To Work Fewer Hours, They Put AI on the Job

FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with a displayed ChatGPT logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken February 23, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo (REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: A smartphone with a displayed ChatGPT logo is placed on a computer motherboard in this illustration taken February 23, 2023. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo (REUTERS)


  • New tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney and Tome help professionals save time and boost their income

Some say generative artificial intelligence will transform the workforce. Many workers say it already has.

Numerous workers, especially freelancers and small-business owners who are free of the legal hurdles in large companies, have already started using generative AI tools to save time. They say they’ve been struck by how the new technologies, including image and text generators, allow them to expand and speed up what they do, freeing them to take on new projects and make more money.

Here’s how workers are using generative AI tools in marketing, design and the legal world.

In Kansas City, Mo., Stephen Brucher works in sales and marketing at a small, three-person firm that creates promotional video content on behalf of companies ranging from tech to entertainment. Up until this year, their company’s business mostly came through direct customer inquiries, which Brucher would respond to with his own custom pitches, taking perhaps two to three days to put them together.

He began using AI tools including Midjourney and ChatGPT to help create custom illustrations and write text for his pitches in January. Doing so, he says, saves him three to four hours per pitch. Brucher says he now has time to proactively pitch more clients. Company revenue, he estimates, is on track to be 50% higher this year than it was in 2022.

Not all efforts succeed: Brucher has also been using ChatGPT to write emails, to occasionally comic effect. In one case, he asked the tool to redraft a pitch email he was writing to make it sound more exciting. The email it wrote contained canned phrases like “get ready for an electrifying project," which made Brucher laugh.

Larry Lundstrom is a pastor in Jacksonville, Ark., who in recent years has earned around $35,000 each year doing freelance design work on the side. Over the holidays this past winter, he started experimenting with new AI tools, including Tome, which helps users generate slide decks for presentations.

He recently used Tome to create a slide deck for Chime, a mobile banking app, that company executives can use when recruiting on college campuses. Tome generated slides with images and text that Lundstrom and Chime subsequently edited. The whole process took around two and a half days, compared with the two weeks it would have taken to create, research and illustrate without such tools, he said. In another instance, he used Dall-E, an AI-powered tool that creates images from text prompts, to generate art commissioned for a website, which he then used Photoshop to edit.

Some projects might entail 60% AI and 40% human output, though that proportion varies by assignment, says Lundstrom. He’s taking on three client projects a week, compared with one before he started using AI, and is on track to double his freelance income.

The learning curve required to use the tools effectively takes time, he says. In one case, when trying to prompt Dall-E to create an image of a fun, colorful vintage car, the tool first spat out something “completely bizarre," Lundstrom says, which resembled a Jetsons-style space car. Figuring out the right prompts has required practice, he says.

Barrett O’Neill, who’s based in Boston, runs a marketing company that creates online content for clients seeking to expand their web presence.

He began using AI last fall, and was excited to find that chatbot tools such as Koala can generate good enough drafts that he can use his team of freelancers to simply edit them, instead of paying freelancers to write them from scratch. What used to be hours of research and writing has turned into a day’s work with the help of AI.

“All the main points and supporting content is there," he says, “They just rework it to make it sound a little less robotic."

Using AI tools has allowed O’Neill’s firm to take on 10 additional clients without increasing his staff, bringing in the equivalent of around an extra $25,000 in revenue a month.

The tools are also allowing people to pursue their passion projects. Shelia Huggins, a lawyer in Durham, N.C., is building her own legal advice website while she works full time as a lawyer.

Two months ago, Huggins began using ChatGPT to write articles for her site, and to create scripts for legal advice videos that she creates for YouTube. It’s work she otherwise wouldn’t have been able to accomplish, given her workload as a lawyer, which ordinarily leaves her too drained for much else.

“It frees up my mind so that I can focus on other things that I really need to focus on," she says of the tools.

Write to Te-Ping Chen at

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