Today, a friend of mine approached me and asked me whether I thought that he could get his own island, a place where he could live and build in peace, and rent out part of it in order to cover the tier, or a large part of the tier. Lots of people had told him not to bother - that the number of people renting land was on the decline and that he was doomed to lose money... Actually, I get asked this a lot - people dream of one day owning their own island, but don't know how to go about doing it, or don't have the cash that the island costs initially - which is $1675 USD if you buy direct from Linden Labs.
The fact is, that this is very doable - but like everything in Second Life - it can't be done without two crucial things: planning, and effort. In fact, these things are the basis of everything in SL - I might even venture to say RL as well. You NEED to plan!!! i am constantly stunned by how many people TP over to their new island, and look around saying to them selves, "Uhhmmmm, so now what?" You can save yourself a ton of stress and headaches by thinking through exactly what you are going to do with the island - is it going to have a theme? a certain look? commercial or residential? what size parcels? selling or renting? what is the rent/tier going to be? are you going to advertise? how? what is the ad going to say? are you going to do something for new tenants to welcome them? what rental box system are you going to use? how are you going to track your rental transactions? what is the covenant going to say?
Those are just the questions off the top of my head. The point is that running and renting an island isn't difficult - but it goes a lot smoother if you think things through before you start.
I had a boss once time that was being pressured to open a new store quickly, and the head office was giving him a really hard time about speeding things up, but keeping it on budget. He called the head office, and he said to them - there's three things you seem to want. Do it fast. Do it well. Do it cheap. You get to pick two.
This really made an impression on me - and it is sooo true. The same thing applies to building up to getting your own island. If you want to do it well, and cheap, it is going to take you a long time. If you want to do it fast and cheap - you're probably not going to do it very well - you'll get a crappy island from someone else at a cutrate price, etc. etc. If you want to do it fast and well - you're going to need the cash up front to make it work.
Everyone is different, and wants to do things their own way - but my advice to you is to listen to my boss - you get to pick TWO: fast, cheap, and well. However... lol If you want it to work, you have to do it well - and by that I mean, if you are going to try to have a self-sustaining island and rent some of it out - you will need to become a good landlord. and that means knowing the tools and tricks of SL REALLY well - honing your customer service skills - and finding some way (meditation, drugs, an elastic around your wrist...) to keep your patience with the people that are wanting to rent land from you.
So, in the end - you really only have one choice - whether to do it cheap, or to do it fast.
If you can do it fast - if you have $1675 you can invest in Second Life - then Bob's your uncle. Do some of the planning I was talking about - talk to other land owners (IM me, for example, or Lindsay Druart, or Sarah Nerd, or Kejo Merlin, or Pablo Sienkiewicz, or Rockwell Ginsberg) and ask their advice about what works for them. Then, when you have planned it out - go to the Land Store - or try to find an empty island for sale inworld - and do it!! If you rent out at least half a sim, you should be able to cover most of your tier - if you rent out 2/3, you can definitely cover it, 3/4 you get a little pocket change toward the purchase price.
If you don't have the money for a whole island, but you do have some money available every month, and you have a way of making money inworld (cuz frankly, if you don't have any money or any source of income in SL - then you might as well forget about having an island to begin with...) then you can build up to having your own island. Try to talk to sim owners about a rent-to-own, or buy some mainland to start with, and rent IT out - you can practice and make some money. If you can scrape together enough to buy 1/4 sim (which right now will cost you about 115-120k Lindens) - you'll have a monthly tier of $75 - but you should be able to get renters in to pay you $120 a month - and you can use the difference to expand a bit, or to save up for the island.
Or, do whatever YOU do well - build stuff and open a store - make clothes - script. The real secret is, NOTHING IN SL IS EASY. You simply cannot make money in SL for nothing. Hell, even escorting was hard work (pun intended...) - you have to put in a lot of hours to make decent money at it - rofl. Whatever you do - remember to plan, and put aside money for the island purchase. This is exactly what I did - at the very beginning, I put some money into SL - not a lot - but since then, I have never (until yesterday when i bought some of my own friggin shares in the secondary) put any of my RL money into SL - I have build everything up over time - by treating everything I do pretty seriously - doing a lot of thinking and planning, and just spending a shitload of hours making it work! Oh, and having a sunny and sparkly disposition - LMFAO.
I'm not sure if any of that is helpful - or even relevant to the people that might come to this blog. But I'd be interested in any other thoughts people might have about this - about how to achieve your dreams in SL...