Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Merchant Resource: A guide for new (and not so new) merchants in SL

I've been a merchant in Second Life for more than four years. It's quite the experience, and if you're thinking on starting your own business in SL, I can't but recommend you to go for it. I also want to share with you the things I've learned these years.


Because when I started, I had no idea of things I could (and should) set in place to make my life as merchant, easier. This goes from deciding on a name, to deciding store policies, what information providing to customers, what to write on my product ads, which scripts using to make my life simpler, managing bloggers... and more. But now that I know them, I can try to help you in being better prepared when you start your own adventure :-)

I have to say upfront that I suck at marketing. I cannot tell you how to make from your store, a successful one. But that's not my goal anyway. My goal is to talk about what you need to run a business, from a technical/customer service side. If you think about it, this also helps in making your store, a successful one: The less time you spend in effectively handling this part, the more time you have to continue creating those wonderful products that your customers want to purchase.

One of the problems of being a merchant in SL is that you, the owner, in most cases are... everything: You're the artist that creates the items. The accountant. The photographer. The marketer. The ad designer. The customer service representative. The public relationships person. The copy writer. Everything that in a RL business would need several people to fulfill all roles, you will be, alone. And people (customers or not) will expect that you will be a professional in each and every of those roles.

Personally, I've found that it's good experience to learn about all these roles, but if during your merchant adventure you don't feel comfortable in some of them, consider hiring someone else. There's no shame in admitting that you can't, or don't want, to do absolutely everything. In fact, anything that is detrimental to your creativity has to be considered as something to delegate into others. That way you will always be able to provide the best service while keeping the creativity going on. Without creativity, there are no news, and without news, your store will be gone.

Keep in mind that while having a SL business might be a hobby to you, your customers aren't going to see it that way: they will expect you to be a professional. And don't feel discouraged about anything I've said! Remember the goal of this series: Helping you figuring out many why's, what's, and how's.

I don't have a full summary yet: One thing I've learned about myself is that even when I have a full summary of all topics I will treat, as I write, I decide on changes, additions, and deletions. Since this is not a finished work that I now start to publish, but rather something that I will be writing over the next weeks, consider the following list of topics more as an idea of what we'll learn here (leaving the field open to additions and changes), than something I will strictly adhere to.

Module 1: Basics

  • How do I begin? Location and information we want to always have handy, and preparing our inventory
  • Preparing your products for sale: Permissions... and a lot more
  • Deciding on store policies and customer service
  • Store Group, Group Gifts and Subscribers
  • Landmark givers, group inviters... What to do, what not to do
  • Storing your transaction records and Marketplace records.
  • Vendor systems, gifting options. Yes, no, which and when?
  • Basics on land management: Because you don't want to be an easy target of griefers
  • Customer Service: Do's and Do-Not's

Module 2: Ad pics

  • Creating ad pics: Basics on SL Photography
  • Creating ad pics: Aspect Ratio - The difference between a photography, and a what's wrong with this photography?
  • Creating ad pics: Poses, Photo Studios, Lighting Systems. Yes, no, which and when?

Module 3: Setting up your Internet presence

  • Setting up and managing your store blog
  • Setting up and managing your Flickr account
  • Google Apps (Docs, Spreadsheet, Forms)
  • Google Apps: Setting up a customer service form with e-mail notification
  • Google Apps: Basics on analyzing spreadsheet data

Module 4: Bloggers, events, hunts, and Social Media

  • Bloggers: Communication and management
  • Setting up a blogger application form with e-mail notification
  • Applying to hunts and events
  • Social Media: Services, privacy level

How often will I be publishing? I would like to say that every week, but from a realistic point of view, that's going to depend on the length of each post. Some will be short, and I may publish even two on a week, but others may take two/three weeks, because of some extensive step-by-step documentation.

You won't have to wait long though, for the first chapter. Have a great day!


Mesh body: Lara, from Maitreya
Mesh hands: Lara's hands, from Maitreya
Mesh feet: Lara's feet, from Maitreya

Skin: Lulu 02 C, Jamaica, from Glam Affair
Freckles: Cassiopea Cosmetics, A (tn), from Glam Affair
Lipstick: Leah Lipstick 21, from Glam Affair
Hair: Teddy, Reds 02, from Truth

Pencil in mouth: Pencil (Mouth), Red - Freebie, from Magic Nook (I have this one from long time)
Glasses: Custom Eyewear - SCT, from Gos

Dress: Teacher costume, from Provocation

Windlight: Tron Legacy clean


House: Autumn Cottage, from Trompe Loeil (Mine is rescripted and has its physics reviewed to lower the LI)

22769 ~ [bauwerk] Mediterranean Wine O'Clock
Dutchie maledom chair 2.0
Dutchie art deco sofa adult
Dutchie Biedermeier sofa adult
Dutchie fireplace blankets adult plus
Dutchie rug green striped
Dutchie cast iron fireplace (rescripted by me)
Dutchie painting the statesman
Dutchie rose painting
Dutchie copper candleholder
Dutchie mesh antique books
Black Tulip Flower Foot Lamp (Full permissions)

Dutchie writing table adult

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