[Review] Penfriend AI: A Refreshing Change in AI Writing

Have you ever generated an AI draft so horrible that you would rather write from a blank page than edit that junk for the next 4 hours? This has largely been my experience with other AI writers – until Penfriend came along.

Penfriend.AI was created to do one thing – give you a killer first draft, and it does this with flying colors.

To date, Penfriend Ai is the most human ai writer on the market. I’ve tried Frase, Jasper ai, Neuron Writer, Zimmwriter you name it, and none of these come close.

In this Penfriend AI review, I’ll cover.

Disclaimer

Readers like you support this site. As an affiliate to brands and as an Amazon Associate, If you purchase through my recommendations, I may be compensated at no additional cost.

What is Penfriend.AI?

penfriend website landing page
The Penfriend landing page

Simply put, Penfriend AI creates the most realistic human-like first draft copy within minutes using AI.

They position themselves as saving you hundreds of hours on prompting (which it does), but what it does behind the scenes is where the time savings happen.

During the article process, you also get the added benefit of a Title Generator and an SEO-backed outline.

Who made Penfriend and How it Started

Penfriend was co-founded by these three folks below:

I could try to explain their history, but I wouldn’t do it justice because John’s copy is already perfect. Here’s an excerpt from the launch campaign they created.

Why John, why did you do this?
Because I needed Penfriend around 5+ years ago when “the blog” was one of my 1,000 tasks.

I was part of a tiny marketing team in a startup with huge ambitions. The uncrackable puzzle was between quality and quantity. We didn’t have the time or money to invest in content [rather, we chose not to…] and so traffic dwindled and the blog became a box on a marketing checklist I rarely checked.

By the way, Tim was our contracted content strategist back then. We started out-ranking banks for mortgage related keywords. So, Tim’s strategy works. It’s just we couldn’t crack the quality/quantity puzzle.

Inge needed Penfriend about 7 months ago too
Inge had contracted Tim for content strategy on her AI tools directory, TopApps.

She spent a lot of money getting content made for the blog. It was insanely expensive. She contracted several freelance writers and 3 content agencies! She even hit the limit on what those agencies could produce each month.

The content ranked, and fast. But it was in no way a sustainable way to build a traffic generating blog.

So Inge proposed an idea.

AI-ify Tim’s brain
Turn that man into a robot please.

Make an AI blog article writing tool that replicates Tim’s content strategy.

That was the plan.

Tim’s been an SEO content strategist for over a decade now. And he’s a systems based guy, which meant when ChatGPT came along last year, he feverishly started building prompts to replicate his processes. Processes that have delivered £24.6M in the last 3 years. So far, he’s spent over 600 hours refining prompts that build high quality blog articles.

And so, for the last month, we’ve been working with a dev agency turning Tim’s prompts into a tool anyone can use.

[…]

– Official Penfriend waitlist campaign email by John

And of course there are the developers and I’m sure other key people involved to make this product happen.

Needless to say, this isn’t just another wrapper app around Chat GPT put together overnight.

How does Penfriend AI work?

Now that you know what it is and who’s behind this product, let’s get into how it works.

Get the Free Credit

First, it’s worth noting that everyone who signs up gets three free credits, but before you claim the credit, read below on what types of articles NOT to use with this writer so you get the most out of your test. (hint: using Penfriend to write this review would not have worked out – more on this later).

penfriend website where they are advertising 3 free articles
No reason not to take it for a spin, the first three is on them!

Penfriend Onboarding

You’ll land on the dashboard after you go through the usual sign-up flow (no credit card required). Just the usual email and password.

There’s no need to sign up for a paid plan yet.

penfriend dashboard showing the "My Penfriend" screen
A simple UI for a powerful tool

The dashboard is very minimal by design:

My Penfriend – this is your home for the dashboard and where you’ll spend most of your time going through the drafting flow on the right.

History – once you finish your articles, they will be archived here so you can retrieve them easily.

Profile – Edit your name – that’s it for now.

Billing – where you subscribe when ready. Details on pricing are below.

In the top right-hand corner, you’ll see your total credits.

As you can see, the next logical step is to add your keyword and press that nice orange Generate button. This is one of the things I enjoy about this tool: just how straightforward it is.

How do credits work

penfriend dashboard showing the credits

Your credits are in the top right corner of your My Penfriend home screen. You should start with 1 credit when you sign up.

Once you press “Generate Outline” the writer will start creating your article outline and the credit will be consumed. This step is immediately after the Title Generation step.

A credit is consumed when you press Generate Outline.

Creating an article with Penfriend

These are the steps to starting an article:

  • Add a keyword to generate titles
  • Select a Title to generate Outlines
  • Confirm the Outline to generate the Draft

Generating Titles

To start the draft process, you need to have decided on the keyword to generate the article with. Assuming you’ve done the keyword research already, type in the keyword and press Generate.

penfriend generating titles for the keyword "penfriend ai review"
Penfriend has generated titles based on the keyword “penfriend ai review” – title generation does not use credits

Notice that a credit is not consumed during Title generation. This saves you time from going back and forth to another tool like Chat GPT.

If you don’t like the Titles, just click the “X” and Generate again until you find a compelling title.

Behind the scenes, Penfriend is going out to the SERPs, analyzing the results of your keyword and suggesting ideal titles for your topic while giving it a score.

According to their website it pairs down the 19 titles into the top 5 based on score – though I’ve been getting 6 titles sometimes.

Generating Outlines (uses 1 credit)

When you are ready to generate an outline, select the Title from the proposed list and click Generate Outline. Penfriend will then create a compelling outline based on its proprietary prompts.

Remember

A credit is only consumed when you press Generate Outline after the Title generation step.

A title has been selected and I’m ready to generate an outline which uses a credit.

What sets their outlines apart from other AI writers is that each section of your article and outline is crafted with a dedicated prompt. This is a much better method than trying to one-shot the article like many people tend to do.

Here’s an outline generated for the keyword “penfriend ai review” as a test. What is interesting about this outline is that despite the lack of SERP data (this tool just came out Dec 1 2023.), it still nailed it. You’ll see that I used several headers from the outline in this review.

penfriend article outline

The outline had these helpful features.

  • Each header was clearly marked and well written, H2, H3 etc.
  • It included an introduction and concluding paragraph bullets
  • It included the ideal call to action based on its research
  • The logical order of the headers makes sense
  • It adds related keywords which is always helpful to have in the back of your mind when writing.

Is the AI Generated Output Good?

Now onto the main event. Because the keyword “Penfriend ai review” doesn’t have enough data, I will show you the draft for “Jasper ai review,” which is a very similar topic, and how I would have expected this article to turn out had it had enough data.

Here’s a snippet of the output below, but here is the full article draft output from Penfriend, if you want to read the entire draft.

snippet of the Jasper ai article written by penfriend
A portion of the 3500-word article output by Penfriend on Jasper Ai Review

What I liked about the output

  • Overall, the draft quality is excellent, the most human like content I have seen from AI. Sentences like these have never come from Chat GPT when I prompt it: “Over time, I’ve taken Jasper AI under my wing. Not for the sake of experimenting, but because it has proven its worth”
  • The output was generated in minutes. No more waiting 5 business days for a writer to reply.
  • There are really helpful tips that nudge you into adding more to the content to enhance it. They are usually labeled starting with “MANUAL CHECK”
  • Word count is very high (in a good way) – this example outputs over 3500 words which is what I would expect from a topic like this.
  • Uses elements of EEAT – the output showcases many elements required for EEAT with sentences like “Personally, I found the pricing of Jasper AI justified, given the quality and versatility of the service provided.”

What I didn’t like about the output

  • Introductions are a bit over the top. Let’s face it, intros are hard to write. Everyone is going to have a different style, and right now, I just prefer to craft my own.
penfriend introduction snippet
Example of the output Introduction
  • Three bullets are added to most H2s. I’m not sure if this is an SEO thing I just don’t understand or this was just a note for the editor, but right after the H2s, there are almost always three bullet points before going into the H3s. Typically, I write a lead in a sentence and move right to the H3. Some documentation around the intent of this feature would be great.
penfriend bullets after H2s
  • The conclusion paragraph had a headline. Again, this might be obvious for someone else, but I couldn’t figure out why there was a headline in the conclusion. Was this meant for using that headline for the conclusion? I would have preferred the H2 to just use the headline instead of having it beneath and maybe “Conclusion” in brackets after the H2. I’m just being nit-picky at this point. But again, documentation might be warranted here.
penfriend conclusion snippet
  • Sometimes “manual check” tips get buried in the copy. Just a heads up that sometimes these tips get lost in the copy, but we should all be proof-reading our articles for this type of stuff anyway.
example of a manual check tip in the penfriend output


Articles you should NOT write with Penfriend

As with all AI writers (and tools in general), you need to know when to use them and when not to. As a rule of thumb, you don’t want to use this writer on any topic that has little to no SERP data. Here’s an example.

I really wanted to use Penfriend to write this article you’re reading now, but I suspected it would be a bad idea and wanted to confirm.

I started with Google Trends and as you would expect, with a new tool, very little interest.

google trends graph for the term "penfriend ai"

Another quick SERP check before I added this keyword into Penfriend shows that Google has no idea really what this is about. Only the branded and one other website related to the product show up. Everything else is about another similarly named product.

google SERP for the keyword "penfriend ai review"

At this point, I only used the Penfriend Outline feature but not the actual writer itself. I didn’t want to take the chance of writing generic content on a topic that wasn’t heavily researched to date.

Since the tool looked at the SERPs, it was likely to get confused with the other Penfriend product.

Takeaway

My recommendation is to only use Penfriend on keywords (articles) that have a decent amount written about them already. You will get better drafts from the tool this way.

Penfriend Pricing – Is it Worth The Investment?

penfriend pricing table
penfriend pricing table from March 2024

For me, Penfriend is absolutely worth the investment, but here is why.

Assuming one of the reasons you want Penfriend is either to save time, money or both, all we need to do is account for the current expenses.

First, here are the subscription tiers for Penfriend. They have monthly and annual plans to fit any budget. I’ve also broken it down by a per article cost for simplicity.

FeaturesBasicAdvancedPremium
Billing (Monthly)$99/m$249/m$499/m
Billing (Annual)$1,010/y (15%off)$2540/y (15%off)$5,090/y (15%off)
Articles per Month51535
Price per Article (Monthly)$19.80$16.60$14.26
Price per Article (Annual)$16.80$14.11$12.12
Proven content strategyYesYesYes
Articles written to out-rankYesYesYes
No prompting necessaryYesYesYes
Generate articles in minutesYesYesYes
Penfriend Pricing table. Be sure to check the app for pricing changes.

Depending on the project, I pay between $100–$300 per article. But, before I can even get the article, I have to do my keyword research, generate an SEO-optimized outline, and put it into SurferSEO before it is handed off to a writer.

Round trip, before Penfriend, the time from when I generate the outline to get an article back is 3-5 business days – minimum.

That would typically be considered fast by most standards. The total cost of my previous setup is several hundred dollars plus at least 1 hour of my time to create a good SEO outline.

With Penfriend, I just need the keyword, and I have my draft back within 10 minutes. And the total cost? On my Advanced tier plan, a generous $14.11 per article.

So the comparison really needs to be between whether the quality you’re receiving from your freelance writers today is better or worse, given the savings of time and per article expense for your particular content pipeline.

You need to also factor in editing time. Again, it was simple for me: reduce the number of articles I outsourced and have Penfriend do more heavy lifting for instant savings.

Should I buy penfriend AI?
  1. Use the free credits to create the same article as one of your writers
  2. Compare the output from the writer with Penfriend, if the Penfriend output is on par or better, compare costs.
  3. Does your freelance writer cost more than Penfriend? If yes, consider a mix of Penfriend and reducing your writer expense line.

Penfriend vs Other AI Writers (Alternatives)

All of the AI writers are so different now that it’s not even an apples-to-apples comparison.

Here is how I use the writers based on my needs for the article.

  • Penfriend.ai – Best for when you need a really human like draft and a great first draft quickly. Penfriend only handles blog posts right now.
  • Frase.ai – Best for when you need an SEO keyword optimizing tool, I use this in conjunction with Penfriend AI – read my review here.
  • SurferSEO – similar to Frase, when I need an SEO keyword optimizing tool, I will also use this with Penfriend AI
  • ZimmWriter – Best for when you need to have full control of the headers you are writing about or doing bulk ai writing on a budget (will add a review soon)
  • Jasper.ai – Best for when you want to quickly generate ai content for the entire marketing pipeline and not just blog posts (social media etc.)

Tips When Using Penfriend

  • The output is in British English – You’ll need to do a quick find and replace if you are writing for the American market.
  • You don’t need a markdown converterWhen you copy from the app, it has all the right headers, no need to use a markdown to HTML converter like other apps.
    • This has also changed recently. You’ll now require a markdown converter when you copy the text from Penfriend’s output.
  • Be sure to remove MANUAL CHECK lines – The manual check tips are to help you make your article more unique. Be sure to remove these as you review them. Although they mostly start with the term “MANUAL CHECK” sometimes they use other phrases. I like to highlight them as I go so I don’t miss it later.
  • Get help through email at support@penfriend.ai – Sometimes apps have issues, and these guys reply fast, even when they are supposed to enjoy their weekends (Thanks, John!)

Recap

Well, there you have it. If you’re looking for a streamlined first draft machine, you just stumbled upon one of the coolest new apps on the market that won’t break the bank.

If you are already hiring freelance writers, you owe it to yourself to try this out (and the first three articles are free). The best part is it will only get better from here. I can only imagine how many iterations the core prompt is going to go through in the coming months.

Out of the box, Penfriend AI is smooth like butter and while it won’t wholesale repalce my current AI apps, it is a welcomed addition to my content pipeline.

Change List

Since this is a new tool, the features may change quickly. I will document the main changes to my review in this section. Check back often to stay up to date.

February 2, 2024 – Penfriend allows 3 free credits now.

December 12, 2023 – Credits are now consumed when the Generate Outline button is pressed and not when the Generate Article is pressed.

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