Become a Writer Today

Amy Yamada Reveals How AI Can Transform Your Writing and Connect Deeply with Audiences

January 22, 2024 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
Amy Yamada Reveals How AI Can Transform Your Writing and Connect Deeply with Audiences
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of the Become a Writer Today podcast, my guest is Amy Yamada, a former marketing director and AI expert.

During the interview, Amy shares her innovative approach to using AI to develop authentic messaging and form deep connections with audiences.

Amy and her use of ChatGPT to help content creators scale their businesses is a one-of-a-kind approach. No one else is teaching what she does. Amy's method allows busy content creators to generate more content while preserving their authentic voice and speaking directly to their audience.

Here are my top 3 takeaways from our discussion:

1. Authenticity is Key: Amy uses an innovative approach called the "heart speech model" to infuse her voice into AI-generated content, ensuring that her communication is not only efficient but also authentic and resonates with her audience.

2. Utilizing AI for Relationship Building: Amy highlights how entrepreneurs, including writers, can leverage AI for various forms of communication, such as marketing emails, social media posts, and even difficult conversations with clients or team members while maintaining their authentic voice.

3. Future of AI in Content Creation: Amy shared insights on the growing role of AI in content creation and how it's important to balance efficiency with maintaining a human touch in the content we generate. We also discussed the potential of AI in serving as a research assistant and helping with content organization.

If you're interested in learning more about Amy's unique approach to using AI in writing, check out the full podcast episode. Don't miss out on these valuable insights!

Resources:

Amy's Website

Support the show

If you enjoyed the show please leave a review on Apple. And if you have any questions you can find me on Twitter @BryanJCollins

Thanks for listening!

(preview)

Amy: The next step to go even deeper with the authenticity piece is something that we call the Heart Speech. So we built up this model called the Heart Speech Model. The heart speech is where you actually use your voice through voice dictation. So I might just use my phone and use my notes section, or there's an app called Otter. Maybe you're familiar. Otter is an app where it both audio records your voice and transcribes your voice. The main point is to have some way to transcribe your voice. What I like to do is think about what is the topic or theme that is really reflecting what I want to bring into this communication that I'm using AI for. Instead of thinking about the entire piece, for example, if I was having to write a marketing email to promote a book, then I would have my writing style but I would also want it to have my actual voice.

(intro)

Welcome to the Become a Writer Today Podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

(interview)

Bryan: My guest today is Amy Yamada, who is a former marketing director. She's also an expert in using AI to develop authentic messaging and form deep connections with your readers or with clients, which is great, particularly if you're writing nonfiction or if you're wondering how you can incorporate tools like ChatGPT into your creative workflow. Welcome to the show, Amy.

Amy: Thank you, Bryan. I'm excited to be here.

Bryan: So, from what I gathered, 2023 has been a big year for you and your business, thanks to the popularity of AI. Before we talk about using ChatGPT, could you give the listeners more information about who you are and what you do?

Amy: Yeah, thank you. It's interesting because I know you and I had a chance to have a conversation before we started this podcast. When we talked about me coming from corporate, it's eye-opening. I had a flashback to my corporate years, and how while I'm very grateful for the experience, it was a completely different life. That was about 12 years ago.

I am definitely someone who has always been passionate about connecting with people and doing a good job in whatever it is that I'm doing. But I realized, once I'd been in corporate for about 15 years, I realized that deep down inside, I remember thinking I know I meant for more. I know I'm in for something different than what I've been doing. And so I took the leap of faith to go off on my own. When I looked back, the first few years was a lot of figuring things out and then just really thinking about how can I best serve people. I really found my passion when it comes to messaging and, as you said, deep human connection. Then fast forward to this year, bringing AI into it. So it's just been a really exciting journey with the highs and the lows and everything in between. But I'm really grateful for these last 12 plus years. And yeah, I'm just looking forward to what's next as well.

Bryan: That's quite a long time to be working for yourself. So congrats on working for yourself for that long. Hard to do. What type of clients do you work with at the moment?

Amy: Well, that's an interesting question. Up until this year, it really has predominantly been coaches, whether it's business coaches, life coaches, health coaches, relationship coaches, all different types of coaches, consultants, mentors. But this year, it has broadened from that. I know we always talked about, like, find your niche in business. But it actually has broadened, in that what we've been teaching has been going above and beyond the coaching industry. Once we started to really leverage AI — it's been such a hot topic this year. We had people that were — they were entrepreneurs but in different fields. So we've had some commercial realtors and agency owners. But really, when I think about the golden thread among some, it's people like entrepreneurs who care about building an authentic relationship with their audience and their future clients. So I'd say that's now the through line as we continue to move forward. It's that we just really want to help entrepreneurs who are relationship-based and they care about building that authentic relationship with their audience and future clients.

Bryan: A lot of authors and freelancers will be entrepreneurs in some way. Maybe they're investing in a book or a writing. Perhaps they have a nonfiction book, and they have coaching or business behind it. AI is like the biggest trend of 2023. ChatGPT is changing how people write and think about writing. When did you start using AI?

Amy: Late November of last year. Right when ChatGPT came out, my partner, Ken, he kept nudging me saying, "Hey, check this out. Check this out." I was like, yeah, okay. I'm busy with other things. I thought it was just another platform of sorts. But finally, he just caught my attention. He said watch this. He prompted ChatGPT to write an email about something, and it just cranked it out so quickly. I thought, what is this? I'm sure for those who've been playing with it this year perhaps have had the same experience.

While I was really impressed by the productivity and efficiency of it, it was lacking for me initially. It was the authenticity of it. I really care about this authenticity piece. So I thought, well, I would love to use this tool. It's amazing. However, if it doesn't sound like me, if it sounds kind of generic or robotic, I don't want to use it. And so that's been a big focus this year: about bringing this authenticity of the authentic voice into AI so that when I am writing, then that authenticity can come through. I know that we're talking about writers and writing books. And so whether you're writing a nonfiction, or fiction, or whatever type of book it is, if you think about the reader, if you think about who is it that's reading this, then we can think about what is the way in which I want to reach these people to buy my book and to enjoy it. So I'm excited to talk about this today.

Bryan: Yeah, the first time I used ChatGPT, like many people, I couldn't believe the results. But I suppose, after using it for a few months, I actually realized that the results aren't always as good as you think they are. There can be hallucinations or inaccuracies. At this point, you can nearly tell if something's written by AI. So you really have to use the correct prompt and train it to write in your own voice. Could you describe your process for using AI or ChatGPT, or perhaps elaborate?

Amy: Yeah, definitely. These days, I use both ChatGPT and Claude. For anyone who's not familiar with Claude, it's similar to ChatGPT. You can just take more information in. My experience of it when it comes to marketing, copywriting, I believe it's done a better job. But I go between the two. They're both great.

But my process really has to do with thinking about communication. There's a sender and a receiver, right? I'm the sender. Then whoever is the recipient of my communication is the receiver. And so what I like to do is first train AI on my unique writing style. And so we've developed a prompt where we actually have ChatGPT analyze a piece of writing that I've done so that it can come up with seven different elements, characteristics of my unique writing style, so then I can repurpose that summary when I'm prompting it again in the future to write in my voice. So that's the initial step that we take.

Bryan: Interesting. So do you have to use that prompt each time, or is there a way to pick up where you left off?

Amy: We used the prompt once to get the summary. Basically, it breaks down your rhetorical patterns, your values, your content patterns. It just breaks down these different seven elements of the way in which you write. Then you can save that description. Then yes, you do need to use that description if you wanted to use that unique writing style or unique voice. Does that make sense?

Bryan: Maybe I'll talk through it, and you can correct me if I got it wrong. So I would say something like, hey, ChatGPT. Here's the description of how I write. Then I'm pasting in the description that I've generated. Now, please provide some text, based on this description, in my writing voice. Is that the process?

Amy: Yeah, it's a little bit more specific. I'm happy to give you this prompt. It's a bit more involved with the prompt itself. But yes, it's essentially that, where you'd say analyze my writing style. But then, it gives a very specific way to analyze it and then a sample of your writing. Then you prompt it with that. Then it'll reflect back to you your unique voice writing style broken down into seven elements.

Bryan: Could you give us the prompt? I'd love to hear it. If you don't have it to hand, that's okay.

Amy: Yeah, I don't have it in front of me. I don't have it memorized, but I can give it to you.

Bryan: Yeah, that's okay. So when you've used ChatGPT, or when I used ChatGPT to generate some texts, I usually find it still needs reworking and editing and revising. I consider it like a first draft. I consider AI is like a tool. So when you've trained it in the way you described, what's your next step?

Amy: The next step to go even deeper with the authenticity piece is something that we call the Heart Speech. So we built out this model called the Heart Speech Model. The heart speech is where you actually use your voice through voice dictation. So I might just use my phone and use my notes section, or there's an app called Otter. Maybe you're familiar. Otter is an app where it both audio records your voice and transcribes your voice. The main point is to have some way to transcribe your voice. What I like to do is think about what is the topic or theme that is really reflecting what I want to bring into this communication that I'm using AI for. Instead of thinking about the entire piece, for example, if I was having to write a marketing email to promote a book, then I would have my writing style but I would also want it to have my actual voice.

A human prompt that I can give you to transcribe something that you really want to say is to simply say, "What I really want to say is..." and then transcribe something that you're passionate about. So, Bryan, let me ask you this. What is the topic or theme that you are passionate about?

Bryan: Right now, we're thinking a lot about how a writer can build an audience for themselves by writing online and perhaps on social media.

Amy: Okay. Yeah, so you can even speak into that. Why are you passionate about that? What about that is exciting to you?

Bryan: I am passionate about that because, years ago, a writer would have to ask for permission from a gatekeeper. For example, the editor of a newspaper — it's just an experience I had — or perhaps an agent in a publishing company, or perhaps a magazine that they wanted to write for. They almost had to get approval to find a way to get their work in front of readers. Whereas now, all you need is an ability to put a bit of work in and push through when you feel like you're not getting any traction. Then you can build a relationship directly with readers and earn a living from writing.

Amy: That's amazing. So you can do a voice transcription and speak into this topic and just have even a paragraph, about a paragraph, of your words. Then just have your raw unedited words as a block that you would copy and paste into ChatGPT. So then you'd have your writing style summarized, and what we call your heart speech. Then tell it what you want to do with it. In that way, it'll really pull from your actual voice.

Bryan: Oh, interesting. So if I understand you correctly, am I talking about a topic that I'm passionate about, like I just did there, into a transcription app and then pasting the text into ChatGPT?

Amy: Yep, that's right.

Bryan: That's very clever. I imagine that automatically helps somebody get over the hurdle of staring at a blank page, or a flashing cursor, or wondering how to get you to first draft. Because anybody can talk about a topic.

Amy: Yeah, exactly. That's what's so fun about it. If you think about whatever it is you're working on, I often will speak into authenticity, or deep human connection, or really empowering people to be true to who they are. So I may just get on my soapbox a bit and transcribe my voice about that topic. Then that will come through in whatever I'm prompting ChatGPT to do for me. So it's a way to not have to do so much revising once ChatGPT, or Claude, or whatever platform you're saying, comes up with this initial response. Because you're actually feeding it with such great inputs that it's understanding you on a whole different level.

Bryan: Okay. So I feel like ChatGPT or Claude is understanding me. Now it's going to generate something for me. But do I need to be specific about what the output is going to look like? For example, writing sales copy in my tone of voice is very different to writing an article, let's say.

Amy: Right. So if you want to go even deeper, you can actually have it create several different voices or writing styles based on different things that you've written in the past. That way, you have these different summaries and that's saved in a different document. In that way, you can copy and paste whichever writing summary that's analyzed by ChatGPT. Does that make sense?

Bryan: Yeah, so you're almost having a library. Well, every writer should have a library of their work that they can reuse and repurpose. But you're taking that one step further by having a library of content regenerated with AI in your own voice and then reusing that to iterate.

Amy: Exactly.

Bryan: What are your clients using this approach for? Because that's just for this very specific. It's quite unusual. I haven't heard of anyone using AI like this before.

Amy: Yeah, it's quite different, right? My clients have been using it for — I mean, since they are all entrepreneurs in different types, and they market themselves online, of course, they're using it for marketing emails, social media posts. They're using it for anytime they want to communicate and bring their voice into it. So they might come up with a workshop, or a webinar, or masterclass outline. Some of them are in the podcasting world as well, so for show notes and things like that, to keep that, to save time on what it is that they're creating. Really any form of communication that they want to bring their authentic voice into it.

Sometimes entrepreneurs need to write a difficult email to a client or a difficult email to a team member. They can even do a voice transcription of what they really want to say. Then they'd have ChatGPT write it in a more cordial, polite way, or whatever it is that they want it to have created for them. Even those difficult conversations can be refined, if you will, by AI, and can support with those emails that perhaps in the past — I know for me, every once a while, if I had a client that wasn't happy about something, I would make it personal. To me, I would take it personally. I would spend hours thinking like, "Oh, should I write back to them?" Or, "What should I say to them?" Of course, I need to work through my own stuff on that. But now it's very helpful to have a tool that can actually create these difficult communication elements for you.

Bryan: Very novel way of using AI. How did you come up with this approach?

Amy: Well, part of it was just problem solving. Because I thought, this is a really great tool to save me so much time and energy and even money. However, how can I get it to do this for me? How can I get to do that for me? I just started to ask the questions and experiment with it. For the first half of this year, I probably slept less than I should have. Because I was really just kind of experimenting with it and figuring out like how can I prompt it in a way that it really gets this.

Then just in recent months, my partner, Ken, and I, we really shifted our focus from making sure that it's authentic to our voice, and then focused the spotlight on the clients or the recipient. Now what we've done is we've developed an automation tool that is called your Ideal Client Handbook. Just with a few inputs, by you inputting what is your purpose, like why do you do what you do, and then what is your desired transformation or desired outcome for your ideal client? In this case, what kind of business do you have? Just by having a few inputs that goes into this production queue behind the scenes, and then it goes through a really deep dive qualitative analysis that it creates leveraging AI. Then it emails the buyer of The Ideal Client Handbook their handbook itself.

And so it's really been an exciting tool to share with our clients. Because then, not only that do they have the ability to train AI on their voice but they can now train AI on who they are meant to serve on a very, very, very deep level. So beyond demographics. It goes into psychographics. What are their fears and frustrations, and aspirations, or their worldview, their buying habits? I mean, it goes so deep to where it even shares what a potential diary entry would be for them in just going so deep on their thoughts. Then uploading your handbook into AI, like your voice and who you are, what you're about, then you can prompt it. And it'll take everything to the next level in terms of how you want to communicate with the people that you want to serve.

Bryan: So if I'm going to follow a process like what we described there a few moments ago, was there any particular type of writing I should use? How much should I prepare? Does it matter how it's structured?

Amy: For it to analyze your writing style, that initial step?

Bryan: Yeah, for the step of analyzing my writing, so it writes my own voice.

Amy: Usually, one or two paragraphs is totally fine. It doesn't have to be super lengthy. I always tell my clients, if you have an email, you've written a blog, an article, a couple of chapters from a book, if it's in the voice that you wanted to use in the future, then just use that. Or like we were saying, if you want to create several different "voices," if you will, then you can input these different ones one at a time so that you get that summary backed to describe your voice.

Bryan: Interesting. A cool prompt I came across a while ago. Yours is much better. It was rewrite this so it sounds like a human, and how sentence variation helps eliminate the robotic sounds that you get from standard AI, or at least ChatGPT 3.5. But this is really taking it to the next level. Do you spend a lot of time collecting writing prompts or playing around with prompt tools?

Amy: Not as much now that we're really focusing on the ideal client side of it in the last few months, a big focus of ours. Because we recognized that so often, we're focused on ourselves versus really going deep on the other person, the people that we're meant to serve. And so we've just been really exploring that and using that tool. Even to do things like uploading the Ideal Client Handbook into AI. Then we've created these in-depth prompts to create something like a focus group.

Imagine thinking about — okay. So I know you're speaking to writers. Imagine creating an AI-generated focus group of three of your favorite readers of your book or buyers of your book. Then you could have a facilitator. So you're actually engaging with an AI-generated focus group of three people that are the ones who are going to love your book the most. Ask them questions. What do you love about this book? When you choose to buy a book, what are you looking for?" Just to really engage. Imagine just interacting with them as if they were actually human beings. It's pretty wild what you can learn from things like this. So it's been a powerful exercise.

Bryan: Yeah, I found ChatGPT is great as a type of research assistant once you fact check the research. Then secondly, it's great for reorganizing information. If you have themes you want to include in an article, that'll help restructure them. So it saves a lot of time with the outlining process. I've used ChatGPT the most. I've played around with some of the tools that generate articles. Which ones do you use? Is it mostly Claude and ChatGPT, or have you tried any others?

Amy: Yeah, I've really focused on those two. Being that I've been involved in AI this past year, I often had people ask, "Have you tried this? Have you tried that? Have you tried this?" At the beginning, even early on, I thought, oh, gosh. I can get so distracted easily by all these different opportunities. So I just put blinders on and said, "You know what? I'm going to focus on ChatGPT and then Claude. Because that's really what I'm using in my own business, and it's been helping a lot of my clients as well.

Bryan: Have you noticed much of a difference between Claude and ChatGPT? I haven't tried Claude as much, mostly because it's a bit harder to access from Ireland.

Amy: Right. Hopefully, it'll expand soon or later. I know that's been one of the frustrations. I know it recently expanded to 96 or 98 more countries. So hopefully, it continues to expand. I've really loved using Claude. They're both great. I know you're saying sometimes you'll get something back from ChatGPT and you're like, "That's not quite what I want it to be." Just the other night, even though I'd done all the things to train it on my voice, I wrote an email. I thought, what is this? It was so flowery. It said all these cutesy metaphors. And so I did use a feedback prompt, like the one you said. Write another version of this that sounds like a normal human being. Something like that. Then it calmed down a little bit. So it had an off day. Sometimes we do.

Bryan: Yeah, I was using the social media tool there this morning. It helps with managing comments on LinkedIn. But it has that ChatGPT integration. They'll show you all the comments and then generate auto responses. I generated a few to see what they would look like. But it was like, I would never say that. So I couldn't use any of them. So it didn't save me any time. But yeah, if I have something that could write up my own voice, that would be brilliant. To be having a third pair of hands or a second pair of hands, that will be fun.

Amy: Yeah, definitely.

Bryan: So if somebody wants to get started on this process for themselves, would you recommend? Would you say the first step is that they gather a piece of writing and try and train ChatGPT with it?

Amy: Yeah, I find that that's one of the most helpful ways to get, to receive that summary so that you have it. So you can then use it for future prompting. I would say that's probably the best way to get started. And like I said, I'm happy to share with you a PDF on that exact prompt if they want to use ours. Then just save it. You can have it analyze multiple writing styles, like you were saying before.

Bryan: Have you ever tried using it to analyze someone else's writing style?

Amy: Oh, sure.

Bryan: To get your work to sound like it was written by someone else? I've tried that.

Amy: Yeah, early on, I did some of that. So if you have someone that you really admire, and you want to have some of your writing influenced by their voice or their style, you can certainly do that. But I always say to my clients and my audience, the best person you can be is you. Why try to be like somebody else when it's you and your voice? But if you want to play with it and see if there's some influence that you want to learn from, then why not?

Bryan: Yeah, I was recording a YouTube video about this topic. I got ChatGPT to rewrite a paragraph in the style of Ernest Hemingway and a couple of other authors. The results were a bit cliche, to be honest. But it was just interesting to see what it came up with. I hadn't gone through all of the steps that you described. So maybe that's why. Have you any thoughts on where AI is going to go for people who are creating content, or how it's going to help them?

Amy: Oh, my gosh. It's moving so fast. It's hard to keep up even being involved in it. Every single day, it feels like there's something new that's happening. I believe it's just going to continue growing and getting better and better and better. I know that there can be some fears around this topic. For example, people using the likeness of somebody's actual audio voice or their video. So it's just about using it, using the tool for what it is that you can use it for that will help you save time and energy and money and stress. But yeah, I think it's just going to keep growing.

Early this year, I connected with some AI power users that have been deep in AI for much longer than I have. One of the things that they showed was that, within the next five years, it's predicted that something like 95% of all content online will be generated by AI. And so that can either be exciting or terrifying depending on how you look at it.

Bryan: Both, yeah.

Amy: Like oh, just robots posting or putting content out there. But the way I look at it, that's why I'm taking such a big stand for authenticity. Because to me, it's like as long as we're bringing our own authentic human voice into it and leveraging it and using it to amplify it versus replace it, then I don't mind it being so highly used, if that makes sense.

Bryan: I've published a lot of informational content over the past few years. But I am thinking now that just AI is obviously going to do that going forward. So I'm asking myself these days what can I write, or what can I commission and to publish that only a human can write rather than something that's the information organized in a specific way?

Amy: Yeah, I'm curious. What are you mainly using AI for?

Bryan: Well, for example, like for the headline for this podcast, I'll ask it to come up with five variations. I'll also use AI to write the show notes. I'll also use it to generate outlines for articles. I don't use it to write entire articles, because just the results were never — they need so much work, so it'd be easier to write the article from scratch. But to be honest, I'm still learning how to incorporate it as part of a workflow for writing. So I'm going to go and experiment what you've recommended there. Because it sounds like a great approach.

I've also used it for research and then just for basic things like recipes and so on. I find their mobile app is quite good for ChatGPT. Because you can ask questions. It's like having a research assistant in your pocket.

Amy: Totally.

Bryan: Soon I'd get frustrated with it because the results aren't always accurate. Then it can hang, or it can get a bit slow if you're looking for it to generate too much. But I suppose those are just teething problems. I would expect it to get better over time.

Amy: That makes sense.

Bryan: Amy, if someone's listening to this and they want to learn more about your approach, where should they go?

Amy: I'd say the easiest way would be to go to my Instagram. It's just @amyyamada. Everything at this point is pretty much under my name. So if you want to go to my website, it's amyyamada.com. If you look me up on Facebook, it's Amy Yamada. Everything is under my name.

Bryan: I'll put the links in the show notes. Thanks for your time, Amy.

Amy: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

Bryan: I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. If you did, please consider leaving a short review on the iTunes Store or sharing the show on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you’re listening. More reviews, more ratings, and more shares will help more people find the Become a Writer Today Podcast. And did you know, for just a couple of dollars a month, you could become a Patreon for the show? Visit patreon.com/becomeawritertoday or look for the Support button in the show notes. Your support will help me record, produce, and publish more episodes each month. And if you become a Patreon, I’ll give you my writing books, discounts on writing software, and on my writing courses.