[I originally wrote this article in 2009 on Hubpages as Kylia; I’ve since then updated the content and have reposted it here on my own site. As always I appreciate your comments and your shares. Thank You!]
Love and relationships is a niche that is full of opportunity to earn an income. Believe it or not, there is still a ton of potential to make money in the online dating business industry.
You can approach the industry a few different ways. Invent a totally new way to find a match similar to “Tinder” or “How About We”. Then there is the traditional online dating business method which goes like this…Choose a niche, build the website and find members.
This article will provide you a 10 step process to build a traditional dating website and how to make it profitable and unique for your members.
You may want to ask yourself if you are just looking for a project to work on part-time or if you are really interested in getting into the online dating business.
I’ve started and built about 12 online dating sites and were able to sell three of them for 5 figures years ago. Every site that I’ve launched had zero members on day-one and I was able to grow the site to 10 of thousands of online daters.
I operate this blog and I even wrote an ebook about how to start an online dating business. I’ve been able to share my experience and tips to thousands. Before getting started just be clear on your expectations. Get ready to make the time and put in some work. I promise it’ll be worth it in the end.
Starting an online dating business isn’t the easiest thing you will do, but it can be very profitable and with this guide I can walk you through the steps to get it started pretty quickly.
Ten-Step Guide to Build Your Online Dating Website
Here is a quick outline of all the steps. I’ll expand on each step and you can skip and click to the information you want to review and have the most interest in learning about. Hopefully this help you get started and stay organized as you start your journey.
1. Choosing a niche and why you need one.
Quick answer: I niche is a specific category for your site, example dog lovers.
2. Naming Your Site. Best Methods
Quick answer: Include your niche in your site name. Example dogloversmatch.com
3. Choose a website hosting company and buy your .com name
Quick Answer: I always use BlueHost $3.95 per month
4. Get A Good Logo Design
Quick Answer: Fivver.com $5 Logos or 99Design contest for more options
5. It’s time to build your dating website and solutions for every budget.
Quick Answer: For beginners and those with some web design experience, choose WordPress, it’s more affordable. The #1 WordPress dating template software I recommend is SweetDate which costs $62
6. Choose a business model Free Vs. Paid Dating Sites
Quick tip: Free sites get members to join fast. Pay sites require a large marketing budget
7. Make It Mobile
Quick Tip: Make it mobile friendly get a dating app to work with your website
8. Marketing Plan
Quick Tip: Have a plan, write it out, Execute. Execute. Execute!
9. Marketing and Adverting: Free Vs. Paid Advertising
Quick Tip: Paid marketing for example would be Google Adsense or facebook ads. Free marketing is like word of mouth, posting to forums etc.
10. Getting Your First Members. Ways To Get paid
Your website should be setup to accept all major credit cards and maybe Paypal as well. Make sure you get a merchant account and learn the percentages and other cost involved. Stripe Payments is one of the most popular merchant account processors. You should check them out first.
So there’s the overview of what you’ll learn.
So let’s get into it as I break it all down and provide more details.
1. Choosing A Niche and Why You Need One
A niche is like picking a category that you dating website will cater to exclusively. Choosing a niche is a good idea because it allows you to easily attract an online dater with certain interest.
For example connecting people who love video games or enjoy camping would be good examples of choosing a niche to build your dating site around.
When you choose a niche it can be considered big or small. Sometimes the smaller the niche the bigger the profits because you’ll be the only site catering to these kinds of daters.
A small niche can mean bigger profits because you can easily target your marketing and seek out to attract a specific group of people seeking each other.
Choosing to NOT niche your dating website could work or could turn out to cost you a-lot of time and money in advertising. The only way I would build a new dating website and Not targeting to a group of daters would be build a site for everyone in a certain city or state. For example sexysinglesinmontana.com.
2. Naming Your Dating Website
It’s easy to choose a name for your dating website once you have your idea or have a niche group you want to create your website around. Here are best practices for naming your dating website.
I usually try to include the niche topic in the name of my site. If it’s a site for singles in Montana, i’ll make sure to use the state name of “Montana” in the name of the site.
This makes since for many reason. It helps people find your site online in search engines and when they do find your site the name will easily let them know if your site is for them.
It’s a good idea to keep your name short and include your topic. The longer the name the harder it will be to remember. When you come up with a name you will want to check to see if the .com is available for your to register as well.
If the .com is not available you will want to check to see if someone is using your Niche idea. If they are don’t get discouraged you can still create your site around the niche if you feel there is room for your to compete and do a better job.
You will however have to change your name and find a .com that’s available.
Check to see if the .com name your want is available
(NOTE: Type your .com name idea in the box below. If the name you want is available you will get sent to a page to purchase and secure your .com name idea. If it is not available it will tell you that someone else has already secured that name and you’ll have other options to choose another name)
3. Purchase Your .com Name and Setup Hosting
If you have a niche already picked out and are ready to start laying your foundation to build your website; you’ll need a .com and hosting. If you are not sure about domain names and hosting you can do a quick Google search to familiarize yourself with these terms.
I won’t go into to much detail here but they both work together to make your website.
Your .com name links to your hosting account. You can choose to get them both from one company or get them for different companies and link them together. To make things easier I recommend using one company to do both.
I use BlueHost for most my projects. Pricing starts at $3.95 (paid annually). Signup is quick an easy and you get a .com name FREE when you get your hosting through BlueHost.
Quick Tip: If you have a Ebates account they will give you $10 cash back when you buy hosting from BlueHost. No lie! Signup here to Ebates first before you get your hosting at BlueHost to activate the offer.
4. Get A Good Logo Design
A logo is important to set yourself apart from the competition and to help you create a brand that your online daters will trust. Getting a logo doesn’t have to be pricy but you do want to take the time to get one created for you if you don’t know how yourself.
It should be clean and unique to your brand. I do not recommend doing if yourself if you have no design skill. Getting a logo done can cost around $5 on a site I use called Fiverr. This site has tons of qualified folks with skills to do things like logo design.
Check them out and browse around for a designer. You will notice some charging more than $5, thats fine. Just find one that is $5, check our their portfolio. If you like their work hire them to get you a logo done. It’s simple and professional.
If you have a bigger budget and want more variety you may want to go with another site I use called 99designs. There are loads of professional designers on this site that will compete to get your business. 99designs works by allowing you to create a logo contest.
You enter your details and share information about your projects. You then will get a dozen or so designers that will enter the contest giving you options to choose from. Choose your favorite and use it on your new dating website. 99designs is a cool site to get great design work done.
5. Choose a Business Model Free Vs. Paid
Choosing to create a free dating website will definitely help you build your community fast. This method is especially useful if you choose a small niche or local market to building your community around: for example, Miami pet lovers or Orange County singles. When you choose a small niche and then make the site free, it becomes easier to attract singles that are eager to join. I use this method when I start with zero members and want to build a community of real users.
One of the most popular free dating sites is Plenty of Fish; this site now has millions of members and still offers free membership.
Just because you start out as a free dating website doesn’t mean you have to stay that way. If you are in a niche with very little competition, you can easily start to charge to make money from the site. But keep reading, because charging your members isn’t the only way to make money from your dating website.
Paid Membership Dating Sites
Getting started with a paid membership site requires a marketing strategy. If you are going this route you will have to do one or both of two things:
- Purchase a member database of singles that will give you site the appearance of having active members.
- Pre-register members before you launch the site.
Think about it; no one wants to pay to if you don’t have any members. If there are no members no one will pay to stay on your site. So this method will require marketing cash to get started if you choose if over the Free to join model.
6. It’s Time to Build Your Dating Website
Once you figure out if your dating website will be free to join or pay to subscribe, choosing the right dating software solution is the next thing to decide.
You have a few options. Unfortunately I no longer recommend any of the free dating site scripts that are online. Frankly they are all outdated and won’t deliver the level of use and features and mobility that are current with what your competition would be using. However there are some very affordable options that I will outline here.
(If you don’t want to take my word for it. Google “FREE DATING SOFTWARE” see for yourself what is out there)
Paid Online Dating Software Solutions
I recommend purchasing a professionally developed software program to start your dating website. Especially if you are not familiar with website design or coding, this will save you time and money in the long run.
SkaDate Premium Dating Website Software $999
The best online dating site software out there is SkaDate. Hands down! It’s the best because it’s constantly updated and improved to make sure you are offering your visitors the absolute best technology and all the modern conveniences with online dating like 100% mobility. It even has an app you can add-on to your package. It’s really awesome.
It has video chat, mobile messaging, flirting and user email and so much more ready to go out of the box. It costs a one-time payment of $999: it’s the best option if you want a full-featured top of the line dating site with mobile app features.
It’s also one of the most expensive solutions.
So let’s get into some more affordable options if you’re on a budget.
To save a few buck you can purchase a dating website template that works with WordPress. If you have not heard of WordPress it’s a very popular content management tool used to create a variety of websites that are feature rich and easy to manage.
WordPress offers some pretty beautiful options for your online dating site. Keep reading and find out how to use WordPress to build your site for about $65.
Creating Your Online Dating Website With WordPress – $62 + Hosting on BlueHost
Using WordPress is a fairly easy way to get your online dating site started quickly. There are several themes, or templates, that I’ve found that include everything you need to get started, including Sweet Date (see below). The cost associated with WordPress is based on what theme or template you choose to create your dating website. Sweet Date costs $62, and that’s a one-time cost. The only other cost you’ll have is your monthly hosting fee to keep your website online.
Themes like Sweet Date are all fully customizable and include all the features you need:
- User profiles
- Processing payments for membership
- Flirting and messaging features
- Chat Rooms and videos
- User account management
[Get this theme it’s currently $62..pretty sweet deal for a full featured dating website]
7. Make It Mobile
I can’t express enough why this is important. Just know this..over have of the population with Internet access will logon through their mobile device. It’s that simple. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you just won’t see the growth or attract enough users to be profitable.
The solutions that I outline here and throughout my website are all mobile friendly and or have an app component to take you to the next level.
If you choose to find your own solution make sure it’s works perfectly on all mobile devices.
8. Dating Website Marketing Plan
9. Marketing and Advertising
The Mighty Authority Rules!
Your best part about choosing a niche is that it makes marketing easier. If you know who your site is for you can start thinking about where they hang out and what they like to do. This could be huge when it’s time to put together marketing and advertising campaigns. For example if you are building a site for people who love to cook and want to meet other chefs, you may want to advertising at restaurants or at cooking classes or wine tastings. Choosing a niche helps you create targeted advertising to seek out and find the best members for your site. So get creative and start a list
OK, now this may seem obvious, but really, I’ve seen so many niche dating sites that are just outright generic. It is so important to establish a professional image. This includes your logo and your template choice. If you choose a niche like sci-fi lovers, it’s also fun to use a theme like the solar system or stars. Just make sure your site looks super-professional. Branding is going to set you apart from other dating sites that may provide the same niche as you. Branding is what will establish you as an authority site over your competition.
Get People to Your Site
Now comes the fun part, watching your community grow. Depending on how you choose to build your dating website, you may start with zero members. This is fine…really…for now. ALL of the dating sites I started had no members on day one.
Here are some of the online marketing methods I’ve used to generate traffic:
- SEO. Make sure your title tags are unique on every page, and you research your keywords thoroughly. (Use Google Keyword Planner for this, it’s free.)
- Link Directories. A quick way to generate some traffic, there are many online directories to list your new dating site in. Most are free. Do a google search to find these.
- Craigslist. I like Craigslist. You can generate traffic this way, but you can also get flagged quick. Whatever works, right!
- Local groups and organizations
- Facebook. Facebook has a really simple and affordable advertising program. You have to have a Facebook account to get started.You can set a budget as little as $5 a day and start sending super-targeted traffic to your site immediately. Google “Facebook Ads” for details.
- Local Ads. I am sure there are single people where you live. Why shouldn’t they know about your website? I see bandit signs all over the place talking about “Find Georgia Singles.” It’s worth a shot, I’m sure it helps.
- Recruit Affiliates. Affiliate programs work. If you have a pay-to-join dating website, you can pay affiliates or recruiters a percentage of each sale for sending you new members.
- Email Marketing. Make sure, from the moment you decide to start your online dating website, that you are collecting email address. Communicate regularly through email to get referrals and keep your members active.
Be creative with your marketing efforts. With every niche there are tons of unique ways to market your dating website. Think about who your website was created for, and then find out where those people hang out, online and offline
10. Getting Paid
Once you have the site up and running and you have a business model in place (Free Vs. Paid) you need to have a system in place to make money. It’s either going to be by member signup s for through some other form of monetizations. Let’s discuss your options.
- Member Subscriptions. If your site is pay-to-join this is one of your income streams. It’s always a good idea to make some of your features free for all, but charge a fee to initiate communication. So it’s free to browse, but pay to communicate.Note: Make sure the dating software you purchase includes a pay-to-join system so that you can make money; some free dating software may not include this feature. All of the resources on this page include a pay-to-join option and all the e-commerce tools you need to process secure online payments.
- Affiliate Offers. As your build your community and increase traffic, you may want to offer related resources to your members. If they make a purchase, you get paid. Examples of affiliate offers include deals at restaurants, jewelry sites, flower shops, and gift shops.Note: Check out Commission Junction for a variety of affiliate programs you can join and link to your site. You have to have your website up and running before they will approve your website to sponsor affiliate ads.
- Google Adsense. If you are not familiar with Google Adsense. Google it and check it out. If your website is free-to-join, Google Adsense can definitely compensate you for your operating cost. Google Adsense allows you to show banner ads from Google advertisers and Google shares a percentage with you for ever banner click on the ads you show on your site.Note: be strategic with your banner placement. You want your ads to complement your content. You want members to browse, and then see ads when they are ready to leave your site. Once you signup with Adsense you’ll understand this statement
- The Email List. There is so much money in building an email list and the data you’ll collect from your members. Building your dating website will create a very large database of email addresses. Use this information to stay in communication with your members. It is very important to let them know your site is active to keep them coming back to check on what’s new.Your dating website system will automatically send out new-member and match notifications; in addition to these notifications make sure you personally keep in touch. Your dating website could become lucrative beyond members paying a fee to join. With a big list you could sell your members other things from affiliate offers to physical products. Be creative. The money is in the list.
I hope this article has provided some helpful resources for you as you get started. Please share your comments or questions as your journey begins or as you continue in the online dating business.
This is by no means a complete list of all your options and opportunities that are out there. Hopefully this is a starting point and if I was able to answer a few of your questions that’s 1 step closer you’ll be to launching your New dating site.