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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Jobs

One of the things that newcomers ask me a lot is, “How can I get a job?” Second Life is not like some other virtual realities, where you need a job in order to earn game credits, advance in level, or even keep body and soul together. There’s nothing you need money for in Second Life.

But there are lots and lots of things that you want to be able to buy. Eventually, freebies just aren’t good enough, and you want really nice skin, hair, shoes, clothing, and animations for your avatar. You may want to buy land and a home, and furniture, plants…the list goes on and on.

In theory, you could make all this stuff yourself. But you really need some great skills with third party programs like Photoshop, Poser, or Maya, and probably someone has already done what you want. So, you decide it’s worth spending some $L to save yourself hundreds of hours of effort -- which brings us back to the idea of a Second Life job to get some $L for those pretty shoes.

My first and best advice is: Forget it. Almost nobody will hire you until you have at least 30 days experience in SL, and sometimes longer. When and if you do find a job, it will pay far, far less than real life minimum wage. In fact, most jobs in SL are paid only in tips. Let’s say you are a DJ. In a two hour gig, you might make $L500 – 1,000 in tips. That works out to a rate of $1.00 – 2.00 USD per hour. It’s a much more efficient use of your time to get a second Real Life job (or work some overtime). In just a few hours you can make far more than you can in any SL “job”.

If you insist on ignoring my advice, you can find jobs listed in the Help Wanted section of the Classified ads. Use Search in world, or the forums on the Second Life website.

The real money in SL isn't made in traditional “jobs”, but in two areas: Land, and content creation. In both cases, you go into business for yourself.

Land owners buy land, then either subdivide it and rent it out to others, or attempt to re-sell the land at a profit. In either case, they may or may not make improvements to the land, such as terraforming and adding buildings and landscaping. Land owning or speculating doesn’t take a lot of creative skill, but it does take an up front investment, to buy the land, make improvements, and advertise. Also, you must pay the monthly tier fees while you hold the land. It is a highly competitive business, and also highly speculative. Land values have been depressed in SL for more than a year now. I am seeing whole sims, which have an original purchase price of $1,000 USD, being sold for $500, $200, or even $100.

Content creation is a very broad area. “Content” can be anything. Clothes, skin, hair, animations, vehicles, textures, scripts, buildings, weapons, flowers or animals. Anything! In simple terms, you create something that’s new, or at least better than what’s out there now, and you advertise and sell it. This can be done for little or no start up cost, but it may require many, many hours of hard creative work to produce the product(s) you will sell. And there is no guarantee of success. Even if you create wonderful items, you will also need business skills, and a bit of luck, to become a successful merchant.

Don’t try to take a shortcut by buying a “Business In A Box” kit. Even if the content isn’t stolen, or repackaged freebies, you will be selling the same junk as everyone else who bought the kit. Instant competition! If you want to be a merchant, first learn to make your own stuff.

There is one other type of business that can make money in Second Life: Entertainment. There are thousands of clubs and venues. Plus, there are less traditional entertainments such as playhouses and theatres, sports arenas, amusement parks and roleplay areas. You may have a venue, like a club, to attract customers, or you may offer individual personal services, by becoming an escort. Besides the sex worker trade (which does not carry the low status in SL that it does in the real world), a few people offer other services, such as counseling, “legal advice”, fashion photography, or teaching a skill such as scripting or a second language.

Again, your chances of financial success are slim. Almost all clubs in Second Life are like boats…a hole into which you throw money. (And time. Managing a club is very time-intensive).

I'll admit, some people get a kick out of starting and running a successful business venture. To some of them, it's "cheating" if you use real world money to buy $L...they want to "make it big starting from humble beginnings." A few manage this, but it is NOT easy or quick.

Here’s my final bit of Good Advice: Don’t look for a job or a business opportunity in SL with the idea of making money. This is a virtual world; your time spent here is optional, “free” time. Don’t waste your precious free time doing anything you don’t enjoy! Contrariwise, if you find something you love…whether that’s being a stripper in a sleazy club or designing haute couture…then do it! There’s a popular self-help book called “Do What You Love – The Money Will Follow”. Nowhere is that more true than in Second Life.

[EDITED TO ADD:]
There is a new way to make a little pocket money in SL...play the Linden Realms game.  Collect crystals, and turn them in for $L.  Once again, I suggest that you don't spend hours and hours at this, unless it's something you enjoy doing.  However, it IS a way for the penniless newcomer to earn a little money.  Search "Linden Realms" in world, and teleport to one of the entry portal areas.

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