Friday, January 25, 2013

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Second Life Sim Success Stories: Here's How an SL Fashion Sim Attracts 35K-70K Weekly Visits & Covers Monthly Tier

Mayfair Second Life sim

I write about the constant stream of Second Life sims which leave the grid, largely from a failure to cover Linden Lab's costly monthly tier (usually $295/mo), but there are other SL sims doing quite well, and it's just as important (if not moreso) to understand why: Take the SL sim MAYFAIR (direct teleport here), home to the favorite SL fashion brand called Mon Tissu. According to co-owner Emma Gilmour (who I just profiled here), the sim attracts 30,000-70,000 weekly visits. "It's busiest when we've released in the last few weeks," she tells me, "but it's been a while since we all took holiday breaks and haven't quite gotten back into the swing of things yet. It should pick up again around Valentine's Day!" It's more than enough customer traffic to cover the sim's tier, and to be Emma's full-time job: "It's enough for full-time," as she puts it, "but it's definitely taken a lot of work!"

How does MAYFAIR do it? Here's Ms. Gillmour's expert advice, which (if you own a Second Life sim), you should read quite closely:

"[Here's] the advice I'd give to someone trying to at least break even with tier. If you have a shop, regular releases are a necessity. If you can't release regularly, make the occasional releases big and do lots of promotion via in-world groups, Flickr and Plurk, and gather a list of your favorite bloggers to distribute all new products to, so they can help promote the release. Word of mouth will keep people coming in for a few solid weeks, and all the spending covers tier pretty quickly! Obviously it depends on the product you're selling, but frequent quality releases are a pretty surefire way to guarantee your tier will be covered."

And that's how they do it in MAYFAIR. (Emphasis mine.) If you're a sim owner successfully covering tier, tell us all how you do that too.

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Iggy

Pleased to see someone making it. Reading this on the same day that I hear about Armada, it's bittersweet. I'd rather RP than play dress up dollies, but that is where the Linden Dollars are I reckon.

Good luck, fashionistas! For me, it's back to rolling d20s for some tragically unfashionable F2f RPing! Hurrah.

jo yardley

Our role play sim has been looking after itself and paying for its tier thanks to donations, supporters and tenants for the last 3 years :)
It is a LOT of work but if I should say why and how we manage to survive, it is with just one word; Community.
As long as the people of 1920s Berlin want our sim to survive, it will.

Maxwell Graf

So all I have to do is release a steady, constant stream of new releases, get them blogged, put things on flickr and plurk and in world group notices and that pays tier!? WHO KNEW?

Theoretically, if I double all that, do twice a much of everything, I could take home just as much actual profit as I spent on tier!

Imma write a book on this shit with the 2 remaining hours I have left in the week after doing all this. Who needs sleep?

oh wait...I get it now. Fashion! IM IN THE WRONG MARKET OMG! All this time making stoopid medieval furniture and buildings...wut was I thinking!

Ciaran Laval

Whereas your post was tongue in cheek Maxwell, you did actually hit on an important issue. Clothing can be worn to many venues, but it takes someone to pay for land to use buildings and furniture.

Avatar accessories will always be more popular, but I'm a big fan of medieval furniture and buildings!

Aki Shichiroji

If the sole goal is to make money, then go after the larger markets; there is no sense in griping or feeling bitter over how much one takes home after paying tier, when that number is highly variable from business to business and from market to market.

If your goals are to make things, sell them, and have fun doing it, then make what you like and let those who agree with and enjoy your efforts to decide on their own.

That non-av based creations generally net less money is nothing new. This has been the underlying trend since SL peaked in 2009. For those of us who do make land-based things, that's something we've had to accept and either adapt around or move on from.

*shrug*

Maxwell Graf

Aside from my New Jersey-based predispositions to generally not give a f*ck while being both jaded and bitter, watching sales continue to drop while working yet more and more hours over the last two years has earned me the right to post a comment like that, though I would remind you that it was sarcasm, though snarkily-delivered. My primary goal with the post was not that I was unaware of the earnings potential of one market over another but that this entire article could have been summed up in one sentence:

Be MonTissu and sell clothing.

That it took several paragraphs to do so reveals nothing new while extrapolating on the obvious. That was my point. It's like saying "Want to get 70K visitors and pay your tier? Be an established fashion brand known for quality work!"

Seven Overdrive

It's a shame that you either have to be well to do in RL or a successful fashion creator in SL in order to afford a region. RP regions are more difficult to keep afloat unless they ruin their theme with countless, laggy shops and rentals eating into their already limited region resources.

But I will admit I rather see articles about the success stories than the constant deathwatch reports or "brilliant" ideas that will only hasten the decline of our virtual world.

cube republic

Oh dear and there was me just enjoying making stuff, going to have to think of a new strategy now.
70k / 7 = 10k per visitors per day
10k / 24 = 417 avatars per hour to two decimal places.
417/ 60 = 6.95 avatars per minute visiting sim

That means if the sim was open on a busy week and had said visitors, it would fill up every 7- 20 seconds depending on tolerances set by estate owner for maximum occupancy at any given time. Can we have some more supporting evidence for this story please?

Ciaran Laval

I've been to New Jersey Mr Graf, the beer was a damn sight cheaper than Manhattan in Kearny and Harrison! Damn sight cheaper than in England too, however that's all off topic.

I've lost my train of thought now, oh yes, I agree with you that this post is largely stating the obvious, but there's some merit in pointing out that inworld sims aren't completely dead in commercial terms, there's nowt here that's encouraging for my roleplaying sim, but stories of people prospering can have merit.... I hope!

Pussycat Catnap

@cube: I suspect they read the value on traffic as if it was a value of number of people per week rather than some equation.

I've been there many times. It usually does have 3 to 5 other people in it, but I've rarely seen it have more. But it doesn't take all that many people if there is a constant steady influx of people that actually do buy something.

Now consider if this shop also had a series of branches on assorted RP sims... then we could keep some of those going.

But these days, there's no benefit for them in doing that. They can meet exposure needs other ways - and while they have an inworld store, they might really not need it.

(I would suppose they would still benefit from a small, perhaps 512 or 1024 lot somewhere showing the last 3 months of releases, due to the scale of their operation.)

cube republic

reading is fine ''Second Life Sim Success Stories: Here's How an SL Fashion Sim Attracts 35K-70K Weekly Visits & Covers Monthly Tier'' Then it's in bold further in the story.

Chestnut

Thank you for the tip! Now i only have to become 2 of the most popular SL brands with 4 of the technically most skillful designers with 6-8 years of experience in content creation, release regularly top quality so i can charge 350L$ for a sweater and my tires pay itself.

Emma Gilmour

I just want to specify that Celoe and Mon Tissu both release on Mayfair which really helps with the traffic. Since we are 2 separate brands, when we are releasing regularly we try to time our releases so that it will benefit the entire sim. It's definitely a lot of work and all that work does pay off for more than just tier but if you're looking to do SL full time, the regular releasing and promotions (basic marketing) seems effective! I definitely wouldn't attempt doing this in addition to a RL full time job, but I firmly believe that anyone willing to devote the time and energy, and submit to the demands of the learning curve can run a shop, stay on top of tier and turn a profit. Definitely not saying it's easy!! But for some reason us crazy SLers are willing to devote insane amounts of time learning this stuff... I think it's because we really enjoy it. :D

Tracy Redangel

People like to shop in Mayfair because it's a beautiful sim. They get the feeling they're shopping for clothes in a high-end shopping district of any major city.
It's not just about clothes. When people combine well-designed, updated products with a beautiful environment they'll shop and play there.
The reason why little shops and vendor malls are failing is because most of them offer old, out-dated product.

Arabella Jones

There's a tricky balance in the sim design. It has to look good, but it shouldn't be hammering the customer's internet connection with huge numbers of big textures. The scenery is competing with the goods on sale (and in my experience the viewer caching seems inefficient).

The new Interest List code should help, but there's been a few bugs. And I don't think it will help places that have the sort of badly-designed store which I teleport into, and wait a subjective age to rez.

Jo yardley

Mayfair is a very nice looking sim but (as far as I know) all it offers you is a place to shop.
So traffic may be high but if the items on sale are not your cup of tea, you won't return.
So the sim has to look good, the items for sale have to be good.
Makes sense really.

Gospel Voom

When it comes to paying tier there's a world of difference between a high-end store and a community led RP / Events sim. From my albeit singular experience I have noted that residents will gladly pay for the latest apparel or avatar accessory but only a few will tip a build or a performer. Satellite stores used to benefit both designer and venue but Marketplace has pretty much done for that. Folk don't browse like they once did.

cube republic

Went and visited Mayfair today, what a glorious build, one of the best I've seen in a while.

CronoCloud Creeggan

@Iggy:

I, for one, Welcome our Fashionista Overlords and look forward to serving in the Mesh Mines. Some of those Fashionistas might also know what a D20 is and have their polyhedral dice sitting within 5 feet of them.

@Jo:

You're right about the community, though one of the reasons I don't visit Berlin that often is that the 1920's is probably my least favorite post Victorian decade for fashion. As an aside, Berlin is well known amongst the vintage fashionistas in SL.

@Maxwell:

Don't lose heart, because even Fashionistas buy furniture. In fact there are stores that have kind of become "The Furniture Stores of the Fashionistas" LISP is an example of that thanks their participation in C88. So try some marketing or cross promotion with a maker of medieval clothing.

@Arabella:

While I think that the Mayfair shops (and the other "Emma Gilmour Brands") have great stuff, I am no fan of Mayfair as a shopping experience as I've written on my blog. I dislike shopping there. I don't think it's the actual builds per se, which I like aesthetically, but I think it's those Alpha'd vendors alongside all the mesh, that it reached the point of "Awesome, but impractical for SL shopping because of the limitations of SL" I want my shopping experiences in-world to be quick and pleasant, I don't want to go to a store and only have a quarter of the vendors rez or crash upon trying to TP out. I don't know if the Mayfair owners do testing of their builds under different viewers, but I can say that going there is rather unpleasant in Snowstorm on Linux with a GT220 video card.


Which brings up a point. No creator is perfect at everything. If one created stuff as good as the Emma Gilmour Brands AND provided a better in-world experience with simpler vendors in a simpler but less visually impressive build., after all I go to places to shop, not ooh and ah over builds. Then one could compete effectively.

@Jo again:

There's something for everyone there. Probably not much that you could wear at Berlin (Mon Tissu has a rep for twee as it's called), but they've got a relatively diverse collection of quality items. It's well worth a visit, or check on marketplace, though Celoe seems to actually rotate items OUT of the marketplace store...I don't know why. And Mon Tissu is not Emma's only brand, Check out Sand Shack Surf Co. as well.

AT everyone:

Yes, RP-centric builds have trouble supporting themselves without a well-heeled "Angel", always has been the case, even back in the old days. Now if you could get Fashoinistas interested in those regions.....but FAshionistas can do their thing anywhere.

Dartagan Shepherd

It's all relative. There will be people making a profit until the doors close.

On the other hand, I've bought undeveloped RL land cheaper than the setup cost for a region, paid less in taxes than $300/month in tier and started a christmas tree business that takes a tiny fraction of the hours necessary to run an SL business.

Some businesses can earn a profit 20 times greater (or more) than an SL business with one employee and still manage a 40 hour work week.

And there are of course businesses that take much more investment and hours and never turn a profit.

At the end of the day, SL is declining and thus takes increasingly more effort to sustain a profit to the point where those best suited to run a successful business are those who band together in teams and partnerships and those having a staff.

This is a contraction from the ability for independent merchants to be able to start and run a profitable business.

None of which addresses the flaws or failure of the platform itself to sustain X amount of merchants over the long haul.

As SL shrinks, so does the cost of success.

Is there even a debate that some people make comfortable profit but that increasingly more don't?

I've made profit and supported a region. I could do so again if I'm willing to put forth the time and effort.

The crux is in the cost of the effort and the return. What can I earn today with a 40 hour week, as opposed to what I could earn 2 years ago with a 40 hour week.

These things may change with the times in SL, in a way that they really don't change much in RL.

Has the conversation changed to anything is true if you can show an example of it? I suppose that holds true for death watch posts as well although they matched the overall condition more accurately than the life-watch posts.

Desmond Shang

Good commentary Dartagan. Love the Christmas tree business story!

The only thing I'd note is that with SL shrinking, the marketplace doesn't. Future content creators will be competing with every existing marketplace vendor, indefinitely.

Ciaran Laval

@Desmond, it's silly that people don't have to relist, especially now that we have direct delivery. Relisting may be irksome, but without irksome, people won't manage their listings.

In my day job I've managed email systems and imposed limits, when I've raised limits, the percentage of people who are under quota, being warned and over quota is roughly the same, with no quotas, it would balloon, undoubtedly.

Merchants may wail about having to relist, but as it would only cost them time and help new entrants into the marketplace, it's really something that should be implemented, even though it ignores the big elephant in the room about the marketplace in general.

Metacam Oh

hey all you have to do is work 18 hours a day with 10 people on staff all to pay back 295 a month, sounds like the future of the internet to me.

elizabeth (16)

@cube -- your arithmetic is right. is more 30-70,000 avatar minutes per week. can confirm that just by look at the parcel traffic count

which is pretty good when most of those minutes are actual people who buy stuff. exceptional good really. high value minutes are pure gold

CronoCloud Creeggan

@Desmond, the Great and Glorious Leader, Shang

Des, having all that "stuff" on marketplace doesn't seem to discourage new creators from entering the market. Also there has always been a preference in SL for new stuff rather than older. Notiwthstanding that newer stuff tends to be nicer. Sure, old brands like "Vitamin Ci" and "Nyte N' Day" have their stuff on marketplace...but I don't see people wearing the stuff, not even oldbies like me. So all that old stuff from mostly defunct designers is less competition than one might think. It's the "active" designers that are the competition, because as Emma Said, frequent releases are the best marketing in SL. They the key to keep people thinking of you. A designer who doesn't do new releases will quickly become forgotten.

I actually did a post about business back in 2008,, think NWN actually linked to it:

http://ccslfashionista.blogspot.com/2008/12/sl-fashion-businesseconomyglutmarketing.html

Yep, and here's then NWN post:

http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2008/12/ms-creeegans-ad.html

That was pre-Marketplace, though I'd say most of the same things today.

@Ciaran:

I'm not opposed to requiring re-listing myself. Or requiring a creator to login at least once a month to maintain listings. As long as there are exceptoins for creators who have passed away.

But you would see resistance/revolts from creators who consider Marketplace listing to be grudge work. There are big time creators that don't do marketplace because of that. I've suggested that creators hand over Marketplace duties to a trusted associate, but most are unwilling to do that (cant' really blame them) and LL doesn't make that sort of thing easy or have some kind of customer service/assistant feature so that an associate could login to marketplace and do the grudge work of uploading images and typing stuff in, without being the creator.


Desmond Shang

Crono, absolutely agree there's an effect there, especially amongst oldbies and blog readers. When I was a merchant, the steady release thing was just as true as today, even though sales were a lot easier for everyone back then.

Fashion is, by definition, ever changing and being current will matter. To the contrary however, not all sales are fashion sales; there are a lot of very boring, almost utilitarian things for sale that make disgusting amounts of money.

Naturally, the sellers of such things stay fairly quiet; the point is /not/ to make noise, not to blog, and just quietly keep making money. I had one friend that was making north of 8000 USD/month on something fairly utilitarian, until one single competitor arrived, and cut his income to about half. Another friend (making far less, but still doing quite respectably), capitalised on the seasonal and holiday changes that a lot of estates do. And if you are the only vendor selling stuff that celebrates the Saint Crono's Day holiday, when in 1389 Her Holiness drove all the snakes out of Sansara with a flaming sword... the market for St. Crono statuettes is pretty much yours forever, until someone else realises that it's a pretty sweet gig.

If I had the particular talents to make what some of these merchants have created, I'd be doing such things too, but I don't have plans to increase my financial exposure to SL these days.

I've noticed that there's a huge disparity between perceptions of sales (that it's universally dismal), and actual sales that some essentially RL friends (at this point) are making.

Even more revealing was the skill that some friends had at making money, while not producing any good or service /at all/. Using essentially Gordon Gekko skills on the breedables markets, I've known a number of people that handily covered the tier for entire regions, for years; yes even in Caledon. Wall Street, writ small!

People are really good at finding deals, niches, and their own sideline moneymakers; the truth about sales in SL is far stranger than fiction. It's amazing what the power of one well placed keyword can do, too ~ practically a goldmine. When Search broke a couple years ago and disrupted one of these keyword search results for a few weeks for a Caledon merchant, his business fell off by something like 80%. (We took the case to LL, and they fixed search in that area, believe it or not).

Last point ~ there's also some degree of having to hang out with friends, and the 'cool kids' to know what's hot in fashion. In Caledon alone, I'll see that about maybe 30% of everyone is part of 'society' but easily all the rest run only in their own circles: just a few friends, no bothering with forums or blogs, not even in any fashion groups. I would have to agree that their spending is likely lower than the 'in crowd' ~ but to put it in 1960's terms, there's way more squares out there than hip people, and they do buy stuff.

What might make a really revealing story would be to find out how recently created, the stuff on 100 random avatars is. I'd look forward to reading that. Maybe some of the fashion people already have data on it; I wouldn't be surprised.

jo yardley

@ CronoCloud Creeggan

I don't really like 1920s fashion either ;)
The 1930s is more my style, that is why I wear that in RL.
But we've just started a whole new shopping area right next to 1920s Berlin that is about all things vintage.
And the most famous vintage fashion designer there is will open her main store there this week!
Sonatta Morales makes amazing clothes, even if 1920s fashion is not your thing, you'll appreciate the quality.

I really like Mayfair, it looks great.
But there really isn't anything there I would buy, except perhaps for some of the things that are part of the decor :)

ZZ Bottom

Kitely lanched a marketplace that could be the solution to many of the problems!
Perhaps its time to start using more then SL 1, even if i cant complain, all i buy there are free itens, for the rest i go to inworld shops, that can explain still the need of having them!

Ajax Manatiso

At 70k visitors a week -- correct me if I'm wrong but this would make it the most visited sim in the history of SL. Yet it has never made any of the top 50 most-visited lists you post. I wonder who is grossly exaggerating here ....

Skate Foss

Mayfair is a beautiful sim. Mon Tissu is a gorgeous store with well made clothes. For us old time SLers it has same feel of visiting Armidi. Whatever you buy, you know it will be the best quality.
As the owner of a residential sim since 2009, I can tell you my secret; hard work. I strive to provide a beautiful sim that my tenants are proud to call home. I am ALWAYS updating, tweaking and improving my sim. To increase traffic and awareness, we host events, rent out parts of the sim for party's and weddings. I encourage tenants to use public areas of the island for their own events, such as rez day party's. When I add new features to my island, it must be gorgeous and something residents will want to use.
I offer my tenants 24/7 attention. IMs are bounced to my phone and if I can not rez in, our Estate Manager will.
In this present economy, the stress of keeping a sim in SL is so much greater, sim owners must work that much harder.

Zingy

It is a great sim, however chock full of laggy 1024 textures. I hope the creators optimize and improve Mayfair :)

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