Doing Business in Second Life

Business.com / Marketing Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Second Life is supposed to be an interactive Internet game, but in the 24-hour period of this writing, players spent over $1,750,000 ...

Second Life is supposed to be an interactive Internet game, but in the 24-hour period of this writing, players spent over $1,750,000 dollars within the Second Life economy. Second Life is a global phenomenon, and it has been covered avidly by publications like The Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek and the New York Times. San Francisco's Linden Labs is the game's creator, and "the Lindens" are the supreme rulers and overseers of Second Life.

In case you have been living under a rock, Second Life "residents" create avatars that represent themselves and move about a virtual world visiting resort areas, making friends, shopping, playing sports, setting up house and sometimes even getting married. The economy is real and so are the profits. Residents buy and sell virtual land, open stores, work in nightclubs, gamble, form business partnerships and start entrepreneurial ventures.

doing business in Second LifeHere, people speak of virtual land baron Anshe Chung in hushed tones of reverence or disdain, and gossip about how she just made her first $1 million, cold, hard, U.S. currency in Second Life land deals. This is a place where women pine for pricey ($4) Nonna Hedges haute couture gowns, men gift their girlfriends with jewelry, and money is made and lost. More than a few residents have quit their real life jobs to work exclusively in Second Life businesses, and successful real life companies such as Reebok, Dell Computer and Telus, a Canadian telecommunications company, have set up shop for the primary reason of raising visibility among the 2.5 million Second Life "residents".

How do people make money in Second Life? The possibilities are almost as endless as real life, but following are some of the primary avenues.

How Avatars Strike it Rich

1) Land: The big money is in land - buying and selling, renting and developing. 2) Retail: Once you rent or buy store space you can set up vending displays where people can shop while you sleep. 3) Manufacturing: Good builders can always make money by building and selling houses, jewelry, weapons furniture, shoes, and so on. 4) Scripting: Good scripters are as in demand as builders. Examples of scripted items are doors that open and TV sets that work. 5) Fashion: Second Life fashionistas are deadly serious about their style. Don't expect to make a fortune, but a number of clothing and hair designers make their primary real life incomes in Second Life. 6) The sex industry: Those new to Second Life sometimes start out as strippers or escorts. (Yes, there are animations for these activities.) In this capacity, you may be able to earn the capital to start more lucrative and respectable ventures. New nightclubs and strip clubs open and close, but the best turn profits.

Build it, Script it, Sell it

Building items people use and scripting animations takes a bit of time investment in the learning and the doing, but even building simple things can create a cash flow while you hone your skills.

Dress the Second Life Elite

Fashion is a force in Second Life. The game creators enable ways to easily create very simple clothing, but for the kinds of fashions that will have avatars storming your store in droves, you will need Photoshop skills, building skills and even some scripting skills.

Be a Virtual Donald Trump

The real money in Second Life is in land, even if it is composed of pixels. You can make a fortune or lose your shirt in real life money, depending upon whether you are savvy or naïve. If you do not buy directly from the Lindens, beware. When buying from private residents you are usually just renting the land, though they may call it "buying". If they leave Second Life or decide to evict you, you will lose your land without recourse. Often, you are not permitted to resell this kind of land.

Promote Your Real Life Business

Many real life companies are entering Second Life as a way to raise their visibility and drive real life sales. Some companies open storefronts and use them not just to promote their real-life businesses, but also as an extremely cost-effective way to test out new designs and concepts before launching them in the real world. Other companies hold events, parties and conferences targeted at either Second Life residents or those they bring online themselves specifically for the event. The visuals of Second Life make the experience much more real than a webinar, and virtual conference facilities are used for everything from classes to global sales seminars.
  • Relax. Wander around Second Life for a few weeks, meet some people, make some contacts, get a feel and decide what interests you. Some of the worst stores in Second Life were created by large, successful, real life companies who have not taken the time to understand the conventions of this virtual world.
  • Do your homework. Like real life, the most successful entrepreneurs look for a need then fill it - or find a way to create the need.
  • Be clear about your purpose. Is it to make money, have fun or create increased awareness for your real life business?
  • Create a solid business plan and marketing plan. Basic business tenets apply here as they do in real life; targeted marketing and strong branding are the cornerstones in launching and maintaining a successful business.
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