04-21-2011 03:31 PM - edited 04-21-2011 03:42 PM
Your question is sort of like asking if you can make money playing ping pong. I'm sure that like any other sport, Ping Pong has a 'pro circuit' and a vanishingly small number of talented athletes that can actually earn money every year by playing the game. But compared to the millions of people who play it just for fun, and who will never, ever, in their whole life earn one single penny from playing, the number of people making money doing it is incredibly small.
There are millions of people who access Second Life for various reasons. Some play it as a game, some see it as a place to meet friends who happen to live on the other side of the planet, some see it as a fantasy world to escape into, some use it for sexual fantasies, some use it for education... Many people attempt to make money in Second Life, by doing various jobs in-world (dancer, virtual prostitute, DJ), or creating and selling content like clothes and homes, or by writing scripts, or even by creating whole sims full of stuff to the customer's specifications. But less than 1% of the people who use Second Life make enough profit here and cash out enough money from their efforts to break even over what they spend while here.
What it takes to make money in Second Life is the same as in the real world. You need a business plan, good advertising (including word-of-mouth referrals from satisfied clients),and a product or service that others want. And you need to have sufficient talent, skill and luck to bring your efforts to the top of a very large heap of competing individuals. With effort and talent, yes, you can make some money here. Some people, maybe 1/10th of 1% of the business owners in Second Life, actually make money that compares to a decent real-world job. Most do not. Most who do 'make a profit' are lucky to have enough real profits to pay for the pizza on the weekend.
Artists, programmers, and people who are willing to risk lots or real money speculating in areas like purchase and resale of virtual land, and landlords who buy enough sims to weather the ups and downs of the virtual economy, and who provide a unique level of service or a unique environment - those people can make money here. Maybe. If they are really good at it.
But for 99% of the people who use Second Life? You're better off spending your free time flipping burgers for minimum wage in the real world. You'll earn more per hour of effort than most people who work inside Second Life tend to earn.
It doesn't technically cost anything to be here. I've been here 5 years, and have never paid a membership fee. But many of the things you need to do to make a profit here do cost some money. If you are making clothes, or homes, or other products, you most likely need to spend money to download textures that you create on your computer, and you probably will want/need to spend money on software for making those textures. If you make anything that requires prims, you most likely will need to rent a certain amount of virtual land of your own, to have a place to create those things in-world. (Trying to make a serious, sellable product in a public sandbox makes as much sense as trying to make a real-world product while sitting in a busy shopping mall). If you want to have people see your products so they can buy them, you most likely need to pay to rent virtual land for a store, or for a stall in a mall, of for several in-world retail locations. If you sell only on SL Marketplace, you still probably will need to pay for advertising, and will have other fees to pay.
I was, at one point, paying over $100 USD a month for rental of virtual land to live on, plus clothes, and rental of mall and store space, and texture downloads. I was earning about twice that much in-world by selling clothes, furniture and texture sets. So by spending $100 (and about 20 hours effort per week creating stuff), I earned $200, and cashed out $100 profit each month. Hardly enough to compare with a real-world job, and less per hour than flipping burgers, but I had fun doing it, and it was enough to buy a few nice things I couldn't have afforded, otherwise. Most of my in-world businesses have closed now, the days when they made good profits long-gone, and I spend far less every month now.
The only decent profit maker that I have now is one that took me years to build the skills for - creating whole-sim and multi-sim areas for clients. The market for that service is very small, and you have to be very good at building, texturing, landscaping, scripting, and a wide range of other SL-specific skills to do well at it. It's also very erratic work. Sometimes I have so many requests I have to hire subcontractors, or turn down jobs and refer them to other builders. Other months I have no projects at all to work on, all month, and no income at all from that work.
Most of the "high return" activities in Second life require a substantial investment in real cash, or time and effort, or both. Owning one or more sims and renting land to others isn't cheap, and profit margins are slim. The huge landlords get breaks on the cost of their sims that you, as a small landlord, will not be able to match. The ability to create whole sims of beautiful, usable content requires a substantial effort to learn the needed skills, plus a measure of artistic talent that money can't buy.
I've made money here since my 3rd month or so in Second Life. Not much, at first, when I was selling clothes and simple textures. More when I had a store and a dozen mall locations and a wide range of products for sale. Much more when I got good enough that people would pay me thousands of real dollars to develop a custom-designed sim or sims for them. I have one client right now - a major university - that has me building over 20 sims for them. But though they pay fairly well, the work still is very time consuming, and at the rates I charge, I couldn't ever consider quitting my full-time day job and just building for people in Second Life. Even if I worked 80 hours a week, and could keep busy like that every week, I make more money on my day job.
My best advice is this. If you need L$, get a credit card and a real world job, and buy them. If you want to make and sell things, do it because it is something you enjoy, and that you have suitable talents to do. Maybe you'll make money, maybe not. But don't do it just to make money. You'll almost certainly be disappointed if you compare in-world earnings to what you could have made doing a real-world job.
04-21-2011 02:01 PM - edited 04-21-2011 02:03 PM
I agree with Bee. I always cringe whenever I hear someone refer to SL as a "game."
If you are here to make money, you're probably here for the wrong reason. It's certainly possible to earn L$ by finding a job (DJ, dancer, ...) or by creating things for people to buy (clothing, furniture, homes, ...), or providing a service (scripting, ...) , or speculating in land (really chancy --- a few people have made loads of L$ and many have lost a lot). Still, if you are here to enjoy yourself, you probably don't want to be spending a lot of time in SL working. That's too much like RL.
I have been in SL for 4 years and have earned L$ in many of the ways I listed above. I earn enough in a month to pay for my rent and other SL expenses, but I'll never get RL rich. That's fine with me, and I know many other people who are just like me in that regard. Even if you pay for an optional Premium account instead of having the free Basic account, you can live quite well in SL with very little L$ in your pocket. There's loads of free stuff around, and most of the rest costs no more than what you'd spend for a cup of coffee in RL.
04-21-2011 01:45 PM - edited 04-21-2011 01:56 PM
on 04-21-2011 01:46 PM
i cringe a little everytime someone calls second life a game... anyway -
yes, it's possible to make real money if you have skills people are willing to pay you money for. but be prepared to spend money to make money.
second life is free to join and enjoy if you want it be free. but there is the option to upgrade to premium account should you wish to do that. premium account comes with a few perks. go to your dashboard > account > change membership plan and you will see the different options there.