I understand one of the most commonly asked questions is “how do I make money?”, thusly, I’ve decided to summarize a response here.
Second Life is not a game, but it is a virtual world, filled with real people (behind the avatars) who have feelings. Real life is very much reflected in Second Life except that one doesn’t NEED money to live here, but it does help.
Beg for money.
Tell people that you NEED money.
Pull a scam that takes money from someone else.
Sell freebies or sell near freebies.
You will get a reputation and you will put others off and your entire experience in SL will be greatly diminished. If you don’t wish it done to you, don’t do it to someone else. Karma is a swift Mistress in SL.
Options for increasing your wealth
Buy Linden Dollars
Yes, you read that correctly. If you have real life money that you consider disposable or part of your “entertainment” allowance, you may buy actual Linden Dollars.
Learn all about it here: https://secondlife.com/my/lindex/buy.php
Likewise, you can sign up for a Premium Account which provides a weekly $300L stipend and a $1000L one-time sign on bonus. The premium account (as of this writing) is $75 USD/Year. At an average exchange rate of 260L/USD, the stipend amounts to approx 60USD thus the account effectively costs $15USD.
In addition, to the stipend, primium members are given :
- real customer support
- land ownership rights
- a Virtual Home on the mainland
At the moment, the more people that frequent a location, the higher up the rankings their location will appear when people perform a search incorporating the same key words used in the listing. Location owners unnaturally inflate this number by paying people to be on their land. This is a contentious practice, but if you need a few Linden Dollars to purchase some of the near-freebies outlined in this kit, then this is one option.
Career camping is no way to make “serious” money in Second Life, but it can give you a little change for buying demos and near freebies. Using the [Search] button at the bottom of your screen, type “camping” in the [Find:] field of the [All] tab, and then [Search] to display many places you can go “camp” for a few L$.
Once you arrive, look for “camping chairs” or items that will proclaim to pay you a certain number of L$ for a certain amount of time you sit/stand/dance etc. there. Usually you right click the chair or item and then “sit” or whatever appears in that slice of the pie menu on the upper left side of the pie.
Yes, you can make things to sell to others. Learn a trade — building, scripting, textures and more. Making and selling items (creating content) in Second Life is likely the most honourable way of making money.
Scattered around Second Life are trees containing money or items (i.e. fruit) that can be clicked on to receive money. These are donations from other individuals (thanking the owner is a nice idea). Money trees usually only respond to avatars less than 30 days old, so it’s a nice way for new residents to make a little money.
NEVER pay anyone for a guide or list of money trees. It’s more than likely a scam and you will be ripped off. Don’t do it.
Using the [Search] button at the bottom of your screen, type “money tree” in the [Find:] field of the [All] tab, and then [Search] to display many places you can harvest some L$.
Surveys aka Hippiepay et al
Don’t. Just… don’t. You’ll spend all sorts of time filling out useless questionnaires and then usually NOT receive any money for your efforts.
If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Some clubs and events have contests where you can win a, more or less, popularity contest. Check events and look for contests. You’ll put you’re name up on a board and then engage those in your environment. Attendees of the event will vote for their favourite, and if you’re it, you win the pot of money.
These events can be a lot of fun, even if you don’t win. However, there are those who’ve made a career out of earning their pocket change by frequenting such events and really playing to the crowd — everyone has a good time then.
Investments, Banks & Schemes
Most investment opportunities, banks and money make schemes are scams. Banks are unnecessary. SL is too unstable to entertain investing. Pyramid, ponzi and similar “schemes” are not an answer either. It’s best to not go there. (NOTE: banks are also no longer permitted in Second Life)
Gambling is no longer permitted in Second Life. Even if you do find gambling machines, remember that they are programmed and easily programmed to favour the house. Unless gambling with other players, you will likely lose in the long run.
Bouncing, Bartending, Hosting, Etc.
Some clubs and venues will pay people to act as bouncers, bartenders, hosts, and sundry other jobs suited to such environments. You likely need connections for such a situation, but it doesn’t hurt to flog your skills on the forums and see if someone is in need. Alternatively, if you have a favourite hang out, approach the owner to see if they have need of your skills.
Escort & Dancing
And just like in real life, you can make money at the ever present and oldest profession in the world. You can be an escort or dancer in a club. Most establishments will take a cut of your earnings for providing advertising space, a place to earn money etc.
As in all things, the best escorts and dancers are those who truly enjoy what they are doing and can certainly play to the people. I’d only recommend this if you really wish to have fun with this activity. This is not a profession to engage in just because you need money.
Starting a Business in SL
The following notecard is a concise summary of how to start a business in SL.
I would like to credit Ceera Murakami for this wonderfully concise way of explaining the art of starting a business in SL.
I would also like to preface this guide by saying that there are many different types of vendors in SL. There are those who are “playing” without serious intentions to make money. There are those who want to jump in and start business right away, either quickly discovering they have a knack for it or failing. And then there are those who slowly gather together the resources and skills to build a truly successful business through tenacious effort. And finally I’d like to say that customer service is a vital aspect of most businesses in SL. You’ll need to have time to do this if your business warrants customer support.
On with Ceera’s insights.
Success & work
I own several successful businesses in SL. I make a profit here every month. And I work my tail off to do it. I make clothes, I build, I script, I terraform… I even create whole sims. It took me over a year to build my businesses to where they always made me a profit, and after more than two years it still isn’t even close to earning me a full-time wage. I put in 20 to 30 hours a week and earn very little more than I would with a part-time minimum-wage second job. (Though the work is a lot more fun than flipping burgers!) Out of the MILLIONS of people who play SL, only 2 to 4 percent make a profit regularly, and less than half of that actually make a living working in SL full-time. Just a few thousand people out of well over 10 MILLION accounts!
Yes, you can certainly make things and sell them with no real intention of making a profit. But this article assumes that you don’t want to spend hours of effort and work just to lose money!
Building a successful business in Second Life is no different than building one in real life. It takes lots of time, and effort and skill, and a certain amount of luck and good timing, to make it work. It also almost always requires an up-front investment of real money.
You can’t be successful by buying a “Business in a box” and just throwing it up in one corner of a cheap mall. Those are rip-offs aimed at innocent dupes, almost always selling you stuff that is available free. It’s like the people in real life (RL) that will sell you a “Business idea starter kit” that is nothing more than a list of postal addresses and web sites for free information on how to start a business, from government websites and offices. As others implied, those who pay for a “Business in a box” soon find they are one of thousands of other poor suckers selling exactly the same low-quality items, that any experienced Player will avoid like the plague. If these products were really so successful, the person offering them would be running those stores and raking in the profits themselves, and not selling the “great money making idea” to others.
Be aware also that using real-world brands, logos, and copyrighted material is illegal, unless you have a license from the company that owns those copyrights and trademarks. Yes, you’ll see people selling “Nike Shoes” or other merchandise based on copyrighted game characters or bands… just like you’ll find street corner vendors in big cities selling shoddy knock-off of name-brand merchandise that aren’t licensed. Go to a flea market in the real world and you’re likely to find quite a few low-priced items with Disney characters or other popular images, but that are made in Mexico or China, illegally and without license to do so. It’s still illegal. DON”T DO IT.
How to be successful
So, how do you really do it? How do you be a business success in SL?
Take Your Time
First, you need to spend enough time in SL to get to know what the market is like. Shop. Travel. Play. Make friends. Get to know what is already available, and what people like to spend money on. Part of that is learning the sorts of things YOU would be willing to spend money on. In this period, be prepared to whip out your own credit card and purchase a supply of L$ with real money, (or pay for a Premium membership so you get 80% of that fee back as a weekly allowance, called a stipend) so you have some initial funds to start with. Do your market research, while you have fun just *playing* in SL.
Learn the Skills
Next, learn the skills that people pay for, and that match your initial training and background and interests.
Making textures requires artistic talent, and skill with graphics applications, like Photoshop.
Building requires skill in using the in-world building tools – a skill you can only get good at with hours and hours of practice in-world, and which benefits from skill as a texture artist (so you can make your own custom textures) or access to purchased texture sets.
Does fashion interest you? Making clothes in SL requires both a knowledge and skill in fashion design and skills as a texture artist and in some cases as a builder (prim shoes, skirts, and other prim clothing parts).
Being a scripter requires skill as a programmer, using the LSL programming language. Many products in SL will benefit from adding scripts that you write. (door and window scripts, animation scripts, etc…)
Custom animations and pose balls. A very specialized area. Requires external software that can make animation files.
None of these skills are anything you’re likely to develop overnight. Take the time to practice these skills, and practice making all sorts of things. You may be surprised how difficult it is to make an apparently simple item. Or you may find you have a real knack for making something else. Be prepared to spend MONTHS learning to do a task well.
Find Your Passion
Then, find a niche that you think you can do well in. Is there an existing product that you can do better than what is currently on the market? Is there and item that you’d love to buy, or that your friends would love to buy, but that you just can’t find, in spite of extensively searching for it? Anyone can make a simple T-shirt, and MILLIONS do. Competition in areas that have a lot of other merchants will make it very difficult to be a success, unless your product is different or better in some way.
Then, and only then, make a bunch or products. Price them competitively, based on your market research. then rent some space in SEVERAL malls, or buy land in at least two sims and set up your own stores. Visibility and advertising are very important, just like in the real world. Very few customers will come to your residential-area home to buy an item hidden under your bed. But if your products are available in a lot of malls or shops, especially if those locations are well-advertised and get lots of paying customers going through them (NOT camping chair zombies!), you’ll get a lot more sales. They can’t buy your stuff if they never see it.
Other ways to make money
There are other ways to earn some L$ in SL without an extensive skill set. But virtually all of those require a large amount of time investment, and many also have up-front costs.
Camping? There are places that will pay newbies to sit in chairs or on dance pads. It’s a scam to inflate the ‘popularity’ rating for a store or business, and pays the equivalent of a few pennies per hour. You pay more for the electricity to run your computer, and even a minimum-wage job in the real world pays far more per hour.
Dancing, strippers, escort services? People will pay to watch your avatar dance, most often nude, or to have virtual sex with them. Requires a willingness to behave that way with strangers. (Do you REALLY want to be a stripper or a prostitute?) Requires an up-front investment in high-cost skins and clothes and hair, to get good tips. May require that you provide custom animations or pose sets to entertain your clients. And a minimum-wage job in the real world still pays far more per hour.
DJ’s, Musicians, entertainers of other sorts. There are in-world classes, or ‘club schools’, where in a few hours and for a fee you can learn the basics for being a DJ or doing similar work. Sort of like attending a “Bartender school” in RL. You still have up-front costs, you still have to have talent as an entertainer, and you need to find a place that will hire you. Expect long hours and low pay, unless you are very unique and entertaining.
Real Estate? Some people make a lot of money buying low and selling high in the land market, or buying land and renting it to others, It requires a large, high-risk cash investment and LOTS of time to dabble in Real Estate, just like in the real world.
There are other ways to earn money as well, but I’ve listed most of the ones people encounter. To find others, you’ll have to look around and learn how SL works.
Additional resources (directly from the Second Life Forums)
Guide: Making money in Second Life
Second Life presents you with an endless variety of ways to spend your Linden Dollars, but supporting your lavish lifestyle will eventually mean deciding on a way to earn a bit more walking around money.
If you are a premium member, you receive a stipend each Tuesday morning.
If you host an event, you can list it on the Event Calendar via the Second Life website. You can also attend an event and try to win some money. You’ll notice that many of the trivia contests, treasure hunts, show & tell, etc. events give out Linden Dollar rewards to winners. However, direct support for prizes from Linden Lab is limited to Second Life related educational events.
You’ll also find a healthy economy within the community, where players trade both goods and services. With a little work and ingenuity, you can be Second Life’s next big fashion designer, jet pack inventor, or real estate developer. For example, you can create pets, vehicles, houses, furniture, games, clothing, shoes, decorations, jewelry, plants, guns, timepieces, signs, fountains, animals, or even a new body! It’s all about your creativity.
To sell an item, just select it, choose edit, and check off the “for sale” box and name your price. If you own land, you can place your creations there to display, or you can make a deal with another resident to help you sell your item in their store. Please keep in mind, a good policy to keep is to only sell items you have created from scratch, or that another resident has given you permission to sell in writing.
It’s not just about making the big dollars, you can spend them too. Most things in Second Life will cost you some money to buy (such as objects in resident stores, or to claim land), but you can sometimes find things that are “Free to Copy”. If something is for sale, or free to copy, you can see this information when you briefly hover your mouse pointer over the object. It will either say “Free to Copy” or “For Sale” with a Linden Dollar price.
Do you really need money to enjoy Second Life? No. Your avatar does not need to eat, sleep, or even need shelter. You also have an unlimited amount of building supplies, provided free; you’ll never run out of cloth, lumber, or stone! It costs nothing to build your creations in a sandbox sim.
If you’re interested in shopping, other Second Life residents have created a ton of stuff for you. From elaborate costumes and fearsome guns, to fancy furniture and slick hoverboards, there’s always something new to check out. Resident-run stores are located all over the world. You can browse a small sample of what the Second Life residents have to offer by visiting the Galleria Oaks shopping mall in Luna.
Last but not least, if you want a quick infusion of money and are willing to pay in real-life money, there a few 3rd party sites you can purchase Linden dollars from. They are http://www.GamingOpenMarket.com, http://www.IGE.com (both previous links are gone) and http://www.AnsheChung.com. Traditionally, a 1 US dollar is worth around 276 Linden dollars, but it constantly fluctuates based on market conditions. (NOTE: There are no more authorized resellers where you can buy Linden Dollars. See the Linden Lab news post of June 15, 2015.)
The permissions system is designed to allow content creators to control how their creations are used.
Share with group:
This setting is usually used on rezzed objects. When this box is checked, anyone who is a member of the group can use the object as though they were the owner. Limits on this is that you cannot link the object to another.
Allow anyone to move:
This setting is usally used on rezzed objects. When this box is checked, anyone can move the object.
Allow anyone to copy:
This setting is usually used on rezzed objects. When this box is check, anyone can take a copy. Right-clicking on the object will display a pie menu option, Take a Copy.
This setting is usually used on rezzed objects. Check this box to allow an object to be sold. You can set the price and also how the item will be sold: Original, Copy, or Contents. Copy is the most used option. Contents is customarily used for selling items from display boxes.
This setting determines how the Next Owner can use the item. Check this box to allow changes to the item such as name, texture, color, contents, and dimensions. If you do not want your item to be modifiable by the next owner, leave the box unchecked.
This setting determines how the Next Owner can use the item. Check this box if you want the next owner to be able to make unlimited copies. If you do not your item to be copied, leave the box unchecked.
This setting determines how the Next Owner can use the item. Check this box if you want the next owner to be able to resell or give your item away. Currently there is not way to set something to be Give Away, but No Resale. Keep this in mind when setting permissions.
Permissions work in combination. These examples will give you an idea of how they work:
A clothing designer wants to sell a pair of pants. They want the next owner to be able to make the pants into shorts if they want. They also want the buyer to be able to give them as a gift.
Permissions: YES Modify, NO Copy, YES Resell/Transfer
A vehicle builder wants to sell a jet ski. They want the new owner to be able to change the color and they want them also to be able to delete it after it is rezzed, rather than worry about picking it back up into inventory. Since they are letting the owner make unlimited copies, they have to be sure that the jet ski isn’t resold by the new owner.
Permissions: YES Modify, YES Copy, NO Resell/Transfer
A builder makes a couch. They don’t want the owner to change anything about the couch. They don’t want the next owner to even be able to see the couch detaisl. They also don’t want copies made.
Permissions: NO Modify, NO Copy, YES Resell/Transfer
You’ve written a notecard with helpful tips and all your favorite landmarks. You want people to pass it out and add to it.
Permissions: YES Modify, YES Copy, YES Resell/Transfer
Permissions can also be set on items which are inside other objects. The permissions on the inside objects are picked up by the outside object. These examples will give you an idea of how they work:
A couch maker makes a new couch with a script and animation. They don’t want the next owner to change the couch. The next owner needs to be able to customize the script, but the creator doesn’t want it copied or given away. The animation is a free one, so they have to allow it to me copied.
Couch permissions: NO Modify, NO Copy, YES Resell/Transfer
Script permissions: YES Modify, NO Copy, NO Resell/Transfer
Animation permissions: YES Modify, YES Copy, YES Resell/Transfer
The container object, the couch, will take on the permissions in your inventory of all of the inner objects permissions, do it will appear as NO Modify, NO Copy, and NO Resell/Transfer until you rez it.