This always happens to me: I am visiting SL friends, and suddenly connections are made and I am off building something for someone. I don't mind doing this (especially if I get paid!) because it means more exposure for me – both others seeing what I do, and me seeing what others are doing. The more you understand your SL market, the better. I take every chance I get to learn what's going on.
Here's how it went down the first time: I am at a SL house party, and a very nice lady asks what I do in SL. I explain that I build particle effects. “Oh, can I see some????? Pull-eezzzz!!!!”
“OK.” I don't mind showing off – my effects are usually quite a lot of fun anyway. I showed off some of my fogs and poofers, but she got very excited when I demonstrated my hearts poofers.
“Wow!” she said, and “Hold on a minute,” just before disappearing.
Moments later I am summoned via TP to a dance club, where I am introduced to the owner, another very nice lady. She likes the effects and buys several on the spot, but goes on to explain that they need something to spice up the club's lounge area. We visit the lounge and I recommended a few changes and suggested that I could build a custom particle effect that might work.
A few days later I had created a unique effect for that club's lounge – and the owner bought it on the spot. Suddenly, I was a virtual contract worker!
And that's how it usually happens. Some builders may turn down such requests (or not even identify them as opportunities), but I believe I gain much by doing these custom builds:
- Exposure to more potential customers. Who knows how many people will hear the story of how the lounge effect was built? Any additional sales that develop, even one, is more than you would have had otherwise
- Experience. Contracts typically cause me to push my knowledge of LSL and building a bit further than I have previously gone. This makes you a better builder and enhances your future products automatically. Of course, you have to have a nose for this kind of thing: don't take on contract work that you just cannot achieve. A little bit difficult is A Good Thing
- Customer service reputation. By helping my friend and being patient and listening carefully to the contract customer, they are likely to buy more items from me in the future (hopefully!) If not that, then they may again tell others of their customer experience. Besides, I like to be nice in general, and I can't do it any other way
- Items that are custom built for one are often resellable to others. In other words, you just received a great idea for a new product! Use it!
- Connections. Meeting people is always important, because not only do you gain social value, you also gain a potentially useful connection for future activities. Who knows when you might need to have a buddy who builds japanese furniture?