ReferralCandy - 6:21 am on Jul 31, 2013 (gmt 0)
I'd personally go for 1 and perhaps a little of 4. No doubt writing original pieces is time consuming, generating quality content is still the no. 1 priority in digital publications and there's not much you can compromise on. The reason I would still go for 4 is because attaching a monetary value on a task (e.g. writing an article) tend to lower its quality. There are various reasons why people would want to write for free, and I wouldn't be surprised it can be an occasional source of good articles.
But rather than spending all your time on one-off articles you think will go viral, its a better strategy to be shipping concise quality content consistently. Even if an article does go viral, you would want to keep your viewers to continue reading on your site, which can only be possible with a trove of decent content. Otherwise, it would just be a one-off hit.