Friday, November 30, 2007

Residents Speak: Katt Kongo

When I wrote a story for CNET yesterday about a new National Football League initiative, one of the pieces of source material I used was a full-page ad the NFL had placed in The New York Times.

In the ad, I noticed, the league's copywriter had misspelled a word, using "complimentary" instead of "complementary."

Well, it wasn't that big a deal, but particularly because they made the error in such a prominent place, it made me think about something that Metaverse Messenger publisher Katt Kongo told me when I interviewed her for my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life.

As you may know, the Messenger is one of the more popular Second Life publications, coming out each week and reaching a fairly wide audience. Big enough that Katt is able to live off of the money she makes from it.

And when I asked her for some suggestions that anyone wanting to run an SL blog as a business should be sure to follow, she had several to offer that covered a number of different bases.

But the one that the NFL's gaffe reminded me of was this: "Try to proofread carefully. You lose credibility when words are spelled wrong, etc."

Now, some may reject that notion out of hand as elitism, but I think Katt is spot-on. It's just like what my adviser in journalism school told us once: That encountering misspellings or egregious grammatical or punctuation errors in a story arrests your attention and pulls you away from the subject at hand in much the same way as when you spot something like a microphone sticking out of the top of the screen in a film.

I cite that wisdom often because I think it's such a great analogy, and because I find dumb errors in stories all the time. And the other day, when I was watching Richard Linklater's terrific film, Slacker, I even noticed at one point exactly the offending microphone out of the top of the screen that my adviser was referring to. And indeed, it grabbed my attention, just as he said it would.

The point here is that if you're trying to be a Second Life blogger, you really want to put as much emphasis on writing clean as you can. Your readers aren't reading your work for clean copy. They're reading it for good information. But believe me, they notice if you can't spell or if you consistently misuse commas or semicolons or apostrophes. They might not think they notice, but they do. And in spite of themselves, the more errors they find, the less they take the writer seriously.

So, with that, let me just conclude by opining on perhaps the most frequent such mistake that I find in the written word: the mistakenly used apostrophe in "its" or "it's." For some reason, writers of all stripes seem to be unable to get it right. Let me plead with you, if you're going to try to make a go of it as a blogger, to avoid the mistake. Study up on the proper usage. Your readers will appreciate you for it, even if they don't know they do.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Read The Second Life Herald by Peter Ludlow and Mark Wallace

I just finished reading Peter Ludlow and Mark Wallace's new book, The Second Life Herald: The Virtual Tabloid That Witnessed the Dawn of the Metaverse. And I liked it.

It's got flaws, certainly, but on the whole, it's a really good book that covers a lot of the early history of SL and The Sims Online, much of which you could only get by reading way back through the archives of the Second Life Herald and Alphaville Herald blogs.

Anyway, my review of the book is up this afternoon on CNET

Monday, November 26, 2007

Remember to include landmarks with your items

I was looking through the classifieds this morning on the Second Life forums, and came across a posting that made me think of one of the simplest, yet most important things you can do when you're selling something.

The post was titled "Chevrolet '65 Impala SS," and in it, the author was asking, essentially, if anyone knew where to find such a car in SL. He'd stumbled across one somewhere along the lines of his in-world ramblings, but couldn't remember where.

In truth, what this made me think of was not something that would have helped this poster with his exact problem, but which will help anyone who has ever bought something from your store find you again.

Now, this is an extremely rudimentary piece of advice for anyone who has been running a Second Life business for any length of time, but it is nonetheless crucial and something a newcomer might not think of and would do very well to learn.

And that is to include a landmark to your store with every product you sell.

The idea is simple, and based on an elementary truth of Second Life: That many people buy things on impulse, walk away from where they bought it, and instantly forget who sold it to them.

It makes sense. There are endless numbers of stores in SL and many people buy things all the time. So how can they be expected to remember where they got any individual item? Unless you tell them where, that is.

And a landmark is the way to do it. And the way that works is that you bundle the landmark in the folder that a customer gets when they buy an item from you.

Here's how to create a landmark and include it with a product you're selling, as I wrote in the business basics chapter of my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life.

To create a landmark, go to the exact location where you want people to arrive--whether that's standing in the doorway of your shop facing inward or directly in front of an item that's on sale. Then go to the World pull-down menu and click Create Landmark Here. You'll see the landmark open up on the screen showing you the option to teleport or show on map. But that landmark will also show up in the Landmarks folder of your inventory.

The default name of a landmark is the place name, the sim name, and then the map coordinates. But you can go to that landmark in your inventory and rename it anything you want. That's a good idea if you want to make it obvious what it is a landmark for, like your store.

You can then take that landmark from your Landmarks folder and drag and drop it into the folder of an item you're selling.

Then, after someone buys something from you, and wants to return to shop at your store again, but can't remember exactly where you're located, they can simply look in their inventory, find the folder for the item they bought originally, locate the landmark, and teleport directly to your store.

Of course, if they deleted the folder or it disappeared in some SL glitch, it won't help them. But in most cases, they will still have it, and they'll be able to find their way back to you quite easily.

As for the resident looking for the '65 Chevy, if you happen to run across one, do Yossie Hax a favor and send him (or her) an IM with the location. And consider dropping a landmark for the store where it's for sale on Yossie.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

On a very non-SL note, I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. And a great beginning to your holiday season.

And for your laughing needs:

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wired interviews me on Second Life entrepreneurship

One of the things I've discovered since my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, came out is that promoting it is at least as much work as writing it.

Well, maybe not quite. But it's definitely a lot of effort, and it became clear right away that if I didn't promote it tirelessly, then no one would know about it.

On Tuesday, that effort paid off when Wired ran a full-length Q&A with me about entrepreneurship in Second Life.

Having been a long-time Wired writer myself and a fan even after I left to join CNET in 2005, it was pretty cool to see this run today. After all, I wrote my first stories about Second Life for Wired back in 2003.

In any case, it's a proud day. And, you know, I had to share.

Residents Speak: Kim Anubis

It's been a busy fall for books about Second Life.

I was at a book store in San Francisco yesterday--ostensibly to attend a book signing by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, but while there I just "happened" to go and notice that they had mine on an outward-facing display--and it turned out they had a whole shelf of Second Life books.

One of them was Creating Your World: The Official Guide to Advanced Content Creation for Second Life, by Aimee Weber, Kim Rufer-Bach and Richard Platel.

For those that don't know, Rufer-Bach is known in Second Life as Kim Anubis, the owner of The Magicians, an important designer of in-world building projects for real-world institutions.

Well, Kim is also featured in my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, and in it, she shares her thoughts about how someone getting started out in the SL construction business who's not sure of what kind of prefab builds to sell can decide which way to go.

She explained to me that her approach would be to "employ some traditional market research" methods:

- Give a gift to people who fill out a questionnaire about what sort of prefab they would want.
- Start a thread about it on a message board or forum.
- Talk to lots of people about it.
- Put a number of things on sale and see what sells, and what doesn't.

For some people, there may be no question about what to build. They already know exactly what they want. Many others, however, have the building skills and interest to go into the business but may not be familiar enough with what's out there to know what would sell well.

In addition to Kim's suggestions, I would add another piece of advice, and one that applies to any segment of Second Life business: Check out what the competition is selling. That will ensure that you don't try to sell the same thing that a dozen others are already saturating the market with. Or, if you do decide to go that way, that you can identify a way to make your prefabs stand out from the competition.

But Kim is touching on a very sound principle of business, both for SL and the real-world: Building a product line based on what customers want.

It may not be the simplest endeavor. It will take time, and you'll have to be willing to sift through a lot of ideas--many of them less than valuable. But, after all, Second Life residents are going to be the ones buying your prefabs, so shouldn't you give them what they want?

To be sure, your own ideas may be even better than what the residents come up with, but don't discount their collective wisdom. They are the people who are out there, frequenting the existing prefab builders, and they know what's available. If there are people who have something they want and can't find on the market, and they tell you about it, you may strike upon a great business opportunity.

Ultimately, a successful approach will likely be to mix Kim's market-research methods with some creative thinking of your own. Don't discount the value in what the residents say they want.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanks to all for great in-world book launch party

A big thank you to everyone who came out for the in-world launch party for my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life.

There was quite a turnout, with several dozen people on hand to talk about the book, dance, chat with friends, show off fashions and more.

Special thank yous go to Alliez Mysterio for hosting the party on her land, to Nexeus Fatale for spinning great tunes throughout the event, to Professor Sadovnycha for making the book table and the in-world mockups of the book, to SteveR Whiplash for the Slegways, and to Persimmon Gjellerup for everything.

In addition to formally presenting the book to the Second Life community for the first time, it was also a chance for me to express my gratitude to the many SL business experts who helped out with the book. Not all of them showed up, but many did.

It was a fun time. And I have to bow my head to Alliez for knowing precisely how long the event should last. Which I guess is the one piece of advice that I can impart in this posting: When putting on a party in connection with your SL business, consider keeping it to two hours.

I had thought three hours would be the appropriate amount of time for my party, and Alliez said she thought two would be enough. But I was stubborn and scheduled it for three. And sure enough, at two hours, the crowd had just about thinned out. So, lesson learned.

Anyway, thanks again to all who came. It was fun. And now, the book is fully launched: On Amazon, in book stores, with a real-world party, and with an SL party. And so far, it's doing quite well, and looking like it will never find its way into the bargain bin at the Strand. Yay.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Residents Speak: Wynx Whiplash

When it comes to cool Second Life business innovators, you'd have to put Wynx Whiplash on any best-of list.

Wynx is the inventor of the "tiny" avatar, which, if you're not familiar with them, is just what it sounds like: avatars that are, well, tiny.

These days, there are tinies all over the place: bunnies, cats, dragons and so forth, and even people, and her store, Wynx's Whimsical Wonders is still tinies ground zero. But when Wynx first created them, it caused quite the stir.

Even today, there are those who hate the tinies, and they would probably be loathe to grant Wynx any respect. But for the rest of us, her ability to break the mold, and to really shift the paradigm is a great example of what can make a difference for a would-be Second Life businessperson.

I talked to her for my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, and among other things, asked her for some important suggestions that anyone going into business in SL should be sure to follow.

And from that interview, I've chosen one of her suggestions as something well worth sharing here. Befitting the suggestion itself, the advice might not occur to a lot of people.

"Add surprises" to products," Wynx said. "Something folks wouldn't expect."

It's quite the simple suggestion. But it speaks volumes about what can make the difference between a product that some people buy and one that everyone has to have.

A good example might be the tinies themselves, which are just another take on the custom avatar. But it was a total surprise when Wynx first came out with them because it's not something that had been done before, at least not in any formalized way.

The point is to look for things you can add to an existing product line that will set your products apart from others like it. It can something small and simple, like a script that animates your product, or maybe something hidden inside a product that someone might discover by accident. Whatever it is, if it's not something expected--and it's cool--it will likely delight your customers and get them talking about you and your products. And as I've noted many times before, this kind of word of mouth is invaluable.

Of course, as I've also mentioned, you need to ensure that the surprises you include are good ones, and not things that are going to make your customers unhappy or uncomfortable. Because then, as I've said, the word of mouth you'll get will not help you.

In-world book party Sunday, 12pm SLT

For those of you that missed the book party I had in San Francisco last week to celebrate the launch of my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, all is not lost!

That's because I'm having an in-world party this Sunday and YOU are invited.

Well-known DJ Nexeus Fatale will be spinning great tunes, and there will also be special gifts for the first 50 people to ask me about gifts at the party.


What: Book release party for The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, by Daniel Terdiman
When: Sunday, Nov. 18, noon-3pm SL time,

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

I opine about SL business opportunities on CNN

Monday was an odd day. I took a sick day off from CNET because I wasn't feeling well, and planned--once I woke up, very late--to lie in bed with my cat and watch movies.

I was doing that very successfully when I happened to check my email and saw a note from someone at CNN urgently asking me to call them about an interview.

Given that I'm in a promotional state of mind these days, what with the very recent publication of my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, I figured I should return the call.

I did, and next thing you know, I've agreed to do an on-camera interview for CNN International about Second Life. Except you can't do on-camera interviews like this from home like you can with the many phoners I've done.

In this case, it meant getting picked up in a rather luxurious Lincoln and carted into San Francisco to do the interview in some contract production company's offices.

They led me into the studio, sat me down, miked me up and then left the room. And I was all alone, staring into a camera that I couldn't see because of a set of glaring lights illuminating me and my face, listening to CNN on a small earphone.

Finally, the anchor--"Christie from Hong Kong," I think--started speaking in my ear, and did her intro to the segment for which they were interviewing me.

I had to stop myself from laughing right at the beginning because in that intro she explained Second Life as a place that big businesses are going into, like American Apparel, Starwood Hotels, Giorgio Armani and now CNN, with its launching of a citizen-reporting venture in-world.

Well, obviously, we don't know yet how CNN's entrance into SL will go, because it's just gotten started, but for them to link themselves in that sentence to American Apparel, Starwood and Armani shows just how little CNN understands SL. In other words, they basically told the world that they won't be succeeding, since American Apparel and Starwood have both decided to leave, and Armani is an abject failure.

But anyway, they then launched into the interview, and to be fair, the questions were okay. She asked me why people go into Second Life, what there is to do, what kind of business opportunities there are and what it takes for big businesses to succeed there.

She did give me an opportunity to plug the book a little bit and to spell out my thesis: You must have a plan and you must work hard if you want to make it as an SL entrepreneur.

And then, just like that, it was over. I must have gotten into it, because it seemed like the interview only lasted about a minute, but when I watched it this morning, it actually seemed like it was much longer.

The only real problem I see with the segment, as it aired, is that they ran the same short piece of video from SL over and over again. How odd that they couldn't be bothered to come up with enough original video to fill out the segment. I don't know if they don't expect people to notice, but I sure did. It reminds me of what my journalism school adviser said about things like that: That it's sort of like when you're watching a movie and you see a microphone sticking out of the top of the screen. It's a little thing, but it pulls your eye away from the content you're supposed to be watching.

But I'm nitpicking, I suppose.

Ultimately, it was cool that CNN called and asked me to do this interview, and I was glad that they did give me time to explain a number of different things.

And then it was all over.

I walked out onto the street, and ironically, the production company was literally right across the street from Linden Lab's offices. How funny is that?

Then I got back in that fancy Lincoln, I was whisked home, and it was back to watching movies in bed with my cat on my sick day.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Problems with vendors in-world

For anyone who has spent any real time in Second Life, regardless of whether you're running a business there or not, you know that one of the biggest challenges is its steady stream of technological hiccups.

Today, for example, Linden Lab announced on its blog that there is a new problem associated with selling multiple items at different prices through multiple vendors that cropped up after a recent viewer update.

Essentially, the blog post said, the problem arises when someone with a bunch of vendors pulls all the for-sale items back into their inventory and then puts them back out for sale in a different location.

Instead of maintaining their original sale prices, as intended, the new bug reverts all the prices to a single price-point. And that means that you'd have to do a bit of extra work to make sure that everything costs what it's supposed to.

Now, the point here isn't to focus on this specific incident. Rather I want to talk briefly about how this kind of thing is something that any newcomer to Second Life business will have to be prepared to deal with. There is no end to the glitches that pop up in the various software updates Linden Lab does, and there's nothing you can do about it except persevere.

And that's really what this post is about. To remind folks who are interested in running an SL business that it is something they really need to be devoted to. In other words, you can't really get your business going and then just leave it alone without being eagle-eyed about how the various technical bugs might be affecting your business.

To be sure, some shops will continue to run just fine in perpetuity with no maintenance, but would you want to bet some income that yours will be one of them? More likely, you'll return from an absence to find that something, perhaps something small, but you never know, is broken. And that might well mean that your customers can't buy your products, or that your customer services processes are broken. Or something.

One business owner I interviewed for my new book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, talked to me about how he was excited by the fact that products he created for his store would continue to produce sales, and therefore income, for the foreseeable future, even without him having to do much to maintain the business. That wasn't to say that he wasn't going to keep on working on his store, but that he was aware that he could put down his tools and enjoy the recurring income if he wanted.

The truth is, however, that while he's probably right, he might find one day, if he had stopped paying attention, that he would return to find his store empty and not producing sales due to the vagaries of some recent software update.

All this just goes to support the central thesis of my book and my position on running businesses in SL: That in order to succeed, you really must treat it like you would treat any business. You wouldn't set up a real-world store and then disappear, expecting everything to just run smoothly. So why would you in Second Life?

The thing to do, then, in addition to going to your store or business location frequently to make sure everything is working, is to read the official Second Life blog regularly, to watch the forums and to talk to people about issues that may be new.

Only then can you have the best chance of staying abreast of these kinds of technical problems and making sure that they don't adversely affect your profits.

One final note. This isn't to try to scare you off of creating and running an SL business. Not at all. It's just to help you understand a little bit more about what you have to do if you want to be a success there. Everyone else who's doing it has to contend with this, and for those that do, the benefits can be substantial.

Friday, November 9, 2007

South by Southwest Interactive features me and the book

A big thanks to South by Southwest Interactive director Hugh Forrest for featuring me and my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life on the SXSW blog on Wednesday.

SXSW Interactive is a great event, held each March in Austin, Texas. I recommend it for anyone who is interested in interactive media, blogging, video blogging, etc. It is getting to be a massive event, yet still retains a small, intimate feel.

Anyway, I was humbled by the mention.

Book party a big success

It's been a crazy few days, with the real world book party for the launch of The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life being the centerpiece.

Over on the left, you can see me posing with Linden Lab founder Philip Rosedale, who kindly showed up and bought the first copy of the night.

The party was a lot of fun. Between sixty and seventy people showed up and I sold about 20 books. Not bad, I think.

A lot of good Mediterranean food was eaten, much wine was drunk--with only one glass of red ending up on my shirt--and a good time was had by all.

Meanwhile, I recognize that I've kind of dropped the ball on keeping this blog updated every day with new and useful information about SL entrepreneurship, and I hope you can understand, given the intensity of the book launch and putting on the book party, etc.

But I will be picking this back up over the weekend, and next week. Rest assured, this will continue to be one of the most useful repositories of information about how to get a successful SL business going.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Book excerpt up on CNET, today

Of the many nice things about working at CNET, one of the best is that my editors there are really supportive of the crazy things that I've wanted to do over the years.

First, they didn't blink when I suggested over drinks one evening that they send me on a road trip to write about technology and other things I find along the way. That idea, somewhat of a lark when I first mentioned it, later became Road Trip 2006 and Road Trip 2007. Rest assured, Road Trip 2008 is certain.

Well, when I told CNET I wanted to write a book, once again, they got behind me, and they really didn't have to. As a CNET reporter, they pretty much own me and can veto any non-CNET project I might want to do. And to be sure, they have put the kibosh on one or two ideas that I had. But when it came to the book, the response was thumb's-up.

Now, with the book just officially out in stores, CNET has run an excerpt from the book.

This is a fantastic development, from my perspective, at least. It brings some extra authority to the book, and, since CNET is seen as the publication of record for technology, a lot of new eyes will see The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life that might not have before.

One other nice development is that, because The New York Times has a content sharing arrangement with CNET, the more generally accepted publication of record ran the same excerpt this morning on

My hope is that the publication of the excerpt--approximately 3,000 words culled from both the introduction and the chapter on the fashion business--will start a publicity ball rolling that, so far at least, had not gotten going.

I'm realizing as I work my way through this process that it really is like pushing a big rock down a very light incline: You push and you push, and nothing happens. It barely budges. But then it starts to move, slowly at first, and then a little quicker. Eventually, I surmise, if pushed a little more, it will pick up real steam and roll away on its own.

I'm not there yet. But with the publication of the excerpt on CNET and, plus blog postings about the book yesterday on 3pointD and New World Notes, and some more publicity that I am pretty sure is on the way soon, I'm hoping this ball will really start moving.

Monday, November 5, 2007

New World Notes also blogs the book

It's been quite the evening for blogger love for my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life.

First I noticed that Mark Wallace blogged it on, and then I flipped the tube to New World Notes and discovered that Wagner James Au had done the same thing there tonight.

James and I go way back when it comes to writing about Second Life. As he noted in his posting, I wrote a story for Wired News about SL in July 2003 with him and New World Notes as the lead. Back then the idea of a full-time, embedded reporter in a virtual world was pretty cutting edge. And I remember that when I first heard about his role there, my jaw just about hit the floor.

Like Mark over at 3pointD, James had some nice things to say.

"Dan was among the first journalists to write about Second Life back in my Linden days, and he's been following it closely and with aplomb ever since," James wrote.

He also pointed out the many fine features of this blog: "The blog for his book has some meaty avatar businessperson interviews and other great info, too."

Meanwhile, there is a pattern here. Like Mark and myself, James also has just finished a Second Life book, "The Making of Second Life: Notes from the New World." It is scheduled to be published, according to Amazon, next February.

You may have noticed that this is the time when the flood of Second Life books is coming. I can't even count how many there are, including the ones that are already out, and the ones that are coming.

On the one hand, I'm tempted to say that this poses a danger to my book, since perhaps the many choices segments the market. On the other, it's great because it creates a whole lot of interest in SL and, I would think, hunger for information about it.

Anyway, a big thank you to Wagner James Au for his post.

3pointD: Invest in the Entrepreneur's Guide to SL

Over at 3pointD this evening, Mark Wallace has some very nice words about me and my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life. And for that I am extremely grateful.

"If you’re around San Francisco this Wednesday (Nov. 7), crash the party at the CNET offices, where Dan works, pick up a copy of the book, and check out all you ever wanted to know about making money in the metaverse," Mark wrote in his post, entitled Invest in the Entrepreneur's Guide to SL. "Rather than the usual thin gloss on selling prim skirts, the book actually takes a deep dive into the process of building and running a business in the virtual world of Second Life, covering everything from laying foundations and writing a business plan, to entering the fashion world, the real estate business, the virtual construction trade, the 'adult' industry and even running a business on SL’s teen grid. I know Dan worked his ass off on this one, and it shows."

Mark knows the trials and tribulations of writing a book, having already been a major contributor on Wiley's Second Life: The Official Guide, and then completed (along with Peter Ludlow) the just-published Second Life Herald: The virtual tabloid that witnessed the dawn of the metaverse. That's as well as the professional journalism he does as a freelancer for major publications like Wired and The New York Times. Oh, and being a partner on the stealth virtual world startup Wello Horld.

So when Mark weighed in with some of the nicest words I could have hoped to hear about the book, I know it came from someone who must appreciate what I've been through since last winter when the book project began. It is a crazy process, especially when undertaken on top of a day job as a reporter for CNET, one of the most-demanding technology publications there is, and sometimes I still can't believe I made it through.

Number of "profitable" Second Life businesses up 10 percent in October

It's really hard to get any kind of true numbers about how many profitable Second Life businesses there are, but Linden Lab does regularly publish one. Whether it's entirely useful is a much-debated question, but it's what we've got.

The number is the so-called "positive monthly Linden dollar flow" (PMLF) statistic, which spells out how many unique Second Life users there are who are bringing in more Linden dollars than they're spending.

First, the October numbers are out, and for the month, there were 49,156 people with PMLF, according to Linden Lab. That's up 10.1 percent from the 44,631 it reported with PMLF in September. More impressive still is the 157 people who showed PMLF of more than US$5,000 in October, up 13.8 percent for the month.

So, things are looking good. The 10.1 percent jump in total PMLF is significant, because it's the biggest jump since May, and shows that the negative number that happened after Linden Lab shut down casino operations did not extend to the whole grid. In fact, the October PMLF numbers show, business in SL is in fine shape.

Now, of course, no one really knows what PMLF is. On its Economic Statistics page, Linden Lab notes that, "PMLF (Positive Monthly Linden Flow) looks at the flow of Linden Dollars into a unique user's account BEFORE Linden Lab Charges are applied to the account. These numbers EXCLUDE payments or receipts related to the sale or acquisition of land (since theoretically these represent investments and not business receipts). All numbers are rolled-up among avatar 'alts' to the Unique Customer Level. Businesses that are operate Linden Dollar exchanges are excluded. Note that some businesses accept payment outside the Linden Economy (e.g. via CC & Paypal) and those numbers are not included in these reports. "

Parse that however you like, but it does seem true that you have to discount what people are paying for tier fees from their income. And that probably does significantly affect the number of people who Linden Lab counts as qualifying for PMLF, especially on the low end.

Still, the rate of growth is probably not affected, and so regardless of what the raw number of people with PMLF, I think we can safely say that the rate of growth is valid. I think.

And if so, this is good news for anyone wanting to run a profitable in-world business, something that you can learn how to do if you read my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life.

Residents Speak: Hyasynth Tiramisu

In Second Life, there are many well-known fashion designers, and as I've said before and is well-understood by anyone who has spent much time there, some of the real celebrities of the virtual world are those designing fashion.

Among the most respected of that group, it seems to me, is Hyasynth Tiramisu, the doyenne of Silent Sparrow, one of the leading purveyors of hand-drawn clothing.

If you're not familiar with the difference between hand-drawn clothing and fashion that is known as photo-sourced, that's okay. I'll fill you in.

Basically, photo-sourced clothing is made by taking existing textures and incorporating them into fashion designs.

Hand-drawn clothing, on the other hand, is done from scratch, an often painstaking process involving a whole lot of PhotoShop and/or Illustrator work.

Often, hand-drawn fashions have a rich, multi-dimensional feel to them that can be missing from photo-sourced items.

And Hyasynth has built a pretty significant and lucrative business--Silent Sparrow--by refusing to do it any way other than entirely by herself.

This entry really isn't about hand-drawn clothing, however. It's about one of the suggestions Hyasynth made to me when I interviewed her for my book, The Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life, and asked for some advice that someone wanting to start an in-world fashion business should be sure to follow.

She told me, "Make friends with other designers. It's really important to have a support network. Other designers will teach you more than any book or Website."

This is great advice, and I think it may come as a surprise to people with business experience only in the real-world, where competitors are often loathe to help each other. That's not always the case, of course, but there's certainly a higher degree of secrecy among competitors in the real-world than what I've seen in Second Life.

In SL, it's all about respect and mutual assistance, or at least being willing to pass on favors that you received from veterans when you were getting started to others later on.

Ultimately, the point here is that you really need to have a network of peers you can trust to be honest with you about your products--are they good? Bad? Need work? Need better placement in your store? Are you charging too much or too little?--or who can help you test out your vendors or who can just be available to talk when you need encouragement.

These are people you would turn to for help if you're in a creative rut, who will give you pointers when you can't figure out how to do something and who, if you're lucky, will refer customers to you.

Of course, you must give back as well as take. That matters hugely. No one is going to give freely of their friendship or advice forever if they feel you're not reciprocating. But assuming you are--and why wouldn't you?--other designers can be a terrific resource and a terrific source of support and understanding when you need it.

And that's really important because this stuff is hard. And having an ear to bend or a shoulder to lean on or someone who can just hang out while you work in your store or whatever, well, it will make you a better businessperson and will make your business more successful.

It's not going to happen overnight, of course. It's going to take a lot of proactive effort on your part to meet people in Second Life, talk to them and make friends with them. But you need to do that anyway when you're getting a new in-world business going, as I've written before. Building a business in SL is extremely time-consuming and requires that you do tons of leg work. And making the fashion designer friends who will make up part of your support network is another piece of that.

Reminder: Book launch party for Entrepreneur's Guide to Second Life this Wednesday evening in San Francisco

I've been absent for the last few days, and you'll have to forgive me. What with the launch of the book, and an all-day wedding I had to attend, and three different out-of-town stories I had to work on for CNET, plus the fact that it was my birthday, well, whew!

But here I am, and this blog will pick up again now. I promise.

First, let me offer this reminder that if you are in San Francisco this Wednesday evening (Nov. 11), you are invited to my book launch party:

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.


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.

RSVP's not required, but appreciated.

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.