How to Build Your Own Online Dating Website Business
Making Money Online With Your Dating Website
First Steps to Consider
Building your own online dating website is a great way to earn an extra income online. 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.
People will always want to meet and hook up; that's one thing that will never change. The dating industry is hot and will always be in demand.
I've started and built about 12 online dating sites and were able to sell three of them for 5 figures years ago. I have a blog and an ebook about the online dating business (see my profile).
Getting started can be easier than you think. I can give you the right resources to get your dating website up and running, and tips for establishing a brand for your business and growing your membership to generate monthly income.
All of the dating websites I built started with zero members. In this article I'll talk about all the alternatives as well.
Quick Ten-Step Guide to Setting up a Dating Website
- Come up with a name for your online dating website—be creative. Choose a niche.
- Choose a host. I always use BlueHost, which is just $3.95 a month and also includes a free .com name.
- Register your .com.
- Get a professional logo, for example from 99designs.com.
- Build your website. I recommend SkaDate as a platform. It's pricey ($999 starting) but it's worth it if you want a full-featured dating website with the latest features like iPhone and Android apps and video chat.
- For beginners and those with some web design experience, choose WordPress, it's more affordable. The #1 WordPress dating template software I recommend is Sweet Date which costs $59.
- Consider mobile accessibility. If you choose SkaDate you can add a mobile app onto your site; if you go with WordPress it will be just mobile friendly not a true mobile app.
- Make a marketing plan involving great content, social media, and networking.
- Advertise: Facebook Ads, Google Adwords, local partnerships.
- Be patient. It's going to take time and consistent marketing and advertising to grow your community, so give your hard work time to blossom.
Below is the longer version where I give you details about all these steps.
How To Build a Dating Website: The Longer Version
Keep on reading while I break it all down.
A Decision: Free or Paid
One of the first things you'll have to decide, if you're building a dating website community, is whether it will be free for all or pay-to-join? This is a very important question and in many ways will determine your level of success. I've worked with both and each has its pros and cons.
Free Membership Dating Sites
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 date no one. If there are no members no one will pay to stay on your site. So this method will require marketing cash to get started.
Another option with this method is to partner with a white-label dating site affiliate that supplies members for you and then pays you a % of any new members that join through your website.
What to Use to Build Your Online Dating Website
Once you figure out if your dating website will be free to join or pay to subscribe, choosing the right solution to build your dating site is the next thing to decide.
You have a few options. Choose a free framework or purchase a software solution that comes fully featured and ready to go.
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.
The best online dating site software out there is SkaDate. It's the best because it's constantly updated and improved to make sure you are offering your visitors the absolute best technology.
It has video chat, mobile messaging, flirting and user email, and a very advanced mobile app component that you can add on, ready to go out of the box. It costs a one-time payment of $999: the best if you want a full-featured top of the line dating site with mobile app features.
Free and Almost-Free Online Dating Website Solutions
The following list included FREE options for building your online dating site. Try these options if you have some experience with website design or need to save a few buck; they will need some customizations to include many of the features expected on a dating website.
- Wordpress. Can be done easily with templates; read on for my template recommendations.
- DateMill. Requires PHP and HTML coding knowledge.
- OsDate. Also requires coding knowledge.
With these options the framework is free, but you will have to hire someone to handle all of your customizations if you can't do them yourself.
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
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 $58, 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
Sweet Date Full-Featured Dating Website Theme for Wordpress
Hosting for Your Online Dating Website
I use BlueHost and it's $3.95 a month for hosting; they include a free .com domain registration as well. It's a pretty good deal to get you started.
If you choose another hosting company, you should pay no more than $7 a month.
If you choose BlueHost, they have the quick Free Wordpress Installation option as well. Most hosting companies will set up your Wordpress site for you. All you'll have to do is purchase your WordPress dating website theme and install it.
Dating Website Marketing and Promotion Ideas
The Money Is in the Niche!
So by now, it's time to start thinking about who you are building your dating site for. With so many larger competitors like Match.com and eHarmony.com, it's almost impossible to compete in the general market. You will be better off and see faster results by choosing a niche. Contrary to popular belief, there are still TONS of dating niche markets that are unserved or are undeserved.
The Mighty Authority Rules!
Your goal in choosing a niche market is to become the authority site. If you do your research you will find that not many niche dating sites have grown enough to really become a TRUE authority dating site: "authority" meaning the go-to site for all daters in that niche.
OK, now this may seem obvious, but really, I've seen so many 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.
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 zerp 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!
- 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.
What do you think is the most effective form of marketing?
Getting Paid From Your Online Dating Website
How You Will Get Paid
- 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 ecommerce 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 (Google it) 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. Yes, we cannot forget the mighty Google. If your website is free-to-join, Google Adsense can definitely compensate you for your operating cost. Just a note: be strategic with your 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.
- The Email List. The money is in the list! Building your dating website will create a very large database of email addreses. 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.
I could talk on and on about the online dating industry, and I will! There's plenty more I want to share. 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.
If you have questions please leave a comment.