A little while back, a fellow online business owner shared what they thought was a great find that they were very proud of, together with the links to the product they were so keen on. I had to read it again because I thought surely he can’t be saying this is good – are we reading the same thing?
He was espousing the benefits of PLR articles (or Private Label Rights articles). So, I got on the case.
PLR Articles – what are they?
The PLR product is thousands of articles that are pre-written by others, that you have the ability to ‘use’ again for yourself. They could be used again as blog posts, ebooks or any other written content you want published. Here’s the advertising spiel from a PLR website:
I was intrigued. You mean someone else can do the work for me, and I can hit publish …. Hold on, what does that mean?
For the site that I was looking at, it means that:
- The articles can be renamed, rewritten or edited.
- You can add your name as the author.
- Your links can be added to the messages.
- They can be used as website and blog content.
- They can be published.
- They can be added to autoresponders.
- They can be compiled into an ebook.
- You can sell resale rights.
- You can sell master resale rights.
- You can sell private label rights.
There are some things you cannot do with the PLR articles:
- Give them away for free.
- Give away the resale rights for free.
- Give away the private label rights for free.
- Add them to free download sites or free membership sites.
Different sellers of PLR articles may have slightly different restrictions to these. Some restrict the number of times that PLR articles may be sold, so that distribution is limited.
Hmmm. Are you hearing any alarm bells yet? Or just wondering how legitimate PLR articles really are? I sure was.
If you’re anything like me, you might be asking questions like:
- Is this ethical?
- What about copyright?
- Is this duplicate content – doesn’t Google frown upon that?
- What is the quality of the articles?
- Are they even relevant to me?
- Would I need to re-write everything anyway?
- Won’t there be a whole bunch of people with the exact same content as me?
- What about my credibility if/when it becomes known that I publish regurgitated content?
So let’s break it down and find some answers to these questions.
Some issues with PLR articles
Is it ethical to use PLR articles?
PLR articles are absolutely legal. You are paying for a service that is available, and there are rules associated with that service which you need to abide by. The ethics, well, I’m not so sure about that. In terms of your audience and the authenticity of what you write, I feel like you’re duping your audience if you pass off someone else’s work as your own. The answer to “are PLR articles ethical” I suppose really comes down to your own interpretation, the way you use the articles, what you tell your audience, and what feels right for you.
There is something that makes me feel very uncomfortable about the whole idea of using PLR articles and pretending that the content would be my own.
Well copyright is an interesting one. They do not specifically mention copyright. Wikipedia has this to say about PLR articles and copyright:
“While licenses differ with each author and seller, the basic premise is that the license permits buyers to re-brand the content under their own name and brand, excluding copyright.”
Apart from the ethics of using PLR content, I have a real issue with PLR articles because of the fact that they are selling and reselling the same content to goodness knows how many people. Search engines do not appreciate duplicate content, and will penalise you heavily for using content that is considered duplicate.
Your readers might also spot duplicate content and be very unimpressed. They are unlikely to return to your site if they feel that you plagiarise the work of other people. You don’t know how many hundreds of people have bought the exact same content as you.
When it comes to the quality of the articles, I’m unable to tell you first hand. The reason being is that I haven’t bought this product because I don’t feel right about buying it, and I would certainly never use it.
I do know a few people who have tried PLR articles. Generally, they have reported that it wasn’t worth their while, and they had to re-write it anyway. That didn’t surprise me one bit.
Doing my own further research about PLR articles, it’s clear that you can’t usually ‘try before you buy’. You are buying articles unseen, so you have no idea of the quality you are getting.
One page selling PLR articles offers the following caution:
I think the warning might give you some clues as to the quality of the content!
Why might PLR articles be tempting for bloggers and marketers?
PLR articles are really cheap, and come in high volume. If you’re good at it, you might even get away with no one knowing that you’ve used it. It might also be attractive as ‘filler’ content when you’re pushed for time to write the content yourself. It might also save you money compared to commissioning writers to do the work for you.
I’ve also heard of some using PLR articles as a way to overcome writer’s block. PLR articles can be used as thought starters, rather than facing a blank page and wondering what to write about. I can see the benefit there.
What is the verdict on PLR articles?
Overwhelmingly, I think that PLR articles are considered a big no-no for writers who are serious about their content and their audience. I would encourage anyone who is considering using PLR articles to make themselves familiar with the risks associated with using such content.
Your readers deserve original content that has been written by you, with your own style and personality. If you do need to buy additional content, there are certainly ways of doing that, with writer’s platforms available where you can engage people to write for you. Yes, you will pay more than you will for PLR articles, but there will be no comparison when it comes to quality.
Have a look at my article that highlights some platforms available to engage writers (and also for those wanting to write for others):
Developing content is a process that takes time. And making money online, through development of content, also takes time. Paying a few dollars for duplicated content that is poorly written will not help you in the long run, nor build your credibility as an authority site.
Leave a comment or a question below. Have you ever used PLR articles, and what was your experience?