A Grid Business for You??

I’m sure everyone has had a glimmer (no pun intended) of a dream that includes making money in Second Life, InWorldz, etc.  Perhaps earn just enough money to cover your shoe purchases…or enough to quit your RL job and spend all day goofing around online!

Both are nice goals, though I strongly recommend you not quit your day job yet!

I’m no virtual tycoon, but I do have quite a bit of successful RL experience with advertising, marketing and PR…and during the past year, have also seen my virtual sales blossom.

I think we should all have fun experimenting, trying-failing-trying again, deciding to move in another direction, etc with whatever amuses us here.  But if you really intend to sell some things – and to more than your dear friends who just want show you support…here are some things to keep in mind.

  1. Of all the people who hope to make $$ here, what percentage actually will sell more than a few of their items?  What percentage will make enough to recoup their investment in supplies (textures, uploads, scripts, etc)?  What portion will earn enough to cover their shop rent or tier…their tier AND their shoe habit?  And then who will actually cash in virtual money for RL cash?  So….how will you and your items be different?
  2. I’ve no statistic to share, but I’m convinced that the more you hope/expect to make $$, the less you’ll earn.  A good product is created by somebody who wants to CREATE, not sell.  If you’re just creating for the earning potential, you may not end up with a unique item.
  3. Don’t let #1 and #2 deter you!  You won’t know what you can do till you try!
  4. It wasn’t always this way in SL/IWz, but you have to have something unique …or at least fresh.  A little black dress or a pair of perfect black shoes is definitely something people buy, but there are already 8 gazillion of them for sale.  The competition alone, will diminish your sales capacity.  Give the little black dress or shoes some special little details that make them stand out from the rest!
  5. Who’s your market?  Is your item for a specialty niche?  In your efforts to create unique items, be careful to not get so obscure that your audience contains only a handful of people.  Knowing who your buyers might be is also handy when it comes time to advertise.
  6. Photos for your Advertisements!  Virtual photography is an art of its own, and most of us aren’t Photoshop or Gimp masters – but clear images for your ads makes a HUGE difference.  Even a novice photographer can make sure the photographs really focus on the item your selling.  50% or more of the photo space should be of the object itself.  Zoom in!  Selling a belt?  There’s no need to show the entire avi. Yes, I know you look really cool as a model, but zoom in close to the belt and make it fill a majority of the frame, or crop out the unrelated subjects.  Showing the object from multiple angles is a good idea too.  (added:  Be sure the background doesn’t distract from the object – a beautiful background sounds nice, but might take the eye away from what your selling, and virtual photography needs as much clarity as you can get!)
  7. Text for Advertisements!  A cool name is fun – and maybe you and your friend LOL’ed for hours when you thought of it.  But, if you’re planning to sell to more than your friends, your advertising text needs to be informative and descriptive.  I troll the SLMarketplace.com for items often – and there’s nothing more frustrating than an ad for “The Sascha” – with a photograph of a lovely avatar.  …Wtf is being sold?  The hair?  The shape?  A complete avi?  Be specific and make the words help you sell.  Leave no doubt what you’re selling.  (That said, too many words will confuse buyers and dilute the overall value of description)  Also, be sure you’re using the best spelling and grammar possible.  Get some help, ask for a proofreader!  Bad typing and language barriers shouldn’t appear in your ads!  (added:  Spellcheck is your friend – and speaking of friends, have them proofread your ads.  Not advertising in your native language?  Web translators are great, but often miss a word or two – skewing your message.  Once again, get another set of eyes to review your work!  This is often the first impression buyers will have of you – be professional!)
  8. Packaging.  You’ve gone to all this trouble to create a great product – why not optimize it?!  You can texture a basic box or have a special shopping bag – think of a packaging style to use for ALL your items and create a consistent look for them.  Inside the packaging, be sure to add an LM and any photos of your other products or notecard describing your business in greater detail.
  9. Branding or logo.  Some sort of signature mark on your ads and packaging can help shoppers remember you!  A unique logo is great, but branding can also be created through use of specific fonts, colors, borders, backgrounds, etc.  A consistent visual thread throughout your packaging.  (while it should be noticeable, it shouldn’t be more noticeable/distracting than the object your selling)
  10. Renting space for your store?  To save money, start small.  Resist selling your object in every color available until you see if the basic/best colors are well received.  A small store with a variety of items is more appealing than a store with 2-3 items, in 16 colors each!
  11. Selling on SL’s web Marketplace?  Pay attention to which words you enter in each box, and compare it to what you see when shopping.  The first words of your description may be all the “window shopper” gets to see.  Do those first words define well AND sound appealing to somebody who doesn’t know a thing about your object?  Review your listings often!  Try to see it with a blind eye – remembering that the shoppers need simple and clear information.
  12. Some bragging, but not too much!  It can be difficult to write an honest promotion for your own work.  Too many adjectives take away from the object and sound phony.  “A beautiful, charming, unique handbag” doesn’t tell me as much as “a casual black leather handbag.”
  13. CUSTOMER SERVICE An unhappy customer is 7x more vocal than a happy one.  In most cases, it doesn’t cost us anything to replace something for a customer.  Yes, I know they’re lying, presumptuous, unappreciative, rude and a fugly noob that can’t sort their own inventory – but, thank them for shopping with you and give them a replacement to shut them up!  *smiles* Remember how you’ve felt when trying to get a incomplete purchase resolved.  Did you have any patience for excuses?
  14. Groups, Profiles, blogs, websites,  and updates.  Web media is a great way to stay in touch with your customers.  Let them know what’s new.  Experiment with the different platforms to see which gets the best results.  My favorite group notices include notecards with photos of the new items – so I can decide if I want to bother TP’ing to the store.  A photo blog can do the same trick.  (added:  Like your advertisements, these need to have good spelling and grammar too!)
  15. Location, location, location!!  It’s cool if you’ve got your own sim/parcel for your shop, but, does it get traffic?  Consider a location in a neighborhood that matches your content.  Not much point putting your steampunk art shop on a sci-fi themed sim!
  16. InWorldz Specifically?  Well, this has been an interesting study for me.  I watch the growth numbers for IW daily, and it’s definitely climbing – slow, but steady!  As IWz is in beta, there’s a “hopeful rumor” that when physics comes – all will be more stable, and then everyone will come flooding to IWz, and business will rise….this really sounds great.  Yet, just how busy might that be?  For the meantime, I find it at an awkward stage.  Most the regulars here are creators themselves!  I’m not sure there’s much to do here (yet) if you don’t build.  Everyone needs fashion and avatar accessories, but I’m not sure there’s a big demand for home or shop supplies yet.  (since we’re mostly builders, we just build our own stuff)  There’s definitely a demand for building supplies!!  Many of the non-creators show up, stumble around frustrated with the beta/noobie feelings, leave, and wonder what the big deal is.  Maybe they’ll be back…?  I anticipate that it will continue to grow, yet it will be the rare item indeed that sells like hotcakes!  Currently, it’s a great time to create, set up shop, and establish your reputation.  As it’s currently difficult to search and tp, and pretty cheap to rent space, more than one location for a store is probably a good idea here.

Not sure how to move forward with your idea?  Feel free to write me, I’d be happy to talk about a strategy with you…but the first thing I’ll ask is, are you doing it for the passion?  If it’s just for the money, not sure I’ll be able to help you much 🙂  Good luck!

C'est moi, this week...

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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. What an extremely thoughtful and thought-provoking article. Thank you Dancer for putting this together! I really enjoyed reading it and will definitely bookmark this one to refer back to, and hopefully help grow my little fashion business in InWorldz. Much appreciated!

    Hugs,
    Boudica

    • Boudica, Thanks for taking time to comment – it’s a thrill to know somebody actually reads my thoughts 🙂 …and you, Miss Destiny – are already on your way to a successful biz!

  2. WOW what a great post!! I need to read it again when I have had more coffee. I’ve bookmarked it to come back to again.
    xoxo

  3. Nicely done D! To the point and very well written.

    BTW, I have a couch I got from you and one of the legs is shorter than the rest so I get that rocking motion kinda thing. You don’t have some cardboard I can jam under it by chance?

    • I’ve been developing a cardboard shim for this very purpose. Something light weight and easy to rez. I’ll send it to you when it’s complete. I guess this means you’ve been testing out the new 25 anim menu? 🙂

      • Looks innocent….no idea what you are talking about.

      • LOL yeah, sure! (hey, btw, Dyszel Radio has been my link to sanity at work today – thanks)

      • Gracias! Glad it’s helping your day. It’s my fav but I am smidge biased. I’m sure quite a few listeners tune in because of you as well. Much appreciated.

  4. A very good article! I had a great pleasure to read it!
    I had this feeling of frustration when I first came from Sl to InWorldz, but for a very short time. First, I was very impressed by the quality of things I found there. Second, people are for the most, very kind to “noob people” and its very significant!To conclude, it makes you want to stay and because of passion, it makes you want to learn and why not following the good advices of this article, also to consider selling the things we have enjoyed build them.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts about your own experience!;)

  5. Praline, I agree with your impressions of IWz – I’m so glad you’re enjoying it! Thanks for reading and commenting!! 🙂


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