Second Life is an interesting world indeed, and though the client and experience is available at no cost, the typical Second Life user can usually find themselves spending quite a lot of real cash to set up their avatar. Another high price point for many people is the subscription plans made available by Linden Labs.

If you’re just starting out in Second Life, or are interested in trying it out, I recommend putting your payment info on file with Linden Labs yet holding off on a subscription. A lot of businesses and employers in the virtual world are looking for people that have payment information on file. That’s a big plus when they are weeding out the trolls and casual users from those that might stick to whatever obligation is made during the course of business. Payment information on file is also a pre-requisite for many groups for much the same reason. Advertisers and trolls don’t tend to give out their credit information to Linden Labs.

Subscriptions are available in a variety of different terms and price sets. In order to cash in your Linden dollars, a subscription is required. In every subscription to date you are stipend 300 Linden Dollars per week to spend as you see fit. This doesn’t seem like a lot of money, but you’d be surprised just how well you can do with a small purse in an otherwise expensive environment.

Payment information on file can also include a paypal account for those of you less inclined to give out your credit card numbers. Paypal has a very strong working relationship with Linden Labs, and is the primary way to “cash in” any Linden dollars made during your term in Second Life.

Speaking of making money, you can make a pretty nice chunk of change while playing this game. There are four major markets that bring in revenue. Land, Sex, Shopping, Music. Gambling used to be a giant form of income until Linden Labs shut all gambling down in fear of United States government backlash. Buying and selling land remains the biggest source of revenue for many people. You can buy an island from Linden Labs, and sell or rent plots of land to people for a reasonable markup.

Sex in Second Life is a big source of income. Club owners usually end up breaking even, unless their club has a very good month. Typically, exotic dancers and escorts (Yes, there are escorts in Second Life… to each their own.) usually make a pretty good amount of money which can either be saved and cashed in or spent shopping for new stuff.

Shopping is possibly the most active form of economic activity within Second Life. Stores and malls are everywhere, and setting one up is pretty simple. Products can be made for next to nothing and once they are created, they cost absolutely nothing to sell at unlimited quantity. Store owners are faced with renting out their store spaces from landlords of various malls and commercial areas. There is an art to putting stores in just the right place to generate a positive income over rent. Sex shops with quality products seem to do best in SL for obvious reasons. There are a few quality stores that feature skins, hair, shapes, and other essential avatar goods.

Musicians and disk jockeys can usually find a paying gig in Second Life pretty easily. It’s important to note that pay is hardly equal to real life gigs. Many musicians end a set about $20.00 USD ahead of where they were before the set. This doesn’t pay the bills by any stretch of the imagination, however some musicians can pull in a larger profit based on their popularity and crowd drawing ability. Disk jockeys are often needed in clubs and parties within the virtual world. The money made from tips doing these events can be decent, though going into it with the idea in mind of just having fun and not making a real profit is more realistic.

In the next few articles, I will go into detail on how to get an an amazing avatar together for next to nothing. The articles will also cover how to create a business on the cheap, and some places where you can have a great time without spending a penny.

Matt Ryan of MattRyan.TV