Are you a freelance writer looking to increase your income? If so, then this is the article for you. Today, I’ll share with you what I consider to be an innovative business model for using your previously written content to create a monthly membership platform re-selling your goods to clients. The beauty of the content subscription model is that you can effectively sell your articles over and over and over again.
A content subscription is a win-win scenario
We already know that every business needs content on their blog. Not only that, they also need content for their social media pages, their newsletters, eBooks, courses and more. The reality is that most business owners don’t have time to create all this content. Therefore, they end up hiring people like me — ghostwriters who are willing to research and write the content that they need for a fee.
I’m not going to lie though, one of the biggest reasons that clients will either not hire me or will fire me is because they say they can’t afford my rates. So what happens when a business owner needs content written for them, but can’t justify spending the amount of money that a professional writer like me might charge?
Enter the world of content subscription writing, also known as Private Label Rights (PLR) — the win-win scenario that gives business owners content for less money than most ghostwriters would charge.
Now you might be wondering exactly what PLR is and how it can help you as a freelance writer to make more money. To better answer this question I went to a few different PLR providers, who are selling their content multiple times, for some answers and advice.
Content subscription: What is PLR?
The best answer to this question came from April Lemarr of Niche Starter Packs:
“PLR stands for private label rights, and I always refer to it as kind of a middle man.”
April compares PLR to a grocery store that has its own brand but that doesn’t actually produce products themselves.
She says to think of it like this — Costco has the Kirkland brand, Walmart sells the Great Value brand, and Sam’s Club has Member’s Mark. They purchase the rights to label things like toilet paper, batteries, cereal and canned vegetables with their name, but they don’t actually manufacture these items. So, the products are like the freelance written content, and the manufacturer is the ghost seller (like the ghostwriter, if you will).
Most PLR providers sell their content as one-off articles, in bulk packages, or as a monthly content subscription. These pieces are sold to dozens, and sometimes up to hundreds of people over and over again. With so many people having access to publish the same pieces, you might be wondering about Google’s duplicate content penalties, but we’ll get to that in a moment.
Using PLR for a content subscription
Trish Lindemood of Kitchen Bloggers is a PLR provider that offers recipes instead of articles, reports and eBooks as her content. Trish has been in the PLR game for just over five years, but has been a freelance writer online for more than a decade.
Since joining the wild world of writing for the web, Trish watched as other writers she knew slowly started selling their content multiple times, and wanted to get in on the action in lieu of continuing to just trade hours for dollars. After all, who wants to work tirelessly on an article and only get paid for it once?
She explained to me that PLR content subscriptions typically come with multiple articles, course outlines and other pieces of content in a single pack, that are delivered to subscribers monthly. For her audience of foodies posting her recipes, however, she has found that some people don’t particularly care to buy a content subscription because they don’t like a monthly payment being drawn from their accounts. Therefore, Trish offers both subscriptions and one-time purchase offers. Still, steady income is nice, and it’s why several PLR providers out there offer a membership that delivers content to your inbox each month.
Find the best membership model for your content subscription
For example, Ruth Pound of Content Shortcuts has not just one, but three memberships available on her other site, Content Clubs. She offers a self-help, internet marketing and a fitness membership. Each of these three memberships features a PLR package that you can publish and package as your own for less than $40 a month per membership (at the time of this writing).
Each month subscribers of Ruth’s membership receive an eBook with eCover, articles, pre-written emails, graphics, worksheets, royalty-free images and more. Her customers can then use these pieces as-is, or re-work them for their audience’s unique needs in those three niches.
Though Trish says her audience isn’t big on memberships, her content subscription model is pretty sweet in my opinion. She offers a quarterly subscription that comes with ready-to-post recipes, complete with graphics and how-to instructions. Let’s say you’re a food blogger who doesn’t have time to create a new recipe this week. Having a membership like Trish’s could help you continue to provide fresh content to your readers without having to struggle to come up with something to post.
Your membership doesn’t have to be focused strictly on PLR content delivery either. The content can be a bonus for a coaching or ongoing education membership instead. Crissy Herron of Indie Biz Chicks, has monthly, quarterly and semi-annual subscriptions that come with more than just done-for-you content. Though her content subscriptions do feature PLR content that her audience can use for business and non-business related niches, they also come with monthly coaching and trainings on how to run your own business online.
In fact, Crissy was one of the first writers I’d ever heard of who was selling PLR content. She said one of her favorite things about running an information business like this, is that if you have an idea you can just run with it.
You can launch a product right after creating it instead of waiting around and asking people if they want it.
In other words, the difference between information products and physical products is that once they are written they can go up for sale right away. You don’t have to wait on a prototype, and do a bunch of testing. Because of this, Crissy’s advice is that if you want to try and sell something you have written, simply put it up for sale. That’s the best way to test its sellability. If the content doesn’t sell, you can then add it to a package/membership, or just delete it and move on.
Can a content subscription get your website dinged by Google for duplicate content?
After talking to Crissy, April and Trish about this, I felt like the answer to this question is a little more complicated than a strict yes or no. While you might not get penalized in search, you don’t want to constantly be publishing things written on other sites verbatim either. Besides, it’s hard to look like an expert in your field, if you’re only publishing the exact same stuff everyone else is.
According to Trish, the Google duplicate content penalty is really referring to using too much of your own content over and over again on your own website — particularly with WordPress. She said that this can confuse Google if your domain displays the same content multiple times with multiple URLs, because then it doesn’t know which one of those URLs should come up first when someone is searching for what you’ve written online.
Play it safe. Customize the content you receive with your content subscription.
All of the professionals I spoke to agreed that your best bet with regard to the potential duplicate content penalty is to never publish PLR content as-is on your site. Instead, you should use PLR content as a significant starting point. Albeit a nearly complete starting point.
That would defeat the purpose of purchasing done-for-you content, after all. What you should do though, is add your own flair to it. A few ways to customize PLR content include, but aren’t limited to:
- Slip in the keywords you’re trying to rank for where appropriate throughout the copy.
- Change the headline, and the first few sentences.
- Add your own story to the mix.
- Take your own pictures, or at least find images that are different than ones provided to you in your content subscription (and remember to change their titles and alt tag information).
- Add links to other posts where appropriate.
- Take multiple pieces of content and blend them into one epic post with a new intro.
If you’re still nervous about a potential penalty for using content other people might have posted, remember you don’t have you use the content online as a blog post at all. You could use the content as a base for a live or recorded video, save it for your newsletter, or even rework it and add it to an eBook or course. There is also the option of breaking up the content into smaller micro-posts for social media instead using it for one or multiple blog posts.
How can you create your own content subscription for sale?
The pros I spoke to agreed that your best bet for getting into the world of PLR is simply to start writing.
April said that you shouldn’t just go into it expecting to be profitable within your first couple of months, however. If you’re going to create a PLR content subscription model, or even just want to sell a few articles on your site, you will need plenty of content written and ready to sell. Believe it or not, this isn’t just because you want to make as much money as possible. From the buyer’s perspective, if they like what you have to sell, they might want more, and you need to offer more than just one piece of content when you launch.
Pick a niche
April also suggests niching down. This is one of her regrets with Niche Starter Packs because since her site is so general, it’s sometimes harder for her to market to just one ideal customer avatar.
Have a plan (and a plugin)
While Crissy loves the ability to sell stuff as soon as it’s created, her best advice for a new PLR provider is to plan out how you will sell your content before simply announcing it’s for sale. She says that there are two ways to do it:
- You can bootstrap and use the cheapest products to get the job done.
- You can go the more professional route with the proper plugins and software to deliver your materials to people who might want to subscribe.
For example, you could just sell all of your stuff on your website with a simple shopping cart that’s linked to your PayPal account, and you deliver everything via Google Documents. On the other hand, to look more professional, you might want a plugin that allows your users to do everything on your site, including downloading your content. Many of the PLR providers that I researched and/or talked to use aMember Pro™ membership software to do this.
Work with other content subscription providers
Both Trish and April suggested that if you want to be a PLR provider, it might be a good idea to start working with current PLR providers. You could either sign up for a content subscription and learn how they work that way, or sign up to become an affiliate of them. If you choose to write for current providers, it would be similar ghostwriting in the sense you would receive a one-time payment for your work. However, if you choose to learn by being an affiliate, you can do what the providers do — make money over and over again from the same content.
Being an affiliate or working directly for PLR providers is a great way to get your feet wet in this industry.
You’ll probably start to see what I’ve seen, too, and that is that many PLR content providers promote each other’s content for sale. Many are affiliates of one another.
Give it a go
While it’s safe to say you likely won’t get rich with a content subscription model, it is possible for you to use this model to boost your current freelance writing profits. If nothing else, I hope this article inspired you to look for additional ways you can earn more money with your writing. Like Crissy told me, with information products, the possibilities for our creative businesses are truly endless.
Also published on Medium.