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Trending FREE Dating Sites

Many "Free" dating sites spring up

8:46 pm on Jan 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi. First, I am new to this forum. I have been reading this site for about 9-months and recently joined to help support it. I am an almost-retired Silicon Valley engineer/beginning site developer - just help friends out with their sites and some html/css and php coding, I have learned to keep me from being bored in retirement. I have FOUR questions? (1) How is PROFIT - not revenue - made in the free dating site business. (2) What is (if exists), the business model, "FREE sites." I have heard there is at least ONE successful free dating site out there. (3)Why is there only ONE free successful site? (4) Is the market too small? (BACKGROUND) Two years ago, my neighbors (couple of middle aged guys who went to Asia and to quote them - we got "Yellow-Fever", created a FREE (not even advertising), asian dating site. I said: "What are you crazy? Why would anyone join a free asian dating site? No one will trust you because it's free! Also, how are you going to pay for the hosting if it's free?" I think they are crazy. So far I am right. They have only 60 members on their site in two years. Thanks for reading this my first post.
11:58 pm on Jan 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

That was about six years ago, that's a long time ago in Internet time, so not really trending anymore. You might want to read the post listed below from about six years ago by the person who made those millions on a free dating site. The innovation was that when he did it, it was mostly all a paid industry. The innovation was to give away for free what was then mostly a paid product and make up the difference with advertising. Nowadays you can buy an entire free dating website template, no coding necessary. That's how saturated the market is today.

Nevertheless, that's a good blueprint for doing things better. For another example, many years ago it was the conventional thinking that you can't make a buck off of kids. Then the dads behind clubpenguin started earning millions and where bought out out for around three hundred million. The lessons from both those examples are still relevant today.

How I made a million in 3 months. (2006)

Webmaster Earns $10 Million Per Year in One Hour Per Day (2009)
Inc. Magazine article - note WebmasterWorld reference

Kids Site Sold for $350 Million USD (2007)
Social Networking for Kids Comes of Age
12:18 am on Jan 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thank you for your response - It was very enlightening. As far as FREE dating sites - I still only see the one - the other sites purport to be free - however, they ALL charge once a member attempts to receive email - or chats - or messages from other members. The acknowledgement that a member may have sent you an email is free - but the content of the email is not. So, again. If the FREE dating model is so good - why is there only one site?
9:30 am on Jan 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

A "free" site may not be set up as a business. There are many good sites set up by enthusiasts or by people who think that they are providing a service.
The other aspect of a "free" business model is to establish a user base - once you have a critical mass you can start introducing charges. Maybe just for new users or having a paid for "gold" service.

2 years? I would guess that they had pre-paid for at least 2 years of hosting and domain name and quite possibly the whole thing is running on autopilot. When the next round of bills come in the whole thing might be dropped.

My other thought about a "dating" site without any obvious revenue stream would be that the whole thing was simply a front for ladies of negotiable affection.
6:25 pm on Jan 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hi Piatkow. Interesting viewpoint. I know the site owners. i know they have deep pockets, and have set aside a foundation for the care of the site for at least 5 years. i know they are NOT a front as the domain holders check each profile (maybe that is why its not popular), that is posted. Mybe this policy is another reason they are not getting a lot of members - it takes them several hours to several days to just approve a member!
4:10 pm on Jan 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

Of course, like any business, a dating site needs to be marketed. The big ones all use "traditional" media for publicity, TV ads, press ads etc, the site itself is a trivial part of the budget.
4:20 am on Feb 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think that the Inc magazine article on Markus Friend from Plenty of Fish really put this entire model on the map. However, as more business moves to the internet it is becoming harder to establish a large enough user base to support it through advertising only, as even POF charges/up-sells for certain features. Dating sites are big business to the major players, who, like any other major players in any other industry, hire PhD's and spend massive amounts of money on inbound marketing. More specifically to your points: (1/2) advertising (and up-sells), (3) assuming there is, it would be for the same reason there is one Facebook: network effects / critical number of users, (4) No. Otherwise there wouldn't be as many competitors. Everybody is just trying to follow where they think the money is.

You might consider reading Chris Anderson's book: "Free: The Future of a Radical Price"
6:56 am on Mar 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

(1) How is PROFIT - not revenue - made in the free dating site business.

As people mentioned, ads. Which is sort of a weird concept to me because then to me that means your real customers are advertisers and not really the users. That idea is really not intuitive to me when you are building a website meant to serve end users...

(2) What is (if exists), the business model, "FREE sites." I have heard there is at least ONE successful free dating site out there.

Advertisers, unless by "Free sites" you mean free only up to certain level of features. Then you just upsell them on an upgrade or add on features.

(3)Why is there only ONE free successful site?

Not enough product differentiation between free sites.

(4) Is the market too small?

Definitely not a small market. Some drivers for the markets:
New internet users = up
Divorce rates = up
Time spent at work (less leisure time to find mates via traditionally methods) = up

The market is definitely big. BUT the problem is that its hard to penetrate the market. Mature market with top 5 players holding most of the market = failure for anything but niche market players. You're not going to beat big guys at their own games and most of the obvious niche based on demographic has been snatched up.

The only opportunities I see now for a free site (or paid) is thinking of a niche market that hasn't been targeted yet, or attacking a niche market with better service/price. But the latter option would be pretty difficult as well because the nature of this business is user base attracts user... good luck winning over users that are already on a service.
12:01 pm on Mar 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tigger is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

thinking of a niche market that hasn't been targeted yet

not unless your going to invent some new niche....

I've been involved within the contacts market for 10 years plus and I don't think I've seen a niche that isn't marketed, but the problem is by hitting niche / mirco niche market your limiting the possible traffic and likewise members that will sign up.

If your not going white label then starting a niche site will be VERY hard going
12:39 am on Apr 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

3)Why is there only ONE free successful site?

There's arguably now two as OKCupid is eating away at POF's market share.