I posted this on the SL Exchange Forums today, but I thought it might be fun to put it up here as well... The questions was, what is the best way to make money in SL?
SL is no different than RL. Generally speaking, you can make money ethically or unethically (in RL we have laws that enforce our shared ethics, in SL we just have to rely on our own moral fortitude...)
Assuming that you mean, what is the best way to make money ethically in SL, again the parallel to RL is there.
Plan, build, work your ass off. Simple.
Planning involves research, research and more research! Find out how things work in SL - what drives people's spending habits. Typically, in my experience, people spend money on a few key things:
-acquiring things - clothes, buildings, cool attachments, toys, scripts. Create some of these, that people want, and sell them. Look at what sells well on SLX, and make something better!
-sex - although there is a glut of sex-stuff in SL - some of the sex trade makes a lot of money. Escorting, creating and selling sex animations and toys (beds, whips n chains, etc...) There are lots of niches in the sex trade as well - BDSM, roleplay, gay sex, furry sex, ageplay (and NO - I am not condoning it - just pointing out that it exists)
-land - although this is a bit gag-worthy - i often refer this to "building dreams". Fact is, a huge number of people in SL have a dream of either having something of their own (a home with nice trees and beach, or a castle, or whatever - with a partner (or partners), friends, and fun. Other people have a dream of creating something (a business, a club, a mall, a school, an art gallery, a porn palace). I can tell you from lots of experience, most of these businesses fail. but all of them need land to make it happen.
So, first you need to plan. What do you like doing? What are you good at? Can you build? Script? make clothes/skins/textures? Cyber like a feral cat? How much money are you going to invest in making money in SL? What is the business model - what is the business plan - who is the market? It is almost impossible to set up and start making money with something you either hate doing, are no good at, or or can't afford.
Then, once you have a product/service that you think will be successful, build it/create it. Take your time. focus on quality and differentiation. I would suggest, for products, find a niche market, and worry about expanding mainstream at a later point in time. For land, buy your Lindens and buy some land (i blogged an article with some ideas about this not too long ago - http://deliciousdemar.blogspot.com/2007/11/getting-you-own-island.html )
And finally, and most importantly - work your ass off. You CANNOT make money in SL without a lot of work and dedication - or if you can, I would love to know how!! making clothes/skins is not easy - and the fact is that there are tons of BIAB sellers that flood the market with ok quality clothes that are all the same! Look at the successful clothiers - their stuff is clearly a step above, shows painstaking commitment to detail and perfection, and/or focuses on a clear niche market.
lol - there is my roadmap to success in SL. My best advice for you would be to throw yourself into SL for a while and forget about making money. You need to understand the mindset of the people - get out there - have fun! Meet people, ask questions, experiment, try making things, think things through. Otherwise you are likely to come up with a product or service that YOU think is really cool, but nobody else could care less about (I learned this the hard way...)
I would be interested in your thoughts/experiences/advice...