It’s a tricky situation.

You have a new website that you don’t want to look deserted, but you also don’t have time to write 50 articles and shoot 25 videos before you go live.

Sure there are resources out there where you can go and grab existing articles, blog posts, videos, and more, and just as easily stick them on your site to populate it and move on.

But should you?

There are different levels of “borrowing,” and corresponding implications of each.  Let’s look at three of them, and why you should or shouldn’t engage in them.

1. Plagiarism/Stealing Content

Okay, NO.  Flat out wrong, bad, smack-your-hand-with-a-ruler don’t do this.  If people find that you (or your VA/outsourcers) are using other people’s content without permission, it’s basically like stealing anyone else’s songs, manuscripts, or other intellectual property.

Not only is it illegal and the owner can threaten you with legal action, but it’s just bad manners and bad karma, whether you believe in it or not.  Plus, Google will find out through their spiders, and flag you for Duplicate Content.  More on that in a minute.

So in case your mom never told you otherwise, stealing is wrong.  You’re grounded; go to your room.

2. Using PLR or Ezine Article Content

So, here’s where we hit a gray area.  First, let’s look at what these two things are.”PLR” means “Private Label Rights.”  Essentially, this is content that is produced by someone who intends on distributing it (paid or free) for anyone to use.  There are sites and businesses out there that sell or give away gobs of PLR content, and that’s their entire business model.  You can get virtually anything through PLR these days — articles, blog posts, e-books, video courses…even entire websites.

Now, EZine Articles (www.ezinearticles.com) is one of dozens of free article sites where authors from around the web put their articles for use by anyone in their blogs or newsletters, and exchange, that author receives not only notoriety, but credit (and SEO juice) back to their site.

Seems like a great way to get content, right?  It gets sticky, however, when you just take the content from PLR or article directories like Ezine and just plop it on your site.

Why?  Remember “Duplicate Content” from above?  It’s basically when Google automatically detects that the article on your site is almost (or completely) like the article on another site.  When that happens, it lowers your score in its index, which lowers your rankings in its search engine.  Lower rankings = less traffic = sad faced you.   : (

3. Happy Medium: Rewrite Content Using an Outsourcer

Completely fresh and original content will ALWAYS be your best bet.  But let’s face it – you probably don’t have time to research and author dozens of articles from scratch.So, one way around this is to use PLR or Ezine content, and rewrite it so it’s a new article.  Even better, add a couple bits of new info so that it IS fresh content.

QUICK TIP: Hire a virtual assistant or outsourced writer to do it for you.  You can give them a topic, set guidelines, and set them loose.  This is a GREAT way to leverage time and talent in order to get the results you want.  I’ve had a lot of good luck finding quality contractors at oDesk (that’s my affiliate link, by the way), among the several other top outsourcing and VA sites out there.

Getting a site off the ground with quality content doesn’t have to be a monster project.  Take a few steps to find what’s out there and improve upon it, and you’ll be well on your way.