Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Book party in San Francisco, Wed., Nov. 7


As I mentioned earlier, writing a book involves all kinds of procedural developments.

Some are hard. Some tedious. Some exciting. And some are just fun.

Well, get ready for some fun.

Next Wednesday, Nov. 7, from 6pm until 9pm, I'll be having the official real-world launch party for my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life. And YOU are invited.

It'll be an eclectic crowd of friends, family, co-workers, Second Life acquaintances and hopefully some journalists and bloggers.

There will be some light snacks and a little wine.

And, yes, books will be available.

I really hope you can come. It should be fun. It's a little scary to imagine having a book party, but then again, it's exciting too.

Details:

What: Book release party for The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, by Daniel Terdiman
When: Wednesday, Nov. 7, 6pm-9pm
Where: CNET, 235 2nd St., San Francisco. Between Howard and Folsom Sts.

Please email me if you have questions. Otherwise, I look forward to welcoming one and all.

And feel free to pass this invite on to any who might be interested.

The book is in stores

When you write a book, you discover that there is a never-ending series of milestones.

First you conceive of it. Then you talk to people about it. Then you re-cast the idea. Then you put together a proposal. You get an agent. The agent pitches it. The agent sells it. Then the work begins.

You start writing. You finish a chapter. Then another. Then another. And so on. The editing starts, and then more. And you finish more chapters. And there's more editing. Suddenly, one day, the manuscript is done and your part in the production of your own book is done.

One day, someone tells you that the "pre-order" choice is gone on Amazon, and instead it's "in-stock." Then a box arrives on your doorstep and it's your copies, direct from the publisher. Friends and family start reporting that they're getting their pre-ordered copies. Everyone is excited.

But all that may pale to the final step: When you see it in a book store for the first time.

For me, seeing my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, on a book shelf in public for the initial time was quite the emotional roller-coaster. We went to our local Barnes and Noble, asked at information where we might find it and were led on a long, unsure tour of the computer books section by a very nice woman. Finally, I spotted it: One lonely copy, jammed in between two other books, barely noticeable. I kind of had hoped for more.

But hey, there it was, and I was happy. Even if they just had the one copy.

So, I started to leave when, wait... I was directed to look at the outward-facing shelves on the aisles at the end of the computer books section. And, no way, they had my book on two different shelves, one on each side of the aisle. As they did with Wiley's other Second Life book that just came out, Creating Your World.

Now, this was more like it. This was placement where someone walking by could actually see the book and might even just stumble on it. That's how books get sold.

And I thought about it. There's a heck of a lot of Barnes and Nobles. And I'm betting the book is on a similar shelf in a lot of them. That makes me happy.

I just had to share.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Book party for "Second Life Herald" by Peter Ludlow and Mark Wallace

Of all my favorite memories as a reporter, there may be none higher on the A-list than what happened in Peter Ludlow's hotel room late one night in Austin, Texas.

For simplicity's sake, let's just say that two of my heroes, Make magazine senior editor Phil Torrone and Adafruit Industries founder Limor Fried, took a Roomba vacuum cleaner, hacked it, dressed it up to look like a frog and then wirelessly directed it to run back and forth across a street. It was Roomba Frogger.

To witness this, a crowd had gathered in the glorious hotel room of Ludlow, a philosophy professor from the University of Michigan who moonlighted as the founder of first the Alphaville Herald and later the Second Life Herald.

Among the others in the room that night, besides myself, Ludlow, Torrone, Fried, former Electric Sheep Company futurist-in-residence Jerry Paffendorf, Linden Lab engineer and world expert on teledildonics Kyle Machulis (aka qDot), Clickable Culture's Tony Walsh and several others, was Mark Wallace, the editor of 3pointD, and at the time the editor of the Second Life Herald.

Roomba Frogger is neither here nor there, except that it demonstrates just the kind of silliness that Ludlow is willing to countenance. Well now he and Wallace are about to publish the book they have been working on for some time, aptly titled "The Second Life Herald: The virtual tabloid that witnessed the dawn of the metaverse."

It is a tale based around, as I understand it, the stories that established the Herald as indispensable reading, and should be fun reading and a great look back at, among other things, SL's early years.

I can't wait to get my copy.

But meanwhile, there's going to be a book party for its launch on Saturday, Nov. 3, in Brooklyn. On 3pointD, Wallace says:

"It should be in bookstores momentarily, and you can already buy the thing online, but maybe the most fun way to acquire a copy would be to buy one at the party we’re having in Brooklyn on November 3.

As the official invite reads: Join us deep in ghetto-industrial East Williamsburg, for a night of measured discussions (yeah, right), virtual-to-real confusions, griefing, pr0n, and who knows, maybe even a bit of reading and/or speechifying, as we mark the publication of the official-as-it-gets story of the most kick-ass virtual newspaper you’ve ever read.

Party time: Saturday, November 3, 8-11pm
Location: 3rd Ward, corner of Morgan Avenue and Stagg Street
Subway: L train to Grand Street (then walk down Bushwick to Stagg, then down Stagg to Morgan)

Refreshments will be served, but we’d welcome contributions of the occasional six pack, as we have no idea how many refreshees are actually going to show up. In any case, it should be quite a good time, so we hope to see you there."

Residents Speak: Sol Columbia

While much of my new book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, focuses on tips, tricks and tactics for building businesses in specific segments of the SL economy--fashion, real estate, building, etc.--I also included a chapter on business basics.

It's chapter 2, "Laying the foundation for your business," and while doing the research for it, I talked with Sol Columbia, one of the proprietors of the stylish fashion boutique, Luminosity.

I asked Sol for some suggestions of things newcomers to SL entrepreneurship should be sure to think about, and as with so many other experts I talked to for the book, she came up with some real gems.

One of the suggestions really stood out to me today when I was looking at them.

As Sol put it, "To do well in business in Second Life, pick a product that people will buy over and over, not just once, such as clothing, hair, skins and fashion in general. People don't buy a new couch very often, but they buy lots of clothes.

This is really good advice on lots of levels. To me, the one that matters the most is that this touches on one of the things about business in Second Life that is most important to remember, and which, even though I've mentioned it before, is well worth repeating: That SL is a micro-economy.

In other words, with a very small number of exceptions, the products you'll be selling, be they clothes or cars or toys or even couches, are going to cost a very small amount of money. Sure, it often feels expensive to shell out L$500 for something, but if you think about it, that's less than US$2 at the general exchange rate of L$270 or so to one US dollar.

Which means, as Sol suggests, you're going to need to sell a lot of product in SL if you want to make any real money.

And think about it. There are fashion designers, and others, who are making full-time incomes with their Second Life businesses. At US$2 or less per product, that's a whole lot of sales.

Which brings me back to Sol's suggestion: In order to make those large number of sales, you're going to need to be selling products that a lot of people are going to want to buy. Further, the best way to create repeat business is to regularly update your product line with new items that your customers won't be able to resist.

Fashion is a great example because, as Sol says, people buy a lot of clothes in SL. But there are plenty of things you could sell that would qualify.

And Sol's comment about couches notwithstanding, it's not to say that you can't make money selling furniture. Because you can. But probably not if you just offer one or two variations. Rather, you'd need to have a wide variety of pieces for sale, and you'd need to be constantly updating them, making sure that people looking to furnish their spaces have lots of choice.

Ultimately, this is common sense, but I think a lot of people wanting to be in business in SL overlook some of the more subtle elements of doing business here. And the fact that it's a micro-economy is perhaps number one on the list of things that you simply cannot afford to forget.

And, again, being a micro-economy, you have to service it if you have any hope of making money. And that means that you can never stop thinking about what new products you can create, and whether or not those products are the kinds of things that a lot of people will buy.

Because you can sell the most wonderful thing in the (virtual) world, and people can talk about it like it's the best thing they ever bought. But unless it's a whole lot of people talking about it like that, you're only going to be able to take a few dollars' worth of that good will with you to the bank.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Addendum to post about sales of "Creating Your World"

A little while ago I posted that at the book party to celebrate the publication of Creating Your
World: The Official Guide to Advanced Content Creation in Second Life
, co-author Kim Anubis had said that the entire first run of 10,000 copies had been sold out even before the book was printed.

I think I may have misunderstood, however.

Afterward, Kim said that what she meant was that all 10,000 copies had been ordered by booksellers for their inventories, but that there hadn't actually been that many sales (yet).

I just wanted to clear that up, even though the fact remains obvious that the booksellers seem to have a lot of faith in this book, so it likely won't be long before all the copies have been sold.

Join the group for announcements about my book

I know that many of you probably are maxed out on groups, but if you're not, I've just started one that, if you're interested in this blog, or even if you're not, I hope you'll join.

The group is called Entrepreneur's Guide to SL, and the purpose is to make it possible for me to keep the Second Life community informed about the goings-on surrounding my book, this blog, the SL entrepreneurs community and the occasional other development.

If you're not clear on how to join a new SL group, here's the deets: First, click the "Search" button in your Second Life viewer. Then click on the "Groups" tab, and in the "Find" box, type, "Entrepreneur's Guide to SL." The group will come up at the top of the list, so then click Join. And that should do it.

I envision this as a place where I can make such announcements, and not as a place for general discussion. Nothing I announce there won't also be posted to this blog, though, so if you are maxed out or just don't want to join another group, you can stay informed by staying abreast of this space.

Either way, I hope you'll stay tuned, as I am planning some exciting things going forward.

Among them are book launch parties both in-world and in RL.

Anyway, I hope to see you join the group, or reading this blog, and as always, please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I'll do my best to respond to you.

"Creating Your World" sells out first print run


I'm at the in-world book launch party being thrown for Kim Anubis (a co-author of Creating Your World: The Official Guide to Advanced Content Creation for Second Life), and she is in a great mood.

Kim, who is featured in my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, which also just published, was talking about her book, and saying it was selling really well.

How well? It sounds like it sold out its entire print run of 10,000 copies even before it was published. And that's big news. I don't think mine has done that well, though I won't get any kind of sales numbers for a bit, since it just published.

But the fact that that many people have bought Kim's book so quickly is fantastic. It demonstrates, in a very tangible way, that there is ample and eager interest for SL, no matter what a lot of naysayers think.

Further, because our books are complementary to each other, and are being cross-promoted by the publisher, Wiley, the fact that hers is selling really well is good news for me, as a lot of people who buy hers will buy mine. At least that's my hope. It may not prove to be true, but I do think that there will be a lot of cross-over.

Anyway, the real point is that it's been fun seeing Kim's friends and fans show up and fete her for her achievement. It's good stuff.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kelly in Second Life another sign of the emerging services economy

Also over on Second Life Insider today, Akela Talamasca--who so kindly blogged my book and this blog this morning--has an interesting post about Kelly Services, the gargantuan employment services company opening up an island in SL.

The reason it's interesting--and relevant to the subject of this blog and my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life--is that it is the latest example of services being perhaps the next great segment of business in SL.

Not that I'm endorsing Kelly's entry into the virtual world. Not at all. I don't know anything more than I read on Akela's posting.

But I do know that when I was researching the last chapter of the book, The Future of Second Life Entrepreneurship, I reported on the prediction of Linden Lab CTO Cory Ondrejka that services will be the next great in-world business opportunity.

Ondrejka, who knows a little bit about Second Life, talked in a lengthy interview for the book about the idea that integrated voice will make it possible for individuals or small organizations to set up shop in SL and provide things like translation services or customer service for real-life businesses.

We're not seeing a lot of this yet, and of course, Kelly's no entrepreneurial venture. But while the world is wondering how Fortune 500 companies are going to make a go of their six-figure SL builds which are designed around some sort of interactive "experience," many of which are failing--often because of poorly conceived ideas or manifestation--a new breed is going to realize that where SL really excels is in putting people together.

And so services could very well be the next big thing.

You can read more about it in Chapter 11 of the book. I hope you'll check it out.

Second Life Insider blogs the book

A big thank you to Akela Talamasca for a nice write-up this morning in the Second Life Insider.

Some have questioned my ability to write a book about entrepreneurship in SL because I've never run a business there. And I'm open to that criticism, though I often say that my role as journalist allows me to report on things even when I haven't done them myself.

But Akela has a different take: "I'd argue that by not being an entrepreneur himself, (Daniel) brings a much-needed perspective to the subject."

Anyway, it was nice to see Akela's post this morning, and I hope that people feel that the book lives up to his kind words.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Marketing Methods: Second Life businesses leveraging CSI's in-world entry


Over at the Second Life Herald today (thanks, Tony), I was reading about an interesting phenomenon: That of SL businesses using the fact that the CBS TV show, CSI: NY, had done an episode inside the virtual world and that the show would likely be driving a lot of traffic, as a way to draw customers.

Essentially, Pixeleen Mistral pointed out, a number of businesses had added the Classifieds search term "CSI: NY" to the terms they use for their own operations with the goal of coming up in Classifieds results when the show's fans show up in-world and start to look for content related to the show.

Putting aside for a second the fact that CSI might not be all that happy that a bunch of adult-oriented businesses were taking advantage of its name, it is an interesting idea, and something to think about as you look for ways to increase your customer base, particularly because more and more well-known TV shows are going to be coming into SL, as well as new shows on big networks like HBO.

Here's the deal: If you pay enough for the Classified search term, say "CSI: NY," you may well come up near the top of the search results someone gets when they type that in. There's some upsides and downsides to this.

Let me deal with the downsides first.

The biggest risk of using this method is that you may end up annoying people who show up at your business thinking there's going to be some tie-in to CSI or whatever show you happen to buy the Classified term for. People don't want to end up in places that don't offer them what they're looking for, and in a word-of-mouth economy, you do run the risk of having people complaining that you're wasting their time. Unless of course, you actually do create some sort of tie-in.

And this downside is not to be taken lightly. You should think very carefully before you try out this method, particularly if you're a young business, because you can't afford to be pissing people off.

In addition, there may actually be some legal reasons why not to do this. I'm no lawyer, but it does strike me that it might be illegal to use a copyrighted term for your own financial benefit. However, this is not something that is all that likely to be a problem any time soon, I would think.

On the other hand, there could be some very real benefit in terms of the number of people who might follow the search and end up at your store. If you have something they might want, even if it's not related to CSI or another show, then maybe they'll stay and spend some money.

It's definitely a balancing act, it seems to me. And to be sure, there aren't going to be that many opportunities to leverage this. But there will definitely be some, as the CSI example demonstrates.

In the end, it may well not be something that you want to try out, but it's certainly another marketing method, albeit one that is taking advantage of the notoriety of others, and in SL, as some would say, anything goes when trying to build your business.

Just, I repeat, be careful.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Welcome CNET readers

Just a quick note to welcome anyone who finds themselves on this blog after reading my post this afternoon on my CNET News.com blog, Geek Gestalt.

If this is your first time visiting, I hope you'll stay awhile and come back often. I'm updating this blog regularly with information and expert voices on how to make money as an entrepreneur in Second Life.

I look forward to seeing you again soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Residents Speak: Prokofy Neva


If you haven't noticed, the real estate business in Second Life is pretty big.

Sure, it's dominated by a fairly small group of people--Anshe Chung, Adam Zaius and Nexus Nash, Dana Bergson and others.

But as with any segment of the SL economy, there's still room for newcomers who have the right approach.

When it comes to SL real estate, there's one key ingredient to success that seems to be overlooked by many of the outfits trying to make a buck. And that is the concept of community building, of giving people a place to live their second lives that is what they want, and helping them get to that point if things aren't quite right.

To Prokofy Neva--a vocal critic of my book and this blog, who is also the successful manager of Ravenglass, a pretty sizable SL land management business--providing value add to your customers is just about the most crucial thing you can do, both for your bottom line and for the wellbeing of your customers, and SL in general.

As Prok--who has studied what has worked for Anshe Chung--puts it, "Most people in the land business want to scorch and burn, make a killing and never look back at the people who bought from them....Anshe figured out that it is not a land business. It's a customer service business and a development business."

I am loathe to try to put words in Prok's mouth, but my take on this point is that Second Life residents want and need a lot of hand-holding and a lot done for them. They need to have the option of renting or buying land that is already developed, and which was developed with a sense of community and neighborhood. They want someone who can be a firm and strong manager who will set down rules (the covenant) about behavior and who will enforce those rules.

All together, the idea is to let those who are not yet ready to do it themselves come in, and buy or rent a piece of property on an established estate that meets their needs and that nourishes their sense of place and home.

Whether or not the place you provide meets someone's specific need is not the issue. Because no one can provide for everyone's needs and desires. Well, maybe Anshe can. But when you establish a relationship with a customer, you want to be able to offer that person the best experience you can--within reasonable boundaries of course.

And, to be sure, that customer needs to be willing to play within the boundaries as well, and as manager of an estate, you must try to assure, to the best of your ability, all your other customers that when someone new arrives, they are going to be a good neighbor.

But the reason there is so much potential pay-off in being a proactive provider of a value-added customer experience is that most land owners and estate managers aren't doing that. Most don't have the first clue what it means, or how to do it.

For those that do, word of mouth will reward your efforts. For those that don't, word of mouth may well be your undoing.

And while Prokofy will surely quibble with my interpretation of his words, and my explanation of his ideas, I hope that what you take away from this is a better understanding that if you want to be a player in the SL land business, you will have much better success if you make community building a very high priority. Because the truth is, there is no end to poorly managed land in SL, and customers have a lot of choice. Which do you think they will choose?

Monday, October 22, 2007

The book is here!


Like in my hands!!

I was coming home from getting some breakfast today and there was a UPS truck outside the house.

I ran up to meet the delivery guy, and he handed me this big, heavy box. And it could only be one thing: My copies!

I ran inside, ripped it open, and there it was. My copies of my first, book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life.

I'm awful excited.

Amazon has the book


At long last, the status for my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, has changed on Amazon from "pre-order" to "in-stock."

I still haven't seen it, but I suspect that a box will arrive in a day or two. Possibly even tomorrow.

This is very exciting.

Might I put in a rather more direct plug than usual: Please buy the book. :-)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I'm on ur airplane, rocking ur Second Life

Continuing my mission to use Second Life from some of the more unusual locations, I'm sitting here right now on the tarmac at Los Angeles International Airport, and I've got SL running just fine.

Well, not entirely fine. But I'm able to move and search. And that's always a good day in SL.

How do I do it? I'm using Verizon's EV-DO card, which allows high-speed Internet access via the cell network.

Earlier, you might have seen my post about using SL while on the Golden Gate Bridge. Well, again, I have no way of knowing if I'm the first person to be in Second Life while on an airplane--though I highly doubt it--but it's pretty cool nonetheless.

I wonder what odd spot for logging in will be next.

Anyhow, I'll be home tonight and back onto my regular blogging about making money in Second Life, and about my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life.

Which, by the way, is scheduled to be published TOMORROW! Eeeeeek!

Friday, October 19, 2007

G4 blogs The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life

I got an email this afternoon letting me know that The Feed, video game network G4's
blog, posted an entry about my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, today.

That's pretty cool. Interest is definitely ramping up. And the book is expected to hit the warehouse on Oct. 22. My father even wrote me this morning to let me know that he had gotten an email from Amazon.com informing him that his pre-order of the book would arrive sooner than expected.

This is exciting. I still have a lot of promotional work to do, and of course, I must keep this blog updated regularly. It's hard while I'm in Austin covering Maker Faire for CNET News.com. But it seems worth updating it with news of media coverage of the book.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Video Game Venture Capital blogs the book and my answers to questions about SL entrepreneurship

I just got back from a long day hanging out with the Maker Faire folks here in Austin--I'll have a package up on CNET News.com tomorrow morning--and found that the kind souls over at Video Game Venture Capital have an entry up this evening about my book and my thoughts on entrepreneurship in Second Life.

They had sent me a list of 11 pointed questions a few days ago about SL entrepreneurship, and I had to stop and think about how to answer. They were good questions, strong, pointed and giving me the opportunity to opine on some of the most pressing issues facing Second Life these days.

For example, they asked, "Pardon us for saying so, but it sounds like an email scam: make millions while sitting at home in your underwear! Why should anyone believe that investment in virtual businesses will ever pay off? Second Life has already been overhyped, called by some pundits a ghost town corporate strip mall. Sure, some exceptions have done alright, but aren’t an inordinate number of these businesses doomed to failure?"

To me, that question was a great way to get at the chief thesis of my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life: That making money in SL is not easy, and that only those willing to put in a great deal of time and energy and effort are going to succeed.

My actual answer was: "Absolutely they are. And so are businesses in the real world. The first and most important point I want to make with this book is that a Second Life business is just like a real world business in the sense that to succeed, you must have a plan, be committed, have the talent, the time and the energy. Most will definitely fail. Those that succeed will be the ones that have the right combination of skills. But it is not an email scam: No one who is worth listening to is saying that SL is a place where you can just show and make money. If someone is saying that, they’re talking out their ass."

Now, pardon my French, but that's totally true. One of the perceptions of SL--spread in the media and not altogether refuted by Linden Lab--is that it's an unmitigated entrepreneur's paradise. And that's just not so. But there is great opportunity there, and that's why I wrote my book: To help put people interested in taking advantage of that opportunity on the right foot.

And no, I haven't created a successful SL business myself, though I suppose I would say that my ability to make a living that is at least partially based on my reportorial coverage of SL is a form of entrepreneurship, right?

Well, that's a debate for another time. But look. I'm a journalist. My job is to report. And that's what this book is: reporting on the experiences of those who have been successful at this. And I think that a lot of people who read this book are going to have a much better sense of how they can go about building a business in SL than if they tried to do it on their own. Did I get it all right? Absolutely not. But I'm pretty proud of what I wrote. And when the book comes out in a couple of weeks, I hope you will appreciate it, flaws and all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Speaking on Online News Association panel Thursday

It's a busy week for me. I'm in Austin to cover the Maker Faire here, doing a series of behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the event.

Meanwhile on Thursday afternoon, I'll be speaking on a panel being put on for the Online News Association conference in Toronto focusing on journalism in Second Life. Obviously, I won't be in Austin and Toronto at the same time, so I'll be calling in and hopefully logging into SL as well for the panel.

My ability to blog about entrepreneurship in SL for the next few days will be limited, but I'll do my best.

Please stay tuned.

Thanks.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Marketing Methods: Volunteering to raise awareness of your name


I was looking back this morning over the interview I did with building queen Aimee Weber (whose own book, Creating Your World: The Official Guide to Advanced Content Creation for Second Life, is coming out next week), and I was struck by one of the suggestions she made for how to become better known in the Second Life community--and thus to boost awareness of your business.

Here's what she said: "Volunteer for work, especially charity work. This will get your name associated with a reputable and respectable cause."

She went on to talk about how the American Cancer Society puts a lot of energy into its Second Life Relay For Life and how that organization would need builders to help with its efforts. Thus, Aimee said, any builders who helped out would "not only be working for a good cause, but they will have a good reference and their name will likely appear in press."

This is an interesting theory. I have no doubt, of course, that Aimee's right. She, after all, knows more about Second Life and marketing in SL, than most. But I'm acutely aware that some might look at such a comment and think it's cynical: Volunteer for personal benefit. Is this really something you want your name associated with?

Well, that's one way of thinking about it. Then again, look at the real world. Aren't athletes always volunteering for organizations like the American Way, and in the process getting a little positive press? Don't we always see corporate names attached with charity work?

I guess the message is this: If you can find a charitable cause to help out with, and you aren't crass about the way you leverage it, there's some clear advantage. It feels a little weird, but it obviously does offer some marketing benefit.

I might have wondered if such a method would be frowned upon in SL, but to hear Aimee Weber of all people list it among her top five suggestions for how to build a business was noteworthy to me.

Perhaps, however, I would offer a slight caveat, based purely on my own reasoning and not on any direct experience. Which is this: Go ahead and follow Aimee's advice, if you're so inclined. But maybe not at first. In other words, do volunteer. Do help out where you can, especially when you're getting started--if you have the time and inclination. But maybe don't try to leverage that help for marketing purposes right away. It might be more seemly to help out for purely altruistic reasons for awhile before you look to gain from it.

Over time, however, I think the community will see that you have helped out where you could and will likely not begrudge you a little recognition for what you've put in. And then everyone benefits.

Book editor and agent both have kids at inconvenient time (for me)

It's kind of a funny coincidence, but both my book editor and my literary agent have both just had kids.

On the one hand, I offer both of them the most heartfelt congratulations. New children are a blessing and I'm excited for them.

On the other hand, given that my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, is about to be published, and that I have all kinds of questions about promotions and logistics, the fact that both of these gentlemen are a little tied up with their good fortune is a bit inconvenient for me.

I'm not really complaining. But I did take note of this this morning when I wrote my agent with some questions and got back an auto-response about his wife having just given birth. And I thought, holy cow, again?

Well, such is life. Fortunately, things are pretty well in hand. But, really, what are the odds of this happening? Actually, pretty high, I suppose. Everyone I know is having babies.

Anyway, congrats to Willem and Dave and their families. Now...could you guys respond to those emails. :-)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Marketing Methods: Building business by blogging

This post may well be a little meta--since what am I doing here but trying to build traffic and interest in my book with this blog--but I thought I would weigh in with my thoughts about building a Second Life business by blogging.

This is distinct, of course, from a business that is a blog, or a newspaper. That's a different conversation.

But let's say you have a fashion boutique you're trying to establish. Or a great new toy shop. Or you're getting going with a prefabs business.

There are several important marketing methods you're going to want to pursue as you attempt to raise community awareness of your products and/or services. And I've written at length about those methods in the marketing chapter of my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, which will be published by Wiley next month.

Today, however, I wanted to talk here about the idea of using a blog as a way of letting people know who you are.

First of all, it's worth pointing out that except for a very small number of people, your blog is not going to become a significant source of revenue in and of itself. Rather, it's about becoming part of the conversation; about letting people know what's on your mind, what new products you have, what new things you've bought and so forth.

In particular, you can use a blog to post all your new products. This is a great, free marketing method. Of course, it's not worth much if no one's reading your blog, so this is something that only gains value over time, as you blog regularly, participate in others' blogs and generally do things that bring readers.

But if you can achieve that, if you can create a regular readership, you can find that each time you put up a post about some new product you're offering in your store, buyers will follow.

Naturally, as I mentioned earlier, this is only part of the purpose of a blog. Much of it is just about establishing you as someone worth listening to. But altogether, when you take listing products, offering general opinions, reviewing others' products and just musing on this or that, you can become an essential stopping place.

There are SL blog aggregators, like Tao Takashi's World of SL--which posts snippets of all new blog posts by a large number of SL bloggers--which can help drive traffic. But in the main, you'll be wanting to be sure to make your posts relevant, regular and pithy.

I write this wondering if this post, or this blog, fit that criteria. I guess I'll leave that up to you to answer.

There's also the matter of which blogging software you use, and whether you use an RSS feed. These are topics that are probably too complex to delve into here, but if you are considering starting your blog, I would definitely put some thought into it: Blogger? WordPress? Typepad? Each software has advantages and disadvantages. And each has its champions and its scourges. Do investigate.

All in all, blogging is a great way to make yourself known. But like so much of building your SL business, it's not going to happen overnight, nor will it happen in a vacuum. It's just one part of your overall marketing efforts. And you'll have to put in a lot of time on it, be committed to it and willing to let it build. Don't quit if it doesn't happen right away. But if you stick with it, the readers--and the business--may well come.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Terra Nova blogs the Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life

So, okay...I'm a little behind.

But I just discovered that Dan Hunter, one of the smartest folks studying virtual worlds and their economies, blogged my book earlier this month.

Hunter is one of the co-founders of Terra Nova, without question the leading blog when it comes to examining what virtual worlds really mean. So to see the reference to the book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life which will be out next month, on Terra Nova, well...it was a thrill.

He also noted that there are a bunch of other Second Life books coming out in the next few weeks and months, including the Dummies Guide to Second Life, which is also being put out by my publisher, Wiley.

That's something I've been thinking about: Will the rush of new SL books mean another big influx of users and media interest? I obviously hope so. But it's going to be an interesting dynamic. One thing is definitely for sure, though: As a reader, you're going to have a lot of choice when it comes to deciding what you want to read about SL.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I'm on ur Golden Gate Bridge, playing ur Second Life

I'm not a big gadgeteer, but I have to say I really love the Verizon EV-DO card that I've been using for the last few months. It allows me to get high-speed Internet via the cell network.

And one of the things that means is that I can get online while I'm on the bus going to and from work.

And what that means is that I can be in Second Life while on the go. So, here I am writing this blog, with Second Life running in the background, while I'm on the Golden Gate Bridge. Now, this may not be the first time anyone has done that, but it's got to be one of the first.

Don't you think?

Whither virtual world interoperability

One of the most interesting things to come out of the Virtual Worlds conference in San Jose, which concluded last night, was the idea of virtual world interoperability.

This is the concept of being able to migrate identities, content and even currency between the various virtual worlds.

Well, you might ask how this affects you as a Second Life entrepreneur, but I would say it definitely does. That's because if interoperability ever does come to pass, it could make for a dynamic in which any content you create for your SL business can be easily moved directly into There.com or a Multiverse virtual world, or wherever.

Either way, this is far off in the future, but it's a very interesting idea. If it happens it could be a boon for entrepreneurs, as well as big businesses. If not, well, we continue on with life as normal.

In the meantime, you can read my story on the subject on CNET News.com.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Second Life still on top at Virtual Worlds conference

I just completed two days at the Virtual Worlds conference in San Jose, which I was covering for CNET News.com, and I am utterly worn out.

But before I fall down in a heap, I thought it was worth a quick post to comment on just how much Second Life still dominates this industry.

At so many past virtual world-related events I've been to, Linden Lab has absolutely over-saturated everyone with its marketing efforts. This time around, it seemed to have gone the opposite direction, with almost no marketing and only one or two panelists.

Yet, everywhere you looked, people were talking about Second Life, Second Life, Second Life.

Maybe they were comparing their virtual worlds to SL, or maybe they were developing projects for it. Either way, it was still on everyone's lips.

And since one of my goals at the conference was to talk up my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, which comes out next month, it was great to see that people are still very, very interested in SL.

Among the very cool things I saw at the show were inDuality, a browser-based front-end that lets users move between virtual worlds, and Movable Life, a light browser-based Second Life client that lets you chat and move around SL from any browser.

Anyway, the conference was a nice surprise after the spring version in New York, which I felt was kind of unimpressive. But here, everyone seemed to be excited about the subject, and that's a very nice thing to see.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Talking about the book at the Virtual Worlds conference Thursday

I got to the Virtual Worlds conference this morning and one of the first things that happened was that Tonda Bunge and Chris Sherman, the two main organizers seemed very interested in helping me promote the book.

I thought that was really nice of them, particularly since I had written a blog entry for News.com on Tuesday that was a bit critical of the spring conference in New York and of this event's selection of panels.

Around mid-day, it turned out that a panel session had been canceled and so Tonda asked if I would like to speak about the book. I was a little taken aback.

Months ago, when this show was first announced, I talked to Chris about doing a panel here, and he seemed cautiously interested. I never did get around to putting together a proposal, though, since I was speaking at the Austin Game Developers Conference (which went on in early September) on the topic of making money in virtual worlds and since I was also concentrating on doing the same panel for South by Southwest next spring.

So to suddenly be asked, out of the blue, if I wanted to speak specifically on the book was really great. I said yes, of course, even though I don't have any kind of ready presentation or multimedia or anything.

But, hey, I can wing it. After speaking to Giff Constable's entrepreneur's group last week, I'm feeling good, and I'm pretty sure I can talk publicly about this without looking like a fool.

Even though Prok is here.

At Virtual Worlds 2007 today and tomorrow

I'm down in San Jose today and tomorrow, attending the Virtual Worlds conference.

Mainly, I'm reporting for CNET News.com, but I'm also going to be doing a little bit of promotion for my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life. That's going to mean talking it up to as many people as possible--always something a little hard for me.

On a funny note, I ran into Prokofy Neva, who laid into me, this blog and the book a little over a week ago.

Prok was a lot more friendly in person than on his blog, which was nice. But he has promised to take a very close look at the book (presumably with a critical eye) when it comes out at the beginning of November. Fair enough. I can take constructive criticism. But I'm pretty confident that notwithstanding Prok's natural skepticism, the book will stand up to scrutiny and help a lot of people figure out how to use Second Life to earn some money.

Anyway, I will report anything interesting I find here at the conference, both on this blog, and on CNET News.com and my CNET blog, Geek Gestalt.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Residents Speak: DJ Nexeus Fatale


If one thing has been made clear over the four years since Second Life launched, it's that residents like music. And they like music at events.

That means, of course, that while it's possible to pipe in Internet radio or some other canned type of music, there's something a lot more compelling and personal about having a DJ to spin tunes at clubs, parties or other events.

And if you're the DJ, and you have a regular series of gigs and people you spin for, you can make a decent amount of money, all without needing some of the technical skills--PhotoShop, 3D modeling, etc.--that are required in many of the other Second Life businesses.

Of course, however, DJing has its own set of required skills and techniques, and so for the corresponding section in my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life--which arrives in the warehouse on Oct. 22, just 13 days from now--I turned to one of the most prolific DJs there are, Nexeus Fatale, for expert advice.

Nexeus, as you might imagine, was full of great suggestions and ideas. And here, I thought I'd cover one of them, and discuss it a little bit:

"Interact with the crowd at your events. Every DJ should make their listeners feel as if they are paying attention and interacting with them. This means talking inbetween every song or every two songs (not talking OVER songs)."

If you think about it, this is great advice. It kind of goes to the core of what makes Second Life such an interesting and interactive environment: The idea that the content that is entertaining you doesn't have to be static; It can be a person spinning tunes interacting with and responding to cues from the audience.

Think about it for a second. Imagine you go out to a club in the real world and dance the evening away. Think about how much fun it is to lock eyes with the DJ, letting him or her know how much you enjoy the song they're playing. Or maybe that you don't. There's a feedback loop going on there, made up of watching the DJ bobbing his or her head while playing the tunes, responding to requests and basically being an active participant in the audience's experience.

The same holds in Second Life. If you're at an event and the DJ is just silently spinning tracks and not talking, not answering questions, he or she might as well be an Internet radio station. But on the other hand, if the DJ is talking, commenting on how some avatar is dancing or what someone is wearing, it makes it feel so much more dynamic and exciting. It makes it feel two-way, and makes it more likely that you're going to stay and continue dancing.

And the more the DJ can keep up that kind of interaction, the better. As long as it doesn't interfere with the music. That's why Nexeus added the caveat, "...this means talking in between every song or every two songs (not talking OVER songs)."

If this is something you can master as a DJ, if you have a good and wide taste in music, if you can commit to regular gigs and if you are responsible, you can make good money as a DJ. But success starts with mastering the little things, like how to get your audience on your side and feeling like you're as much a part of their experience as they are.

A real-world marketer with a smart SL approach


I just posted to my new CNET blog, Geek Gestalt, about something that I think is of interest to Second Life entrepreneurs.

Earlier, I had written that SL businesses didn't really have to worry that much about real-world companies coming in and selling their wares. There's lots of reasons for that, but mainly it's that just because you're a famous company in the real world, you don't have that many advantages in the virtual world.

A great example of that was the Armani store, which recently opened to resounding apathy and derision, largely because its products were boring, and there just weren't that many to sell anyway.

But now, along comes Herman Miller, the maker of the iconic and insanely comfortable Aeron chairs. They've just opened their store in Second Life, and as reported by Wagner James Au over at New World Notes, they're trying an interesting approach to winning over SL residents, particularly those who either have already bought or are considering buying Aeron knock-offs, of which there are many available.

For a limited time, Herman Miller is offering SL residents who have bought in-world Aeron knock-offs a free trade-in on a legitimate SL Aeron. And if you haven't already bought a fake, you can just go straight to Herman Miller and buy one for a few hundred Lindens.

The thing that's interesting here is that Herman Miller is reaching out to residents with the understanding that you may have already gone the knock-off route because you like the look of the Aeron and it simply wasn't available before. Now it is, and the company wants you to have their version.

I think this is smart, and it's good PR--something that Armani simply had no idea about when it came to SL--because it shows that Herman Miller understands something about Second Life and what people buy. And it's a bit of an olive branch as well: We don't care if you've bought a fake, come get the real thing and it won't cost you a single Linden.

Where Herman Miller may not quite get it is in the cease-and-desist notes it is sending to the makers of the in-world knock-offs. It is hoping that it can get those content creators to stop selling products based on its intellectual property, and in truth, that's fair. Whether sending (polite) C&Ds is the right way to go is up for debate.

Still, I think that if you're in business as an SL entrepreneur, you are going to need to beware of situations like this one with Herman Miller. Its ability to bring a famous product into SL--and I have to say, their in-world Aerons look really good--sell it for a reasonable price and also reach out to buyers of the fakes with the trade-in offer is a good way to come across like a company that "gets" it.

The ultimate lesson here? First, that if you're in business selling fake Aerons, you might want to think about how much future there is in that. And second, that if a real-world company is really smart about how it enters the virtual world, and how it addresses the community, it may in fact pose some kind of threat to existing businesses.

But as always, time will reveal the truth. For now, all you can do is be aware of how things develop and make business decisions based on the best information.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Going away for a few days

I'm going away for a few days and won't be able to post anything until I return. So please check back here on Monday or Tuedsay. Thanks!

Transcript of my talk at Giff Constable's SL Entrepreneurs gathering

I've just completed an hour-long talk at Giff Constable's SL Entrepreneurs gathering. It was a lot of fun, and helped me feel like maybe I actually do know something about this stuff.

Here's the transcript from the talk:

[12:00] Pica Paperdoll: ok. let's get started!!!
[12:00] Desdemona Young: wOOtie
[12:00] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: lol.. one of my friends found an interview with me in a swedish second style publication.. I to this day still have no idea where from
[12:01] Pica Paperdoll: today we are lucky to be joined by Daniel Terdiman (GreeterDan Godel). Daniel has just finished writing a book on entrepreneurship in Second Life, which should be coming out in early November.
[12:01] You: hi everyone
[12:01] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: heya
[12:01] You: thanks for having me
[12:01] You: it's a pleasure to come and talk to you folks
[12:01] Jade Lily: Is he sending us all a copy?
[12:01] Jade Lily: :)
[12:01] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: lol
[12:01] Pica Paperdoll: we are going to keep this pretty open and casual -- first we are going to start with Daniel telling us a little bit about the process of writing his book and then we will open it up to your questions
[12:02] Pica Paperdoll: give him a little bit of time to give his intro and then feel free to ask away
[12:02] Callie Cline: dan is missing image for me
[12:02] Jade Lily: Welcome, Dan!
[12:02] You: yes, that would be best...i definitely am better at discussion than just speaking away
[12:02] Callie Cline: :)
[12:02] Callie Cline: or maybe that's his shrit?
[12:02] Pica Paperdoll: so with that, i will turn it over to dan! take it away
[12:02] You: okay, so, thank you very much.
[12:02] No Freenote: dan is soooo buff that his shirt image won't even fit
[12:03] You: it's true...my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life: Making Money in the Metaverse, is coming out in a few weeks
[12:03] You: and that's pretty exciting. First book and all
[12:03] Callie Cline: whoo hooo
[12:03] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: awesomes
[12:03] Callie Cline: congrats
[12:03] You: thank you
[12:03] Kiana Dulce: way to go
[12:03] Callie Cline wants a signed copy
[12:03] Kiana Dulce: hehe
[12:03] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: lol
[12:04] You: this was a project that started some time last year. I originally wanted to do a book that would discuss the way that SL could benefit EVERYBODY: individuals, educational institutions, big businesses, hospitals, etc, etc
[12:04] You: but just as I was putting together my proposal, Wagner James Au (Hamlet Au) sold his book
[12:04] You: :-)
[12:04] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: hehe
[12:04] Callie Cline: that rat!
[12:04] You: ha ha
[12:04] Jade Lily: lol
[12:04] Callie Cline giggles
[12:04] Callie Cline: jk
[12:05] Troy McLuhan: I thought Hamlet's book is to be mostly a collection of his blog posts
[12:05] You: james and I are friends...we've known each other for years, and in fact, we have the same book agent. And the agent said, well, you know, maybe you should focus on one thing: individual entrepreneurship
[12:05] Callie Cline: cool!
[12:05] You: well...i haven't seen hamlet's book, but I think he's expanded on the blog posts to tell a wide-ranging cultural and philosophical story
[12:05] You: anyway...
[12:05] Pete Lowell is Online
[12:05] You: so...the truth is...i'm not really an SL entrepreneur myself
[12:06] Callie Cline: imposter!!!!!
[12:06] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: <:O
[12:06] Callie Cline: jk
[12:06] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: lol
[12:06] Desdemona Young: o.O
[12:06] You: except in the sense that I created a beat writing about SL back in 2003, and I guess you could say that in that sense, I've been making money in SL
[12:06] You: :-)
[12:06] Callie Cline agrees
[12:06] You: but i'm a reporter. My job is to find out how people do things, what people are doing, and then tell the story
[12:06] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: (much prefer a writer doing a book on SL entrepeneurship than an SL entrepeneur making a book on writing :P)
[12:06] Callie Cline: haha
[12:06] You: ha ha, yes
[12:06] Jade Lily: lol
[12:07] You: so...for me, i should be frank, this has been a big learning curve
[12:07] You: now...i'm guessing that many of you are already either running businesses or are wanting to do so...is that right?
[12:07] Junko Umaga: Hai
[12:07] Desdemona Young nods
[12:07] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: yup
[12:07] No Freenote: yes sir
[12:07] Persimmon Gjellerup is Online
[12:07] Princess Nakamori: hihi
[12:07] Kiana Dulce: you bet!!
[12:07] TisAlliez Dayafter: /nods
[12:07] Callie Cline: yesm
[12:07] Troy McLuhan: I think that's the idea
[12:07] Jade Lily: i just ask people for money
[12:07] Callie Cline: lmao
[12:07] TisAlliez Dayafter: rofl
[12:07] Callie Cline: you do!
[12:07] Kiana Dulce: hehe
[12:07] Tanner Devonshire: lol
[12:07] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: (callie Cline runs a business.. no frickin wai!)
[12:07] You: okay...well, then you already know everything i'm going to talk about. So let's have some drinks and dance. ;-)
[12:07] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: :p
[12:07] Jade Lily: :)
[12:07] Pica Paperdoll: hehe
[12:08] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: lol
[12:08] Callie Cline: i try
[12:08] You: no, but seriously....
[12:08] Kiana Dulce: cool
[12:08] You: i think the thing that I needed to learn right from the get-go, and that is really the most serious lesson I can teach about this all is that running a SL business is just that: running a business
[12:08] Genvieve Hutchence is Offline
[12:08] Callie Cline agrees!!!!
[12:08] Princess Nakamori: what is everyone doing?
[12:08] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley nudges Callie "The imposter speaks sense.."
[12:08] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: :P
[12:08] Princess Nakamori: i don't understand
[12:09] Jade Lily: let's hold the questions until the end, folks
[12:09] You: you absolutely must treat this as you would any other entrepreneurial venture. You have to have a plan, and be willing to commit your time and efforts to it for likely months before you will ever see a profit or a loyal customer base
[12:09] Jade Lily: if you don't mind :)
[12:09] Princess Nakamori: i'm sooo confused!
[12:09] Troy McLuhan: Why hold teh questions until the end? Doesn't that counter what SL is best at?
[12:10] Jade Lily: we'd like to give daniel a chance to tell his story, that's all :)
[12:10] You: i think that in the popular media these days, or at least when I began writing, the picture that was being painted was that anyone could just show up in SL, start a business and be making a fortune the next week. Well, as you all surely understand, that is simply not the case
[12:10] You: you must build your business organically, from the ground up, customer by customer.
[12:11] You: And that takes careful planning, to go along with a talent for what you want your business to be (fashion designing, land management, designing toys, whatever)
[12:11] You: furthermore...you need to master the art of SL marketing and customer service
[12:11] Pica Paperdoll: i think that must be the hardest part
[12:12] You: and so...it's only when you have really nailed down all of those things: the plan, the talent, the commitment, the marketing and the customer service, that you can expect to be successful. Or at least really successful.
[12:13] You: my sense, after talking to 50 or so successful SL business people for the book, is that sure, someone can come in and set up some business and put a few hours a week into it, and maybe make US$100 a month. It's not going to happen overnight, but it won't take that long, assuming there is some talent there
[12:13] You: and that's fine for a lot of people. truly. I mean, most of the businesses in SL are never going to make more than that
[12:13] Junko Umaga: Hmmmm
[12:13] You: but...if you want to be making this much more of a part of your income, or even your entire income, you really do have to master the list of things I mentinoed a moment ago
[12:14] You: Another thing that I think a lot of people don't understand about SL entrepreneurship is that in order to succeed at it, it's very important to really love what you're doing, and be sure you're in the right field
[12:14] Desdemona Young: well said :)
[12:15] TisAlliez Dayafter: I agree
[12:15] Hamlet Au is Online
[12:15] You: so a bunch of the folks I talked to suggested that for someone getting started, that they try one thing. If it works, great, dive in. But if it doesn't feel right, then move on. Don't get too caught up in building a business that you don't really have a passion for
[12:15] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: (Definitely agree on that one)
[12:16] You: you'll be wasting your time, and really, you won't ever find your niche. SL residents, as I know you all understand, are smart. They can see quality. They can sense passion. And they want it. And if you have it, they will reward you
[12:16] You: if not, they will turn away--and worse, they will tell their friends
[12:16] Callie Cline just like real life?
[12:16] Callie Cline: oops
[12:16] Callie Cline: sorry
[12:16] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: lol
[12:16] Callie Cline: sorry jade
[12:16] You: I'm sorry for not having a perfected, structured presentation. I'm kind of thinking on my feet here.
[12:16] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: You're doing fine
[12:16] Jade Lily: yeah, you're great :)
[12:17] You: but that is another point I wanted to make: Word of Mouth is king here
[12:17] Vorren Voltaire nods
[12:17] Pica Paperdoll: if it is time for questions: do you have any advice on how to do that?
[12:17] No Freenote is gonna tell all his friends about dan's presentation
[12:17] Pica Paperdoll: or does it have to be organic?
[12:17] Shiryu Musashi is Online
[12:17] You: if you have great products and offer genuine customer service and regulary update your product offerings, then the community will notice. People will visit, and they will buy your stuff, and then, even better, they will tell their friends, hey, you gotta come visit this store
[12:18] You: one sec...let me finish this thoght, and then i'll take some q's
[12:18] You: um...
[12:18] You: so...the reverse, however, is even more powerful
[12:18] Alliez Mysterio is Online
[12:19] You: if you open your store and your products are mediocre, or if you are rude to customers, or if your customer service is otherwise not good, people will tell their friends THAT
[12:19] You: and your business will be dead before it even gets going
[12:19] You: look at what happened with Armani the other day
[12:19] You: dunno if you guys saw that, but they opened an Armani store in SL last week
[12:19] You: pardon my french, but it sucked
[12:19] Desdemona Young nods and smiles
[12:19] You: for so many reasons
[12:19] Pica Paperdoll: armani never showed either
[12:19] You: ha ha...i didn't know that
[12:20] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley gets out his french dictionary "The man talks sense"
[12:20] Troy McLuhan heard they had nobody on hand at the opening
[12:20] You: so...i mean, what was the point. Their word of mouth was 100% awful from day one. and they will never succeed here
[12:20] You: that's it. I mean, there's no way for them to recover from that, it seems to me. And so the same goes for any new business. You have to be impressive is all ways from the beginning. And that's why it is so impoirtant to really have it all nailed down before you launch
[12:20] You: whew!
[12:21] You: okay...some questions? :-)
[12:21] Junko Umaga: Where can you get site statistics on SL?? like the number of premium vs. free users???
[12:21] You: ah...so...Linden Lab offers economic statistics. Hold on...let me get the URL
[12:21] Junko Umaga: thanks
[12:21] Alliez Mysterio is Offline
[12:21] Grace McDunnough: http://secondlife.com/whatis/economy_stats.php
[12:21] Junko Umaga: See what your market is
[12:21] You: ah, there you go
[12:22] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: Heya Dan, Dave here, Fashion Designer; I'm agreeing on alot of your points.. does the book basically expand upon these? or are there more case studies/hard stats built up around this? Also, where will the book be availible? =)
[12:22] Alliez Mysterio is Online
[12:22] You: it doesn't have everythign you'd want, but a lot is there, and they update it regularly
[12:22] No Freenote: so are you saying that a person with a tyrant reputation... martha stewart or barbara streisand... would never make it in second life? the perfectionists are omitted?
[12:22] You: hi, dave...
[12:22] You: so...
[12:22] You: let me answer dave's question by explainig how the book is structured
[12:22] You: then i'll answer yours, freenote
[12:22] Hamlet Au is Offline
[12:22] You: okay...
[12:23] You: so...the book opens with a chapter explaining what a virtual economy is, how it works, and why anyone would want to put their time and real money into such a system. That's kind of a primer for those who are unfamilar with such economies
[12:23] You: btw...forgive me if I get distracted...the Blue Angels are flying over my house
[12:24] Alliez Mysterio is Offline
[12:24] Joi Koi: ha ha
[12:24] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: (funkay, get the Red Arrows around here now and then)
[12:24] You: then there's a chapter on business essentials, and then a chapter on marketing essentials
[12:24] You: then i get into the meat
[12:24] You: now...
[12:24] You: this is really a how-to book
[12:25] You: so each hands-on chapter (fashion, real estate, building, adult industry, etc) kind of follows a similar pattern: 1. explaining what the genre is; 2. explaining what is possible in terms of how much you can make; 3. talking about the technical skills that are required to build a business; 4. talking about how to provide customer service and marketing
[12:26] Desdemona Young: Thanks for being here today Dan. My question is: with all the research you have done within SL to write your book and of course your life experience here too, what would be the number one tip you would give any business owner?
[12:26] You: i would say that there are some case studies, but more, I incorporated the experiences of the many business owners I talked to in explaining how to structure the new buisenss
[12:26] You: um...and lastly...the book is scheduled to be in the warehouse on Oct. 22 and availiable in stores and amazon, shortly afterwards
[12:26] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: Oh, grand =) thanks
[12:26] You: i also have a blog I've started related tothe book:
[12:27] starcomber Vig: Hi Dan
[12:27] You: http://entrepreneursguidetosecondlife.blogspot.com/
[12:27] You: tell all your friends!
[12:27] starcomber Vig: I wanted to ask if you ever had business experience in Sl
[12:27] You: hee hee
[12:27] starcomber Vig: did you ever runa business?
[12:27] You: okay...so, wait...in order...
[12:27] TheManKnownAsDaveP Crosley: hehe, I have some friends that Would be interested =)
[12:27] You: well...quickly...starcomber...no, i've not run a business in SL. My role is as journalist, who writes based on researching others' experiences
[12:28] You: okay, so...let me step back and answer the questions in order...
[12:29] Pete Lowell is Offline
[12:29] You: so freenote wanted to know if a tyrant could succeed in SL as a business owner, right?
[12:29] No Freenote: right... perfectionist really ala devil wears prada
[12:30] You: yeah, so my sense is that someone like that COULD succeed if they followed the principles of offering great products, updating them regularly, and most important, offering great customer service. Heck, they could probably play on their reputation as a tyrant, if they were willing to be humorous about it
[12:30] You: but...
[12:30] You: if they didn't have a sense of humor, and didn't treat their customers right, then, no, I don't think they could succeed.
[12:31] No Freenote: okay, thanks.
[12:31] You: and by the way, here's why: One thing I learned in my research is that there is no built-in brand advantage for a real-world company coming in and trying to compete with SL businesses
[12:31] You: look at armani...
[12:31] You: i mean, sure, people wanted to see what they had to offer
[12:31] You: but...
[12:31] Trixie Timtam: Bet Callie outsells Armani
[12:31] You: i think all SL businesses are on a pretty even playing field, and success of failure is ALL about performance.
[12:32] No Freenote: that's nice to hear
[12:32] You: ok, so desdemona wanted to know my number one tip
[12:32] Desdemona Young: :}
[12:32] You: my number one tip is: Treat your customers how you would want to be treated
[12:33] You: don't quibble over the L$200 you might lose over a dispute with one customer
[12:33] You: remember...we're talking about pennies here, folks
[12:33] Desdemona Young: ty Dan
[12:33] You: you will gain so much more by agreeing to replace that one customer's lost product than if you argue with them about whether or not they're trying to cheat you
[12:34] You: i think for some peopel, that's counterintuitive...but, yeah, the key is to remember that what's imoprtant here is volume of sales
[12:34] You: you can't make money in SL unless you sell a LOT of product
[12:34] You: and that takes a happy customer base
[12:34] Pica Paperdoll: any advice on how to get that first customer
[12:35] Pica Paperdoll: that seems like a really hard part to me
[12:35] Pica Paperdoll: the one who then loves your service and tells all their friends?
[12:35] You: how to get that first customer...yeah...okay
[12:35] You: so...let's use fashion as an example, because I think it's the easiest to talk about
[12:36] You: first of all...you need to work on your designs in private. You don't even want to try to start your business until your designs are really good, and until you have at least, say, 10 different things to offer
[12:36] You: okay, so, let's say you've done both of those things
[12:36] You: now what?
[12:36] You: well...
[12:36] You: there's a bunch of different things you can do
[12:37] You: first would be to open a small store, probably you want to be in a good, fairly well trafficked area that doesn't have a lot of lag
[12:37] You: don't set up your first store next to a really busy nightclub
[12:37] You: the idea here is that you want to get natural foot traffic
[12:37] You: and so you want that store to be attractive, and your products to be well displayed, and all that
[12:37] You: so...people will wander by, see your store and walk in
[12:38] You: man! those airplanes are so close overhead, it's scary
[12:38] You: and LOUD!
[12:38] Pica Paperdoll: :-)
[12:38] You: anwyay...
[12:38] No Freenote pats dan on the head
[12:38] You: the other thing that works for some people is looking for fashion designers who offer space in their stores to new designers
[12:38] You: Elikapeka Tiramisu (ETD Designs) is one who does that
[12:39] Pica Paperdoll: that's a good idea
[12:39] You: it's not something you can count on, at all....
[12:39] You: but...it works in some cases. The existing designer benefits by being able to help someone new and having fresh blood in their store, and obviously the new designer benefits by exposure in a popular place
[12:39] You: also...
[12:40] You: and it would be very bad of me to not mention this: Make sure to announce all your new products, and a new business, or new store, or whatever, in the Classifieds section of the SL Forums
[12:40] You: a lot of bloggers trawl the forums looking for things to write about, and many SL residents also look there for new things to check out
[12:41] You: basically...finding that first customer requires a combination of all these things
[12:41] You: and that's anothe lesson: Succeeding in SL business means mastering many skills
[12:41] You: hi jade
[12:41] You: :-)
[12:42] Wendyy Mahana: you're not a fan of selling in online stores?
[12:42] Trixie Timtam: LOL..sorry
[12:42] Troy McLuhan: SL is online, no?
[12:42] You: oh...well...actually, i think selling through OnRez and SLExchange is crucial
[12:42] Junko Umaga: Any comments on service businesses??
[12:42] Wendyy Mahana: like SlExchange
[12:42] Wendyy Mahana: ok :)
[12:42] You: one sec, folks. brb
[12:42] Troy McLuhan: (He's asking the planes to stop)
[12:42] Pica Paperdoll: hehe
[12:43] You: ha ha
[12:43] You: yes
[12:43] You: darn planes
[12:43] Wendyy Mahana: :D
[12:43] You: we get four days of blue angels here
[12:43] You: so...
[12:43] King Rexroth: what constitutes ascale for "business" in SL? what is the monthly revenue of some of the successful fashion designers in SL, for instance?
[12:43] You: i absolutely recommend, as I said, SL Exchange and OnRez
[12:44] You: it means that people can shop when they're at work. Many companies won't let empoyees use SL
[12:44] You: hi, king
[12:44] King Rexroth: hi daniel
[12:44] You: okay...well, that is definitely the question, right? How much can you make
[12:45] You: it really is a huge spectrum
[12:45] You: let's start at the top. The top designers and business owners are doing very well. Many are making full time livings
[12:45] King Rexroth: well, more like when it stops being a hobby and starts being a business
[12:45] You: i will be honest with you, though...no one would tell me real dollar figures
[12:45] You: um...
[12:45] You: how to answer?
[12:46] You: i think in order to make that transition, you have to basically work two jobs
[12:46] You: your regular day job and your SL business. Finally, you will get to the point, if you have the skills, the right products, the marketing skills, etc., where you are earning enough to quit the regular job
[12:46] You: but...
[12:46] You: that will only happen to the very best
[12:46] You: does that answer the question?
[12:47] King Rexroth: and that's still not necessarily "a business"
[12:47] Junko Umaga: 125 businesss are making > $5000/mo. USD
[12:47] You: well...
[12:47] King Rexroth: but i guess it's tough to answer that more precisely
[12:47] You: i think it's a business when you decide that it's something you want to do going forward and which you are willing to commit a regular amount of time and energy to
[12:47] You: until you make that decision,it's a hobby
[12:47] Troy McLuhan: That figure is based on the Linden dollar economy. Many people working in SL get paid in USD or the like
[12:48] Junko Umaga: !?!?!?!?
[12:48] Junko Umaga: offline??
[12:48] King Rexroth: i woudl say the same thing about most of my hobbies, dan :)
[12:48] You: yeah, i mean...i think that the number of people who are making full-time incomes in SL is probably in the high 3 figures or low four figures
[12:48] You: ha ha
[12:48] Spin Martin is Online
[12:48] No Freenote: i have another question dan....
[12:48] King Rexroth: i.e. that i want to go doing it going forward and commit a regular amount of time and energy to
[12:49] You: well..i mean, that's the thing. Second Life offers business opportunities for everyone from someone who just wants their premium account fees covered to those who want to quit their job and work in Thailand
[12:49] You: but, yeah, it's a very difficult balancing act
[12:49] Junko Umaga: NICE
[12:49] You: and the thing is...the customers will be your feedback
[12:49] You: if you are not doing it properly, they will tell you. By not buying your products
[12:49] You: :-)
[12:49] You: i'm sorry...i still feel like i haven't answered your question, king
[12:50] King Rexroth: np :)
[12:50] Junko Umaga: Does Sl have its own cyber stock market yet ???
[12:50] You: heh, that's a good question junko...i'm actually not sure
[12:50] You: i think i've heard of something herre or there, but i can't recall off the top of my head
[12:50] Trixie Timtam: Yes
[12:50] You: oh, let's see...
[12:50] You: i wanted to offer one other crucial tip
[12:50] Junko Umaga: What racket that would be !!!!!!
[12:50] You: which is: INNOVATE
[12:51] You: you will not succeed by being a copy-cat in an SL business
[12:51] You: you surely could make really nice products that are simply new versions of what someone else is making
[12:51] You: but...
[12:51] You: people know
[12:51] You: and they will talk
[12:51] You: and there's that word of mouth thing again
[12:51] You: the key here is to find a niche and corner it
[12:51] You: if you are the first one to make ____ product, you will be noticed
[12:52] You: so, pica...that's another way to get that first customer...to come up with an entirely new product
[12:52] Desdemona Young: any advice for staying inovative? help to cure "designers block"?
[12:52] Troy McLuhan: If you make objects, then people can also find you by right-clicking them, selecting "Creator", then looking at the creators "Picks"
[12:52] You: yeah...explore
[12:52] Pica Paperdoll: thanks dan
[12:52] You: look at what else is out there. TALK to people. Ask your customers what they want, and what they wish they could have but can't find
[12:52] Troy McLuhan: Isaac Asimov said he cured writer's block by going to the movies
[12:53] No Freenote: exercise work well for that
[12:53] You: one of the most impressive things I learned in talking to all these business owners was that they are really open to sharing what they know with competitoirs
[12:53] You: and customers are going to be your best source for ideas
[12:53] You: i mean, obviously, you need to reality-check what they say
[12:53] You: but...
[12:53] You: they'll be your inspiration for new idea
[12:53] You: and also...look around in the real world
[12:54] Gwyneth Llewelyn is Online
[12:54] You: i mean...i think one of the great things about SL is that you can build/design whatevber you can imagine and have the skills for, right?
[12:54] Trixie Timtam: I believe it is called the World Stock Exchange
[12:54] Desdemona Young: great advice - thanx
[12:54] You: so if you see some truly great thing in the real world, i bet you can figure out how to turn it into an SL product. Or, at least, someone could
[12:54] You: so...i have about 5 more minutes .any other questions?
[12:55] No Freenote: dan what is your experience of business that survive on donation? is this a good way to start from scratch and add something every week or do sl'ers still expect a finished product?
[12:55] You: i think you could do it...
[12:55] You: i mean...if you're wiling to work for free or for donations for awhile, it may well be a good way to built customers
[12:55] You: on the other hand...
[12:55] You: there's always the maxim that you come across as more professional the more you charge for soemthing
[12:56] You: it implies confidence and being sure that your stuff is the best
[12:56] You: so...i think that's a balancing act
[12:56] No Freenote: *thank goodness* i'm not professional at all....
[12:56] You: ha ha
[12:56] You: but definitely, building a customer base is important
[12:56] No Freenote: thank you.
[12:56] Pica Paperdoll: i think we are about out of time
[12:56] Pica Paperdoll: thank you so much dan for coming to speak with us
[12:56] Pica Paperdoll: this has been fantastic
[12:57] Trixie Timtam: Excellent presentation!!
[12:57] You: the only other thing i would say about that is that you need to be careful about setting expectations. If you give stuff away fro free for awhile, your customers may leave when you finally decide to start charing
[12:57] Trixie Timtam claps wildly
[12:57] Joi Koi: Cheers Dan
[12:57] Wendyy Mahana: thanks Dan!
[12:57] You: aw, thanks
[12:57] You: i appreciate it
[12:57] Desdemona Young: wOOt
[12:57] No Freenote: will you book be available in world, dan? you were great.
[12:57] You: you know...we haven't really discussed making it available in world. which is funny, because it's a good idea
[12:57] Pica Paperdoll: sell it on onrez :-)
[12:57] You: but...the timeline for creating it was so short that we never got around to that
[12:58] No Freenote: well good luck to you.
[12:58] Troy McLuhan: Reading books inworld isn't much fun. But going to a virtual book-reading or book-signing is cool
[12:58] You: i will tell you all...writing an entire book on top of a day job (I'm a senior writer with CNET News.com) in six months is HARD!!!!!
[12:58] You: crazy hard, really
[12:58] Pica Paperdoll: wow!
[12:58] You: but...now i've learned that i can do it
[12:58] Pica Paperdoll: did you sleep?
[12:58] You: which is great, because I want to write more books
[12:58] Trixie Timtam: Awww...come on..how hard can it be? ;-)
[12:58] You: sleep? er...what's that?
[12:58] Troy McLuhan: LOL
[12:58] Pica Paperdoll: hehe
[12:59] Pica Paperdoll: thanks again for coming dan!
[12:59] King Rexroth: writing a book in 6 months with no day job would be hard enough
[12:59] You: well, anyway, folks...thanks so much for coming
[12:59] You: i hope i was helpful and informative.
[12:59] No Freenote: good day everyone...
[12:59] Trixie Timtam: Excellent work..can't wait to read it!! TY!!!
[12:59] You: and i'd love to talk to any of you in the future. feel free to ping me
[12:59] TisAlliez Dayafter: Hope your book is a best seller!
[12:59] You: also...feel free to suggest topics for me to blog about
[12:59] Shred McMillan: Thanks for sharing, Dan. Great stuff.
[12:59] You: thanks alliez!
[13:00] You: if it is, it's because of YOU!
[13:00] Desdemona Young: Best of luck Dan
[13:00] TisAlliez Dayafter: :)
[13:00] Joi Koi is Online

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Marketing MISTAKES: Don't use public IM lists to advertise

I was in-world this morning when up popped an IM on the SLCC Announcement list advertising something.

I'm not even going to get into what was advertised, because that's not the point.

What is the point is that within seconds, two people chimed in, sternly instructing the person who had posted the marketing message that the group list was not an appropriate place to do that kind of thing.

To her credit, she acknowledged it right away. But others might not.

More important, you might discover these public lists--another would be the Linden Town Hall Questions List--and think that it's a great way to get word out quickly and to a lot of people about your product or service.

But if the group list is not specifically set up as a place where such ads are kosher, then to do so would very likely be tantamount to shooting yourself in the foot. Or maybe to selling tainted food. In other words, people will be very unhappy with you and that unhappiness will be broadcast far and wide--on the list itself--right away.

This isn't to say that public group lists cannot be a place to market your goods. But you need to be sure you are choosing a list that is appropriate for it--for example, the Fashion Consolidated Group, where loads of fashion designers post about their new products as a way to reach out to a lot of residents at once.

As in all things related to marketing in SL, you just need to be sure you're not going to make the kind of mistake that will result in bad word of mouth. Because that's the best way to stall the growth of your new business right away.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Marketing Methods: Nicola Escher's Mannequins


If you run--or are thinking of running--a Second Life fashion business, one of the constant challenges is how best to display your wares.

Well, Nicola Escher has a nice tutorial up on her site about how to create a mannequin on which to showcase your creations. It's not new, but if your business is young and you're looking for something you've not tried before, perhaps this is it.

It's not the easiest of methods, and requires multiple steps both in SL and in PhotoShop, but the end result is clever and interesting.

Essentially, you need to take a screenshot in SL of an avatar wearing the item you want to put on display, then take that image into PhotoShop in order to actually make the mannequin. Rather than try to explain the process, I'll send you over to the tutorial, but suffice it to say that the end result, which involves cutting out the background in the original screenshot, can, if done well, look great: A static figure wearing your fashion with a clear background so that whatever is behind it in the store actually looks like it's behind it.

And since one of the keys to attracting customers is giving them a good shopping experience, and keeping that experience fresh, this can be yet another arrow in your quiver.

Monday, October 1, 2007

My OTHER new blog, Geek Culture, launches

This is unrelated--mostly--to Second Life entrepreneurship, but I thought I'd give a quick shout out to my other brand-new blog, Geek Culture, which has just launched.

Geek Culture is part of CNET News.com's roster of new personal blogs by reporters like myself.

The big picture description: "At the tech culture nexus of video games, fire art, LEGO, 3D virtual worlds, social networking, aviation, hacked Roombas and so much more, CNET News.com's Daniel Terdiman sits with his pen, notebook, laptop and camera, chronicling the latest and greatest for your reading and viewing pleasure. Stop by regularly for a look at the 'fun beat' brought to you by a reporter uniquely positioned to take you into the middle of another side of technology."

Anyway, if you have a moment, stop on by. It's just now launched, so there's only one post. But give it a few days, and it'll be full of yummy, geeky goodness.

Screwing up the names of people I talked to

During the writing of my book, I attempted to keep close track of all the folks I talked to, so that when the time came, I could properly thank them all.

The truth is, I'm not the most organized person in the world, and while I managed to thank most of them--both on this blog and in the acknowledgments section of the book itself--I have since discovered that I left a few people off, and spelled the name of at least one person--Giff Forseti--wrong.

Even being poorly organized, of course, is not a suitable excuse for leaving someone off the list who should have been on it, and so I want to apologize personally to those who didn't get listed but who should have been. The truth is, I couldn't have written this book without the help of every single person who generously gave me their time, and the error of not keeping perfect track of those who did is mine, and mine alone. The people whose names I forgot to mention are no less important than anyone else, and I would hate anyone to think otherwise.

Among the folks who were generous with their time who I stupidly neglected to thank are Spin Martin and Prokofy Neva, who has written a scathing post about the book--which isn't even out yet--and this blog and about me personally today.

I'm tempted to feel hurt that Prokofy has attacked me, even though he got a series of facts wrong or at least didn't understand the reasons behind some of the things he said about me and my project.

But then, I remembered what they say: Any publicity is good publicity. And particularly when it comes to Prokofy. You simply haven't arrived in the Second Life world until you've been the subject of one of his rants.