurship, thank you very much!). Even if you’ve gotten pretty good at rolling with the punches over the past few years, it’s still EXHAUSTING.
So, let’s talk about the newest kid on the block – AI – and how it impacts creative entrepreneurs and freelancers.
If you’re worried that:
a. your ideas, designs, and content creation skills will be replaced by AI
b. AI will outperform you in terms of speed, productivity, and quality of output
c. You won’t be able to command the fees you want and deserve because of (a) and (b) you’re not alone.
And while I totally get it, I don’t believe these worse-case scenarios are accurate. I also don’t believe that denial is the way to go either. You’d better believe that if you ignore AI, you do so at your peril. As the newly-minted saying goes, humans won’t be replaced by AI, but they will be replaced by other humans who are using AI.
Here’s the great news. At the time of writing this post, AI is in its infancy. Now is exactly the right time to jump in and make this thing your friend.
Deep breath 😮💨
Let’s ease into this with a few reasons why you should embrace AI, rather than fear it.
- AI is designed to enhance our capabilities not replace us. Why is it important we know and believe that? Because mindset and words matter. If you believe AI will render you obsolete, you may just speak truth to that belief. Conversely, treat AI as your super-smart, always available, and ridiculously fast collaborator, brainstorming partner, research assistant, and project manager, and who’s going to crush it? YOU, that’s who!
- While AI can generate vast amounts of content in the blink of an eye, it’s not inherently creative. For a creative solution to be of any consequence, it needs to be useful and solve a problem humans care about. AI doesn’t have the emotional intelligence, experience, and discernment creative professionals like YOU bring to the table.
- Our beautiful human brains have a great capacity for serendipitous discoveries and intuitive leaps. Creative professionals are world-class at making unexpected connections, drawing inspiration from unlikely sources, and combining seemingly disparate elements to form new and original ideas. Can AI do that? I don’t think so!
OK, let’s build on this foundation of growing excitement (you are feeling that, right?) and talk about 3 actionable ways you can integrate AI into your business, process, and value proposition.
1. Become the expert and guide that your clients need
Think it’s just you who’s freaked out about AI? Your clients are just as unsure about what it means for them. Throw yourself into learning how AI works, how it can enhance your creative process, and ultimately how it can help you deliver exceptional results to your clients. By blending your creative skills with AI fluency, you position yourself as an expert guide and valuable asset to your clients.
Suggested actions: Depending on where you are in the process, commit to learning as much as you can about AI while it’s still in its infancy. Listen to podcasts, read articles (you literally can’t swing a cat without hitting one!), and sign up for the AI model of your choice.
Tip: If you’re planning to use ChatGpt or another text-based model, I’d recommend taking a basic prompt engineering course. Prompt engineering is a process by which you create high-quality prompts for the AI and iterate on the response until you get what you want and need.
2. Embrace a value-based pricing strategy
If you have yet to make the transition from hourly pricing to a value-based pricing model, now is the time! Here’s why: AI gives you (and everyone else) the ability to generate, iterate, and produce ideas and content at mind-warp speed, so you can no longer bill based on the time it takes to complete (unless you want to start billing in dollars VS thousands or tens of thousands of dollars). When you price based on the results you get VS the time it takes you to deliver them, how long it takes is of no concern to the client.
Suggested Action: I’ve written a bunch of posts on this topic. Here’s one you can check out here.
3. Integrate AI into your process (and be transparent about it)
Defining your process and sharing it with your prospects and clients dramatically improves everything from your close rate, pricing, project management, and outcomes. It’s also a great way to communicate and establish boundaries in your business (for more on that you can check out this article).
Suggested action: Review your process and brainstorm ways in which AI can help you generate ideas, iterate, prototype and create efficiencies. The more you practice (see step 1), the more you will find places AI can support you. As you outline your process (internally and externally), articulate the ways in which AI aids your creative process, such as data analysis, market insights, or rapid prototyping. Explain how this integration allows you to make informed decisions, uncover trends, and create more effective and impactful designs, content, or strategies.
By being transparent about your use of AI and positioning yourself as an expert guide, you instill confidence in clients that you can navigate the complexities of AI and leverage it to their advantage.
See what we did there? By being proactive and getting out in front of things, you get to shape the conversation and help the client understand why they still need the services of a top-shelf creative like you, despite AI advancements.
If I know my audience, I’m willing to bet your brain is buzzing with ideas and more than a little excited about a new world of possibility and potential that awaits us. And if it still feels a little scary, let me quote old-timey author, Gay Hendricks who says “Fear is excitement without breath.” So, let’s breathe, learn, and embrace the tools we have at our disposal. K?
I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment and share your biggest thought, insight, or recommendation about AI with me and your fellow creatives!