Second Life Business: Advice to the Avatars

February 27th, 2008  |  Published in SL Business  |  1 Comment

Cheyenne Palisades, Second Life Business Guru and Resident

Cheyenne Palisades Answers Your Business Questions

“I’m new to Second Life and eager to make money. How much can I make, and how fast, and most importantly, what should I do?”

—Eager Beaver in Ahern

How much money can you make, Eager Beaver? Millions. Millions of lindens, millions of dollars. Just ask Anshe Chung. She’s Second Life’s first real-life millionaire, at least when you add up the value of her in-world assets.

How fast can you make it? Immediately. You just come up with a better mousetrap, and people will beat a path to your doorstep—and SL gives you the tools you will need to make the rootinest-tootinest mousetrap anyone has ever seen.

And lastly, what should you do?

You should set your desire to become a lindenaire aside for the moment and spend some months learning how SL works. Become familiar with the user interface. Learn to build and script. Learn how to use out-of-world tools like PhotoShop and Blender, which will be essential to almost any Second Life venture. Talk to people and make friends; the contacts will later prove valuable. Explore the world and see what it offers, paying special attention to the many successful businesses. What do they offer, and why do people buy it?

Understand that you are in a new and amazing world. It’s logical and consistent, but different than the real world in many ways—but just as in the real world, you stand to be a spectacular flop if you immediately embark upon an ambitious venture without understanding the market.

You wouldn’t be alone if you jumped in with both feet. More than one Fortune 500 company has arrived in world with a bang and left with a whimper because they assumed their real-world business model would ensure success in SL. You should take a clue from the ones who survived by adapting to the peculiarities of this virtual world.

There are lots of ways to make money in Second Life, from content creation to high finance to entertainment to consulting to journalism to providing a service of some sort. If, after taking some time to become comfortable in world, you take an honest look at your interests and your abilities, you will almost certainly discover your career path.

All of this doesn’t mean you can’t make money while getting your bearings. There are lots of jobs available, from dancing to reporting to escorting to sales assistant. Look for a position in a field in which you are interested. It will give you valuable experience and a ground floor perspective that will help you after you launch your business.

But for goodness sakes, stay off of camping chairs and away from those make-believe jobs like floor scrubbing. They pay, quite literally, pennies, and time spent at them will rob you of valuable learning experiences. Don’t be too proud to buy some lindens to dress up your avie. No one wants to do business with someone with noobie shoes.

SL is a rich feast for the senses and the mind. Partake of it and soon enough the money will follow.

“I’m a grad student in design and accomplished with Photoshop. I’m thinking about doing my thesis in Second Life, but I’m concerned about my intellectual property. Will I own what I make? Will others be able to copy it? If I do get ripped off, what can I do about it?”


—Designing Women

The good news is that you will have rights to anything you create in SL, and the permissions systems will provide reasonable protection of your objects and scripts. The bad news is that there are unscrupulous people in Second Life, just as there are in the real world, and it’s entirely possible that someone will copy your work—especially if you’re successful.

There are any number of people in world who lack the imagination to make something original, and they make endless derivations of existing products. If you have a novel design for a shoe or a hairdo, someone may borrow your idea. They may even buy your products and study them in order to duplicate them. But they will be doing it with their own prims. This is sort of like someone buying a dress at a designer shop and using it as a model for a knockoff product from Hong Kong. In this regard, SL is pretty much like the real world.

The permissions system stops most people from making exact copies of your objects, but there are exploits that can circumvent these protections. The most famous was Copybot, which was developed and released by xxx. Some of Second Life’s most successful designers have had their creations stolen—but there is some recourse from the Lindens. Such theft is clearly against the Terms of Service.

Textures are especially vulnerable to theft. That’s because every texture that comes across your screen can be grabbed and downloaded to your hard drive. There are free programs that allow this, and creators, who can spend hours in PhotoShop on a single texture, are understandably apprehensive.


  1. Awaken Yoshikawa says:

    March 17th, 2008at 8:08 am(#)

    In real life, they have thieves and copiers, same as second life. Many times the people who complain about having their designs ripped off have no problem ripping off adobe for their photoshop software and use bootleg which is a STOLEN COPY.

    I think the trick is to make something wanted, get it out as quick as possible and assume it will be copied.

    Awaken Yoshikawa