While “Small Business Saturday” may be easily associated with small boutiques and other brick-and-mortar stores in the real world, the movement is gaining traction online as well. Take IMVU for instance, a thriving social community (with new apps on iOS and Android devices), which allows its users to create virtual items for sale in their own digital stores to earn real money. These creators are being showcased today, with their stores advertised across the entire IMVU platform, encouraging users to discover new friends and product lines for purchase.
The platform isn’t just handing out pocket change to its creators either. While the usernames of its highest earners remain anonymous, IMVU says many of its creators earn over $1,000 per month, with some earning as high as $8,000 to $10,000 each month.
IMVU is a social community that allows users to create virtual avatars to represent them in real-time chat rooms and lobbies. Users earn virtual currency for completing feature-driven quests or by interacting with third-party offers, and this in-game cash can also be purchased with real money. Currency can be spent on new items for one’s avatar, from shirts and pants to jewelry, hairstyles and even new eye designs, among many others.Search the store for any major keyword, and you’ll find hundreds or thousands of items available for purchase. Search for “Christmas” under the women’s section, for instance, and you’re presented with over 6,500 pages of items to browse and purchase for one’s avatar.
This customization doesn’t stop at clothing, as users can decorate their own virtual space or “room,” purchasing furniture, lighting, decorations and even special effects to personalize their rooms.
Most individual clothing and furniture items cost under 1,000 credits, with 5,000 credits being available to purchase outright for $5. More expensive items might contain bundles of multiple items for one’s closet or room, or particularly impressive items, complete with animation and the like. While cheaper items may not result in a massive profit for the creator each time the item is sold, success in IMVU is a marathon, not a sprint.
User angellee731 (Lee) knows this first hand. Lee started creating on IMVU back in 2007. Disabled and homebound, the platform has served as not only an outlet for social interaction, but also a method for earning additional income that helps pay for her medication.
“The market varies from day to day. What is hot selling today is short lived and then on to another genre,” she tells us. Sales vary so much that it’s difficult to put her earnings into a ballpark figure. “There are times (days) when sales sky rocket. Then there are times you wonder where the people went.”
Still, success is available for those dedicated and patient enough to receive it. One user, who wishes to remain anonymous, has sold just over 127,000 individual items on her main account in the last three months. While she has a part-time job, IMVU provides enough income to cover most of her household bills and taxes.
Others use the platform has a hobby. User MarRakarth (Mar) has a full time job, but likes to help others feel welcomed to the platform, while also earning some extra money on the side. “It’s not much to me, but it helps keep me going knowing that someone is buying what I create,” she tells us.
For Small Business Saturday, creators of all popularity and success levels were encouraged to put together individual public chat rooms (or team up with others) to highlight some of their items and attract new customers. This event is something the IMVU team takes incredibly seriously, and it’s the second year this event has been held.
“IMVU has the world’s largest catalog of virtual goods, with over 16 million items – all created and sold by more than 50,000 Creators in our community. This vibrant marketplace provides the medium for self-expression and creativity that our entire community thrives on,” Brett Durrett, CEO and president of IMVU, tells us in a statement.
“We’re the Etsy for virtual goods, enabling creative people to design and sell the products they make. For [the] majority of our Creators, making and selling their products is not just a hobby but a way to earn money – as part-time or even full-time income. We are celebrating these merchants on Small Business Saturday and expect this event to be our biggest one yet. Our customers love meeting their favorite designers, chatting with them, exploring their showrooms, and buying their products for their avatars and chat rooms.”
Users can browse these stores on the IMVU Mobile app on iOS and Android devices. The mobile version of the platform offers access to chat rooms, private messaging and the store, where users can try on and purchase items for their avatar.
As for new users, interested in creating their own items for sale, user Calypsio has a helpful piece of advice: “Start with the basics, like accessories and shoes, and gradually work your way up to more complex things like full outfits and dresses. Most importantly, don’t give up! Creating is difficult at first, but you will improve faster than you think! Remember, every creator has to start somewhere and even the top selling creators were new once too.”