I've never been a big fan of PLR content, so you won't have too much trouble guessing who the winner of this comparison is going to be. The reasons why I think Blog Riffing clobbers PLR content are what this post is about.
But first, a one-sentence introduction to each of our contenders. PLR content is content written by someone else that you can buy, optionally edit, and publish under your own name. Blog Riffing is copying a quote from another blog and writing a blog post based on or inspired by it.
At first glance, you might think PLR sounds a lot easier than Blog Riffing. After all, the content is all written for you. And in fact, that's one of PLR's big strengths. Sort of (more on that below).
Also, if you manage to find good PLR (more on that below too), it will be focused on profitable keywords and topics that people are interested in.
But PLR Has Serious Weaknesses
First of all, there's the challenge of finding good PLR. It's easy to find horribly written, painfully boring PLR content. It's much harder to find content written by someone who's good enough to do it well, and willing to sell their content for other people to claim authorship of.
Second, if you're using PLR correctly, it isn't entirely written for you after all. Over at ProBlogger, Pawel Reszka wrote:
Obviously, the last thing you want to do is to copy and paste the content you've bought to your blog as is. Even if you don't believe in the duplicate content penalty, remember that your goal as a blogger is to provide unique, interesting content to your readers. How will your perceived authority suffer in the eyes of your readers if they happen to stumble across the same article being published"”word-for-word"”on another blog, under another blogger's name?
At the very least, you'll want to rewrite your PLR content to add your own voice and to make the content appear unique in the eyes of the search engines.
So, even though you've bought a bunch of fully written articles, you still have to rewrite them. And if the original author was an expert at sprinkling the best keywords throughout the article, you may very well make it worse in the process.
I once bought a PLR eBook about color in marketing (search for "color tips marketing" over at Amazon.com, and you'll see that several people are selling it there).
By the time I'd patched it up to the point where I wouldn't be embarrassed to put my name on it, I'd thrown about 2/3 of it out, added a bunch of original content, and tweaked or rewritten a lot of the rest. (My version is available here).
As you can see, it wasn't that much easier than writing the entire thing from scratch myself.
If you find good PLR, you won't have to throw away 2/3 of it, rework the rest, and add a bunch more on your own. But it's not going to be a simple matter of swapping out a word or two per paragraph either. It takes a bit of work.
How Does Blog Riffing Compare?
Let's look at how Blog Riffing compares to PLR's two big weaknesses:
Finding good content
If there's a good blog or two in your niche, you've got sources for good content. Just read those blogs and use them to inspire your posts. And if you know anything about your niche, you probably already know what some of the best blogs are.
Not only will the best blogs have good content to start from, but they'll be focused on topics that people in your niche are interested in.
With Blog Riffing, rather than rewriting, your job is to write your reaction to what you've quoted. I'd expect the effort required to be comparable -- at least if you're rewriting the PLR enough to be able to honestly claim that your version is unique.
And Blog Riffing Has Other Strengths
For one, you don't have to pay to quote and comment on somebody else's blog posts. As long as you're not quoting too much of their article, it's perfectly legal and ethical under a concept called "fair use". (Required disclaimer: I'm not a lawyer, so don't take this as legal advice.)
Also, how difficult is it to make sure your Riff's are written in your own words and voice? Since you're doing the writing rather than rewriting, it's automatic.
Third, how difficult is it to be sure your content is unique -- that nobody says "hey, didn't I just read an article almost exactly like this somewhere else"? Again (unless you're just restating what the rest of their article says in your own words), it's pretty much automatic.
Fourth, you may get pingback links from the other blog to yours. Posting a PLR article isn't going to do that.
Fifth, Blog Riffing gets you in the habit of developing your own thoughts rather than just tweaking the words of someone else's. Since I started Blog Riffing, not only do I blog more often, but I've found it easier to come up with ideas for original (ie. non-Riff) posts too.
Given that using PLR doesn't mean you don't have to do any work (unless your just throwing up another trashy spam blog), I'd take Blog Riffing over PLR any day.