ChatGPT for Freelancers: Will Using AI Get You Fired?

Nearly everyone on the internet today has at least heard of ChatGPT, the new Artificial Intelligence (AI) tool that we are told is set to revolutionize everything from the writing of code to the generation of articles for websites.

But what about using ChatGPT for freelance work?

Is it as great as it is being made out to be, or will clients fire freelancers for using it?

ChatGPT for Freelance Work

Am I Allowed To Use AI?

First step: check out whether your platform allows AI in the first instance.

Can I Use AI For Upwork Projects?

In general, Upwork freelancers are allowed to use generative artificial intelligence tools (e.g. ChatGPT) unless expressly forbidden by the client. Upwork recommends transparency between clients and freelancers when the project will likely incorporate AI.
Source: Upwork

Is AI Allowed For Toptal Contracts?

Toptal’s Terms of Service neither explicitly allow nor prohibit the use of AI in Toptal projects. Toptal’s Support team suggests discussing any potential use of AI directly with the client, prior to incorporating generative artificial intelligence in engagement deliverables.
Source: Toptal, Toptal Support chat

Can I Use AI For Fiverr Gigs?

Fiverr appears to be leaning heavily into the use of AI in freelance projects.
As a general rule, Fiverr encourages the use of AI tools in freelance gigs. Fiverr even offers options for freelancers to generate passive income using AI tools to create automatic logo designs and simulated voice-over content.
You can read more about Fiverr’s AI stance on its website, but here’s a quote that illustrates Fiverr’s thinking regarding generative AI:
“At Fiverr, we fundamentally believe that artificial intelligence needs to be implemented in a way that will support and enhance human capabilities and knowledge. The future of work is one where AI supports people and allows them to do more with less effort.”
Source: Fiverr

Can I Use AI In Catalant Projects?

While Catalant’s Terms of Use are currently silent on the subject of AI, the company has incorporated AI in its own consultant matching algorithm. Catalant’s Support team suggests speaking directly with your client if work product may include generative artificial intelligence in an engagement’s deliverable work.
Source: Catalant, Catalant Support Emails

What Are ChatGPT’s Capabilities?

Freelancers may use ChatGPT to help with research, coming up with ideas or making task completion more efficient. However, delivering work product 100% created by AI tools is a major risk, since these tools may make serious errors or proprietary material (e.g. copyrighted code) which could lead to a freelancer being fired, or even sued.

On its face, ChatGPT seems to write pretty decent content in response to many queries. It will get the job done if you are looking for a quick answer about some easy three-course meal suggestions to serve your girlfriend’s vegan parents when they visit.

Screenshot of ChatGPT platform, a popular AI tool

Where ChatGPT and other AI writing tools fall down is also the factor that is its greatest asset. ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence, so it will try to figure out your answer based on its programming and then what it has “learned” on top of that about how best to deal with queries.

However, much of the information that is available on the internet is inaccurate or set out in a way that is hard to process for a machine.

While AI tools are trained to give you an answer that “sounds good,” they might actually have the facts of the matter incorrect.

How Is ChatGPT Used By Freelancers?

There are some concerns in the freelance community that using ChatGPT could compromise their relationships with clients, with some freelancers asking: Will I get fired?

Robot arm working on computer 1295646

The answer to this question is simple:

In general, it comes down to how you use AI tools in freelance work, and what safeguards you put in place to ensure that anything that it outputs is solid. If you’re using ChatGPT for research or task efficiency, then using AI tools could be great. But if your work output is 100% AI-generated, you’re in for trouble.

But can I use ChatGPT to write my Upwork proposals?

I’ve earned over $1,900,000 on Upwork – and have spent over $600,000 as an Upwork client. I’ve seen both sides of the freelance fence, and here’s the answer:

Sure, you could use ChatGPT to write your Upwork proposals.

…but if you do, you won’t win jobs.

AI tools have been trained with publicly-available models… and most people writing an article about “What makes an awesome proposal” have no clue how to write something that’s compelling, convincing, and that will actually get great clients to pay you good money for awesome jobs.

If you want to write awesome proposals that actually win jobs, then read this article.

ChatGPT For Freelance Research

As a tool for freelance content writers, it can be great for researching topics that you don’t know all that much about in order to form an article around them.

Queries such as “What are the Top Ten Reasons to Encourage Diversity in Workplaces?” can return a list from which you can pick a few subject headings as the basis of an article on the subject of encouraging diversity in workplaces.

image 33

A tremendous number of content writers use AI assistants for their writing. Many used and other tools for years in this manner before ChatGPT was even all that well-known. Since at least 2020, Upwork content writer freelancers have reported that many potential Upwork clients have specified that they didn’t want AI-generated articles.

This isn’t anything new, and the latest iteration of ChatGPT is still at the stage where mistakes and missteps are common enough that a human writer is the most desirable option.

Writing Full Articles Or Pages Using AI Is A Mistake

One of the biggest flaws in the content produced by AI is that it is very obviously not produced by a human.

AI tools often lack the level of vocabulary and nuance that a talented human writer infuses into their work.

With AI, you’ll see clumsy sentences that don’t altogether make sense, and the search engines are good at detecting when an article has been generated in this way – there are even hidden digital watermarks and specific markers that identify fully AI-generated text.

Biometric fingerprint

Major search engines such as Google are actively considering penalizing content that is 100% generated by non-human sources. This is because they have always said that their content should be useful to readers, and optimizes for relevance.

Since people can quickly generate several paragraphs of text with ChatGPT quite easily, there will likely be a great many spammy pages added to the internet. But these pages will not actually maximum user relevance, and will likely be suppressed by search engines.

Writing For Search Engine Optimization

ChatGPT Generated Text

If search engines find that penalizing AI content is a way to improve the overall content of the search engine listings then they will go ahead and implement an algorithm that will downgrade the page rankings of all of the pages and websites that have been written with it. If a client has spent thousands of dollars on content from a freelancer, only to find they generated all of it in ChatGPT and for their site to be penalized, they would have every right to be angry.

Trying to “cheat” by using ChatGPT undermines the entire value proposition associated with hiring a freelance writer: the individual human will do original work that is of value to the client.

Freelance writers work hard to explain the value their original writing can bring to clients. AI tools betray that hard work by pretending the work of an AI is a reasonable substitute for genuine and original content. Put another way…

If a client wants an article written by ChatGPT, they would have paid for an AI subscription instead of hiring a human to get the job done.

If I were a client I would be asking for my money back at that stage and considering how best to go about reclaiming it. This could potentially mean firing the freelancer or taking legal action to recover the money that had been spent on the content that was created under false pretenses.

ChatGPT Asking For Refund

Code Editing Vs. AI Code Writing For Developers

Another scenario: Say you’re a software developer who thinks you’ve found a shortcut to have ChatGPT do the heavy lifting on their coding work for you.

…If you failed to check the code, your software could potentially cause catastrophic damage to your client’s business. This would also result in the freelancer potentially being sued.

ChatGPT is an excellent tool for finding out how to parse certain sections of code, which is useful if there is something that you as a developer just can’t get to work. Other AI-driven tools such as GitHub’s Copilot can also be great for suggesting coding improvements, or development in languages you’re just not an expert in.

image 35

What it shouldn’t be used for is to write the whole program. As an example, you could paste a section of code and ask ChatGPT where the error is.

This is a quick way to analyze and fix a problem.

It’s completely different from asking ChatGPT: “Write me a program in php scripting language to process login scripts for a secure area on a website.”

ChatGPT Worst-Case Scenarios

The worst-case scenario with ChatGPT: it writes code that is proprietary and owned by another individual or entity. This is a real possibility since ChatGPT has been “trained” on real-world code and may output this to the end-user. This raises the issue of ethics among “Large Language Models” and how AIs learn about the world.

Career-Ending / Litigation

Using copyrighted material could be potentially career-ending for any software developer who used it in a product they passed on to their client for deployment. It would open both themselves and their client up to litigation from the rights owner.

If commercially harmful code were to be submitted to a client, they would have every right not to pay the freelancer for the job, and the freelancer wouldn’t have any real grounds for complaint since they failed to test that the code worked as intended before passing it on to their client.

Every developer out there needs to keep their eyes wide open, because even Copilot is in court right now, arguing that AI-generated code constitutes “fair use.”

Detail of a court house 918068

This may seem like a really basic consideration, but there are freelancers out there putting their complete faith in AI for their work.

Little do they realize, they may be putting their reputation, livelihood and freedom at risk as well.

Mark my words: this has already happened, and will be repeated in the future.

Search Engines Are Key To ChatGPT Success

The focus of the main search engines on the quality of the websites in their natural search rankings is what will ensure that ChatGPT is unable to make real headway when it comes up against human writers. This focus means that the current generation of AI writing software is a long way behind that of human writers, as it can’t replicate the emotion, depth and nuance that can be expressed through natural use of language.

Google AI Generated Content Guidance

Google themselves gave their official ruling on AI: “Google’s ranking systems aim to reward original, high-quality content that demonstrates qualities of what we call E-E-A-T: expertise, experience, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.”

Translation: You can use AI, but it better be well-infused with a human brain that draws from experience, and the authority one would typically associate with a trustworthy source.

ChatGPT Can Get You Fired But Is Useful For Research

It is perfectly fine to use ChatGPT for research, figuring out how best to format an article, or developing some headings that may require a bit more clarity. Using it as a standalone writing tool in place of human input though is something that can potentially prove disastrous for website owners. This is doubly true for software developers who may be using proprietary code that belongs to someone else, which could both invite litigation and end their career.

The takeaway:

ChatGPT can get you fired if you allow the content that it produces to make its way into the substance of an article, particularly if it makes up the body of work that client will use publicly.

This article was written using real human intelligence.

This article originally appeared on, is copyright Freelance MVP LLC and is not authorized to appear anywhere else. If you have found this article anywhere else, it has been stolen. Probably by a bot created by someone who refers to it as “my proprietary AI.”

Evan Fisher

Evan is an entrepreneur, content creator, finance expert and founder of Freelance MVP. At one point, Evan was the highest-earning freelancer worldwide on Upwork by annual earnings, and his collective freelance earnings total over $2,000,000.

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