What is “PLR” (Private Label Rights) or Licensed Content and Why Should Solopreneurs Care?
You may see these terms in posts or resources here, and if you’re online reading marketing tips for small businesses or solopreneurs for more than a few hours you will encounter “PLR”, “White Label Rights”, “Resell Rights”, or “licensed content”. I didn’t know these terms when I started out as a solopreneur years ago, and my library and info pro background made me super skeptical. After all, info pros study things like copyright, intellectual property, plagiarism, and we are staunch supporters of an individual’s intellectual property.
So, I’m here to explain from my own research, experience, and yes – use – about what is PLR, or licensed content, and why a service-business oriented solopreneur like you or me would care. I’ll answer your frequent questions, and some of the ones I think you want to ask, but maybe are afraid to:
Here’s your TL;DR summary: What is ‘white label’ content, or PLR (‘private label rights’) content? [you have licensed the right to edit, brand, claim ownership, and publish this content online as your own] Is it safe? [yes] Is it legit? [yes – some is better than others] How does this fit with good copyright principles? [No significant copyright abuse fears here] Should an info-entrepreneur ever use it? [yes!]
A Conversation on the Frequently Asked Questions of PLR or Licensed Content
What is PLR (private rights label) or ‘white label’ or licensed content?
- Pre-written content you purchase the right to tweak, edit, or use any way you want to. The license purchased covers your rights to edit, reformat, put your own name or logo on it, and claim copyright.
- Most times, PLR or White Label rights can be tweaked, edited, taken apart, put together with other content, rewritten, and add your own logos or branding – ALL is permissible, even suggested.
- May come in a variety of formats – .txt .doc files you can edit; PPT slides; even images, videos, or whole web pages.
- Comes with the assumption that you put your own spin on it – add examples from your work and clients, add your own opinions, take out bits you don’t agree with 100% – and make it more your own and to fit your audience’s needs.
What about rights, specifically copyright? I don’t want to run afoul of someone’s intellectual property!
- You own the copyright – that’s part of the ‘rights’ or nature of ‘white label’ – someone else created it explicitly for it to be use by others.
- You’ll own the rights to do with the content as you like – you can turn it into some other format. You may have purchased something written in style of a blog post, and turn into a podcast episode, into a voice-over PowerPoint video, into snippets sent in a series of emails, or anything else that fits your needs and the terms of license.
- Checking out the creators of content you might purchase a licensor for is pretty important. See if they limit how many times a package can be purchased or licensed. See samples of their work and gauge their writing proficiency and style. Find out if they create their own content (many will outsource some of the writing, some will outsource everything and you end up with a PLR creator selling something that may have started life as someone else’s PLR!).
- I’ll admit it – there’s a lot of crappy licensed content or PLR still floating around for sale on the web. Plenty of people passing off ‘borrowed’ or outright stolen material as ‘original’. So … Don’t buy iffy content! Don’t buy from any over sales-y, sleazy web site or email offer; don’t buy cheap crap that looks like it’s been sold over and over and plugged into every e-article directly or blog mill. If it seems too cheap, maybe it is. Maybe they cut corners and ‘borrowed’ rather than hired real writers. That stuff IS more likely to be plagiarized or just low-quality and leave you susceptible to duplicate content penalties or more.
Wait … I heard something about Google hating ‘duplicate’ content – isn’t this a duplicate, because other people could have the same article?
- Well … yes and no. Yes, Google doesn’t like content that is exactly the same showing up on multiple websites. More, it doesn’t like the exact same content showing up on multiple pages of the same domain. But … you aren’t going to go and cut-paste-publish something you licensed directly as-is from whomever you purchased it from. No, you’re going to make it yours (see tips below). So it’s not exactly the same. No penalties likely.
- Google and others don’t care so much if you take something you purchased a license for, which was written as a blog post, and turn it into an infographic, or a PDF checklist, or a video, or an audio recording. Those aren’t duplicates. In fact, that’s just really good content repurposing and you should try to do that with ANY content you have or create.
Why would I want content someone else wrote? How does this help me or my clients?
- It’s a time saver. You’re busy doing the actual work of your business, and while you know your website needs fresh content to attract traffic and prospective customers, you don’t have time to start from scratch on a consistent basis.
- You don’t get stuck staring at blank screens wondering what you’re going to write when you know you’re “supposed” to have fresh blog posts, social media posts, and emails to your list.
- You get to spend more time helping your clients, doing the work you like doing and are best at, and not as much time on writing, content creating, and marketing.
- Maybe your brain needs a little jump start and you’d like to see some ideas on a topic, be inspired on how you could tackle it, or take it deeper; where you might disagree and could take a new stance;
- It’s cheaper to purchase PLR or licensed content than to hire a freelance writer or Virtual Assistant to write fresh content for you from scratch.
- You have fresh content on your site, or in your emails, or for videos or social media posts. Search engines and social media love/require fresh content. Your audience of website visitors loves seeing new tips, reports, or case studies and knows you’re an expert. And, you have time left to work on the work of your business, serving your clients or customers.
What do I do with this type of content?
- You can publish it freely on your blog, use it in your emails, in a newsletter, create a video with it, record a podcast episode with it, turn it into an electronic course or a live workshop, use parts (or all) in a webinar or presentation – DO check with each provider for the licensing rules for their material though. For example, some let you use certain content freely on the web, others want you to sell the really best content for at least a minimal price – not give it away.
- You could bundle of this content and sell it as part of a training program, a course, private coaching, or on a membership site.
Ok, I’m thinking about maybe using some of this PLR content. Anything I can’t do?
- Don’t just cut-n-paste or use it as-is. In some cases, this is specifically prohibited by the license, but overall it’s just not a good or useful practice.
- You can NOT use PLR, White Label, or Licensed Content on Amazon – you can’t turn this into an ebook you sell as part of their Kindle programs.
- You can NOT sell the rights to use this content to someone else. (that’s a whole different kind of product – it does exist, but that’s not generally in the terms of standard PLR)
What are the other downsides of this type of licensed content?
- People who create and sell licensed content do so to many people. The same package of content on a topic may be sold to many people, for them to use as blog posts, emails, etc. It could mean that a competitor in your field or niche has also purchased the same content – and maybe they aren’t really putting their own spin on it, just throwing it out there.
- TIP: Look for sellers of licensed content that restrict the number of copies of any particular material they sell.
- Licensed content can be bland or overly general. PLR creators have to keep things broad to sell to as many people in a given niche as they reasonably can. So the content is often fairly general or broadly applicable. You won’t get detailed examples, opinions, specific niche case studies, or up-to-the-minute trends.
- Tip: That’s why this content can be a good starting or jumping off point, but it needs your cases, your examples, your opinion to make it really usable, and useful.
- “You get what you pay for” is often true of PLR. The really cheap deals are often old, dated, very generic, or not well-crafted. Licensed content that has better written, well formatted, easy to adapt, and limited in terms of availability is worth more. Especially since it requires less work to make it work for you.
- Buying ‘sight unseen’ – unfortunately, those who sell licensed content won’t let you take a peek and see exactly what’s inside a PLR package or bundle. You’ll see titles and topics, whether items are short blog posts, long posts, reports, include images or not – but you won’t see the sentences, the tone, or the quality of writing. You may not know how much editing a piece needs to really make it yours. And if it needs lots, well, it wasn’t a time-saver after all and not much help to you or your clients.
- Material can become dated quickly – especially in any fields with lots of technological changes. Most PLR creators work quickly and don’t dive deeply, nor do they often go back and revise what they’ve been selling to bring it up to the latest software or app updates.
- Tip: Don’t buy old PLR. Don’t buy it and hold on to it, always have a plan to use it.
- Tip: Be wary of buying licensed content in areas that change frequently – software, website tools, apps, trends, etc.
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Top Tips on Making the Most of Licensed (PLR) Content
(and making it YOURS):
- Use it as inspiration source, not a direct as-is content source. Think of it as buying really detailed outlines. Or as buying the license to a rough first draft – much like a speech writer cobbles sources for a really rough draft. You’ll have the initial research done, you have the format and structure of a good article, and you just need to fill it in and bring it to life with examples from your own experience, use your own voice, and make it more suitable to your particular niche.
- e.g. take the headings, subheads, and anything in bold from a licensed article and use as an outline for a new short report on that topic. Fill in the rest with original content. (you can even go back to read the rest of the licensed content later and see if they have any good examples to use, any important points you maybe forgot to include)
- e.g. Combine several related articles into a short ebook or report that you can give away as a lead magnet, to get interested prospects on your email list.
- e.g. Take snippets, good tips or quotes from an article and use them in emails; or put a quote on an attractive image and share on social media
- e.g. Put two good articles together and give them away a bonus to a blog post or key page on your website, in exchange for joining your email list (this bonus or upgrade should be related in topic to that post or page)
- Always choose reputable PLR sellers [ see my personal recommendations below]. See if they offer a free sample of material you can download to review or use.
- Always add your own unique style, tone of voice (how you write), examples relevant to your niche of customers, links to the tools you use and recommend, and even add in your own graphics or photos.
- Add your own branding – use your logo, add your website link, use the Design settings in Word to change the colors and theme to reflect the styles you’ve set up for your brand (with your colors and fonts).
- Try rewording some of the subheadings or section titles to better reflect your take on the content and reflect your niche and audience.
- Rewrite some paragraph leads to give them more zing, grab the attention of your unique audience. Definitely write or rewrite a unique opening paragraph to really set the tone and get your audience to read all the way through. HINT: Write this paragraph last, after your other edits, so you’ll know exactly how to lead your reader through the article or content to the good stuff.
- Add resources you use, recent stats you know could boost a claim, links to other relevant blog posts (your own and from other sites), and suggestions for how your audience can take this topic further on their own [don’t forget a CTA to your own services or products!].
That sounds like a lot of work and you may be wondering ‘where’s the time-saving you promised this licensed stuff delivers’? After all, if you still have to edit, tweak, customize, and add stuff, wouldn’t it be easier to just start from scratch? Maybe. Probably not. Don’t you have better, deeper, more customer-focused work you could – and should – be doing instead of writing content for your website to attract prospective customers? Yeah, you do!
More Tips For Customizing and Quickly Using PLR/Licensed Content
- Use templates for creating images to add to blog posts or reports
- Use a branded Word theme set with your fonts, colors, heading styles – ready to go when you drop in new content if making a report, PDF, checklist, short ebook, etc
- Keep a file with your short intro or bio to easily add to any report
- Follow the same general outline for blog posts
- Ggive yourself 24 hours between writing and editing so you have fresh eyes
- Generally create a pattern or habit of editing and writing so this is faster every time you tackle any content.
Look, sometimes it’s absolutely better to start from scratch – where only you have the words that best express what you’re trying to show, tell, or demonstrate to your ideal clients. Most times, hiring someone else to try and write those words would be a fail and waste of a lot of money. And other times, you need fodder to fuel your imagination and get creating because you aren’t a professional writer – that’s not your solopreneur gig. So get some help in the form of high quality licensed content and use it as a time-saving shortcut to inspiration and writing assistance. Then get back to doing what you really do best.
Ok – I’m maybe ready to purchase some PLR or licensed content to use in my business – but only if I know where to go, and who’s legit and reputable?
I’m here to tell you, yes, I have purchased and used PLR in my own work. Bet you didn’t know! But c’mon, my brain needs a boost sometimes too! I’ve used it to jumpstart blog posts, take pieces and put in presentations or webinars, adapted material for workshops, and given pieces as helpful tools to encourage folks to join my email list. I also use it as training for myself – if there’s a topic I want to dive deeper in, to learn some advanced techniques, or to be more conversant in – I might buy some licensed content. That way, after I’ve learned more on the topic, put it in practice, I can tweak that licensed content and use it to teach my clients and community. More bang for my buck and benefits to you!
I edit, tweak, and customize it to my needs and the special interests of my communities. Most ‘out of the box’ licensed content isn’t ready to go for my audiences of librarians, information organizations, info-preneurs or nonprofits over in my consulting work. So, I have to change terms, add my own examples or stories, find more appropriate keywords, and use my tone. Still easier than starting from scratch every time and it lets me do my free webinars, my conference presentations, my onsite trainings, and my consulting work.
Sometimes it’s just easier to get some content already started for me, even on topics I know quite a bit about – like content marketing, content creation, video, graphics, social media, and other marketing topics. With good licensed content I don’t have to spend time writing and covering the basics; I can spend more time editing and adding depth, my experience, and new examples. Or I can use the licensed content as extras to a blog post, or bonus handouts in a workshop, or a free extra to members of my email list.
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Where do I purchase from?
My list is pretty short these days, because I’m picky. Because I have specific needs. Because I’m no longer being caught by any shiny, bright, special sale. I’ve checked out a LOT, so I know who creates high quality material that I’m proud to adapt, add to, and put my name on. This is my short list of who I’ll recommend:
- Nicole Dean and Melissa Ingold of Coach Glue have more than 20 years success running online businesses and excel at high quality products that have every little extra piece you could use to build and grow an online business. Way more than blog posts – they craft full workshops, training programs, forms, kits, other content that helps you coach, teach, or train your own clients. Want to see how Nicole and Melissa can help more than coaches, but anyone in a client, service-oriented business? Grab their FREE New Client kit – includes things like intake forms, invoice templates, payment arrangement letter, confidentiality agreement, a referral request template, and more. Easily editable to fit many info pro solo businesses.
- Kelly McCausey and Sam Angel of White Label Perks – you can buy individual packs, or get a money-saving Perks Pass membership and get ALL their content. Grow your email list faster when you have multiple, topic-specific, targeted offerings. Giving a content upgrade or perk to a popular post on your site is a great way to help your audience, while expanding your email list and ability to help even more customers. WLP offers these perfectly sized ‘content perks’.
- Alice Seba of ListMagnets.com (formerly known as DIYPLR). Alice has been creating and selling quality licensed content online since 2006 – that’s a LONG time in internet years. She’s a former teacher, copywriter, and freelance ghost writer who concentrates on quality content for self-help, health, social media, and business niches.
- Tracy Roberts and Susanne Myers over at Piggy Makes Bank joined forces to create content to support new online entrepreneurs. Their well-written content in popular online niches helps new businesses focus on serving their audiences, so they put money in the bank. Their PLR has topics popular with those talking about health tips, self-improvement, blogging as a business, living well, decluttering, and several important marketing topics. Buy individual content packs or get their membership for a significant discount on content over a year. Check out their style and quality with one of their free packs, like this one on Creating Habits (applicable for talking about personal habits or better business productivity).
- Justin Popovic with Brad Grosse at Best Quality PLR (business and marketing topics) and with Ted Payne at Tools for Motivation (self-improvement, coaching). These are comprehensive packs – plenty of content to choose from and use or re-purpose – often including audio books, infographics, posters, social media graphics, reports or ebooks, training guides, and blog posts. Justin is great at giving training on how get the most out of content for promoting and marketing your business, whether it’s PLR or something else. Not sure how to use all the pieces you purchased? Their help desk and training has you covered. Justin and team also wrote one of the best explanations for what PLR is, what it’s not, and why a small business owner or solopreneur would want to buy and use it – it really shows the skills of this team.
- Sharyn Sheldon of Content Sparks (formerly known as Business Content PLR). Sharyn is a former educator and trainer, and her instructional design chops show in how well thought out and craftd her workshops and training packages are. This is high quality content and the higher prices to match – but her special promotions when she launches new content are worth snapping up. She also regularly gives tips on how to use content, how to promote your business, how to use certain tools more efficiently,and gives free extras. Just sign up for her emails.
There are others out there who are legit, do good work, and offer content you can use at very reasonable prices. I’ve been on their lists, read their emails and their blog posts, seen them on social media, probably attended a webinar or two, and likely have some of their PLR. But they don’t make my short list now.
Sometimes I don’t like how they promote anymore, or I feel their content has gotten stale or too generic, or they don’t offer the extras that my faves do (like checklists, worksheets, social media images ready to post, ecovers, the hottest topics), or . But if you come across someone and want an opinion, to know whether to trust them or buy from them – email me and ask. I’ll tell you whatever I know, give an honest opinion – or tell you if I just don’t know. That’s always part of the way things work here at Mighty Marketing Mojo.
Now you know nearly all there is to know about PLR or licensed content – all the best that I’ve researched at least! You have some ideas of how it could help a solopreneur like you in saving time and energy to focus on your best work and attention to clients. And you have some of my recommended sources if you decide to look at giving any PLR a try. And if you see the term mentioned in any blog posts, emails, or special offers – you’ll know what’s up and maybe have some tools to help you evaluate if what’s being offered is worth your attention and money.
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