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7 min read

How to use OpenAI's GPT-3 to spark content ideas

By Anna Burgess Yang · December 28, 2022

As a content marketer and journalist, I write a lot. Client work, blog, newsletter, Medium—it's quite a bit of juggling, and I rely on a project management tool to keep it all straight.

From my experiences with content, I know that creative people and teams often have a running list of ideas. Whether it's a never-ending Google Doc or a more formal calendar, having a repository of future topics answers the question, "What do I write about next?"

When I first heard about Zapier's integration with OpenAI's GPT-3 (the makers of ChatGPT), I immediately saw the use case: start with my topic, use GPT-3 to expand on the content ideas, and store the results in my project management tool. The result? Streamlining the steps of my writing workflow.

Looking for GPT-4? GPT-4 may be available with our OpenAI integration in the future. In the meantime, users with a paid subscription to ChatGPT Plus—or users are Pay-As-You-Go customers—can access GPT-4 via our ChatGPT integration now—allowing you to add ChatGPT-powered conversations into apps like Slack. Discover popular ways to use the ChatGPT Zapier integration.

How does GPT-3 speed up the writing process?

I follow a fairly standard writing process: ideation, some light Googling, outline, draft. But sometimes, even with a topic in mind, I don't know the exact direction I want to take. That's where OpenAI's GPT-3 can help.

GPT-3 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 3) is an advanced language-processing artificial intelligence tool that can generate human-like text when given a prompt. It's embedded in well-known tools such as Chat-GPT, Jasper, Copy.ai, and Frase. The use cases for writers are widely varied, but for long-form writers like myself, GPT-3 can do things like:

  • Identify subtopics related to a primary topic

  • Write an intro or a conclusion

  • Generate a counterargument for a topic

Every writer has to figure out how AI can help based on their own style and what they hope to gain. I've found it really useful in generating subtopic ideas. I would have done this work anyway, using Google and reading related articles. AI writing tools simply speed up that process by bringing the information back to me rather than me going out to retrieve it.

Want to build GPT-powered apps for your clients or coworkers? Zapier's new Interfaces product makes it easy to create dynamic web pages that trigger automated workflows.

How to use GPT-3 within your project management tool

I've tried many different AI writing tools, and one hump I've never been able to overcome is the workflow. All my content ideas are in Trello, whether it's client work or my own content. I include due dates, labels, and notes to keep myself organized.

I have to leave Trello and re-key some of my notes (such as the topic) into an AI writing tool. I've tried doing things like adding the URL from the writing tool's results page back to Trello, but that's not always possible, and it feels like a disjointed process.

The problem with tools like Jasper, Copy, and others? They don't work within your project management tool. You start with a concept you've planned to write about, leave your PM tool, use the GPT-3 prompts in another product, and come back to your original tool with the results before you start drafting.

That's why I was positively giddy when I realized that I could use a prompt and bring similar results that I'd get from Jasper, Copy, or another back into my project management tool with automation.

While I use Trello, this process would work with many different project management tools like Asana, monday.com, or ClickUp. As long as you can create some type of "flag" to use with Zapier, you're good to go.

If you'd like to start with a template, click on the Zap template below, and you'll be taken to the Zapier editor. You'll need to create a Zapier account if you don't already have one. Then, follow the directions below to set up your Zap.

Add OpenAI responses as Trello comments for new labels added to Trello cards

Add OpenAI responses as Trello comments for new labels added to Trello cards
  • Trello logo
  • OpenAI (GPT-3, DALL-E, Whisper) logo
  • Trello logo
Trello + OpenAI (GPT-3, DALL-E, Whisper)

This workflow requires a multi-step Zap, which is available on a paid Zapier plan or during a free trial. Learn more about multi-step Zaps.

Step 1: Connect your GPT-3 account with Zapier

I already had an OpenAI account (because I've also played around with DALL-E 2), but it's free to create one.

1. Within OpenAI, you'll generate an API key. Click on your profile in the upper left corner, then select View API keys.

The Personal tab for Anna Burgess Yang in OpenAI is shown open with a list of menu items.

2. On the API keys screen, click on + Create new secret key. Copy the text of your generated API key.

An API Keys menu in OpenAI, with two secret keys generated at different dates.

3. In Zapier, click on My Apps, then click + Add Connection.

In Zapier, the My Apps tab is shown open with an orange arrow pointing to the purple Add connection button.

4. Search for OpenAI.

5. Paste the API Key from your OpenAI account.

A pop-up window that asks "Allow Zapier to access your OpenAPI account?"

Step 2: Create a flag to use with Zapier

Not every topic needs assistance from GPT-3. Sometimes I get a detailed outline from my client, or other times I'm writing about an experience I had. I needed a way to "tell" Zapier that I wanted to use GPT-3 for a specific idea I had stored in Trello.

This will look different depending on your project management tool, but in Trello, I decided to use the Label feature. In another tool, this might be a separate list or a flag, but it needs to be some type of indicator for Zapier.

In Trello, I created a new label named "OpenAI." Whenever I want to call GPT-3 with Zapier, I add that label to a card.

A Trello card titled "ways to distribute content" with an "OpenAI" label added to the card.

Step 3: Set up your Zapier trigger

A Zap always starts with a trigger, which is the event that starts your workflow in Zapier.

To set up the trigger step:

1. Select Trello for the trigger app.

2. Select New Label Added to Card for the trigger event.

A Zap trigger step with Trello selected for the trigger app and New Label Added to Card selected as the trigger event.

3. Select your Trello board where you'll add your content ideas and the specific label you want to use.

When setting up my trigger step, I selected my content ideas Trello board and my OpenAI label for the label that will trigger my Zap.

When you test your trigger step, you should see results that show a specific Trello card that includes your selected label. In my example, I can see my Ways to distribute content card I tagged earlier.

Step 4: Add your OpenAI action to generate content ideas

My GPT-3 prompt needed to be a combination of static text (the same every time the Zap runs) and topic, which is the card's name in Trello. For every topic, I wanted five topic ideas and five subtopic ideas. I knew these would get my wheels spinning when I outline a new article.

If I were working with an external AI writing tool, I would need to open that tool and type out the prompt: What are 5 topic ideas related to ways to distribute content? What are 5 subtopic ideas? GPT-3 would render its results in that tool.

In my Zap, I use the same prompt but with the information from my Trello card.

To set up the action step:

  1. Select OpenAI for your action app.

  2. Select Send Prompt for the action event.

  3. Add your repeating prompt to the Prompt field.

For my example, I added "If I were to write an article about {Trello card name}, what are 5 topic ideas? What are 5 related subtopics?" to the Prompt field. To add the Trello card name to the Prompt field, click within the field and select the Trello card name from the list of data available in the dropdown menu. 

Depending on your project management tool, this will be a bit different, but you'll want to select whatever field has the text you'd like to use in your prompt.

An OpenAI action step with a prompt added to the prompt field.

You can also limit the length of your results. If you know, for example, that you don't want more than 500 characters, you can add that limit in Zapier when you set up your action step.

The maximum length field in an OpenAI action step with 500 entered in the field.

As a side note: I've gotten better about entering more specific topic descriptions in my Card Name field in Trello as a result of using the OpenAI integration with Zapier. Before, I'd only include a few words ("ways to distribute content") to jog my memory about the idea. Now, I might add something like "what are unique ways to distribute content?" to get better results from the GPT-3 prompt.

Step 5: Return the content ideas to your project management tool 

Once the GPT-3 results are generated through Zapier, you'll want the results returned to your project management tool. After all, the whole point is never to leave the tool. To do this, you'll need to add an additional action step to your Zap.

In Trello, I wanted the results added as a Comment. Trello also has a Description field for cards, but I use this field for other information. If you're using another project management tool, identify the best place for your GPT-3 results.

To set up this additional action step:

1. Select Trello for your action app.

2. Select Create Comment for the action event.

A Trello action step in a Zap with Trello selected for the action app and Create Content for the action event.

3. To link the comment to the correct card, you'll need to select the Card ID. Click on the Custom tab in the Card field, then search for ID. Select the Card ID field from Trello.

The custom tab under the Card field in a Trello action step is shown open with "id" entered in the search field.

4. Add your GPT-3 results by clicking in the Comment Text field and selecting Choices Text (now Response) from the data dropdown. 

Note: Choices Text has now changed to Response in the dropdown menu.

Fields in a Trello action step are shown filled in with data pulled from previous trigger and action steps.

And that's it — you're done setting up the Zap!

In Trello, this entire process happens in a matter of seconds. I add the OpenAI label to my card, and by the time I've taken a sip of coffee, the GPT-3 results have been returned as a comment. That "research" step I would have done previously in Google or another AI writing tool now begins in Trello.

An open Trello card for content ideas with a list of related topics posted as a comment.

GPT-3 is a valuable resource

The use of AI for creatives has been a source of near-constant debate. As a writer and journalist with an eye on quality, I cringe at the idea of entire articles written by robots—even though I know tools out there claim to have that capability.

But there's no denying that GPT-3 speeds up my writing process when I'm trying to outline ideas. Sometimes, I completely disagree with the results of GPT-3. But I still have to think about why I disagree, and that sparks other ideas. I then take the ideas, and those become the basis for additional research and my own unique contributions to the topic. GPT-3 is a springboard, not a final result.

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