Wings of Hope Magazine's first Networking Business Conference was today, March 22, 2008. It was a smashing success! Puglet Dancer, Alliance Library System and Sioban McMahon, West of ireland were dynamic speakers who offered details about their highly successful business models in Second Life. Nearly 25 vendors displayed their wares and services, showing the incredible creative diversity that Second Life offers.
The stores ranged from a virtual animal shelter to sim management gadgets to lovely antique replicas to motorcycles. There were even pets that sat upon customers shoulders for sale! Everyone's displays were eye catching, informative and inspiring. It is obvious that many people are hard at work in Second Life. Which, when you consider that SL is usually considered a time for relaxation and diversion from "real life," is pretty amazing. Instead of finding respite from the rigors of daily life, people all over the world log into SL to work.
Readers outside of SL think that is pretty strange and I would probably agree if I weren't one of those enterpreneurs myself. My partner and I manage 3 businesses, are opening up a 2nd store location and also work on staff of the magazine all at the same time. One might wonder why. Isn't SL for escape?
Well, yes and no. For me and my many businesses friends, SL affords us a chance to create without limitation, for little or no startup capital and to explore a creative and business part of ourselves we may not be able to tap into our real lives because of responsibilities, age or finances. And, if something doesn't work or goes belly up, nothing was really "lost." There are no bankruptcies in SL and nothing is repossessed. The only thing "lost" may be pride, time or energy but you usually dust yourself off and try again. Or, at least Peter and I did--over and over until we found something that "stuck."
We first tried a sphere first. It was a pretty cool idea of Peter's. Once you stepped inside the sphere, you were in a 360 degree immersion of whatever theme was put in there, but we weren't quite sure what to do with them. Then, we created a beautiful place of romance. It was for people to go and have a private talk and cuddle, maybe even propose. Despite our best adverstising best efforts, the only customers were ourselves enjoying the breathtaking ambiance. Next we became landlords. And, that went rather well for the first few months but we made no profit and were left with few prims of our own. There were more startups that didn't go very far beyond idea stage or a few hours of trial and error. Eventually we found our niche: designing a clothing line and photography.
There were lessons learned, mostly that SL marketing and business does not exactly model real life. Still, while we were learning skills, we were growing and enjoying the process of acquiring our new skill sets. As many in SL dance or explore their time away in SL, Peter and I design, create and push the boundaries within our minds on a daily basis. This isn't the lifestyle for everyone and I am fortunate to have partnered with someone who equally enjoys the challenge of innovative creation.
However, as he will tell you, it wasn't always easy. There was the time he forced me to learn terraforming. I kicked and screamed and whined and stamped my virtual foot. No! I did not want to do it! No,no no! But, he chuckled and told me I was going to do it and must, since he could not do it all himself and we had tenants moving in that day. So, I reluctantly tried my hand at it. What was the worst that could happen he said? Ha! He found out within a few minutes. I wasn't paying attention to where I was pointing and something lead to another and long story short, I managed to wipe out the entire island in one click! When he didn't get upset with me nor yell, I knew I had found my perfect love :) He calmly said, "Try again, darling" in that lovely British accent of his. I did and I succeeded eventually. Not that day, not the next but now I am pretty good at terraforming. Just don't ask me to build a box!
The answer will be no. Not because I can't, but because I don't want to. And, isn't the beauty of having a second life that I can pick and choose?