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What I learned from Second Life...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 , Posted by Suzanne Powell at 10:45 PM

I was thinking about Second Life and the fact that I haven't played on it in a while. I have a few items that I WAS making but I think I've hit a depression or something... More on that later. But I realized that SL taught me more than most of my professional jobs ever did or could. So I thought that I might list some of the things that others might find useful - at least as an artist or marketeer:

#1 Planning and Process

Second Life is a rich (read: complicated) environment where what you do, who you meet, what you create depends entirely up to you. So I dove in about 4 years ago expecting to get started with my Digital Fashion house immediately.

Whoa! Not so fast there lil missy! After about a month of struggling and trying to get my stuff together I realized that I needed proper planning. In SL even the most trivial of concepts requires planning. I won't go into too much detail but because of the nature of SL, you have to KNOW absolutely what you want to do. A plan or at least a process that you have set - guides you and keeps your files from getting out of control, keeps you from missing deadlines and most importantly it keeps you from loosing your mind.

If you took a gander at my products in SL - over a space of about 6 months time I became very good at organizing and was able to produce over 50 colors/styles of clothing or outfits in very little time (about 3 days). This includes creating the outfit in Photoshop/ZBrush/3DS Max, Uploading it to SL, Creating the different colors and styles in SL, Boxing it up, Taking Modeling Pics, Creating signs or ads, uploading all of those signs to SL, XStreet and several other places. Not only that but with a plan and process you know exactly how to name things, where they should be put and what to do once you are finished. Which makes life easier when a customer comes to you asking about an item that they bought but for some reason didn't have the item in the box... Personally I blame the sneaky asset server gremlins, but a customer is a customer and they deserve competence.

I think that a lot of people in SL have no idea what lengths creators go to to make stuff and sell it or even give it away.

#2 Photoshop

Now when I started in SL I would have said that my skills were expert level. Again - I had a lot to learn. Not only did SL's limitations and file requirements FORCE me to learn how to really manipulate overlay layers, use the burn/dodge tools, adjustment layers, alpha channel etc. But I also got a heaping of scripting knowledge to boot.

Something that if I hadn't touched SL - I just wouldn't have been aware of. I now use that knowledge where I work. I can export a series of JPGs out of a PSD like no one's business BECAUSE I know exactly how to create files that are not only easy to navigate but easy to change. Layer Comps, scripts, channels, adjustment layers - these are your friends. Don't forget it!

#3 ZBrush

I had NEVER heard of ZBrush before coming in contact with SL. This program was really hard for me to learn. It is nothing like a 3D program or a 2D program but at the same time it is. This program took me over 1 year to learn and use in a manner that I was satisfied with. I can now create just about anything - but like Photoshop this program has so many depths that I do not think I'll ever be finished learning. I'm still hunting for tutorials everyday and I make items in it every chance I get. I love that program and I love SL for making me learn how to use it.

#4 Marketing and Networking

What good is a product or a store if no one ever hears about it. The first store I had was small and rather cute. My friend (who I now hold responsible for my SL addiction) Charlotte Morlette let me use some of her land for my store and I thought that perhaps some of her overflow traffic would come to my store.

That didn't happen at all. It's not like Field of Dreams "If you build it they will come" kinda thing. It's more like - "Yay! You built it... Now get the freaking word out stupid!"

After Floundering for a few weeks etc. I started searching in SL and on Google and asking people, going to blogs etc. It took me a while but I found out how to market my stuff effectively. Honestly though - the marketing portion of selling goods in SL is where a majority of my time went. AFTER I completed a project and set up signs etc.. I would spend about a week or more sending notices, taking out ads, tweeting it, posting it, sending gifts to bloggers etc. (This is probably why I stopped doing stuff on the grid more than anything else).

This part of SL truly showed me guerrilla marketing, social marketing etc. You won't sell a damn thing if you don't market yourself and this holds true in real life as well. Whether you own a brick and morter store or if your stuff is completely online, YOU HAVE TO MARKET YOUR STUFF! Also you really have to make connections and talk to people. Sometimes that is the best way to market your items. Make friends, give presents, ask for feedback etc.

#5 Sometimes you gotta take a break...

It saddens me but at the same time I think I was in need of a good long break. I work full-time as a motion graphic artist or vfx compositor (depending on the day of the week), and SL became a chore. I no longer looked forward to logging in and seeing if any of my friends were online, simply because most of the time they weren't. I didn't even want to open Photoshop to make stuff. I often found myself actively procrastinating (against my own deadlines really) and doing other stuff when I was supposed make something to sell (or give away - I did a lot of that too). It became another job. And although I do like doing stuff for SL - the entire process became a chore. So I stopped. Although recently I've been a little more interested in it and I will probably get back into the game again, I'm not rushing. Simply because I need some time to grow outside the digital walls and explore other avenues.

I think that's about all for right now. If I think of anything else, I'll post it as a continuation of this list. I'm absolutely sure that there are about 500 things, but atm I'm late to an appointment and just like the white rabbit I must skedaddle.

Currently have 2 comments:

  1. A great post and very thoughtful. I try to tell every designer I work with that designing is only 1/2 they work they will do and the other half will be organizing and marketing. When you add on all the requests, the correspondence, the socializing, it's an onerous task.

  1. ARthur says:

    Sorry about this off-topic comment. But I had trouble contacting you via your email (

    I was wondering if it would be possible to advertise on this blog for a jewelry site I consult for. Let me know if you're interested or want more details.