In this installment of So You want to Own a Business in Second Life, we tackle the business of Affiliates/Franchises. Think about all of the items you have in your inventory, you will probably find many by the same one or few content creators! Often these very same content creators that you love, may have affiliate/franchise vendors that you can either purchase or at time’s get for free and set up your own Second Life business! Below are a few tips to help you get started with this type of business:
- Selecting an affiliate/franchise-this may be the hardest part with this type of business, as there are many affiliate/franchise opportunities in Second Life. You can often find such vendors on the Second Life Marketplace, by looking in the business category. As of 7pm slt (4/23/12), there are over 3200 affiliate/franchise opportunities in Second Life! To help yourself narrow them down, think of items you like to purchase or services that you use a lot in Second Life, then do a search on the marketplace. Of course if you are within a budget limit, some of the costly affiliates/franchises may be out of your reach and you may have to choose one or several of the freebie ones.
- Read the terms, rules, and instructions-this is very important as affiliate/franchise businesses often have their own terms, rules, and instructions that can affect how you set up your business. Often such businesses may require that you join their update or merchant group, so make sure you have group space available. Some may have requirements such as how many can be located in a particular sim and where you can place the vendors. You should also check to see who is the customer support or your first line of contact in the event that items are not delivered to customers or if you have a problem with any of the vendors. You should also read the commission split, as this may determine if it is cost-effective to even rent property to set up the affiliate/franchise. Some affiliates/franchises pay more than others, some pay very little. Lastly read the terms to see if you can even use and set up the affiliate/franchise business, since some vendors have avatar age restrictions—you have to be a certain age for the vendors to actual function for you correctly.
- Location, location, and location-land rental can be costly in Second Life the same is for shops. You will have to have a location to rezz and set up your affiliate/franchise business. If you buy a complete affiliate/franchise that has many vendors, then you may need a much larger piece of property, shop, and prims to get set up everything. Of course there are many affiliate/franchise businesses that just include a single multi prim vendor, that can be prim heavy. Choosing a location is never easy either, you may not want to set up an affiliate/franchise that contains the same business that you have within the same sim. You also would want to look for areas that are less laggy but busy enough so you can get some traffic to the shop. Always look around a location before making a selection.
- Advertising, promotions, marketing-after you set up your affiliate/franchise, you have to promote the shop’s location. You can do things such as looking at promotional rental groups, if you are leasing property and send out notices announcing the shop’s opening. You can also hit social media or ask the sim where you happen to lease property, if they can do a profile on your new business. Make sure you promote your business in any groups that you own or groups where this is allowed. You should also put your business location in your profile picks and take out a small classified ad, if it is within your budget. Also make sure the business is listed in Second Life search via the parcel. Another idea is to talk to the creator of your affiliate/franchise to see if they have any advertising or promotional material that you can use to set up your store or if they have any events that tie into the business that you can be a part of.
- Update, update and update-if you have a good affiliate/franchise business, then you should receive product updates or notifications that vendors have been update. It is important that you make updates to vendors or place out new items as they become available, this helps your store to stay up to date and you can have new material. If you have an affiliate/franchise that does not offer much support or updates, you may want to contact the creator to see when updates may occur. Remember when someone purchases an item from your affiliate/franchise vendors, they will always message you first if there are failed deliveries or the item does not work correctly.
If you love this type of business, then you may want to consider leaping into the world of content creation, which will be our next installment of So You Want to Own a Business in Second Life.