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Contractors Should Add AI Platforms to Their Tool Chests. Here’s Why (and How).
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a hugely useful tool for people who own contracting businesses. Today’s explosion of AI tools puts unbelievable computing power at your fingertips - and you don’t have to know a line of computer code or possess any tech skills. It’s almost too good to be true, so let’s look at how AI can help you as a contractor. We think you’ll become a believer.
Content Creation for Your Contracting Business
This is the big one. You’ve undoubtedly noticed that your marketing efforts (websites, social media, even advertising) are fed by content, and that you need a lot of it to keep the wheels turning.
AI has your back. Content creation AIs work off of prompts. There’s a text box, and all you do is type your question in plain language. After a brief couple of seconds “thinking,” the AI will give you content that answers your question. It’s that simple to get started.
Say you want to start a blog, and you even have some great ideas for topics, but you just don’t have the time to write 500 words on each of them. With ChatGPT from OpenAI (the most popular AI), you just ask a simple question or give it some basic parameters:
Then sit back and watch in amazement as Chat GPT writes it for you:
At this point, it’s tempting to call it done, cut and paste the content, and go about your day. However, it’s crucial to take a few minutes to read through it carefully. Make sure that it’s factually correct, easy to understand and read, and tells the story you want.
It should be a matter of tweaking a word or sentence here or there. If you like the content, but it doesn’t fit your tone of voice or company image, you can change that at will, too.
All we did was ask ChatGPT to rewrite the post in a friendly tone of voice. See the difference? It’s easy to fine tune your content with AI tools.
Tips for AI Prompts for Contractors
Prompts are the questions or commands you give the AI to help it create your content. You don’t even have to keep it simple (AI can handle complex requests), but do keep it as straightforward as possible.
We find, though, that the biggest mistake beginners make with prompts is to not think big enough. Don’t be afraid to ask for answers to thorny problems. You can even ask things like “What are three ways I can improve the margins for my gutter business that I can do today?”
One thing to remember about prompts is that you can always reword them if you’re not getting the results you need.
Forget Photoshop - AI Image Tools for Contractors
AI Image tools work in two different ways. First, we’ll look at the most basic method for generating images from two popular sites: Canva and Bing (we’ll talk more about Bing a little farther down the page.)
Canva is perhaps the most well-known online image/video editing tool out there. It allows non-designers to create and edit pictures, movies and more. The basic plan is free, but you can get more content with an affordable monthly subscription.
Canva’s AI image tools let you search easily for high resolution images pertinent to your business. That’s pretty common among AIs, but Canva stands out by allowing you to just drag and drop the image straight from search into a pre-built template. This way, you can build a suite of images for different purposes quickly and easily.
This is Microsoft Bing. You’ll notice that it works just like Canva. The only difference is that there isn’t a built-in image editor. We’ve found that it returns higher quality images, however, with more imaginative styles.
There are many, many options, with new ones seemingly appearing every day.
AI image generators are another way you can use this technology. In many ways, this is where AI shines. While it’s fun to tell them to make a picture of a unicorn riding a unicycle, you can also have it create art images like “installing a fence in Louisiana.”
This image example is from Microsoft Bing. Bing uses an AI called DALL-E from OpenAI, the same folks that brought you ChatGPT. You get 25 “boosts” for free that speed up your image creation, but you can still use the tool once they run out for free - it just takes longer. You get 25 boosts every day.
The picture above also illustrates an important point - just like with text, you should always check the details. This image is not perfect (that fence is a mess), but it’s impressive for something generated entirely by AI.
What Does AI Cost for Contractors?
The good news is that many AI tools (like ChatGPT and Bing) are free to use. You can create to your heart’s content. The bad news is that often you only get a certain number of credits per week or month to use. When those run out, you can still access your tools, they’re just slower (~1 minute to render an image, as opposed to ~20-30 seconds). In the Resources section below we’ll lay out several popular AI tools along with their features and costs.
What Caveats Do I Need to Keep in Mind?
It bears repeating: make sure you always check the AI’s work to be certain you’re not plagiarizing or publishing incorrect information. If it doesn’t pass the smell test, ask the AI to regenerate the prompt or google the information
AI Tools for Contractors - a Resource List
Please note that presence on this list does not convey endorsement by ArcSite.
Writing (including rewriting existing content):
Image Generation and Editing:
Some of these tools are free, but some do carry a monthly subscription fee (typically around the $50 mark). You could easily save hours per week (never mind per month) using an AI tool in your contracting business. That adds up quickly.
Hopefully we’ve turned you from an AI skeptic into a true believer. AI can really help power your business, enabling you to crank out the content necessary to build marketing campaigns that attract new prospects.