"How do I get linden dollars?" I get this question all the time from newcomers in world and on the forums. And when I tell them, "Just buy some with your credit card," a lot of them say "Oh, I don't want to spend any money on this game!"
Well, it's a lot better idea than you might think. Sure, SL is free to use, and some people even make all the money they need to buy the things they want by getting a job as a dancer, or learning to create things and sell them. But it's just not the best use of your time.
See, here's the thing: Everyone is concerned about money, when what they ought to be thinking about is time. You can always get more money, but you can never get more time. Once an hour or a minute is gone, it's gone. And we all have a fixed amount of time...just 24 hours per day.
As they say, "time is money." I could spend a couple of hours in Second Life doing a DJ gig in a club. If there's a good crowd and they like my music, I might make, oh, $L1500. That's about $6.00 USD. In Real Life, a worker at McDonald's will make about $10 an hour. So, in the same time that I was making $6, the girl asking "do you want fries with that?" has made $20, more than three times as much.
I used DJ'ing as an example, but the same is true of most Second Life jobs. Even successful content creators and land barons, those elite few who make Second Life their full time job, could usually make more money at some Real Life job.
There's a book on careers called "Do What You Love...The Money Will Follow." That's good advice, especially for Second Life. Don't spend hours in a camping chair, don't spend hours on a dance pole, don't even spend hours in Photoshop making clothes...UNLESS it's something that you really enjoy. If you're having fun at it, it's not "work!" And you should be having fun in Second Life, not working just to make a few $L.
For most of us, the hours we spend in SL come out of our "free time." You should never spend your free time doing anything that you don't enjoy! So, if you like playing music for people, or flirting and showing off...then go ahead and be a DJ, or a pole dancer. If you enjoy the warm feeling of creating something and having people admire it...then go ahead and become an SL builder or content creator. But for heaven's sake, don't do ANYTHING in SL just to earn $L. Do something fun instead.
And if you need some virtual money, use your credit card or PayPal account to get it instead.