October 26th, 2010

A Dilemma

People know me as a fair and honest individual, one who won't interfere with their business, unless it interferes with my land. In that vein, I don't restrict who I rent land to based on what they sell and/or if there's another merchant with the same goods on my island.

I ran into a real dilemma early this morning. One guy had rented land from me, virtually from the start of when I opened my island. Later on, another guy rented from me, and happened to be offering the same service as guy number one.

Recently, I was contacted by guy number one; he told me he's leaving Inworldz, and the reasons lay with guy number two. It seems while guy number one was busy attending to business in other virtual worlds, guy number two undercut his price and "stole" customers from guy number one.

Guy number one contacted me to tell me this in such a way that it felt like he was asking me to do something with guy number two, to make it worth his while to stay in Inworldz.

Now, if I did that, I'd be showing favoritism, which is something I refuse to do - and yet in a way I feel obligated to guy number one because he was one of my first renters.

What to do?

My first thoughts were to tell guy number one where he went wrong. It wasn't his prices, it was his lack of presence, and the fact that he didn't invest much time in getting his name out there (we have so many free services that you really don't invest any money). While guy number one was noticeably absent, guy number two was getting out there, socializing, advertising in classifieds and forums. Is it any wonder that guy number two is the one to profit?

It wasn't a matter of price as much as presence and footwork. If guy number one had spent any time inworld getting himself out there, then it may not have mattered if guy number two had a lower price. The service offered was the same kind, but how it was offered is what could've made all the difference in the world.

I won't play favorites. If I do in this case, then I have to in all cases, and where does it end? As a businesswoman I don't want the reputation of playing favorites. Doing so demonstrates a lack of integrity and would erode the trust people have in me. Besides, it's too much work to keep track of why I favor this one over that one. It can get very messy. I'd rather travel the high road and let the market decide.

The only problem I really have with the entire scenario is the fact that it appears one merchant deliberately undercut another. At the same time, it brings me back to something I've been arguing all along: If you don't spend time learning your market and your potential customers, you won't fare very well. It's not just a matter of price; it's the entire package.

We knew this day would come.

Late last night I made a momentous decision that won't be a big surprise to some people: I am no longer going to be paying Linden Lab for land OR for a premium membership.

While spending time with the Elf Clan folks on Inworldz, it came to light that they're offering a very sweet deal if someone would like to add an island to the Elf Clan holdings. It just happens to be that I've been wanting an island just for roleplay. Yes I would offer some shops but the main thrust of the island would be a roleplay space.

I can't really do that with Fantasia right now. I have commerce going on in the Fantasian Markets. It's the base for my main store, Designs By Marie. Ferrator is busy creating some really fantastic tiny stuff over on his part of the island. I have the apartments there, a low-cost resource more people are depending on so they have a place to call home. It's also a place where I can create art and build to my heart's content, meters above it all. Fantasia's character has developed over time to be what it will be.

I purchased Isle of Anu with the intention of offering a trustable, low-cost solution to land rental, shortly after another land person wigged out on everyone and basically took their rental money and ran. It's working out very well for those who lease land there, and it's led to my development of not one, but three rental systems.

I wanted a place that people could enjoy just for the sake of it, and the deal with Elf Clan offered me just that.

I've been in a "PushMePullYou" state for quite some time over the small land holding I maintain on Second Life's mainland region of Tweddle. It's where my friend Nikitta is, who got me the land to start with. It's where Willy's chocolate factory is. It's where it all started.

At the same time I'm paying $75USD for a plot of land that's way less than a full sim and with a mere fraction of the prims I have on a full sim in Inworldz. The Markets are not flourishing and aren't likely to flourish as consumers for fantasy items dwindle.

In actuality I'm paying $82.50USD every month, because I also have to pay for a Premium membership to have that land in the first place. Since I pay my membership every 3 months, it's less, but at the same time, it adds to my monthly cost.

$82.50 per month for less than half a standard SL mainland sim, with less than 7500 standard prims. Compare that to what I have now: A full island sim, 45,000 prims, for $75/month - and if I get that sim with Elf Clan it'll be less than that.

I can't stand to build anything in SL anymore. Their restrictions on building, done to force people to buy more land, are ridiculous. Their upload cost of $10L per image/sound/animation adds up fast. I'd much rather build in Inworldz where I can have a prim from 0.001m to 256m in size, no link distance limit, and more prims than I know what to do with. Where uploads are free. Where they're going to have a completely rewritten LSL compiler and a top-notch physics engine within two months, both of which will blow SL away. Where the bugs get fixed, not ignored.

Where you can relax and not have to push so hard to make money just to make tier. Where the community is the most generous and sharing I've ever known.

So I had to ask myself: What am I paying $82.50 per month FOR? My friend Nikitta can come visit me and I can visit her, anytime. Willy builds on Inworldz and also has a home on SL. The point of that tiny piece of land is the Markets, and they're floundering. It's neither worth the money, nor the time, to continue paying for it anymore.

Willy and Nikitta knew this day might come. I have always been very honest with them. Now we have to talk about what to do with the land. Either way, I will be rid of it before my next tier date of November 21.


I also forgot to add in the roughly $13USD that I bought Lindens with to pay my markets manager's salary and her costs for ad boards.

That brings it up to $95.50. Definitely not worth it.

It just keeps adding up.