Sunday, November 18, 2007

What's Your Take on PLR?

I was over at Web Writing Info this weekend and I saw some interesting information on a new way to sell web content: PLR articles. For the uninitiated, “PLR” stands for Private Label Rights. It basically means that instead of selling your writing once, you sell it many times.

At first glance, this sounded like a great idea to me—I’d love to be able to sell some of my writing more than once. However, I also noticed that Courtney Ramirez, the writer who runs Web Writing Info, received a lot of controversial comments on her series on how to write and market PLR content. Apparently she had to turn off the comments function on her blog temporarily. I hadn’t realized there were so many strong feelings surrounding the PLR debate. Anyway, here’s why I’m considering giving it a try:

An affordable option for clients. I’m aware that my prices eliminate a lot of clients who can’t afford what I charge, especially for large orders of content. PLR articles would be cheaper and would give me a way to reach these clients without having to reduce my rates or offer bulk discounts on original work.

Passive income streams are better. This would be a great way to set up a passive income stream—one that keeps earning me money, long after I’ve finished my work. Right now, I have to work more to earn more money. With a good set of PLR articles, that might not be the case.

Increased earnings. I could stand to make ten times as much on a single PLR article as I could on an original article for a single client, if I get enough traffic to my site.

A way to introduce my custom writing service. There’s a chance that PLR buyers will like my writing and come back to me for custom work.

An easy, affordable way for clients to get started. From the client perspective, I can see the value of a pack of PLR articles. Clients can repackage PLR articles into reports for sale or giveaway; an autoresponder series or e-course; a short e-book; or even newsletter or blog articles, and all for the fraction of the cost of buying original content. This seems like the ideal solution for clients who need a lot of content and don’t have a huge startup budget.

The major drawback I can think of is when a client uses PLR articles unchanged on their websites. Duplicate content is said to hurt your rankings. If my content sells really well and everyone uses it unchanged, that’s to the detriment of all my clients. Naturally, I want to offer a product that serves clients well—and I would definitely limit the amount of people I’d sell my PLR articles to.

I was interested in hearing both sides on Courtney’s blog, but when I looked at her posts on PLR articles, I didn’t find many heated comments—I suspect the offending posts may have been erased. Still, I’m interested in testing the PLR waters, so…anyone out there have an opinion on PLR, heated or otherwise?


Anonymous said...

The comments on Courtney's blog are still there - that's as heated as they get, which is something around a mildly warm sort of not even simmer. Oh well.

Here are my views on why you should be careful regarding PLR (prepares for onslaught of vicious words, insults and battering about the head):

What happens with PLR articles is that a person writes them and then sells them to multiple buyers. Buyers have the right to modify, alter, change, delete and do what they want to the content. They do so to avoid the duplicate content issue and then barrage article directories to drive traffic. Some buyers even resell the articles if rights permit. One article can be splattered across the internet thousands of times with only small variants changed. Even if large variants are changed and the article is completely rewritten, it still says the same thing.

PLR articles are lucrative for writers. They are cheap for buyers.

PLR articles also create a sea of similar, rehashed and near-duplicate information on the internet. No, the search-engines may not penalize for duplicate content if the changes are well done. However, do you really want to know that you've perpetuated a sea of nearly identical information on the Internet because all that has happened is a few words changing?

This is very bad for perpetuating that writing isn't a skill or an art to be respected or one that commands higher rates. It's tough enough in the industry - why make it tougher?

This is my beef with PLR (for those who want to know and which really has nothing to do with Courtney). These are *my views* based on personal experience. Others may have different experiences and different views and THAT's FINE. Because people have different views doesn't mean we can't discuss them. Hell, I've even changed my mind about some things because of discussion with a reader. Sometimes I don't, and life goes on.

Jennifer Williamson said...

Hi James,

Wow, that was remarkably civil for a guy who told me to expect being battered about the head!

Thanks for sharing your views--these are definitely important points. I would love to find a way to get into this without making the Internet a messier place than it is already, and you're helping me understand all the issues involved. I think some article directories may not take PLR articles or accept articles that write in support of PLR; but I'm sure others aren't so scrupulous.

Anonymous said...

No vicious insults here!

The comments weren't deleted because they weren't vicious, but it was closed because at the time I saw my blog as a teaching tool from my personal experience and perspective.

I definitely see James' perspective on PLR, and can see the dangers of un-limited PLR.

On the other hand, they offer a good "happy medium" for buyers who perhaps cannot afford ghostwriting services, but need content.

I severely limit my PLR, and am concentrating on ebooks and reports . Still, all in all, it's a very small part of my business.

If you look on the Warrior forum, you'll see that people use PLR in many different ways. And most know that in order to do effective article marketing they'll need original articles. If they've purchased and liked my PLR content, they will probably be ordering that original content from me.

Anonymous said...

@ Jennifer - Ha, I meant I expected to get beaten to death for speaking up!

@ Courtney - I think the trick with PLR is limiting the rights of buyers. The original intention of PLR was good (I think. Not quite sure), but as with everything on the Internet, many people warped it to their own uses.

Jennifer Williamson said...

James: no beatings here; this is a pacifist blog.

Courtney: I love the info you have on your site; I'd never heard of PLR til I came across it on your blog earlier. I think i thought there was some crazy comment issue after reading that you'd turned off comments temporarily; so I went looking for what they were, and couldn't find them. I found disagreement--but no battering about the head. Oh well!

I think there may be a middle ground here. I'd been thinking of PLR as something similar to associated content for print--those newspaper articles that get run in lots of different papers. I also think good writing is good writing, no matter how many times it gets sold, and that there are a lot of people writing original, crappy content that clogs the search engines just as much. The thing that worries me most is clients getting penalized by using duplicate content.

Rights are definitely an important issue. James, I think you may have said somewhere that you experimented with PLR in the past, so I'm going to put the question to both of you: how do you (or did you) handle buyers' rights? What do you see as fair to both buyers and the Internet as a whole?

Jack Payne said...

Be very careful with PLRs. I originally wrote the articles on my blog for PLR, then thought better of it--due to Google's extreme sensitivity as to duplication with PLR stuff--and went the article syndication route instead. (This worked out O.K. because it ties in perfectly with promotion of my book. Nobody else had the same incentive for running it.)

You've got a good thought-provoking piece on the subject though.

Anonymous said...

"PLR articles are lucrative for writers. They are cheap for buyers."

Lucrative for writers - but bad for web. If you have purchased or downloaded any PLR type article you will know how bad the quality is.

For most online business owners including me, I really don't want to pursue someone who offer PLR type article because it offers the internet the same content over and over again.

Imagine having to go through 10 websites, with the same content only with different words used...

Anonymous said...

As a whole, PLR articles don't really work for websites that want to stand out from the crowd. But that doesn't mean they're not valuable. That's why we've created a list of 101 Things To Do With PLR Articles designed to jump start your brain and get you out of that PLR box. Please share this article as it's licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License (which is a fancy way of calling it an 'open-source' work):