A question I get asked a lot in Real Life ™ is “Second Life sounds a bit costly – is there any way I can make money in it without having to put real money into it?” Second Life has it's own in world currency called Linden Dollars (L$). You can use paypal to buy Linden Dollars either through the website, or inworld through the viewer. But it is possible to earn Linden Dollars without having to buy them or having a Paypal account. There are many ways to increase your money if you have a little to start with, but what if your money account is at zero? Occasionally you might come upon a competition that pays Linden Dollars to the winners (and sometimes runners up). Competitions can vary from something like a trivia quiz or a fishing contest to a building competition, or a best avatar competition. To win a competition usually means being good at something, which means practice – so dont expect to make a fortune in your first week. “Isn't there a catch 22? to win best avatar / outfit don't I need a lot of money to buy a good outfit?” Not necessarily. There is something called lucky chairs. These will usually display a random letter every few minutes. If your account name begins with that letter, sit on the chair and you get a prize. This prize is often an outfit, or part of an outfit (perhaps shoes, or a fancy skirt etc). There are also treasure hunts that are full of really good quality prizes. Also, there are a lot of Freebies around. Most importantly, there are a lot of free textures. There are also Midnight Madness boards where you add yourself to the list and if the correct number of people have registered by midnight, each person receives the prize. So there are many ways to build up a really good outfit without spending a single Lindie. Why are free textures important? Well the great thing about Second Life is it has a built in editor for editing your avatar, and a prim editor for creating and editing objects. This means you can easily create your own outfits. Good textures make a big difference. Take a look around Second Life. Most of the content was not created by Linden staff, but created by other residents – people like you! You will encounter a lot of shops in Second Life – selling all manner of items from custom eyes for your avatar to buildings, furniture and vehicles. Once you have learned how to make things, you too could run a shop in Second Life selling what you have made. Before you get too excited, there are a few things you need to be aware of. Firstly, there's a lot of competition. Secondly, making a popular item that sells well usually means you will need to have good textures, and maybe custom animations or sounds. Uploading a sound wave, animation file, or an image file for textures will cost 10L$ each upload. Whilst this is not a lot of money, it is an obstacle if you dont have any money, and ten Lindies here and there can soon mount up. That's why you need a few to get your business started. Okay, what if you havent't won any competitions, or dont find any? Is there another way to get on that first rung of the ladder? Well yes, there is. Get a job. Seriously, there are jobs in Second Life, and some pay very good wages. If you are familiar with role play and know the rules, there is often an opportunity there. Okay, I'll be honest – the majority of the role-play jobs are sexual in nature, and you will have to get Age Verified to even be allowed in the RP sim – but the pay is pretty good. Some nightclubs will pay dancers. You dont normally need your own dance animations – the club will usually have a dance pole / platform / cage. For some places you may need your own tip jar, but they are easy to make if you know how. Okay – now we come to the next big obstacle. If you are new to Second Life, you probably dont know how to make items, how to use the editors, or how to script an item. Scripting? That is creating a a small program within an object to make it do things. For instance, if you have made a car, you want it to be able to move. If you make a helicopter you want it to fly. If you make a bed, you want people to be able to lie on it (or do other bedtime things). That's what scripts are for, and they are written in a programming language called lsl (Linden Scripting Language). There are many free ready made scripts, and you can learn how to create your own. Yes, there is a lot to learn – but there are a lot of classes. You can also find tutorials on Youtube, but the easiest way to learn anything is to go to one of the scheduled classes, then practice for yourself in a sandbox. Most classes are free. You will discover quite quickly that you can't normally “rez” or create an object on public land, so you will need to find a sandbox (an open area where people can create and place objects of their own). Many groups have their own sandbox for the use of members, so it's a good idea to join building groups or help groups. So in time, you may well develop skills that can in some way earn you money – either by working for someone, teaching others, or making products to sell in Second Life. But you must remember a few basic rules. No begging. Do not ask other people to give or lend you money – it's against the rules. No spamming. Do not misuse groups to advertise or sell your wares. No hawking. It is against the rules to use a sandbox as a sales area. Trying to pitch a sale on someone elses land will also land you in trouble No plagiarism. You are not allowed to market anything that breaches copyright. You can only sell items through legitimate outlets. This means a sales area (a shop, cart, or wall) that you either own or rent; or through MarketPlace. Marketplace (often called MP) is a website set up by Linden Labs where you can sell your own products. You have to drag your item from your inventory to the Merchant Outbox in your Viewer, then outside SL at the MP site you need to list it. Login at Second Life Marketplace, and navigate to Merchant Home under the My Marketplace menu, and select Manage Listings. It's fairly simple. You will need an image of your product, but that doesnt cost anything – you can take a snapshot of it in SL, and save the image to your hard drive at no cost. Once you have made your first 10 L$ you are away. You can create your own texture or your own animation (Animations are made outside SL – you can download a FREE application called Qavimator to make them) and sell them. It doesnt cost anything (other than time) to create your own scripts and sell them through Marketplace. Not everyone can do everything. Merchants that specialise in buildings may not be experts on scripts or textures, so will frequently buy these from someone else. Just remember that though scripting is a relatively rare and specialised skill in SL, there are a lot of free scripts, so if you create a basic door script, you are unlikely to find someone willing to pay for it – you need to do something that is more complex, and probably unique. If coding is your thing, learn how lsl works, look through a few of the free sample scripts, and then have a go at it. If you join a build group or scripting group, you will frequently be able to contact people who need your help, and are willing to pay you. If you look in the Second Life forums, you will often see jobs advertised there too. It's worth remembering that there is as much to learn and do logged out as when logged in – there are samples, tutorials, information and help, and even lots of freebies, all available in either the Second Life Website, or in other residents blogs and web pages – just google. You can also create animations, sounds, scripts, sculpted objects, and textures offline.