Like many of my fellow Internet marketers, there was a time when I was very enamored with the thought of owning and operating a large PLR vending business. It seemed like a great way to make money.
Other people did the work of creating products (mostly ebooks, audios, and videos) and all I had to do was gather them up, feature them on a large “catalog” type e-commerce site, and sell them to a hungry crowd of business owners looking for content.
Or so I thought …
I purchased my share of digital resale rights products, licensed to sell products, and private label rights products; and to this day, most sit on my hard drive collecting pixel dust because I never did get around to using them. In addition, a large percentage of these products that I purchased proved to fall way short of the desired level of content quality that I wanted.
There are some notable exceptions, mind you, but that is a discussion for another day.
Still, I love the PLR model of selling digital information. Think about how perfect it is . . .
- You don’t have to create products
- You don’t have to make graphics (typically)
- You don’t have to write a lengthy sales letter (sometimes)
- You don’t have to identify a hungry market (usually)
- Everything is basically done for you … all that’s left is for you to do the selling of the product
- It’s easy to come up with many related products if you want to “bundle” several together
- You can set your own price point and you can claim incredible “total value”
I didn’t really think much about the negatives of this PLR business model … but I learned over time that there are several big ones which are substantial drawbacks to using PLR.
I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Let me explain …
In case you don’t know, “PLR” stands for Private Label Rights. It is a phrase that has come to be quite popular among Internet marketers.
The idea is simple. Someone else (not you) creates a digital product, for example, an ebook. The product could also be a video, an audio recording, a set of images, or just about anything else that is delivered digitally online.
The creator then sells that product for whatever he chooses, not once, but over and over again to PLR buyers. The purchaser gets a “license” to turn that product into his/her own (private label) product(s) and sell or use it however he chooses.
The buyer of the product is sold a “non-exclusive right” to basically do whatever he wants with the product. He can sell it “as is”, modify it, split it up into parts, add his own name as the author, change the title, add his own affiliate links, pretty much do whatever he wants with the original product. Usually the creator will spell out the license rights in a separate document that is sent to the buyer along with the “source” copy the product itself.
Resale or resell rights (people use these terms interchangeably) is a similar concept except that you can’t usually change or modify the product – you agree to sell it “as is.” Everything remains in the “label” of the product creator. Thus PLR is a more flexible solution – you can make it your own private label (some call it “white label”) and differentiate the product from everyone else’s version.
It is a novel idea and one that appeals to a lot of folks simply because it gives them something to sell without having to go through the effort and time of creating the product themselves.
Product creators do well (usually) with a top quality product. Imagine creating an ebook over the course of a week’s time, then selling the license to use it (PLR) to 250 buyers.
If the product sells for $19, that gives the creator a nice payday of $4,750 (less expenses of course).
Some smart marketers have learned that they don’t even need to do the labor of writing the ebook themselves since it can be outsourced to a ghost writer for a few hundred dollars.
So, why didn’t I follow through with implementing this business model?
I learned (over time) that there are some major disadvantages to PLR products:
- Once sold, you can’t control the distribution or sales price of the product – which means it typically gets devalued almost immediately. Why? Because everyone selling the same product tries to undercut all the other sellers in order to make a sale. What you sold for $19, you will now see selling online for $17, or $15, $11.95, $9.97, $5.97, $2 or even being given away without cost. The point is, you have no control of the future value of your creation. Often a PLR seller will state in the product license something to the effect that “In order to maintain the value of your purchase, please do not sell this product for less than $14.95.” That’s what the creator hopes … but in reality … he can not police or force the issue once the product has been sent to a purchaser.
- Almost no one modifies the product. Most PLR sellers are only interested in adding the product to their ebook line-up as quickly as possible. Very few, in my experience, like to rework PLR ebooks or other products (even though that’s really what they are meant for and it’s the best way to make money with them.)
- Digital products have a typically short shelf life. That is something I learned quickly online. New products are surfacing all the time and PLR creations don’t seem to have a very long life in most niches. That means you must get them “live” and selling fast as they will be flooding the market very soon. There are some exceptions of course when the PLR creator purposefully designs the product to be “evergreen” (timeless) and it has not been sold extensively. Some PLR creators will only release a limited number of copies of a product in order to keep the value high. Others sell PLR with a high price tag which can also have the effect of limiting the number of copies of the product in the marketplace. If you join the mailing list of someone specializing in creating PLR products you will probably notice that the creator releases one product after another after another in order to keep the cash flowing in.
- Everyone is competing selling the same thing. Remember, very few sellers will modify a PLR work – not even to change the title and add a new e-cover. Since there are so many competing sellers, the price drops and drops and drops. Soon you will see folks giving the PLR product away freely (or as a bonus for another product.)
- Finally (and this is the biggest disadvantage I have seen with PLR creations), the majority of the PLR products I have seen are poorly researched, hastily written, and without unique and cutting edge information! Sure, there are some great products coming out every once in a while, but for the most part, the industry is full of re-hashed, copied, or already available material. I have seen PLR products that are nothing more than a compilation of other PLR products – PLR from PLR! Is that what you want from a PLR product?
It’s typical that a buyer will not get to read the copy of the product until after making a purchase … so you can’t determine before hand what is good and what is useless dribble. Sometimes a seller will reveal the table of contents or a single chapter as an example of the work. What I have learned to do is to keep track of the PLR creators that produce top quality work – usually they will produce that same quality again and again.
It is a lucrative business to create products, devise a motivating sales pitch, maybe add a bonus report or two, and a copy of the license, then sell the PLR rights very quickly without further commitment for follow-up, customer service, etc. Some PLR creators have a number of affiliates on board who are waiting to promote whatever the creator releases. Then it’s on to the next PLR product.
But this lucrative business has led to a lot of outsourcing of authorship to people who don’t even have command of the English language and certainly aren’t experts in the niche they are writing about. It usually shows in their writing.
Let me ask you … who is going to review the content in these PLR books – both in terms of the grammar and language, but also for sound and usable advice in the niche? Who is going to assure that only quality niche content is published? No one. Compounding the problem is the fact that even though a PLR creator advertises the product as “top quality” it is a very subjective thing – judging the quality of a written work with regard for both grammar and content – and in my experience (I was an English minor in college) many folks really don’t have a good sense of what is quality writing and content and what is not!
I believe that most PLR buyers and Internet marketers that take action with their purchase immediately try to market their PLR products without even reading the content first before they offer it to others for sale. Remember, speed to the marketplace is often an important selling advantage.
So, junk content flies under the radar while sellers and their affiliates push this garbage on to their customers without a clue about how good or bad the content may be.
Here are my “take-aways” if you want to get into the PLR game:
- Only buy top quality PLR products if you possibly can. It comes with experience and knowing who the best PLR creators are at any given time and in specific markets.
- Look for “evergreen” products – those whose information will stay current for a long time to come.
- It’s best if the number of licenses available is controlled and small. If you’re 1 of 25 – 50 others that can sell a product, that would be great. Since many buyers won’t do anything serious with their product, you may actually be competing against only 10 or fewer other sellers.
- Don’t delay in getting your product to market – being the first to offer it is sometimes a real advantage.
- By all means, modify the product, especially the title, chapter headings, introduction and summary, and cover graphic so that it looks unique and no one will be competing with your branding of it. It’s a good idea to modify the chapter order (if it doesn’t hurt the “flow” of the book), the transitions from section to section, and add at least some original content. Add your own graphics and formatting style if you can.
- Think of a way to target your product to a specific crowd, a subset of the overall market. If, for instance, you have a product about how to get traffic to a web site, put a twist on the product and make it specific to a subset of the larger universe … like how to get traffic to a real estate agent’s site. You will lose all or most of your competition that way, those in the target audience will feel that the product was designed specifically for “me,” and you will then be able to easily “repurpose” the material for other specific market audiences as well.
- Combine a number of similar or related PLR products into a bundle or into a larger composite product. All the original products will lose their identity and you will come away with a more comprehensive and valuable “bang for the buck” single offering.
I will tell you that there are a few marketers that make a very good living selling PLR products. But there is a much greater pool of sellers that can’t figure out why their PLR site doesn’t do a good business. Often, the best PLR sellers have a subscriber list of PLR buyers just waiting for the next product release.
If you stick to the suggestions I have given you, and try to avoid the disadvantages we spoke of, you may be able to make a nice living with PLR – either as a creator, a PLR marketer, or both. Some product creators make good money selling their own creation for awhile then they release it later to the marketers and business owners as a licensed PLR “white label” product that can be sold by a niche business.
If the idea of PLR or content licensing appeals to you in your business, be sure to keep in mind that you are in control and it is up to you to understand and maintain the quality and type of content that your business releases! Junk products will brand your business in a very negative light!
To your online business success!