It never fails to happen. A newbie (i.e., someone new to Second Life) gets onto one of the SL forums and asks the inevitable question:
How do I earn free money in Second Life?
And the answer, of course, is that you can’t.
In the old days (say, a decade ago), you used to be able to hit the camping spots to earn a few Lindens. Those days are long gone; the very few camping spots that still exist in Second Life are closely guarded secrets, and the chances of you earning any amount of money by camping are pretty much history. Most camping spots earn you, at most, L$1 per 10 minutes, and most are L$1 per hour (and that’s if you can find them).
The closest thing I have found to “free money” in Second Life nowadays is the Magic Fishing system, and even then, you are limited to earning about 15 Linden dollars per fishing session, before the system locks you out for a period of time (usually something like 24 hours before you can try again at the same spot). You’re going to be fishing a long, long time to earn enough for that Catwa Bento head you’ve been eyeing.
If you happen to be good at trivia, you can earn some money by participating in the trivia tournaments which are held at various bars and other locations in SL. Join the Trivia Fiends group in-world, which regularly posts details on trivia contests in Second Life. However, you usually only win L$1 per correct answer, so it still can take quite a long time to amass enough money to buy something.
Your best chances of earning money in Second Life are to get a job. And the highest-earning jobs are those designing and creating content like clothing, hair, shoes, furnishings, trees, houses, animations, etc. that other avatars want to buy. And there’s a pretty steep learning curve associated with learning how to become a successful content creator in Second Life. Not to mention, it’s a lot of exhausting work to build a store and promote your brand in Second Life, competing against literally hundreds of other vendors. It’s not for everyone. You will likely spend weeks, months, even years working on your products before you can earn a significant income from them.
If you don’t have the time, skills, or patience to become a content creator, there are other types of jobs in-world. Clubs are always looking for DJs or hosts, and that is probably your best bet. You may also be lucky to find a business that needs customer service agents (e.g. a popular fashion store, or a land rental agency). Forget about becoming a fashion model; most stores now use alts (i.e. the creator’s alternate avatar accounts) as their fashion models or mannequins.
You can also try your luck working as an exotic dancer or even an escort (God knows, there’s enough places where you could work in SL), but you’ll need to have a very professional appearance (i.e., a mesh avatar head and body, plus sexy lingerie or other clothing), which means you’ll need to invest quite a few Lindens up front. Frankly, most people do not earn a lot of money by dancing or escorting (although you might hear of someone who does cam/voice work earning thousands of Linden dollars per session). And, let’s face it, not everybody has the stomach for this kind of soul-killing work.
You’re also unlikely to make money by being a blogger for Second Life, unless you’re already a well-known blogger like Strawberry Singh. There are literally hundreds of bloggers competing against each other for the limited number of official blogger spots for the best-known SL brands. If you are going to be a blogger, do it because you love it, and not because you expect to earn an income from it. The same goes for photography and videography/machinima; only the very best can make a living at it. This is not to discourage you; it’s simply stating a fact. You have to be the best to earn any money at it.
Where’s the best place to look for a job in Second Life? I would suggest that job seekers monitor the Inworld Employment section of the official Second Life discussion forums. There are also in-world employment agencies you can try (search for “job” or “employment” under the Places tab under Search in your Second Life client software), but don’t be surprised to find the same jobs (mostly for escorts) at the various agencies.
Finally, the most fool-proof method for earning Lindens is to BUY them on your credit card. Hate to break it to you, but it’s true.