Friday, September 21, 2007

Horror stories from PLR land

Just spent the greater part of a week editing and prepping some ebooks from PLR (private label rights) material. PLR is just like that bottler of Vitamin E in California, who bottles for all sorts of brands. Or that unfortunate maker of dog food who had accepted bad Chinese products recently and had to recall over 100 brands of the stuff. They write PLR articles and books for use in Internet Marketing as well - they write it, you brand (or re-brand) it. Some even come with pre-made sales pages.

At the beginning, this went well. I was able to save a great deal of time, since people had already written much of what I needed to talk about and made these available as PLR articles. I nearly wrapped this up when I got caught by the bug and started to convert even more articles, for other ebooks I could give away.

Then I ran into this really convoluted author who would repeat the same very obtuse paragraphs three times in his text - once in the preview, once in the text, and then once more in the summary. Some of his stuff seemed pretty good - until you tried to make it fit your style. I got fed up when working on a 15-question FAQ he had written. Essentially, I was re-writing about 85-90 percent of it. Compound clauses and overlong paragraphs which put the reader to sleep, that was my problem to solve, among many others. (See what I mean?)

Finally, I realised the error of my ways.

The reason I picked this up at all is that he was actually talking about stuff which other writers hadn't - meaning so you have this list and it's working: now what?

His solution was one others had hinted at - make them into affiliates and JV partners, and then back into customers.

But the section on 15 questions everyone had - this was gawd-awful. I was really rewriting everything I touched. And his questions were all out of order to boot. So I carefully cut and pasted that into a new document which I can get back to when I have the time.

I still have the other three books of his to sort through.

That's the catch with PLR. When you put your name on it, you own it - and it reflects on you. If you sell something that is hard to understand, it's value plummets and so does your credibility.

Now, some of these books I've seen are really bad pastiches of stuff and really only need to be reformatted, since the text is OK. (And they already come with graphics and sales pages.)

That one character above I've been sweating over seemed to be of this ilk, except the prose was bad as well. He's got some points, but goes "around Robin Hood's barn" to get it to you.

I do love writing and editing - which is where I go all too often, especially when I should be doing something which is harder work and less rewarding.

But I'm not going to take tons of time to get something ready when the first writer seems to have pawned this off as PLR when it wasn't any good to begin with.

There are treasures to be found as well. I got a copy of someone's book - with some pretty trashed cover graphics and no website - that was a really horrid Word .doc as well. That person had pasted several other PLR articles on top of a quite nice series of points about article marketing. After I cut off the bad formatting, I was left with a really nicely written "51 points about article marketing you should know" ebook which now only needed a better title and new cover graphics. That's easy to fix.

Another book I got, had a nice cover - but the title of the Word .doc didn't match. And as well, there were quite a few goofs through the book that needed correction. However, that was only a few hours work and gave me a free ebook for use in my latest release of an Online Millionaire Plan.
So with the Cinderella stories, you are also going to have to put up with the ugly witch stepmother.

Now I don't suggest everyone just picks these up and runs with them.

Here's some tips:

1. If you have Adobe Acrobat (highly recommended when you want to brand or rebrand PLR books), convert their Word .doc to a PDF first - so you can see whether it's worth it.
2. Check out the prose and accuracy of what that author is talking about. If the prose is stilted or the data is wrong, just chuck it - and remember to erase it off your hard-drive (unless you want to give it away as PLR for someone else to edit it in the long hours of their early mornings...)
3. If it looks okay to this point, check the graphics. They should have given you a .psd file so you can edit their graphics in Photoshop - that is if it's decent PLR at all.
4. Check the sales page. It might have some claims in there which don't exist and would be untrue for you to say (one started out, "...and then I realised after I bought six new Toshiba laptops...) Sure, right. Come on. This is the reason advertising already has a bad name.

If it passes all those tests, then you may have a winner you can offer or give away.

But take it from me - I've searched for, found, and downloaded upwards of a thousand different PLR packages and files from various sources - in just under two weeks' time - and most of it is pretty hashed over. It's really raw stuff.

Uses for PLR:

If you are just starting out and don't really have a product, you can always cobble together one of these free ebooks (or rebrand one of them that has a nice cover) and give it away to get your list going. Then you can Bum market your list to various affiliates - as long as they stay with you.

Seriously, it's a good way to get your feet wet. And there is some good data in these books overall. I've only found a couple who thought people were stupid enough to use Outlook to run their own little list from their own computer - without any mention of the CAN-SPAM act.

Otherwise, you can do as many people have told me - find a viable niche, take some PLR ebooks for that niche, set up some mini-sites which all link together, and then build a list with article marketing, forum commenting, blogs, press releases, etc.

That one paragraph above (minus things it's missing like keyword searches, learning how to write copy, plus the hard work of knuckling down to write several hundred articles or forum/blog posts) really composes all there is to modern Internet Marketing. Advertising isn't for beginners - it has it's own tactics (and budget). SEO is also an advanced skill you don't need to start out with.

So what am I going to do with all this PLR stuff I've gotten? Actually, these are going to be fodder for my sales funnel, as well as experiments I'll be doing with mini-sites once I finish up the Online Millonaire Plan.

Finishing up, by the way, doesn't mean I finish writing a book and send it to the publisher. Publishers publish - it's the author who markets their books. But once it's written, the rest is applying what I've learned in spending a few days a week marketing while I write the sequel or get back to my self-help books, or do some art, or... You have to check out the "few days a week" approach to marketing. That's what makes this Internet Marketing stuff so intriguing.

I've seen it done wrong, but I've also seen it done well. It's all in the list and how you care for your subcribers. The rest of it entails getting them to notice you and opt-in for your list. That is all that SEO is really good for - getting people who use search engines to find your site.

Anyway, that's what you can do with all your PLR - avoid the nightmares of editing as you can.
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