This weeks guest-blogger, in our new series, is house-builder and Second Life architect Cain Maven. You will get to know him better in this article he wrote for us. Food for thought, thank you Cain for taking the time in your busy schedule to give us your insights!
I have a confession to make: I haven’t been particularly good at using blogs to promote my Second Life business. In fact, I have sucked at it. Mostly, this is because I have been lazy or inept, but to a certain extent it’s also due to the nature of the beast. Let me explain. I design, build, and sell houses for a living. For historical and business reasons, I maintain two brands: Maven Homes and Quantum Luxury Homes. Most of the Maven Homes models are small to mid-sized, whereas the latter range from medium to Insanely Big. Now, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you spend making stuff if you can’t convince anyone to buy it, and that obviously requires marketing. Anyone who’s tried to run a business in Second Life has likely soon discovered that marketing isn’t easy, and it’s certainly different from marketing in the physical world.
Commute-time radio ads? Nope. TV commercials? Not really. Magazine ads? Yes, but it’s very hard to track readership numbers and effectiveness. Billboards may work for some, but they never did anything for me, and the same is true of classifieds. All of which pretty much leaves group notices as the one in-world channel that may have reasonable reach, immediacy and appeal. But how many of us actually read all 99+ notices that await us when we return to our screens? I know I don’t, although maybe I should.
If Second Life itself doesn’t provide effective, built-in marketing channels, the logical answer is to look to the web, and (with a couple of exceptions) that means blogs. Bloggers are not a monolithic entity, though—some focus on fashion, some on furniture and décor, and others again will be all about the finer points of technology. Finding that subset of blogs that cater to and care about your type of products isn’t necessarily as easy as it may sound, especially if some of the items in question are Insanely Big houses that require half a region and a thousand prims.
‘However, while I’m sure everyone who’s reading this has heard the complaint that “bloggers are just in it for the freebies,” that’s not my experience.’
Then there’s the obvious question of quality. Not all blogs are born alike, and while there is some truly stunning work out there, the blogosphere also includes its share of less impressive offerings—just like everything else in life. However, while I’m sure everyone who’s reading this has heard the complaint that “bloggers are just in it for the freebies,” that’s not my experience. It only happened to me once, and that person no longer blogs. I believe unethical bloggers fall by the wayside sooner or later.
Let me not forget events. I suppose they’ve always been there, but over time they have become increasingly popular—to the point where the event schedule is busier than Donald Trump’s twitter feed. I realize that they are great opportunities for many creators, and I know that they provide a steady stream of product news for bloggers, but they’re not for everyone. Events typically require exclusivity and a monthly turnaround, and neither of those criteria works well for me. Being limited to a single outlet for the first weeks or months of a product’s lifetime is a gamble I’m not generally comfortable with, and I’m way too much of a slowpoke to be able to churn out something newish every month. (Even if I could, I would quickly run out of space to display stuff, and products like houses need longer life cycles in order to be profitable.) I have participated in one monthly event, and while that went well, I simply won’t be able to keep up with the rapidly beating pulse of most events. I’m of course well aware that the issues that I face are not typical of most creators in Second Life. Photographing houses takes a lot more time and space than, say, shoes or sofas, and the lower release frequency that inevitably comes with time-consuming products like houses doesn’t help, either. Add to that the fact that bloggers who have a passion for architecture solely on its own merits are understandably few and far between, and the field narrows quite a bit.
‘I’m sure there are many builders out there who would like to find new ways of increasing brand exposure and promoting products.‘
Despite the challenges, I’ve had some really good experiences. Every now and then, someone will take incredible pictures and write truly clever copy—as a creator, that is tremendously rewarding, and not just because it has the potential of boosting sales; it’s an incentive to pull out the grid paper and get to work on the next one.
Back to my original confession: I have not made full use of the marketing opportunities that blogs offer. I’m probably not alone in this; I’m sure there are many builders out there who would like to find new ways of increasing brand exposure and promoting products.
I’m equally convinced that there are scores of bloggers who would be interested in early and consistent access to new releases, and who are truly focused on architecture in all its diverse forms.
Maybe we should talk?
Every month, well quarter actually and sometimes weekly or bi-weekly…well anyway, regularly or when needed the SL Blogger Support Team has meetings. To catch up, talk about what we can do to enchance the group ánd this website for our members and
we drink wine brainstorm a lot.
Last meeting we celebrated, modestly, that we are about to reach the 1300th member and we pondered on how to avoid getting the group killed by its own success.
We love all our members and even though at times things happen – like an overheated groupchat or a flood of applications because a big event is coming up, we still try to focus on being a group that offers SUPPORT for bloggers.
And this is an important topic. SL Blogger Support was founded, by Katya, with the intention to offer support. To bloggers. And build bridges between creators and bloggers. And we think we managed to do that very well, thanks to the awesome blogger community!
The past months though we have seen things shifting, in group-chat mainly and in the applications for new members. It all seems to focus on ‘early access’ and ‘preview access’ to events. And to be honest, this saddens us a bit. Surely, getting early access to events is a perk we appreciate and we do understand it is wonderful to shop in relative peace, when you have blog deadlines or limited time in Second Life.
But the early shopping- or preview accesses is not what SL Blogger Support is all about. It is part of it, but not the main theme. We want to bring bloggers and creators and event organisers together for better communication and help each-other out. Be it for help with a blog, photography, how to get more followers, where to find awesome locations for photo shoots etc. etc.
When the focus, and in some cases..the only reason to join us is to get early access to events, we are losing the initial ideal and losing support.
Again: we love and appreciate the early accesses and are grateful for it.
However, we felt we needed to address some of the side-effects (the amount of applications as soon as a major event is in sight and in a few cases some people actually complaining about some events not giving us access before the crowds come in).
We have – and yeah we hate the word ‘rule’ as much as you do – sent out some rules to event organisers and creators. We also close applications (as in, we will not handle them) the week before a large event opens and open them again as soon as the event is open to the public (example: Hair Fair).
So what are them rules for event organisers, well here they are:
➸ Notices are only used for Blogger Early Access – This is a hard fast rule. This means no notices for looking for bloggers, etc. We have an application process for this on the website.
➸ Please specify dates and times when posting, and landmarks should be included in the notecards.
➸ Please specify if bloggers are allowed to ask for review copies or if the event is ONLY for early shopping.
➸ Do not send out notices for sales, hunts, or upcoming events. There are groups for that in Second Life.
➸ Please keep it to a minimum of two notices a round. We do not want to overload our members with notices.
Not too bad eh?
Also, since the past weeks we noticed we got questions on how to make our members aware of paid positions (like Blogger Managers or PR Managers). We now have this covered in the form on the website here, so creators/event organisers can now also post that they have a vacancy for a paid position. If you are unsure, or have question on how to get your vacancy known, feel free to ask Ember Adored or Caitlin Tobias on how to proceed!
We don’t want to smack everyone with rules and policies, but we do hope you understand that with a (lovely!) community as we have, we need to have some stuffs organised – to keep us sane and keep you all happy!
Photos in this post are from members who added them in our own Flickr Group and who have set the publishing rights to sharing🙂.