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Can you still make a "living" on SecondLife?

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Hi, so I've been thinking since the end of last year of bringing my "talents" of creating to SecondLife. I've been a developer on (don't burn me at the stake, please) IMVU for many years, and the income is good, but it could always stretch further. I was wondering what are the typical earnings of the top 10% of clothing creators on SL, if there are any figures anyone has seen or heard of? Right now I'm at around $6,000/month from IMVU, which is considered on the higher end of earnings, not the biggest, but definitely up there.

I create some meshes here and there (Not too big on that as my skills are still growing) but that's why I'd love to try it out on SL, I design clothing & create poses (animations I'm more than capable of, which would be interesting to see how it could translate to making ao's for SL). So, my question is how would *potential* SL earnings compare with my IMVU earnings?

Again, please don't harass me for mentioning a competitor, I know how it gets. 😂

 

Oh and P.S. I do have some experience with meshing for SL, a couple years back I used to make some of my own meshes for myself & friends, but never took that further.

Edited by maxxwell
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Why would we harass you for mentioning a competitor, we all know SL is best 😉

Seriously though, if your work stands out from the competition, there is still a good buck to be made. However, an important key to SL success is the same as RL success; marketing.
I have found that, even with the most excellent and unique products, failure is almost guaranteed without marketing.

Partake in and sponsor events, give out demos and cool freebies, have your products photographed professionally, get bloggers to notice you with special perks and freebies.

Those are the tricks I know, but because I can't afford most of them, none of my products ever made a splash...
 

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Yes, Second Life users (creators, inworld service providers, business owners, employees of those businesses or simply freelancers) cash out 60-70 million US dollar each year, and I know a friend of mine who makes around $5,000 a month, and they aren't even one of the biggest creators.

Edited by lucagrabacr
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13 minutes ago, Fritigern Gothly said:

Why would we harass you for mentioning a competitor, we all know SL is best 😉

Seriously though, if your work stands out from the competition, there is still a good buck to be made. However, an important key to SL success is the same as RL success; marketing.
I have found that, even with the most excellent and unique products, failure is almost guaranteed without marketing.

Partake in and sponsor events, give out demos and cool freebies, have your products photographed professionally, get bloggers to notice you with special perks and freebies.

Those are the tricks I know, but because I can't afford most of them, none of my products ever made a splash...
 

I honestly, cannot argue with that first statement. 😂

I believe it does, at least on IMVU and I can surely bring that here. Marketing is my speciality 😉. Thank you for the tips though, bloggers and photographers are a great idea.

 

13 minutes ago, lucagrabacr said:

Yes, Second Life creators cash out 60-70 million US dollar each year, and I know a friend of mine who make around $5,000 a month and they aren't even one of the biggest creators.

The cash out figure can always be misleading, like on IMVU, there are thousands upon thousands of creators that would cash out a yearly minimum with a couple hundred on the maximum end of the spectrum, with far and wide between depending on their skills. I guess it's more of a "what are the figures for each end of the spectrum" kind of question, as I could guesstimate (compared to IMVU's spectrum) where my skills would lay on that spectrum given my all-round knowledge of SL. Although I know no one will ever give me a definite answer.

Edited by maxxwell

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3 minutes ago, maxxwell said:

I honestly, cannot argue with that first statement. 😂

I believe it does, at least on IMVU and I can surely bring that here. Marketing is my speciality 😉. Thank you for the tips though, bloggers and photographers are a great idea.

 

The cash out figure can always be misleading, like on IMVU, there are thousands upon thousands of creators that would cash out a yearly minimum with a couple hundred on the maximum end of the spectrum, with far and wide between depending on their skills. I guess it's more of a "what are the figures for each end of the spectrum" kind of question, as I could guesstimate (compared to IMVU's spectrum) where my skills would lay on that spectrum given my all-round knowledge of SL. Although I know no one will ever give me a definite answer.

Yup, there are certainly some people who make much more than the others and many who make less, I was just citing the figure to point out that people on SL do still make a decent amount of money :)

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A question within a question, how is the user base doing in SL these days? Is it still growing? Are there any figures on that anywhere? 

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Hi Maxxwell - if you're interested in the facts and figures, I find Tyche Shepherd's grid survey site a useful resource - http://www.gridsurvey.com/economy.php - you'll probably find most of what you want summarised there. 

I'm only a hobbyist merchant who hates the marketing side of things, and I  pretty much only put out for sale what I want to make for myself. I'm pretty happy if I manage an average of $100 US a month with my cash outs. But I know there are those out there who can make a go a a RL income. Just find the right product and work hard on the promo side of things. Clothing is a huge market, but there's definitely room for niche makers, especially in things like mesh men's wear beyond the t-shirts and hoodies. 

Spend a bit of time in SL, do your research, and I'll be interested to see what you come up with.

Edited by Peony Sweetwater
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6 minutes ago, Peony Swee*****er said:

Hi Maxxwell - if you're interested in the facts and figures, I find Tyche Shepherd's grid survey site a useful resource - http://www.gridsurvey.com/economy.php - you'll probably find most of what you want summarised there. 

I'm only a hobbyist merchant who hates the marketing side of things, and I  pretty much only put out for sale what I want to make for myself. I'm pretty happy if I manage an average of $100 US a month with my cash outs. But I know there are those out there who can make a go a a RL income. Just find the right product and work hard on the promo side of things. Clothing is a huge market, but there's definitely room for niche makers, especially in things like mesh men's wear beyond the t-shirts and hoodies. 

Spend a bit of time in SL, do your research, and I'll be interested to see what you come up with.

Very interesting, I'll definitely be taking a closer look at that, thank you! Clothing is what I spend most of my time doing nowadays.

A lacking male market, the same applies to IMVU. Seems to be a trend due to the lack of male users, or maybe just the lack of interest in shopping. 😂

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22 minutes ago, maxxwell said:

how is the user base doing in SL these days? Is it still growing?

Population growth is flat and has been for years.  Meaning new and returning users just make up for loss.  Actually there is a slight decline but only just measurably so.  The rate of decline alone shows that SL will be viable for years to come.  Technology wise ... well, this thing is older than dirt. :D  Linden Lab has been doing an excellent job of adding new features and constantly improving the client and database but just how far can that take you?

I am flat out amazed anyone can use SL as their primary or only source of income because of all the risks involved.  So maybe I'm not the best at guessing but I don't see SL as being viable as a money source for another 5 years.  But that's just me. 

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2 minutes ago, Rhonda Huntress said:

Population growth is flat and has been for years.  Meaning new and returning users just make up for loss.  Actually there is a slight decline but only just measurably so.  The rate of decline alone shows that SL will be viable for years to come.  Technology wise ... well, this thing is older than dirt. :D  Linden Lab has been doing an excellent job of adding new features and constantly improving the client and database but just how far can that take you?

I am flat out amazed anyone can use SL as their primary or only source of income because of all the risks involved.  So maybe I'm not the best at guessing but I don't see SL as being viable as a money source for another 5 years.  But that's just me. 

That's a little worrying 😅. They have, SL had and continues to evolve in so many ways. I guess it's a matter of SL being the main and best platform of its sort, and with the lack of competition people don't have much choice and if they want a "virtual world" experience, well, this is where they get it. Although the lack of growth isn't smart business for LL, maybe things will change as they continue to evolve and *hopefully* not crash as a company. If they do, the next thing comes along, and we creators move to the next thing. 

I've been saying the same about IMVU for almost a decade, but all that time later, here I still am, making a living out of it. I'd be lying if I said I don't have those days where I sit and think about what's going to happen when all that falls apart, but until then 🤯. I guess the same goes for any sort of "online job".

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Every time this question comes up, my advice is that you should be creating because it's what you enjoy doing.  If you can happen to make some money at it, that's icing on the cake but not worth building your RL budget around.  Competition is steep, marketing is not easy, and your time is limited.  All of that is easy for me to say because I am retired and in the position of having more than enough creative work to fill my time without looking for more.  Even if that were not so, I would still balk at trading all my recreational time in world to earn a hefty regular income.  That's not why I am in SL.  YMMV, of course. 😎

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1 hour ago, maxxwell said:

A lacking male market, the same applies to IMVU. Seems to be a trend due to the lack of male users, or maybe just the lack of interest in shopping.

There isn't a lack of male users, they just don't have a lot of choices.   There are many guys that would LOVE more clothing options.  I know my partner would love more Victorian, Gothic, Edwardian and "Lord of the Manor" options. Think dark Mr. Darby looks.  There have been a few threads regarding the lack of male clothing options.  I know @Skell Dagger gave a lot of really great options, that he would love to see, in one of them.  

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53 minutes ago, Rolig Loon said:

Every time this question comes up, my advice is that you should be creating because it's what you enjoy doing.  If you can happen to make some money at it, that's icing on the cake but not worth building your RL budget around.  Competition is steep, marketing is not easy, and your time is limited.  All of that is easy for me to say because I am retired and in the position of having more than enough creative work to fill my time without looking for more.  Even if that were not so, I would still balk at trading all my recreational time in world to earn a hefty regular income.  That's not why I am in SL.  YMMV, of course. 😎

I love it, I wouldn't be asking otherwise. As someone who's been there done that on another platform and is confident in doing it on SL, I'm wondering if expanding, or even moving my business over to this platform is worth my time, the end goal for me is more profit. 😊

 

28 minutes ago, Catrie said:

There isn't a lack of male users, they just don't have a lot of choices.   There are many guys that would LOVE more clothing options.  I know my partner would love more Victorian, Gothic, Edwardian and "Lord of the Manor" options. Think dark Mr. Darby looks.  There have been a few threads regarding the lack of male clothing options.  I know @Skell Dagger gave a lot of really great options, that he would love to see, in one of them.  

I'll look further into it, I did try my hand at entering the male market on IMVU and I did it, but it just wasn't worth the time as there was (and still is) a much bigger demand from females.

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Hmm, well I won't tell you what to create as others have given you plenty of those kinds of examples. But, what I will do is give you some advice. Whatever it is you decide to do, if you really want to make a living from it, then go in to it as deep as you can. The more time you spend learning and designing and the more time you spend perfecting those small details or textures, the more popular, unique and well know your items will become. If you choose clothing do not become one of those people who make their very first pair of pants and rush to throw it up on marketplace. Look at your first pair and think "How can I improve this", "What would I do differently if I was to do this again". Learn from what you make and seek to improve and make the item better. Then once your clothing is looking to be of a decent standard start putting your items on marketplace and start looking at joining and creating for events. Speak to fashion bloggers and maybe for one or two of the most popular you could give them an outfit for free to experiment with for their blog. Run an in world group, regular updates, seasonal themed items etc etc. Exposure is key. Those individuals who truly succeed in the world and become the top players in their respective fields generally do not get there by luck. They are the ones found still working at 1am, 8 hours after all other workers or students have gone home / to bed. Making a living in SL is not as easy as it once was but it is still possible. You will just have to work for it. Good luck, and don't forget us lowly peasants on the forums if you do make it big. I like my Porsche in purple just saying

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1 hour ago, maxxwell said:

I love it, I wouldn't be asking otherwise. As someone who's been there done that on another platform and is confident in doing it on SL, I'm wondering if expanding, or even moving my business over to this platform is worth my time, the end goal for me is more profit. 😊

 

I'll look further into it, I did try my hand at entering the male market on IMVU and I did it, but it just wasn't worth the time as there was (and still is) a much bigger demand from females.

There would be a lot of interest in good Male clothing, as long as you are willing to cater to the various body types available. On that note what do you know about how SL is used now with mesh bodies? you mentioned years ago, but things have certainly changed, you would not be creating for the SL body type only now, it would be various bodies.

What is the price range you are used to charging for items in IMVU, I have no idea how their currency works, but here at 251L to 1USD give or take an L you usually see items around the 200 - 600 mark depending on what the item is. 

Are you able to sustain your income in IMVU if you are here (as you would not want to lose that 6K a month when SL will take time to build on, something not mentioned, or I did not see is that while you have all the aspects such as marketing to take care of, it is the customer service that will take up a lot of time depending on your products and audience. Again unsure of how IMVU is, SL is very much a 24 hour economy, with IMs coming in at all times, while people do not always expect an immediate answer there are some that do. While you get even more popular that will increase, and time is a large factor. 

 

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Do you have an idea of what types of products you want to sell or what market you plan to cater too?

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I am going to agree with @Sasy Scarborough that the VERY OBVIOUS gaping whole in SL fashion is "ordinary clothes for men".  

I have a couple of friends that I was helping update (they are not fashion=wise by any means) and it was REALLY REALLY tough.  Cut out the folks that don't make things well and you have a handful of brands to pick from. 

So, definitely that is a market to look at. If I liked making clothes it would definitely be my target.

Also note that in order to GET the bodies that you will need to be able to create for (guys or gals) you pretty much have to run a gauntlet and prove that you are a great creator and are worthy (yep) to get the pack so that you CAN make things. This is reasonable really from the body maker's point of view, but it is a big stumbling block.

My suggestion would be to test the waters here slowly and not to give up your "day job" :D

 

Good luck!

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I don't even come close to making a Real Life living with SL.  I do, however, make enough with my small rental operation to pay all my SL expenses...tier, upload fees, advertising, and my shopping habit.  In this, I think I fall into the majority of SL "businesses".

And I do this without having to put a lot of time and effort in.  If I did put more effort into it, no doubt I'd make more...but I have what I need, and I'm satisfied.

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Other than turning into another Kim Kardashian "urban outfitter" platform IMVU did get one thing right and that is derivatives, something SL has needed since its inception and something LL has no intention of implementing.

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4 hours ago, Sasy Scarborough said:

There would be a lot of interest in good Male clothing, as long as you are willing to cater to the various body types available. On that note what do you know about how SL is used now with mesh bodies? you mentioned years ago, but things have certainly changed, you would not be creating for the SL body type only now, it would be various bodies.

What is the price range you are used to charging for items in IMVU, I have no idea how their currency works, but here at 251L to 1USD give or take an L you usually see items around the 200 - 600 mark depending on what the item is. 

Are you able to sustain your income in IMVU if you are here (as you would not want to lose that 6K a month when SL will take time to build on, something not mentioned, or I did not see is that while you have all the aspects such as marketing to take care of, it is the customer service that will take up a lot of time depending on your products and audience. Again unsure of how IMVU is, SL is very much a 24 hour economy, with IMs coming in at all times, while people do not always expect an immediate answer there are some that do. While you get even more popular that will increase, and time is a large factor. 

 

By years ago, I mean I used to create my own items on SL, then I stopped as it was just a for fun kind of thing, and I can get the same for fun experience doing it on IMVU while making money out of it. I am fully aware of mesh bodies and the sorts, I have several of them myself, male & female (TMP, BLZ, Slink to name a few). SL has always been an on-off hobby of mine regardless of whether I make stuff on it or not.

Prices vary, so very much between IMVU and SL, a developer makes $0.40/1,000 credits. Product prices vary greatly but each sale makes me an average of $0.08 with a range varying from $0.02-$0.60 depending on the item, category & etc. But of course this is supported by the thousands and thousands of products sold.

Sustaining my income would be a challenge while I build SL, but I know the ins and outs of IMVU and the drop I expect will be fine, as long as it's possible to eventually make more with my time on SL, hence this thread. I've given that plenty of thought lol, that is my main reason for not already having my own store on SL.

4 hours ago, Chic Aeon said:

Also note that in order to GET the bodies that you will need to be able to create for (guys or gals) you pretty much have to run a gauntlet and prove that you are a great creator and are worthy (yep) to get the pack so that you CAN make things. This is reasonable really from the body maker's point of view, but it is a big stumbling block.

Yup, already on it 😁

2 hours ago, Lucia Nightfire said:

Other than turning into another Kim Kardashian "urban outfitter" platform IMVU did get one thing right and that is derivatives, something SL has needed since its inception and something LL has no intention of implementing.

It has its pros and cons. From my point of view I'm actually glad SL does not have this system, I could go on for days as to why. From a business point of view for LL, it would also have many advantages and many disadvantages. I feel LL wants to keep SL as the *superior* system in terms of quality, design and innovation.

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Signature give out their mesh kit for each body which includes a mesh body model for use with Blender.  There is no vetting process, it is sent out instantly when you fill in a web form with your avatar name and an email address.

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1 minute ago, Gabriele Graves said:

Signature give out their mesh kit for each body which includes a mesh body model for use with Blender.  There is no vetting process, it is sent out instantly when you fill in a web form with your avatar name and an email address.

That's great info, thank you! I'm more familiar with 3DS, but I do have some experience with blender. I'll definitely check it out.

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Squllions of lindens you say?

A BPM <-> dance animation <-> music synchroniser.

Viewers can be synched. Not sure about real time tho. A pulse generator? synch tone?

You're very welcome :D

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I came from IMVU, I was pretty known developer there like amm.... 5 years ago? Nowadays seems I am back on pro and make some thousands still, even I am not active. Now my biggest income there is skins and heads ( with lashes and brows up) but I been made poses, hair textures, eyes and makeups

Here I started slowly, since I actually came here to NOT do business.. but it is my biggest passion in my life so I couldn't resist it. It took me around 6-12months to start get very good income and get my name up. Nowadays I make around 6-13k in dollars per month. At least for me it is huge income if I compare it with my ex RL job incomes. And I still feel pretty new creator here.

Marketing is EVERYTHING. Almost. :D
And you have already good income in IMVU, so you have opportunity to build up your own business in SL too without rushing, just like I did.

in SL I started with poses -> went to shapes -> cosmetics -> skins.

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15 minutes ago, Miiane said:

I came from IMVU, I was pretty known developer there like amm.... 5 years ago? Nowadays seems I am back on pro and make some thousands still, even I am not active. Now my biggest income there is skins and heads ( with lashes and brows up) but I been made poses, hair textures, eyes and makeups

Here I started slowly, since I actually came here to NOT do business.. but it is my biggest passion in my life so I couldn't resist it. It took me around 6-12months to start get very good income and get my name up. Nowadays I make around 6-13k in dollars per month. At least for me it is huge income if I compare it with my ex RL job incomes. And I still feel pretty new creator here.

Marketing is EVERYTHING. Almost. :D
And you have already good income in IMVU, so you have opportunity to build up your own business in SL too without rushing, just like I did.

in SL I started with poses -> went to shapes -> cosmetics -> skins.

E x a c t l y the reply I was looking for. Thank you!! Seems I've decided on where my business is going next. 😄

As I said, I love marketing, IIII'm readyyy! 

Edited by maxxwell
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